The Forgotten Grand Seiko LE: SBGR305

Grand Seiko and Omega are never ones to shy away from good limited edition. If it’s Tuesday, there’s a new Speedmaster LE. If the seasons are changing, count on Grand Seiko to turn that mood into a dial texture.

One of the downsides to fairly frequent LE releases is that they begin to blur together. This is particularly the case with Grand Seiko, as their designations are things like SBGE249 and SBGA089, as opposed to just ‘Apollo 8.’ So what comes to mind when I say SBGR305? Likely, nothing. But we should know it. This is a milestone reference for the Japanese manufacture. Remember back in 2016 when Grand Seiko announced it was separating from Seiko and gaining its independence? Do you know what the first watch dial signed with Grand Seiko alone was? You’re looking at it.


Somehow, when Grand Seiko announced the SBGR305, they didn’t make a fuss of this. They spoke about how this new titanium affair was a modern interpretation of the GS ‘First’ case (thank you @israwrist), how they’d engineered a new dial finishing process, and how a new blend of “Brilliant Hard” titanium was going to be used in the future. That would make a special piece in its own right. This LE was the blueprint for modern Grand Seiko, minus spring drive. Maybe that’s why the lack of attention? But all other DNA is present. The classic Zaratsu finishing, HD synthetic sapphire with AR coating, and well-finished cal 9S68 movement still make appearances. I’ve spoken before about how often I find myself drawn to the simple offerings from any given house. The SBGR305 is a distilled essence of Grand Seiko’s early years.

What’s more, this is before they began obscuring their movements with gaudy designs on the sapphire

The example shown today comes from retailer @specialdial. It is showing minimal signs of wear. The case is totally unpolished and not marked visibly. Apparently it’s been sitting unworn for some time. Originally purchased in Ginza Wako, this example comes with a full set. It’s what you’d be looking for.

Find this SBGR305 here for 710,000 ¥, just under 7000 USD.