How the SBGW231 compares against the SBGK005 – A quick take

Without a doubt, my favourite movements are hand winders. When I first heard the news that Grand Seiko were releasing an updated manual winding movement featuring a small seconds feature, I jumped up and down like a kid at the candy store. I was picturing the SBGW231 dial with a small seconds feature above the typical 6 o’clock position. When the photos first leaked on Instagram, I was excited while at the same time wondering if I liked the somewhat awkward positioning of the new dial features. And like most objects, the more I observed, the deeper I fell in love with it. Grand Seiko has always been a brand that pushed the boundaries and did things their way, which is why I’m deeply fond of the brand. In addition to that gorgeous blue Mt Iwate inspired dial, what isn’t there to like?

So with the new SBGK005 up for grabs, where does that leave the SBGW231?

Before I begin, I am aware that the photos feature the SBGW031 not the SBGW231. At the time of the article, I did not have access to this piece but hey, they’re basically the same watch.

If you like me, are a fan of Grand Seiko’s traditional DNA, the SBGW231 is pretty much all you need. And at almost half the price of the new SBGK005, it’s easy to seal the deal. Now with the SBGK005 retailing at $9600 AUD versus the $5700 AUD for the SBGW231, why the hell would you choose the first option? The SBGK005’s higher price tag is most likely due to the fact that you’re paying for “over the top” execution and more. First of all, that Mt Iwate dial is no easy task to create and has been covered on most popular horological sites. But I will dare say that to my eyes, this is the best example of Mt Iwate on any of their models. In addition to that, the curved case is finished with the zaratsu polishing technique all over. I honestly have no idea which case design is more challenging to get right, the flat surfaces on the traditional 44GS case or this particular case? Only the men and women tasked with finishing the case at Grand Seiko could tell you that. Finally, the updated heart of the watch, the 9S63 movement, now features a small seconds complication with a power reserve. Love it or hate it, it’s up to you to decide but I personally find it charming and a breath of fresh air.

To conclude, if this is your first purchase on a Grand Seiko or a luxury watch in general, you cannot go wrong with the SBGW231. It really is the only expensive watch you’ll need if you want just one good mechanical watch. However, if you’re a seasoned collector wanting an outstanding example of Japanese watchmaking while being different, I’d probably go for the SBGK005.

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