The Grand Seiko Snowflake is arguably one of their seminal timepieces of the current era. Its immense success kicked Grand Seiko’s dial development into overdrive and led us into this golden age of nature inspired texture dials such as the White Birch and Sea of Clouds. However, it’s been a hot minute since the Snowflake itself saw a release, a streak of emptiness that has now been broken by the launch of the 37mm Snowflake and Diamond Snowflake.
Grand Seiko 37mm Quartz Snowflake SBGX355G
Starting with the 37mm, it shouldn’t come as any surprise when I say that it’s on the smaller side at a diameter of (this may shock you) 37mm. Compared to previous editions that were 41mm, that’s a big reduction. To my mind, it still remains a unisex timepiece because Grand Seiko have explicitly designed it to cater for the fact that men are wearing smaller, vintage proportioned watches at the moment. The more compact size also makes it easier to wear, especially in combination with its lightweight titanium construction.
Looking at the dial, and this is where all of that Grand Seiko goodness has been preserved regardless of its size. The gentle, undulating texture in pure white like freshly fallen snow across a field or the dancing flakes in a snowstorm. It’s incredibly evocative while also being subtle on the wrist and with an execution and finish that’s second to none. What’s not to love – it even does away with the sin of the larger models which is the dial side power reserve indicator.
The reason there’s no power reserve indicator here is because the moment inside is a quartz one, the 9F62. I can comfortably say that this will be the biggest sticking point for collectors considering whether to pick up the 37mm Snowflake. When you have such amazing movements on offer such as the Hi-Beat or Spring Drive, a quartz movement is quite the step down in terms of prestige and the Romanticism of mechanical horology that we all love.
However, the counter argument is that quartz is ingrained in the DNA of Seiko and Grand Seiko, they are THE makers of quartz and few brands do it better than them. Plus, since the main draw of watches like this are the dials, which are expensive to make, the use of a quartz movement helps to make it more accessible – priced as it is at £3,700. In short, if you are going to go quartz, Grand Seiko is the quartz you want to go for.
Price and Specs:
Grand Seiko 29mm Quartz ‘Diamond Snowflake’ STG385G
At 29mm in diameter, the Diamond Snowflake skews into the realm of being a women’s watch. Which works out well because it’s February and Valentine’s Day is around the corner. It would be a pretty slick move to buy yourself the 37mm Snowflake and your partner the Diamond Snowflake for a cute his & hers pair.
Aside from the size, the other major difference is the fact the Diamond Snowflake is made from steel instead of titanium and has a ring of diamonds set into its bezel. Specifically there are 44 diamonds, adding a lightness and sparkle to the piece. At the same time, diamonds are known colloquially as ice so thematically it also plays into the whole snowscape aesthetic.
Powering this watch is another quartz movement, the 4J52. That’s the same movement as used in the pre-existing 29mm Snowflake Ref. STGF359. In fact, I probably should have mentioned the existence of the STGF359 earlier because the new watch is just that watch with the addition of some diamonds. An important benchmark for judging the price as we see that the Diamond Snowflake is £5,200 while the 29mm Snowflake is £2,100.
On balance I think both the 37mm Snowflake and Diamond Snowflake are solid additions to the Grand Seiko range. As I always say, giving collectors more options to find the watch that suits their budget, lifestyle and tastes is always a positive. It’s also nice to simply end the Snowflake drought of the past two years. But it would also be nice to see Grand Seiko push the design with something a little more innovative, perhaps a splash of colour?
Price and Specs:
More details at Grand Seiko Boutique.