Recently, Grand Seiko made headlines with its latest editions to its sports GMT quartz collection. However, it has now released something that is even more important, at least in my opinion. The irony is that besides Timeless Luxury announcing it, most people would have missed it. That watch is a 28.9mm stainless steel watch, with the iconically beautiful snowflake dial, and is powered by the 4J52 caliber which is a quartz movement regulated to +/-10s a year. What the watch does not feature is as significant as what it does feature though, as this piece comes with no jewels, no excessive ornamentation, and for all intents and purposes, is a typical Grand Seiko quartz piece with a snowflake dial but smaller.
Ref STGK013 (Grand Seiko Elegance Collection)
Before I carry on, let me give some insight into the point of view and state some qualifiers so I don’t step on any toes on what is undoubtedly a slightly sensitive subject. I get that we come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and wrist sizes for that matter, regardless of gender. So, I also believe that anyone can wear anything they want, based on their preferences and tastes, again regardless of gender. In other words, I don’t think that men should be pigeon holed to larger watches, nor women to smaller watches. Wear what works for you. That said, where I come from, Singapore, there aren’t as many ladies with the wrist presence to pull off larger watches. I have met some, and am friends with some, but the majority, tends to lean towards smaller watches. Now whether that is a by-product of stereotypes or marketing over the years is a different conversation to be had in a different article.
Ref STGK011 (Grand Seiko Elegance Collection)
What I am trying to bring across, is that in my personal experience, when I have tried to turn my friends who are women to Grand Seiko watches, I often get conflicted reactions. They are often sold on the brand’s philosophy, and intrigued by the amazing dials and quality of design that the brand offers. At the same time, they look through the collection and ask why there aren’t smaller options of the pieces that truly amaze, and why the petite sizes are always blinged out with diamonds or come in odd looking shapes. It is a fair question too. If you look through Grand Seiko’s collections on the international website, you’ll find that all the smaller sized watches i.e. less than 32mm, are only found in the elegance collection. I’ll include pictures of them below or at the end of the article for reference. Firstly, none of them are shaped like any of the regular Grand Seikos. They have a sort of bloated case shape, which may be for some, but is not a shape that most would trend towards. All but one of them (at least on the global Grand Seiko website) come adorned with gemstones. So, when I have been asked, I have to usually sheepishly say that perhaps the brand just hasn’t gotten there yet, which is frankly, a shame given that Seiko is celebrating 140 years of history this year.
Well, now, I have at least one option to point them to. The STGF359. For starters, this watch is part of the Heritage collection. It is a watch uses a similar case shape to some of the entry 37mm Grand Seikos, one that retains the usual sharper case angles. It has an amazing dial, simply because it is the iconic snowflake dial, which ironically, has been used (or similar dials at least) on so many different watches, but not on a simple smaller piece like this. Its hands have the same sharply cut features and I believe Zaratsu finishing. Its bracelet is a simple three link brushed bracelet that comes with all the same goodness, and I’m sure downsides, that the regular Grand Seiko Heritage models come with. As I mentioned earlier, it is basically a typical Grand Seiko watch, but smaller.
Comparisons between the STFG359 & similar 37mm models in Grand Seiko’s Heritage Collection
Granted, this watch still uses a quartz movement, something that is also sort of a stereotype. But if there is one brand that doesn’t skim on its quartz movements, it is Grand Seiko. And the caliber 4J52 is regulated to +/-10s a year, which is right up there with some of the best 9F quartz movements the brand has to offer. Besides, most Grand Seiko fans still have issues with the size and thickness of the brand Spring Drive watches and even some of their automatic pieces, so it is not like Grand Seiko has miniature versions of these movements available. Still, it would have been nice if an automatic or Spring Drive movement could have been included here.
Overall, I like this release. It is something that I have since finding out about it already recommended to several friends. If this came in a 37mm size, it would have been something I would have probably bought myself too. Personally, I think this is a step in the right direction for the brand. Could they, should they be doing more? Perhaps, its difficult to say since there is no common standard of measurement. But I for one, would love to see more releases like these in the brand’s future. The brand has a 61 years of history, it is about time that it does more.
Ref STGK007 (Grand Seiko Elegance Collection)
Ref STGK009 (Grand Seiko Elegance Collection) i.e. the only non-blinged petite watch in Grand Seiko’s international market
Similar alternatives to the STGF359 in the Japanese Grand Seiko market. None with the Snowflake or any interesting dial though.