For years, Grand Seiko did one thing and they did it well, never venturing outside of their spring drive-shaped comfort zone. It wasn’t a bad strategy; they cultivated a cult following among watch collectors for their beautiful simplicity married to standards that even Switzerland couldn’t match. they were, however, for want of a better word, boring.
Not so any more. In the past couple of years, 18 months really, Grand Seiko has released an impressive number of new collections, vastly increasing the number of models produced back in Japan. For some watchmakers, this would stretch them thin; from the evidence of the Black Ceramic Collection, that’s not the case here – especially when it comes to the 10th Anniversary Spring Drive Chronograph GMT Limited Edition (ref. SBGC219).
Blue and rose gold is never a bad combination and the same goes here. The indexes light up against the deep, almost midnight blue of the dial and are actually far more readable than the other pieces from the collection. Another difference is the tachymeter in place of a standard 24-hour bezel, giving the limited edition a bit more sporting oomph.
The 46.4mm case isn’t for the shy and retiring either. It’s far more wearable than you might expect – I normally opt for 42mm and it felt perfectly comfortable on my wrist – and thanks to the ergonomic case construction it nicely follows the curves of your wrist. The titanium sections also make it pretty light. Even so, it’s still a big, impressive piece no matter how you look at it; you might want to consider getting some new shirts for it.
Normally black ceramic wouldn’t really be worth naming a collection after, especially as it’s usually reserved for the bezel alone. Grand Seiko, however, went full tilt with their use of the material, not only on the 24-hour bezel but all throughout the case. The combination of ceramic and titanium even continues onto the bracelet in alternating links, making one of the most tactilely comfortable straps I’ve worn in a long while.
It almost goes without saying that the movement is indeed Grand Seiko’s signature Spring Drive – it wouldn’t be much of an anniversary timepiece if it wasn’t – which, in case you’ve been out of the loop, is one of the best standard watch movements in the world. The chronograph does nothing to change that and the 10th Anniversary maintains a precision rate of 10 seconds a month – about 0.5 a day.
The chronograph function itself is addictive. It’s hard to explain why the subtle click of pushers is a hit-or-miss affair, but it is and Grand Seiko hit the target hard. I found myself constantly pressing to feel that satisfying metallic cling. It’ll keep your hands busier than a fidget spinner.
It’s hard to find a fault with the 10th Anniversary Spring Drive Chronograph GMT Limited Edition. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it doesn’t need to be. Their direction might have altered, but one thing about Grand Seiko hasn’t changed: no matter what they do, you can rely on them for a very fine timepiece indeed.
Price: €19,800; grand-seiko.com