The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.

The Grand Seiko SBGC013 Spring Drive Chronograph 55th Anniversary Limited Edition



Topper is just finishing our first month as a Grand Seiko Dealer, so it seems fitting to write about a watch that celebrates the entire 55-year history of Grand Seiko. That watch is model SBGC013, a titanium Spring Drive GMT chronograph with some added features not found on similar models in the series. This post examines the SBGC013, which at $10,500 is the most expensive of all the non gold 2015 Grand Seiko models.

The SBGC013 is $2,800 more than the stainless steel Spring Drive GMT Chronographs on a metal bracelet such as the SBGC001 listed at $7,700. This cost difference is large, but the SBGC013 features a number of upgrades justifying the price difference beyond the fact it is a 400-piece limited edition. Mechanically it is even more accurate than the already impressive Spring Drive Chronograph GMTs as it features the caliber 9R96 instead of the 9R86 movement. While the 9R86 models are accurate to within a second a day, the upgraded 9R96 is accurate to within +/- 10 seconds a month (or less than +/- ½ second per day).

Like the closer priced ($9,100) non limited edited sister version SBGC005, the SBGC013 features a titanium case, but it has further enhancements. The rotor features an 18-karat yellow gold ornament with Grand Seiko emblem, as does the bracelet clasp. Instead of featuring a smooth unadorned bezel, the bezel is black ceramic with a tachymeter scale. This bezel treatment makes the watch much sportier looking than the other Spring Drive GMT Chronographs. Blending in with the black bezel, is the deep blue dial with gold accents. Like many blue dials, it demonstrates a chameleon characteristic varying from cobalt to navy depending the lighting. It also is more even and solid than most Grand Seikos in our collection. Perhaps due to the eye catching nature of the gold indices and high contrast tachymeter, Grand Seiko may have chose to forgo their signature sunburst or other more ornate dial effects.

Aside from all the upgrades, it's worth mentioning this watch retains all the excellent features present in all of the Grand Seiko Springdrive GMT Chronographs. The chronograph column wheel provides crisp action when starting, stopping, and resetting. The larger-than-most pushers, which lock-down to ensure water resistance when screwed in and disabled, are very functional and feel good to use. Instead of having to set the GMT hand after setting the local time (e.g., ETA 2893), the watch features the same "quick hour" setting as the "four hand" GMT models. This enables changing local time without "hacking" the watch and allows the date to change forwards and backwards. This system also prevents any "danger zone" from 9:00 PM to 3:00 AM where one might damage the watch by changing the date if the date complication is already in the process of changing.

Then there is the Spring Drive technology itself. Spring Drive is, of course, a movement that forgoes a balance complete and instead uses a quartz crystal regulator. While the accuracy greatly exceeds even the most rigorous of mechanical standards of Swiss watches, it does so using a broader definition of "mechanical watch" than some purists would like to use. Many a forum has had incredibly passionate discussions about exactly what Spring Drive is, and what collectors should make of it. What is not in question, in addition to the accuracy of the Spring Drive, is the mesmerizing beauty of its smooth moving seconds hand.

We are very excited to have an event on Monday, September 28th, where one of the Master Craftsman from Japan will be on hand at Topper Jewelers to show enthusiasts the assembly and disassembly of a Spring Drive movements. More details on this event will be coming in the next few days. For now, the SBGC013 is in stock and available.

The ceramic bezel, precise chapter ring, and applied indices of the SBGC013.

A look at the precision cut and brushed hands of the SBGC013.

The refined details of the chronograph subdials, GMT hand, and date window of the SBGC013.

The small seconds subdial and power reserve indicator of the SBGC013.

The black ceramic bezel of the SBGC013.

The crown and large portioned pushers of the SBGC013.

The sapphire caseback giving view to the decorated 9R86 movement and the medallion adorned rotor.

The gold "GS" logo on the titanium buckle of the SBG013.

The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.