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 have 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.
Right at the top of the food chain of Grand Seiko, sits the SBGH 035 Special. The ‘special’ designation follows a tradition that began in 1970 and it means that the watch is even more accurate than the already accurate Hi Beat watches. They are only produced by an elite group of watchmakers within the manufacture and features a specially stamped rotor.
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat Special SBGH 035 is powered by the in-house 9S85 Special calibre and it is the second highest rated production movement made today, only behind Patek Philippe. As a comparison, COSC certified watches only needs a timekeeping accuracy of +6/-4 seconds a day while the 9S85 Special keeps it within +4/-2 seconds a day. Another impressive feature is Grand Seiko’s now classic ‘Hi Beat’ escapement, where it has a frequency of 36,000 beats per hour, resulting in more stability and the characteristic smooth floating seconds hand. Furthermore, it has a power reserve of 55 hours, higher than your standard Grand Seiko movement. To top all of this off, it is expertly finished with Tokyo stripes and has a beautiful solid gold medallion on its rotor.
Moving on to the dial, it is a porcelain white with a beautiful soft flowing wave-like texture. While the Snowflake dial has been popular lately, this textured dial on the Special is just as impressive with a very soft, ripple-like appearance. The applied hour markers are bevelled and polished complimenting the similarly finished dauphine hands. As a reminder that you are not just wearing any Grand Seiko, the word ‘Special’ is inscribed on the dial in gold.
The 38mm stainless steel case is perfect in its sizing for a dress watch and it is brushed on the top and polished on the sides. No compromise was made for this Grand Seiko, and it is truly an understated connoisseurs piece. Made in a serious of only 300 pieces, this SBGH 035 is a very rare piece.