The Grand Seiko SBGH051 is a stunning addition to the Hi-Beat lineup thanks to its blue dial and gold accents.
The SBGH051 is another variation on the successful Hi-Beat theme, but a relatively provocative one when compared to another of my recent reviews, the SBGH047.
The differences between the SBGH051 and the source material, the SBGH001, are few, but make a huge visual impact. Gone is the subtle white dial in favor of an intense, vibrant blue.
As is seemingly always the case with Grand Seiko dials, the character of the dial changes based on the lighting. In some lighting it’s very dark, almost navy, yet in intense, direct lighting like this, it lights up and leans in the direction of purple, never quite getting there.
There is a subtle sunburst to it, although you’d be forgiven for not noticing. To see the telltale indications of the sunburst requires a very bright source of light, like the sun, and even then it’s not obvious, but look hard enough and you’ll find it.
Of course, one cannot ignore the gold accents, which are made all the more striking by the blue dial. Unlike the SBGH047, which has only the seconds hand and GS logo in gold, the SBGH051 takes it one step further and makes the SEIKO logo gold as well.
The case appears to be the same 40mm case (interestingly listed as 40.2mm by Seiko) as you get on many other Hi-Beats, like the SBGH001 or the SBGH047, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a great way to show off GS’ hand polishing techniques.
The screw down crown protects the 13.15mm thick watch with up to 100 meters of water resistance.
The wonderful high frequency 9S85 automatic is present, complete with its 10 beats per second rate, 25% more than an ordinary watch. The distinguishing feature here is the prominent watermark, changed from an extremely subtle white to a much clearer gold, which also reads SEIKO and “Seiko Boutique Limited Edition.” While not too obtrusive, I’d actually prefer just the center medallion be done in gold. The 9S85 is just too pretty to cover up.
So that’s the SBGH051, a really provocative new option for those looking for a GS Hi-Beat. We love blue here, and the gold accents really pop against it, so this is kind of a sure thing for us, but it’s nice to see GS expanding its more conventional models in addition to the bolder and more daring ceramic models this year. Sadly, only 35 pieces of these are in the US, so they are extraordinarily rare even today.