The Grand Seiko SBGA427 ‘Soko Light’

By Daniel Yong

I don’t know about you, but a quick glance at the new Soko USA exclusive models (SBGA427 and SBGA429) have helped me feel like I’ve removed a few wrinkles off my face. They’re fun, serious and pack a whole lot of character. Grand Seiko already boasts an extensive list of “serious watches” that I feel like they can start to experiment and make fun designs for their collectors (or those wanting a well made but cheeky watch).

So before I get into the actual watch, we should probably go through what the Soko Light and Shadow base their designs from. Like most Grand Seiko models, this new addition to the US market takes inspiration from Japan’s natural environment. The SBGA427 and SBGA429, take beautiful elements from the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto towards the end of Autumn, and interpret this through the dials. Specifically, it’s trying to evoke the phenomena that is witnessed when the first frost begins to blanket the bamboo trees leaving a glimpse of the green leaves for spectators.

I adore this story, and out of all the dial designs inspired by nature, this one probably means the most to me personally. However, if I can take a totally different tangent from everyone else (including Grand Seiko), what I love most about this dial is that it evokes a sense of urban culture and the street art it encompasses. When I strap on my SBGA427 Soko Light, I get taken back to one of my favourite things to do in Sydney on the weekends, exploring our streets and absorbing its beauty.

Please let me indulge myself in painting this picture for you. A short walk to Harbour Street near Chinatown and you would find a huge mural of Jenny Munro, an Australian Wiradjuri elder, a ferocious leader in fighting for the rights of Indigenous Australians. Or if I’m closer to where I live and teach, near a certain library in South-West Sydney, you’d find a mural of a powerful everyday woman, a mother of two, juggling her way through tertiary education. I love how street art captures the raw humanness of people. My friends, this is what the SBGA427 evokes in me when I wear it.

On the wrist

Okay sweet, but how does it look and feel on the wrist Daniel? Let me first hit the play button on the song ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen, it comes in at 39 mm. This is not common for watches housing the exclusive 9R65 movement, so this is a win. On my 7-inch wrist, it wears super comfortably but it does wear taller than my mechanical Grand Seiko watches. That’s cool though, I get super functional, “not about to fall apart” vibes when I wear this guy.

In terms of its beauty, man this dial seriously kills me. Apart from the very romantic feelings I shared with you earlier, the vertical brushing on the dial becomes more prominent during rainy days. I’d say because of the way the light is captured in the dial, you really notice the vertical brushing and those green hands seriously just pop. And to top it off, you could opt in to wear it on the steel bracelet or the strap that comes with it. I personally like it on the bracelet but as you guys know, I always opt to add my personality into the watch by choosing my own aftermarket bands.

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