Grand Seiko SBGA229 Review & Why It’s A True Luxury Dive Watch

The Grand Seiko SBGA229 is quickly becoming one of the best known under the radar dive watches. Discover why the SBGA229 is stepping out of the shadows and rising in popularity.

Grand Seiko SBGA229 Review

Over the last year we’ve been fortunate enough to experience many amazing dive watches. One of our favorites was the Grand Seiko SBGA229. If I had to use one word to describe my experience with the SBGA229 it would be “refreshing”. I say that because Grand Seiko has created a unique experience. The SBGA229 transcends brands, marketing, outside opinions.

When you put this diver on for the first time you’ll get a rush of excitement and awe. Every detail of the SBGA229 has been designed with a purpose and every surface has had the utmost attention to detail applied to it. Once you crack the surface and get into the movement of the watch, you’ll experience accuracy and horology at heights previously unimaginable. We’ll get into more detail on the 9R65 spring drive moment later in our Grand Seiko SBGA229 review but it’s worth mentioning in the opening that this technology is a major achievement.

What eventually came next is what everyone does when they are handling a very fine dive watch that isn’t Rolex, quality and value comparison the Submariner starts to get made. In my opinion there are only a couple dive watches that can compete with the Rolex Submariner at this price point, one notably being the Omega Seamaster 300m. Later in our article I’ll dive into how the Grand Seiko SBGA229 compares to the Rolex Submariner.

Check out our YouTube channel to see our video titled Grand Seiko SBGA229 Review.

SBGA229 Spring Drive Movement 9R65

The most unique feature of this watch is its movement. The Grand Seiko SBGA229 diver is powered by the in-house caliber 9R65. What makes the 9R65 special is that it’s not a typical mechanical movement. There is a small quartz crystal that is used to regulate the watch. This is what gives the SBGA229 a true sweep for the second hand.

The addition of the quartz crystal to regulate the movement has led to superior accuracy. The 9R65 has an accuracy rating of +/- 1 seconds per day. This is far superior to the new movements released by Omega (8800 calibre) or Rolex (3235 calibre).

It’s almost become standard for new calibres now a day but the 9R65 comes with a 72hr power reserve. If you wear multiple watches, there is definitely a difference with a 72hr power reserve in your collection compared to the 40hr. What is important about this feature is that Grand Seiko is delivering industry leading specs but doing so in conjunction with advanced watchmaking technology.

We get a lot of questions covering the difference between mechanical, spring drive, and quartz movements. The spring drive isn’t truly mechanical because it employs a quartz crystal but it’s hardly anything like a quartz movement. There isn’t even a batter in a spring drive. If I had to put a distribution of the two for the spring drive movement, it would be 95% mechanical and 5% quartz.

Dial

For dive watches the core function is to be able to quickly read the time in any light situation. If you grade the SBGA229 on that alone, it’ll pass. If you can’t decide from the pictures online, seeing it in person will cement the legibility of this diver. If you can’t see it in person we have a YouTube watch review video where we turn out the lights and provide a very impressive lume shot.

Outside of the perfect legibility of the SBGA229, it also comes with a very hand feature that I wish more watches had which is a power reserve indicator. It’s almost strange that more mechanical watches don’t come with a power reserve indicator considering its relative short power cycle compared to a quartz watch.

For another spectacular Grand Seiko dial, check out our review of the Grand Seiko Snowflake.

Case Design

We’ve seen a trend over the last decade in which dive watches are getting larger in size. Grand Seiko has decided to go on the larger size compared to its next closest competitors, the Seamaster 300m (42mm) & Rolex Submariner (41mm). The case diameter for the SBGA229 is 44.2mm.

What is interesting is that although the SBGA229 is large it doesn’t quite seem like a 44mm. It’s the thickness of the watch that really gives this watch a presence, which comes in at 14mm.

Does The Grand Seiko SBGA229 Hold Its Value

The Grand Seiko SBGA229 outperforms many luxury watches retaining their value. Although you won’t make a profit reselling your SBGA229, you also won’t take a large hit. This is to be expected when buying luxury watches new at MSRP. If you can buy this watch at a discount, you’ll fare even better when it comes time to resell it.

For more information discover the Top 10 Things You Should Know About Grand Seiko.

Are Grand Seiko Divers Better Than Rolex Submariner

Most of the time this will come down to preference. It is worth noting that Grand Seiko either matches or outperforms the Rolex Submariner on most specs. If finishing matters to you then I would suggest you’d prefer the Grand Seiko SBGA229 over the Rolex Submariner.

Related Reference To The SBGA229

While wearing the SBGA229 you’ll notice that there is considerable weight to it. Not too much to turn me off but for some maybe. Grand Seiko has released the SBGA231 in high intensity titanium. This reference is claimed to be about 30% lighter but to get that you’ll have to pay $1,100 more. Both watches are exactly the same except the case material.

Grand Seiko SBGA229 Specs

·  Case Material – Stainless Steel

·  Case Size – 44.2mm

·  Crystal – Sapphire

·  Bezel – Ceramic Unidirectional

·  Water Resistance – 200m

·  Movement – Spring Drive

·  Caliber – 9R65

·  Power Reserve – 72hrs

·  Accuracy – +/- 1 Second Per Day

·  Features – Power Reserve Indicator

Grand Seiko SBGA229 Stainless Steel Diver Pricing & Availability

The SBGA229 is readily available at most Grand Seiko authorized dealers and has a MSRP of $6,000. Considering how the SBGA229 compares to similar luxury dive watches, there is an argument that this watch delivers a ton of value at an affordable price point.

Summary

Overall I would say that I’m very impressed with the Grand Seiko SBGA229 dive watch. It was a beauty to wear, comfortable on the wrist, and accurate watch. There wasn’t anything I could say that I didn’t enjoy. We’re such big fans of what Grand Seiko is bringing to the table. If I could suggest one thing it would be to replicate this watch in 40 or 41mm. Personally it may be a bit too big for my taste but if it came in a little smaller it would be a perfect addition for the collection.

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