Grand Seiko 62GS Hi-Beat SBGH039 Watch Review

by Angus Davies, www.escapementmagazine.com

 

I have a confession to make. I am a huge Grand Seiko fan and the proud owner of a beautiful Spring Drive model with a sumptuous snow-flake dial. Once you have experienced the pleasure of owning a Grand Seiko watch, with its incredibly smooth Zaratsu polished case and peerless readability, you crave other timepieces from the Japanese watch company. 

 

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that I am now seeking to acquire another Grand Seiko watch. I adore the Spring Drive model I possess and love the mesmerising motion of the continuously sweeping central seconds hand, but ever since I looked at a Grand Seiko SBGH001 with its exquisitely finished 9S85 movement, I have craved a hi-beat mechanical watch bearing the ‘GS’ logo on its dial. 

 

The vast majority of mechanical watches feature movements with frequencies ranging from 2.5 Hz to 4 Hz. This may sound a tad bewildering to the non-expert, so allow me to explain a little more. 

 

Inside a mechanical watch, the ‘balance wheel’ collaborates with the ‘hair spring’, oscillating to and fro to a predetermined frequency. These two key components, together with the aptly named escapement, proportion energy into even pulses and, in so doing, power the hands at a consistent rate. 

 

By increasing the frequency, or beat, of the movement, the stability is enhanced and therefore the accuracy is improved. Seldom do watch brands offer movements with a frequency greater than 4Hz but, then again, few watch companies can match the technical expertise and resources of Grand Seiko. 

 

The Hi-Beat movement oscillates at 5 Hz, or 36,000 vibrations per hour. It contains 37 jewels and has a power-reserve of 55 hours. This latter figure is particularly impressive if one considers that the movement requires more energy, owing to its higher frequency, and that the power is harnessed solely within one spring barrel. 

 

The bridges and oscillating mass are decorated with exquisitely polished parallel stripes which exhibit superbly defined lines. The pallet lever and escape wheel are open-worked using state of the art MEMS technology, according the components with a lower mass and, by default, reducing their energy consumption. 

 

To focus solely on the movement would be to overlook the profound beauty of this gorgeous watch. The 62GS can trace its lineage to 1967 with the release of the brand’s first ever automatic watch, sharing the now famous nomen. 

 

Grand Seiko has released various models in the 62GS collection, including an automatic model that features a winding crown at 4 o’clock, in common with the 1967 original. The 37.6mm case of this model is slightly larger than the original. It includes the Caliber 9S65 4 Hz movement and is offered in four different case options. 

 

Alternatively, would-be buyers can seek one of four limited-edition Grand Seiko 62GS watches, equipped with either a Spring Drive (choice of white and blue dial options) or Hi-Beat movement (choice of silver and brown dial options). Both the Spring Drive and Hi-Beat models are more contemporary in character, featuring winding crowns at 3 o’clock and measuring 40.0mm in diameter, but otherwise share the aesthetic codes of the 1967 original. 

 

Irrespective of the model, Seiko has captured the beauty of the 1960s model, repeating the recipe of superb legibility, impressive accuracy and an ultra-smooth, ‘Zaratsu’ polished case. The dial sports the supremely succinct date display and eschews a conventional bezel, employing a glass-box style sapphire crystal, proffering magnificent clarity. 

 

I adore choice and admit with this mouthwatering assortment of models, I would struggle to select my favourite piece. Indeed, I was initially drawn to the blissfully blue 62 GS Spring Drive SBGA127, however, after a period of reflection, it is the brown dial version of the Hi-Beat, SBGH039 which has edged ahead and engenders the most profound cravings.