The recurring narrative in the watch world is that Grand Seiko is highly, highly under-appreciated. Loved by those who truly understand mechanical watches and are unbiased geographically, the majority have historically turned their noses up at a brand that in their eyes, produces ‘cheap’ watches. Well, just like how Lexus in the automotive industry or Yamazaki and Hibiki in the whisky industry initially battled the same bias, Grand Seiko of late has become a real force to reckon with. The Japanese are famously known for their undying work ethic and dedication to quality and with Grand Seiko, it is certainly no different.
Founded in 1960, Grand Seiko exists as the arm of Seiko that challenges the dominance of Swiss watchmakers like Rolex with their exquisitely created, gorgeously designed, and impeccably finished Japanese timepieces. With several watchmaking merits under their belt, Grand Seiko has grown since their inception to achieve that very goal and today stand as one of the most highly respected watchmakers in the world, not just Japan.
Released in 2014 and limited to just 200 pieces in total, the Grand Seiko Asia Limited Edition is one of the more unique versions of the longstanding timepiece. Exclusive to the Asian markets, the SBGH031 features design cues that speak to the region’s geographical qualities and traditions. Famous for their incredible dials, it is no coincidence that Grand Seiko gave the Asia Limited Edition the dial it did.
Decorated with a diamond pattern filled with wavy lines, the deep blue dial shimmers tantalizingly in the light. On top of that, the Grand Seiko Lion logo is found located all over the dial presenting another layer of depth, another shade of blue, and another source of texture – all tenets of Grand Seiko’s dials.
Moving on from its dial, the SBGH031 is housed within a 40mm stainless steel case with a variety of finishes. Ranging from its polished steel bezel to a both, brushed and polished case, the SBGH031 employs sharp lines to delineate between its various finishes.
Finally, the most important aspect of the SBGH 031 Hi-Beat 36000 is its movement. Whirring away at 36,000 vph, the Hi-Beat movement was a technical marvel in the late 1960s when it was debuted. As brands fought in an arms race of accuracy, they would seek to create higher frequency movements. The Asia Limited, as its base model suggests, is fitted with a movement beating at 36,000 vph – the Grand Seiko in-house automatic cal. 9S85. Accurate to +5/–3 seconds per day, and equipped with a 55-hour power reserve, the 9S85 is as durable and technically astute as one can expect from Grand Seiko, certainly fitting for this gorgeous and rare example of Japanese engineering excellence.