Grand Seiko is an unabashedly Japanese watch model, with all of its watches explicitly impressed by parts of Japanese nature and tradition. Nevertheless, the model has an uncanny knack for making its followers all internationally really feel particular with thought of regional restricted editions, which encourage loyalty amongst lovers in numerous nations (and envy amongst these eyeing different nations’ cool native GS restricted editions) whereas remaining quintessentially Japanese. For instance, their recent Katana Collection was solely out there within the US, however you don’t have to be a Japanophile to see simply how Japanese these watches are…
Enter the SBGH331, Grand Seiko’s first Oceania restricted version (that’s, it’s completely out there in Australia and New Zealand). A good-looking mechanical three-hander that introduces just a few firsts for Grand Seiko, it too is impressed by an undeniably Japanese pure phenomenon – but its inspiration weirdly is smart for a watch earmarked for the Antipodes.
Now, earlier than we talk about the SBGH331’s dial, it’s price declaring that it’s solely the second regional unique that Australian Grand Seiko followers have been blessed with (sorry NZ). The primary was the SBGJ269 “Pink Flannel Flower”, which slightly unusually for Grand Seiko, was impressed by a component of Australian nature versus Japanese nature. Time+Tide has it on good authority that the SBGJ269 would be the first and solely Grand Seiko to be impressed by one thing apart from Japan, making that watch slightly particular.
So, with that in thoughts, the SBGH331 is a little bit of a return to type, and has a really clear Japanese inspiration: it’s impressed by the well-known whirlpools discovered off the coast of Naruto within the south-west of Japan. As you’ll have guessed, these whirlpools, that are a few of the largest and quickest on this planet, additionally not directly impressed one in every of Japan’s most well-known mangas, Naruto. Fairly onerous to get rather more Japanese than that. That stated, I feel it’s additionally a fairly becoming idea for a watch destined for Aussies and Kiwis. Whirlpools have additionally been recognized to happen within the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, so in my thoughts, it form of is smart for our market.
Naruto’s whirlpools are captured within the SBGH331’s ice-blue dial, which encompasses a crisp radial spiralling sample. It’s just like the sample used within the in style SBGR311 “Cookie” which got here out in 2018, however not like that watch or different Grand Seiko items with radial dials, the SBGH331’s sample doesn’t function little Grand Seiko logos – it’s truly the primary to take action – which makes it significantly distinctive. A contrasting gold seconds hand and Grand Seiko emblem at 12 o’clock completes the package deal.
The SBGH331 “Naruto Whirlpools” options Grand Seiko’s traditional 44GS case design (which Zach does a great job explaining the nuances of here) imagined within the model’s “ever-brilliant metal”, which not solely encompasses a brighter lustre in comparison with normal 316L stainless-steel but additionally increased corrosion resistance. Sporty but not ostentatious, it encompasses a nice mixture of Zaratsu-polished and brushed surfaces, with the case’s polished bezel and lug tops completely framing the equally good dial.
The SBGH331 “Naruto Whirlpools” is powered by the in-house high-beat mechanical 9S85 motion, which could be admired by the watch’s exhibition caseback. Not like many Grand Seiko fashions, the SBGH331’s caseback doesn’t function a holographic lion emblem, which suggests the finely completed motion could be admired in all its glory. Be warned that press imagery and a few prototype fashions recommend in any other case. Correct to +5 to -3 seconds per day (which is extra exact than COSC requirements), the 9S85 has a 55-hour energy reserve and beats at 36,000 vph.
The Grand Seiko SBGH331 Oceania Restricted Version encompasses a standard-for-Grand Seiko three-link metal bracelet with a folding clasp, which additionally encompasses a mixture of brushed and polished surfaces. It’s a superbly serviceable bracelet, however I really feel basically that GS’ bracelets are considerably of a letdown in comparison with the excessive normal exhibited in the remainder of their watches. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means.
I bear in mind feeling very jealous of Thai Grand Seiko followers when the Thailand-exclusive SBGY025 “Hikari” dropped last year. Now, I really feel as if it’s the remainder of the world’s flip to really feel jealous about us Kiwis and Aussies. The SBGH331’s ice-blue dial is nearly Tiffany blue in look, however the sharpness of the sample provides a component of depth that similarly-coloured watch dials simply can’t match – photographs don’t do it justice (particularly GS’ press photographs). It’s form of an ideal ‘one watch’, particularly Down Underneath the place you may get away with carrying one thing somewhat bit sporty like this as a costume watch. It’s a cracking restricted version and one which I’m positive will promote out shortly.
Grand Seiko SBGH331 “Naruto Whirlpools” Oceania Restricted Version pricing & availability
The Grand Seiko SBGH331 “Naruto Whirlpools” is completely out there in Australia and New Zealand and is proscribed to 150 items. Worth: A$9,250 / NZ$10,650.
|Heritage Assortment “Naruto Whirlpools”
|39mm (D) x 13mm (T) x 47.5mm (LTL)
|Sapphire back and front
|Mild blue with radial whirlpool sample
|Three-link metal bracelet, folding clasp
|Grand Seiko Calibre 9S85, automated
|Hours, minutes, seconds, date
|Oceania restricted version, 150 items