To many of you, I know, this will be sacrilege; a site literally called The Hairspring featuring something with as many mechanical components as a Playstation 5. This is the Ferrari SUV; a distinctly upmarket brand engaging with something many would consider well beneath them aspirationally. For the militant-anti-quartz among us; hear me out. An open mind is worth it in most cases but particularly in Grand Seiko. There’s something intangibly great about a highly upmarket quartz from the marque name who brought about the quartz crisis. Switzerland’s traditional watchmaking industry has never been healthier, no one is threatening a secondary crisis. So, I implore you, take a second look at this anachronistic beauty through the lens of pure, lighthearted, and economic watch enthusiasm.
Grizzled collectors will laugh openly in my face as I present this argument, I am fine with that. Think of quartz as a variety of complication, one whose quality in construction may range from Casio egg timer to the NIST atomic clock in Colorado regulated by ytterbium atoms. For a quick bit of perspective, I actually graduated with a degree in physics from the very university funding that project many years back, CU. This is not to call myself a scientist or physicist or anything of the sort; I’m not. But I’ve been in that clock thrice and, for the sake of argument, its circuit architecture is not dissimilar to quartz. It is only that the oscillating material, or escapement, is orders of magnitude more precise and the scale is equally increased. All of this is to say that the variation which exists in quartz may, for a familiar mechanical analogue, range from Seiko 5 to Vacheron 57260 (interestingly, to my knowledge, the development & build times of both the VC 57260 and NIST-F1+F2 are remarkably similar at ~5-10 years and single digit millions funding).
All of which brings me to this: the SBGX341 is quartz taken to an extreme standard. The 9F movement has real heritage. High-accuracy 9F is capable of delivering ± 10 seconds per year, an order of magnitude above any automatic caliber. But that’s just the start. Grand Seiko’s quartz is multiples more accurate than even my beloved CasiOak. How? They’re vertically integrated. Seiko grows its own quartz crystal for 9F with ridiculous standards of purity and testing. A vast majority is not selected for use. You have to dive deep to understand why 9F quartz are special, but it’s well worth it for us true obsessives. The calibre is also finished by hand within an inch of its life.
This watch took over from the Tough Quartz SBGX039 of 2003 with no fanfare whatsoever, but introduced a Zaratsu-modern 40mm case with an offset crown. It is a thing of sheer beauty, as is the red-accented dial. It was also the first-ever Grand Seiko to incorporate Lumibrite in two colors. Then there’s the antimagnetic angle. Magnetism effects quartz calibres as adversely as mechanical escapements. Oscillating step-motor components have been shielded in a tiny-little-Faraday cage, giving full 40,000 A/m resistance. There’s real engineering, innovation, and hand-finishing here. There’s less romance here, but equal effort and, arguably, value equal to many of their hi-beat and spring driven counterparts.
This example sports no visible markings on its highly polished flanks or indeed anywhere. The dial and propriety lume appear equally untouched. The private party seller doesn’t talk about what all is included, but a box and green strap are pictured. Also, just to be pedantic, the seller mentions that this is a JDM model with only 6 coming to the US. I don’t know what else to say except that this is very incorrect. Otherwise the watch itself looks great. As ever, do your own research.
Find this SBGX341 here on r/watchexchange for 3200 USD.