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Grand Seiko SBGA387 Review



Today we’re going to look at the SBGA387, one of three new Grand Seiko limited editions for 2018. Of the three, which includes the rose gold SBGA384 and the platinum SBGA385, the SBGA387 is by far the most affordable, thanks to its stainless steel case. It’s also the most colorful, featuring a light blue dial.



All three, however, are set apart from other Grand Seikos by their incredibly elaborate dials. The other two are relatively subtle, but the SBGA387 wears its textured dial quite proudly, thanks to the fact that it’s much more colorful than its brethren.



The dial is inspired by a Japanese painting technique known as “kira-zuri,” which I’m told translates to “sparkling painting.” This was, apparently, used in ukiyo-e paintings to create the textures used in depictions of kabuki actors. I’m not a Japanese art historian, so I’ll just have to take GS’ word on this, but the dial is undeniably fascinating. Unlike most other GS LE dials, like the SBGM235 I recently reviewed, which have clear, premeditated repeating patterns, the SBGA387 feels more natural and more random, as if each dial were bespoke for this particular watch. In that sense, it has that effortless feel of classics like the SBGA011/SBGA211 Snowflake.



The color, a light blue, is more vibrant than the other two models of this collection. It’s an interesting choice, because the blue isn’t at all subtle, yet it’s so light that it remains unobtrusive. It reminds me a bit of the Rolex Day-Date’s “ice blue” dial, although Grand Seiko’s take on it seems a bit bolder. It’s quite a departure for GS, a brand that often uses blue dials, but these are nearly always very dark, very rich blues, like the SBGH051 or the SBGA105.



Unlike the matte-white Snowflake, however, the SBGA387’s dial retains Grand Seiko’s famous dynamic character, with the fabric-like texture reflecting light in myriad ways as it moves. It is, as its Japanese description would suggest, akin to a sparkling painting.



The SBGA387 uses Grand Seiko’s polished dauphine hands, accented by a blued seconds hand. These hands are perhaps even more amazing than the dial, with their perfect polishing and finely beveled edges. The hands are consistently one of my favorite parts of a GS. I was slightly worried that the seconds hand might get lost against the blue dial, but because the blued hand is much darker that’s never the case.



The same is true for the applied hour markers, which feature similarly beveled edges.



The date is nicely implemented, with an applied frame that matches the rest of the face. However, it would have been nice to see a light blue backdrop for the date ring. That might have compromised legibility, but it doesn’t seem to have been a problem with other writing on the dial. Still, this is the practice of virtually all watch brands these days, so I suppose it’s to be expected. To GS’ credit, at least, the date is large and easy to read.



The steel case is of the 44GS variety, likely Grand Seiko’s most popular. It’s 40mm, which is pretty much my ideal size of watch, and a nice balance that’s large by classical standards but subdued by contemporary ones. That is to say that I suspect this size will age well, as it is somewhere between the fads of small and large watches.



The signed crown is large and easy to grip, but the spring drive movement takes so little effort to wind that they could have gotten away with something more demure. The crown screws down, which normally annoys me in dressier watches, but in my experience, spring drives are so accurate, have such long power reserves, and get so much energy from their automatic winding mechanisms, that you rarely need to unscrew the crown anyway.



The SBGA387 is 12.5mm thick, hardly an ultra-thin, but reasonably thin compared to many other Grand Seikos.



The SBGA387 is powered by the mainstay of spring drive movements, the 9R65. The gold and platinum models of this limited edition receive the 9R15 “super spring drive,” but it’s worth remembering those models are $29,500 and $53,000 respectively. The upgrade to the 9R15 is unlikely to make much of a difference anyway, aside from the gold medallion on the rotor. The 9R65 is, after all, conservatively rated for +/- 1 second per day, sufficiently accurate to satisfy even the most demanding watch collector. In any case, both of these movements also possess impressive 72 hour power reserves.



The 9R65 is among the best-looking movements Grand Seiko has ever made. The only better looking movements offered by Grand Seiko are the more expensive 9R86 and the extravagant 9R01. This model receives a silver Grand Seiko emblem, replacing the extremely subtle (to the point of most owners not even knowing it’s there) etched GS logo in the sapphire. I rather like it, in no small part because it’s a nod to the days when GSes came with cool medallions on the back, and it doesn’t get in the way too much.



The SBGA387 is arriving now, although you can still reserve yours here. Priced at $6,800, it’s much more affordable than its gold and platinum versions. Only 558 will be made of this great watch, and light blue dialed GSes don’t come along often, so I imagine it’ll be gone pretty quickly.

 

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Nice review. I saw this in person in October and thot it was very nice. I actually thot the dial in person was more impressive then the snowflake, although not as versatile.
 
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Nice review. I saw this in person in October and thot it was very nice. I actually thot the dial in person was more impressive then the snowflake, although not as versatile.
It's definitely more technically impressive, and quite a bit more visible. The Snowflake really flies under the radar. That said, it's hard to beat the Snowflake, even compared to other GSes. I just wish the Snowflake was also offered in steel.
 

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It's definitely more technically impressive, and quite a bit more visible. The Snowflake really flies under the radar. That said, it's hard to beat the Snowflake, even compared to other GSes. I just wish the Snowflake was also offered in steel.
Agreed, I saw the version with the white dial and gold markers, and I definitely prefer the regular Snowflake amongst all the variants, and having it in stainless steel would be a big plus. I have to say that I still prefer the older branding, with SEIKO at the top, which I find to be more balanced.
 

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This watch really left an impression on me. I'd even say it captured my interest more than Snowflake.
I prefer SS case and it's shine to the titanium dull look of Snowflake. The dial is amazing on both. New SBGA387 dial is a bit more modern and sporty than snowflake which has more under-the-radar white texture to it.
I liked the dial a lot - it makes the watch balance the fine line between dressy and sporty. Depending on the light and angle it's viewed - dial can seem almost white to silver to light blue to purplish hues.

Definitely one of the nicer looking and more interesting GS offerings I have seen recently.
IMG_7805.JPG IMG_7750.JPG IMG_7794.JPG IMG_7799.JPG IMG_7802.JPG IMG_7803.JPG
 

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I just love this watch, but I really wish GS would stop ruining their display backs on LE's. Between the block out the sun sized full rotors and now just a giant painted logo...they have to stop it already! Oh well, helping my bank account.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I just love this watch, but I really wish GS would stop ruining their display backs on LE's. Between the block out the sun sized full rotors and now just a giant painted logo...they have to stop it already! Oh well, helping my bank account.
My expectation is that the trend will continue. I've seen it on one unannounced upcoming LE (although the model itself is amazing, I love it). I can only surmise that this is part of their effort to make the GS branding more distinct from regular Seiko branding.
 

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Yes to the dial and the display back.
Yes to the screw down crown, although it is big.
Time for GS to design some new bracelets.
 

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My expectation is that the trend will continue. I've seen it on one unannounced upcoming LE (although the model itself is amazing, I love it). I can only surmise that this is part of their effort to make the GS branding more distinct from regular Seiko branding.
Well, call me upset. I actually really like the lion etched in one of my GSs. It's a nice touch. I mean if it is about branding, that's fine, but their competition, especially Omega are putting out just amazingly well finished movements. This just hurts them in competing with other brands imo. If anything it might push me towards buying their more "standard" watches going forward though. I still love me some GSs.
 

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Agreed, I saw the version with the white dial and gold markers, and I definitely prefer the regular Snowflake amongst all the variants, and having it in stainless steel would be a big plus. I have to say that I still prefer the older branding, with SEIKO at the top, which I find to be more balanced.
Seconded. I get why they wanted to separate from being an brand under Seiko versus a stand alone, but I actually thought the look of the old logo was well thought out in terms of spacing, font, and location. I think a SS one would've done it well too, lowering the price and getting rid of the very light feeling of titanium that not everyone liked. Not sure if I would've gotten one if it was a cheaper SS, but I would've considered it more.
 

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love how GS has really found their core competency to set themselves apart from the pack, that being their crazy awesome dials!

It's really hard to find anything at any price point with such beautiful dials. gotta get my hands one one soon!
 

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This watch really left an impression on me. I'd even say it captured my interest more than Snowflake.
I prefer SS case and it's shine to the titanium dull look of Snowflake. The dial is amazing on both. New SBGA387 dial is a bit more modern and sporty than snowflake which has more under-the-radar white texture to it.
I liked the dial a lot - it makes the watch balance the fine line between dressy and sporty. Depending on the light and angle it's viewed - dial can seem almost white to silver to light blue to purplish hues.

Definitely one of the nicer looking and more interesting GS offerings I have seen recently.
View attachment 13704821 View attachment 13704823 View attachment 13704825 View attachment 13704827 View attachment 13704829 View attachment 13704831
That looks sick on you dude. I probably wouldn’t be able to resist buying it if it fit me that well. I think it’s probably too big for my wrists though.
 
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Well, call me upset. I actually really like the lion etched in one of my GSs. It's a nice touch. I mean if it is about branding, that's fine, but their competition, especially Omega are putting out just amazingly well finished movements. This just hurts them in competing with other brands imo. If anything it might push me towards buying their more "standard" watches going forward though. I still love me some GSs.
I'm not sure how much it'll affect sales, but I advocated for simple sapphire backs. Obviously, I did not prevale lol.


MediumRB said:
Time for GS to design some new bracelets.
Not a fan of the five link?


sleepyhead123 said:
Seconded. I get why they wanted to separate from being an brand under Seiko versus a stand alone, but I actually thought the look of the old logo was well thought out in terms of spacing, font, and location. I think a SS one would've done it well too, lowering the price and getting rid of the very light feeling of titanium that not everyone liked. Not sure if I would've gotten one if it was a cheaper SS, but I would've considered it more.
For me it varies from model to model, aesthetically speaking, but I've always liked the SEIKO branding. I'm a Seiko fan first, which includes GS--I don't need GS to be conceptually separated from the rest of the brand.


Lo0o0o0n said:
love how GS has really found their core competency to set themselves apart from the pack, that being their crazy awesome dials!

It's really hard to find anything at any price point with such beautiful dials. gotta get my hands one one soon!
It's definitely one of their defining attributes, going as far back as the 1960s. It's that ideal combination of movement and dial that makes the brand irresistible to so many, I think.
 

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For me it varies from model to model, aesthetically speaking, but I've always liked the SEIKO branding. I'm a Seiko fan first, which includes GS--I don't need GS to be conceptually separated from the rest of the brand.
I think it’s a bit of a futile exercise, after all, if the Seiko association truly bothered a potential buyer, wouldn’t the fact that there is a “Seiko” in “Grand Seiko” turn them off anyway?
 
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