To celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary, GS just released a new limited edition SBGE263 Eagle. This cool sports watch deviates a great deal from most of the other 60th Anniversary watches from Grand Seiko so far in that it has opted for a lovely and laid-back brown motif, as compared to the bright blue seen in most of its contemporaries, often accented with similarly bright reds that make it pop even more.
For the Eagle, Grand Seiko chose a very dark, rich brown color scheme instead, not only for its dial but also its ceramic bezel. The design feels warmer and more organic than most of the blue LEs this year, and the gold accents, while standing out against their dark backdrop, are more cohesive to the overall color scheme rather than offer ultra-high contrast. The SBGE263, therefore, feels a lot more casual and daily wearable than something like the similar SBGE253.
By now you will have noticed the Eagle’s pièce de résistance, its gorgeous textured dial. At this point, I don’t think any brand, at any price, is as synonymous with beautiful dial design and craftsmanship as is Grand Seiko, so for a special and very limited watch like this, I’d expect nothing less. I’ve previously referred to this design as a peppermint swirl dial, as seen on some beautiful GSes in the past like the SBGH025, and while I have no idea if GS finds this description flattering, it’s as good a name as any.
For what it’s worth, Grand Seiko was a bit more dramatic in its description of the admittedly beautiful dial, writing: The dial pattern represents the radiance of the eagle’s freedom soaring through the vista, swooping downward into valleys below or upward into the boundless spaces above.
Perhaps, then, these dials should henceforth be known as eagle dials, but I’ll leave that to the community to decide. One difference between this and the SBGH025’s dial, however, is the direction of the swirl. Here the distinct curved lines appear to flow with the motion of time, which is to say clockwise, whereas in that earlier watch they were contrary to it, creating an impression of resistance against the seconds hand. I think I prefer the way the Eagle’s doing it.
Regardless of the name or its origins, it is certainly impressive. The gold accents in the GMT hand, writing, and chapter ring work extremely well against the dark brown, providing enough contrast for easy legibility without overpowering it. The ceramic bezel in particular, with its deep, dark brown, sufficiently so to be confused with black in some photos, deserves a lot of credit too. It’s an interesting choice of watch to adopt this dial and color scheme in because this sporty case can afford to be more aggressive. It’d be nice to see this tried in a dressier case in the future, although I suppose you’d lose that nice brown bezel.
The one element here I find myself struggling with is the date. Don’t get me wrong, the date doesn’t stand out as much as it might because it’s replacing a silver hour marker, but it feels a bit out of place in such a beautiful dial. The ideal solution, if I could be so bold, is to not have a date to begin with, but lacking that, finding a way to make it more cohesive with the overall theme would be my preference.
The case, however, is basically ideal. After years of enormous Grand Seiko sports watches, 2020 was a time for moderation and this SBGE263 is no exception. At 40.5mm, this steel case is very reasonable for a sports watch, particularly one that retains the diving credentials of 200 meters of water resistance. The continued use of tough ceramic bezels is also to be praised, as this is one of the most scratch-prone areas. I suspect the crown is a bit proud of the case for some tastes, but for me, it gives the watch (and Grand Seiko diver-esque models generally) a bit of character that I’ve always found appealing.
On the other side we’re greeted with a steel caseback, consistent with the tool watch nature of the rest of the case. You get some limited edition writing and a nice engraved medallion, although it’s a shame you can’t enjoy the beautiful 9R66 that’s inside. It goes without saying at this point, but the 9R66 spring drive is a superb movement that offers exceptional accuracy. It differs from most spring drives in that it offers a true GMT complication (alongside date and power reserve complications), meaning you can change the hour hand independently, perfect for changing time zones or just DST. The GMT hand itself is great for world travelers, but given that there are relatively few of those these days, it can also be very useful for people who do business in multiple time zones, which is the way I generally use my GMT watches. One of the best parts of this watch being a GMT, of course, is the excuse to use a gorgeous gold GMT hand.
The SBGE263 Eagle is a surefire hit and has already received a great deal of positivity from the GS community. Indeed, we’re almost sold out of them at Timeless already, only hours from their announcement. They are, as you may have surmised, quite limited, with just 110 being made, all exclusive to the US. At $6,700, it’s $500 more expensive than its regular production peers, such as the SBGE253, although in exchange for that you get a much more elaborate dial. Is it worth it? To me, yes, and it’s my favorite version of this watch so far. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out those other versions as well, namely the green SBGE257, the blue SBGE255, and the black SBGE253, all of which great watches in their own right.
If, however, you decide that you want the Eagle, click here to be taken to our pre-order page. Hopefully by the time you read this we won’t be sold out, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the SBGE263 doesn’t even make it 12 hours before they’re all gone.
(Edit: Sadly, our pre-order allocation didn’t even survive 8 hours! We’re all sold out, a testament to how much of a hit this design is).