The Grand Seiko LE SBGV019—Display Back Comes to Quartz
GS SBGX063 (left) and GS Limited Edition SBGV019 (right).
Some on the Internet liken Grand Seiko Spring Drive models to quartz watches with display backs. However, those in the collecting world know that while the Spring Drive movement may be regulated by a quartz component, it is still very much a mechanical watch. The Limited Edition SBGV019, however, is very much a quartz watch.
The SBGV019 is certainly not the world's first quartz watch with a display back, but it is the first one ever sold at Topper Fine Jewelers. Swiss and German manufacturers such as Bruno Söhnle and Gevril have had quartz display back models before, and many of the brands that we feature such as Hamilton, Longines, and Omega offer quartz watches, but I can't think of a time where the back hasn't been covered been up. Generally this is for good reason. Traditionally the purpose of the display back is to allow the observer to gaze upon the inner workings (and motion) of the movement. As we all know, most quartz movements are encased in plastic, harbor a battery as its most prominent feature, and provide practically no observable gear train movement. So why bother placing a sapphire display caseback on the limited edition SBGV019?
The SBGV019 is a 600-piece limited edition with a U.S. retail price of $3,000. This makes it $900 more than the Caliber 9F82 37mm Quartz models, and $100 more than the 40mm Quartz models with the more elaborate bracelet.
Physically, the watch falls in between the two other sizes of quartz models currently in the U.S. core collection. It's a 38mm piece that wears substantially bigger than its 37mm brethren largely because of the pronounced crown guards and thick horns. The bezel of the SBGV019 is slightly thinner than the ones found on the 37mm models such as the SBGV007.
Though the dial color seems the same as the SBGV007, the shape of the markers provide a greater sense of expansiveness on the dial. This is due to the fact that the hour markers are thinner and longer, and the date window wider and includes a slightly bigger date font. It's a great size for those that have felt in-between the existing quartz sizes. Further design enhancements between the quartz and this model include mirror-polish hands and a distinguishing blue second hand.
Still, aside from the aforementioned changes, this is first and foremost a quartz watch with a display back. Instead of concealing the 9F82 movement, it's on display. There is plenty to like about the mechanical features of the 9F movement, such as its ability to be easily regulated by a watchmaker, its thermal compensation, the fact that it is accurate to +/- 5 seconds a year, and that the hands perfectly hit the center of every dial indices. However, and perhaps surprisingly for a quartz watch, I instead want to focus on the look of the movement.
True, as with most quartz movements, there is no rotor and two of the most prominent features are the battery and the coil. However, like many high-end mechanical watches, the SBGV019 movement boasts beautifully decorated plates, heat-blued screws, sapphire jewels, and chamfered edges. These are the reasons why this limited edition quartz warrants a display caseback, and why for many collectors, the SBGV019 is worth a look.
Below are some additional photos and comparisons of the SBGV019 with the SBGV007. What you see is a beautifully finished best-of-breed quartz movement. The SBGV019, in its own way, may be the year's most daring pre-Basel release. In summary, the SBGV019 seems to be sending a message to all 9F movement owners that they can be proud of what is normally sequestered under those solid metal casebacks.
Grand Seiko SBGX063 (left) and Grand Seiko LE SBGV019 (right).
A comparison view of the Grand Seiko SBGX063.
The brushed minute hand of the SBGX063.
The wider and shorter hour markers of the SBGX063.
The solid case back of the SBGV019 which is similar to those found on most 100m water resistant quartz pieces from Grand Seiko.
The Grand Seiko Limited Edition SBGV019.
The signed crown, crowd guards, and wide horns of the SBGV019.
The high polished hands of the SBGV019.
The Grand Seiko signature heat-blued second hand of the SBGV019.
A view through the sapphire display back of the SBGV019.
A close up of the signature Grand Seiko plate decoration, jewels, and blued screws.
The coil of the Grand Seiko 9F82 quartz movement.
The adjustable pacing switch as seen through the sapphire display case back.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.