It is difficult to imagine a modern dress watch more perfectly judged than this throwback. Students of Grand Seiko will recall the first-ever 2011 reissue of the Grand Seiko First (ref 3180), the ref SBGW033. Catchy name. In every iteration of this design since the 3180, GS have remained true to its central design philosophy while subtly tweaking proportions and detail—much like Porsche with the 911 or Apple now with the iPhone. If any Grand Seiko could be said to be an all time classic, this range is it.
This 2018 release followed in form of the 2011 with slight alteration in all aspects but one; the case swelled from a very-60s 36mm to 38, here in steel. Now, that’s not a massive difference but it is noticeable. In the modern context, this is still a tastefully sized three-hander. Just marginally less svelte. And similar also in strategy as this was another limited edition, produced in just 1960 examples. Also carried over is the manual 9S64, a 28800 vph, hacking, and quite-thin work of art. So just what has been revised since GS last visited this design?
The lug bevel is now ever so slightly wider which is a touch of modernity. Its applied logo is a fractionally greater percentage of the dial real estate. The hands are ever just so slightly thicker at the base of the diamond shape. The case back is no longer engraved with the classic lion but gets a full gold medallion in the old style. The crystal edge is a little more rounded and less stepped. These are not things you will note across the room. This is studied evolution, a philosophy which seems to suit Grand Seiko and their sensibilities rather well if you ask me.
This example is absolutely a winner. The watch has wear on the case but it is even and light. I see no serious bashes or anything out of place. The dial has not luminous material to worry about and the crystal is clear. It comes with its original strap still attached and full set from a well-regarded London retailer.
Find this SBGW253 here from Kibble Watches for 5750 GBP.