The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat is the perfect reflection of the Japanese excellence, allying performance and discretion, with this hint of paradox peculiar to puzzle the Westerners. Review in details.
A sports watch ?
Because when some of the characteristics are listed, we could think to deal with a sports watch :
- steel casing and strap
- screwed crown
- 100 m waterproofness
- pierced lugs (for a quick change of the strap, as on some diving watches)
Or a smart watch ?
Yet, this Grand Seiko clearly ranks itself as a smart watch.
First with the shapes of its casing, very fine and elegant.
Then with the subtle alternation between the polished/brushed surfaces.
With the applied markers and the hour and minute hands which polishing could remind of the purity of a katana blade.
Or with the splendid second hands which blue staining is perfect.
The sunray-brushed dial also plays the elegance card, with its varying hues according to the lights, from soft cream colour to nice effect silver grey.
The writings are quite discreet, even if inevitably, the attention is called by the “Hi-Beat 36000”.
A 36000 vph beating high-tech motor
For not satisfied of taking care of its presentation, this Grand Seiko is endowed with a high-tech motor that beats the 36000 vibrations per hour.
Among the high frequency pioneers at the end of the 1960's, Seiko has perfected again its calibre : use of optimized materials for the motor and balance spring and new shapes of teeth, on the escapement wheel, in order to limit the usury linked to the 36000 beatings per hour.
A cold but meticulous finishing of the movement
The finishing of the calibre is indeed quite cold and industrial but very meticulous : oscillating bridge and rotor decorated with “côtes de Tokyo” and golden engravings.
A lack of chamfering and a little trivial indexing could be deplored at this level of price.
But the Japanese are used to work seriously and efficiently.
Not in the embellishment department!
Besides, the sapphire back (very discreetly silkscreened) allows catching a glimpse of this mechanic, yielding in to this fashion that consists in showing all the calibre.
Some would have preferred a full back, the Seiko back engravings of the Grand Seiko being also very aesthetical.
The general finishing is first-class (the adjustment of the pieces at the end of the strap with the casing is purely mind-blowing) and does not suffer any critics.
This Grand Seiko is a wonderful demonstration of Seiko's savoir-faire concerning the upscale, which makes it a serious competitor in the market of the (very) smart sports watches.
Whatever some might think : it is not only in Switzerland that great watches are made !
The + :
- very discreet smart watch
- magnificent finishing
- competition calibre
The – :
- a watch that is a bit thick for a smart watch
- impossibility to put a standard leather strap since the lugs are very long
- a readability that sometimes is tricky
- the upscale image of Seiko that (unfortunately) has some troubles to establish itself.
Further information :
- tester's wrist size = 17,5 cm