Hands-On With The Watches of Switzerland Exclusive Grand Seiko SBGA259 ‘Snowflake’
The classic SBGA259 receives an update for its American debut. This exclusive version gets an upgrade with golden accents set against an incredibly beautiful Snowflake dial.
It goes without saying, but in case you need a reminder, Americans need to discover Grand Seiko.
The Japanese watchmaker’s ultimate luxury line, Grand Seiko has long been admired by collectors in Asia and cognoscenti around the world for its incredible attention to details — both technical and aesthetic.
The SBGA259, aka the Snowflake, is the epitome of all Grand Seikos.
First off, that dial! It is inspired by the way the sun shines on freshly fallen snow in the Suwa region of Japan. You could lose hours of every day adjusting your wrist and admiring the play of light on this unique texture.
The snowflake texture evokes that sense of purity, but everything else about it is also clean. The design is simple but with a haute horology degree of finish. The Spring Drive movement is engineered with a high degree of efficiency and accuracy. And it all comes in with a price point under ten grand.
Ready For My Closeup
Now let’s talk about Watches of Switzerland. This UK retailer made its US debut at the end of 2018 with two unique boutiques — one in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood and one at the Wynn in Las Vegas.
For enthusiasts, Watches of Switzerland offers American shoppers a different kind of hands-on experience. The two-story SoHo shop, in particular, feels like a cool club with an in-house cocktail bar and a curated library of watch-related books lining exposed brick walls. For the next few months, Grand Seiko has taken over a prime location in-store for the first of its kind Grand Seiko pop-up.
If a hand-finished object like the Snowflake is on your wish list, you need to examine it under a loupe at the brand’s pop-up to understand the level of luxury we're talking about here. Watches of Switzerland truly provides just the right ambiance for getting to know Grand Seiko.
It's a welcoming environment, but the best part is that select timepieces (such as the Snowflake) are showcased like artwork so that you can take your time and appreciate the details.
It's All In The Details
I have heard the best writers of our generation compare the level of craftsmanship behind Grand Seiko on the pantheon alongside A. Lange & Söhne, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin.
I’ve seen collectors who have visited Grand Seiko's Shiojiri dial workshop get teary-eyed when describing how the Snowflake dial is built up from multiple layers. Or how the razor-sharp hour markers are hand-finished and applied.
All of the other elements of the SBGA259 are equally compelling. On the one hand, while the simple design of the titanium case is not super flashy, it sits on the wrist with the ease of a pair of Italian leather loafers or a cashmere sweater. Grand Seiko's unique Zaratsu polishing technique produces a sleek silhouette and sharp, faceted bezels that are also scratch resistant.
Then there’s the Spring Drive movement—a hybrid mechanism that uses an electric speed control instead of a mechanical escapement. While this may be a turnoff for mechanical purists, for others the resulting seamless sweep of the seconds hand is mesmerizing.
With this Snowflake, you've got a watch designed to appeal to people who are obsessed with detail. With Watches of Switzerland, you've got a retailer that provides a space where you can take your time to appreciate these elements.
And here’s where all the pieces come together. Watches of Switzerland is offering this exclusive Snowflake only at its flagship shop located at 60 Greene St. This exclusive timepiece has highly polished golden accents set atop the fresh grain of the Snowflake dial and framed with a high-intensity titanium case and bracelet (although it looks just as luxe on a leather strap).
You can only see it (and buy it) in person though. The Grand Seiko SBGA259 ‘Snowflake’ is priced at $5,900 USD. But there is also an added value in having a great experience which can be just as significant as owning an object. You may get testy-eyed as well!
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)