Since its initial release, the "Snowflake," which gets the name from its distinctive textured dial, has become one of Grand Seiko's best-known watches.
In 2019, Grand Seiko debuted the Grand Seiko Spring Drive "Blue Snowflake" SBGA407, the first Snowflake to come on a strap with a dressier case.
According to Grand Seiko, the wind-swept snow in the mountains of Shinshu inspired the dial of the Blue Snowflake. The fans prefer to call it the Skyflake.
The History of the Snowflake
The original Snowflake was the Grand Seiko SBGA011, launched in 2005. The SBGA211 replaced the original to move away from the Seiko Grand Seiko branding found n the dial to the current, simpler Grand Seiko branding. The Snowflake comes on a titanium bracelet and a titanium case.
Snowflake refers to the dial's distinct texture, which evokes the freshly fallen snow on the fields surrounding the Hotaka mountains in Shiojiri, a small city in Nagano prefecture home to the Shinshu Watch Studio (located within a Seiko-Epson facility), the homeplace of Grand Seiko Spring Drive, and quartz timepieces.
The development team looked at the archives and took inspiration from the oblong vintage textured dial of 56GS from 1971.
The dial starts from a blank brass disc, stamped to create a distinct texture. A silver alloy is then applied to give it a white finish. The dial requires no less than 80 steps from the brass disc to the finished product.
The Blue Snowflake SBGA407 was the first Snowflake to come on a leather strap instead of a bracelet, and a less sporty case, making it quite different from other Snowflakes.
Spring Drive 9R65
The open case back shows us the 9R65 Spring Drive movement. It is identical to the movement found in the Skyflake and many other Grand Seikos. As with all Spring Drive movements, the second hand's motion is step-less. This caliber also provides fantastic accuracy, at ±1 second a day.
Spring Drive movements are controversial as they mix Quartz technology with mechanical parts. It does not require a battery, and the energy from the mainspring doesn't need to be stored anywhere. The purists will point out that without an escapement, watches powered by such movements are not mechanical watches. Nonetheless, it is a marvel of technology, and watch collectors need to add a Spring Drive movement to their collection eventually.
On the Wrist
Contrary to the Snowflake, the Skyflake's dial is quite noticeable and the main attraction of this watch. As usual for Grand Seiko watches, the SBGA407 has razor-sharp hands and hour markers. The level of finish here is comparable with higher-end watches.
1960s Grand Seiko watches inspired the case of this SBGA407. It is a round case with long and elegant lugs. The crown is signed GS and allows manually winding the watch and setting the time and date. Like most Spring Drive models, there is a power reserve indicator at 8 o'clock, which some might dislike as it makes the dial busier.
With a diameter of 40.2mm and a thickness of 12.8mm, this watch sits comfortably on the wrist.
The strap that comes with the watch is a crocodile leather one in a dark blue tone. It comes with a three-part folding clasp (or double-folding buckle), which does the job perfectly.
- Stainless Steel Case
- Diameter: 40.2mm
- Height: 12.8mm
- Spring Drive
- Power Reserve: 72 Hours
- Accuracy: ±1 second per day on average
- Hacking Seconds
- Blue crocodile leather strap, double folding clasp
- Strap width 19mm
- Time, Date, Power Reserve Indicator
- 100m Water Resistance