One of Grand Seiko’s best known timepieces is ref. SBGA211, otherwise known as the “Snowflake.” With its iconic dial conjuring the windswept snowy vistas of Shiojiri where Grand Seiko produces all Spring Drive timepieces, this fan-favorite embodies Grand Seiko’s long-standing connection to nature.
Vintage grand Seiko 56GS next to a dial sample.
The 56GS model from 1971, which inspired the Snowflake dial. Beside it is the stamped dial sample that the team found in the studio archives.
In 2004, the dial workshop team of the Shinshu Watch Studio was tasked with creating a dial that would effectively capture the essence of their surroundings. Turning to Grand Seiko’s past, they discovered in their archives a model from 1971—the 56GS—as well as a dial sample with a texture not dissimilar from what they were trying to create.
In the years since SBGA211 first came to market (2005 in Japan and 2010 globally), Grand Seiko has cautiously expanded its catalog of Snowflake-dialed timepieces, among them SBGA407 and SBGY002. Now, Grand Seiko has unveiled ref. STGF359, the latest addition to the Snowflake family under the ever-growing banner of ladies timepieces.
Measuring 28.9mm in diameter, 35.4mm in length, and just 8.7mm in thickness, STGF359 features Grand Seiko’s classic case geometry in a notably smaller form factor. Reminiscent of the contemporary Grand Seiko Style created by Nobuhiro Kosugi, the case here features an eye-catching mix of Zaratsu-polished and hairline-finished surfaces. A polished bezel frames the dial and offers a nice point of contrast to the topside of the lugs, which are done in a hairline finish. The head comes paired with a three-link metal bracelet, which pulls off elegant without being overly ornate. Overall, the balance here is excellent.
The dial is a textured silver, capturing the distinct natural beauty of the Shiojiri region. Despite their smaller size, the indexes remain highly complex, sculpted pieces, and both the hour and minute hands are faceted to achieve maximum play with the light. The heat-tempered blue second hand, which is done one-by-one by a skilled Grand Seiko craftsperson, is carried over from SBGA211, and it offers an excellent point of contrast against the light dial.
Powering the watch is Grand Seiko caliber 4J52. Like Grand Seiko’s 9F calibers, this is a high-performance quartz movement rated to +/-10 seconds a year, all while being in an ultra-compact package.
Case: Stainless Steel
Dimensions: 28.9mm in diameter x 8.7mm in thickness x 35.4mm in length
Movement: 4J52 Quartz
Availability: Mid-June 2021 at Mastershops, Salons, Grand Seiko Boutiques, and the GS9 Club Shop