2021 has seen the continued expansion of Grand Seiko’s Ladies timepieces. Earlier this year, STGF359 made its debut as the first ladies offering to feature the iconic Snowflake dial. That watch, measuring 28.9mm in diameter, featured the smaller form factor that we’ve come to expect from the brand’s ladies watches. Today, however, we’ll be looking at Elegance Collection SBGX346, the latest addition to Grand Seiko’s lineup, this one trading the aforementioned smaller form for a new mid-sized case, a first from Grand Seiko.
Every August, against the mountainous backdrop of Nagano, the sky above Lake Suwa is lit up by a mesmerizing display of 40,000 fireworks, the centerpiece of a mid-summer celebration in the Shinshu region. The grand finale of the show is a dazzling cascade of fireworks setting off all at once over a mile-long span. It is one of Japan’s most notable (and largest) firework shows, with over half a million people descending upon Lake Suwa every year. A limited edition, SBGX346 celebrates both this festival and the company’s 140th anniversary.
The case measures 34mm in diameter and 10.7mm in thickness, bringing the size closer to the case of the ever-popular SBGW231. This increase in size boosts the watch’s presence on the wrist, while the overall tempered proportions keep things elegant. The stainless steel mid-case features an 18k rose gold bezel. It is finely knurled to have a coin-edge, giving it a tactile texture. A prominent box-shaped sapphire harkens back to classic watch design, and a solid steel case back is adorned with the Grand Seiko Lion emblem, as well as the limited edition serial number.
Capturing the essence of the breathtaking fireworks display, the dial is adorned with a fine-grain texture that plays beautifully with the light. At twelve o’clock, you’ll find a faceted index marking the hour. For all remaining spots you’ll find diamonds, with three settings per hour position totaling 33 diamonds on the dial. The hour and minute hands are executed in Grand Seiko’s classic style, rendered in gold-tone and featuring a high-polish finish and faceted edges. Altogether, the look is highly dynamic and evocative of the inspiration.
Powering the watch is Grand Seiko caliber 9F61, a movement previously relegated solely for use in men’s watches due to its larger size. It is nearly identical to the more commonly utilized 9F62 caliber, but 9F61 omits the date function. Highly robust, 9F61 was most recently featured in SBGX341 and SBGX343, two “Tough Quartz” models. This is the first 9F-powered watch for ladies produced by Grand Seiko.
9F61 features an accuracy rating of +/-10 seconds a year, and has the high torque of a mechanical movement while maintaining a low level of energy consumption. This allows the Twin Pulse Control Motor to drive Grand Seiko’s heavy hands. Furthermore, an aged and highly-stabled quartz crystal is paired with an in-house-developed integrated circuit that is programmed to specifically respond to that crystal’s reaction to temperature changes, ensuring great accuracy. A backlash Auto-Adjust Mechanism keeps the second hand from shuddering as it advances across the dial, giving the watch a highly pleasing and exacting tick.
SBGX346 comes with a red crocodile strap done in a high-gloss finish. It is stitch-free, and features remborde edges for a supremely elegant look.
SBGX346 is a limited edition of 140 pieces, and it will be available in July 2021 across Grand Seiko boutiques, Salons, and the GS9 Club Shop.
Case: Stainless Steel with 18K rose gold bezel
Dimensions: 34mm in diameter x 10.7mm in thickness x 41.5mm in length
Movement: 9F61 Quartz
Availability: July 2021, Grand Seiko Boutique, Salons, and the GS9 Club Shop