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WatchBox Reviews

Rolex Datejust 41 vs Grand Seiko "Snowflake" Spring Drive Automatic 126300 vs SBGA211

Contact tmosso@thewatchbox.com for pricing and availability; Either I have it, or I can get it! Grand Seiko vs Rolex resumes with a marquee matchup: Grand Seiko Spring Drive Automatic SBGA211 and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41 126300. One is Grand Seiko “high intensity” titanium, and the other is Rolex 904L stainless steel. Both luxury watch contenders are 41mm men’s watches designed for every occasion from beaches to tailgate parties. These automatic luxury timepieces will be put to the test on this installment of Tim Mosso’s “Versus” on Watchbox Reviews! The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Automatic SBGA211 represents the 2017 facelift of the prior Grand Seiko SBGA011. Aside from the replacement of “Seiko” with a “Grand Seiko” logo at 12 o’clock on the dial, nothing has changed. Officially named the “Snowflake” by Grand Seiko designers and watchmakers, this Spring Drive automatic is defined by all dial features EXCEPT the loco. Undulating “snow drifts” and peaks are executed with a combination of stamping techniques, varnish, and galvanizing. Although the Grand Seiko champagne dial’s fabrication is more complex, the character of the “Snowflake” is redolent of northern Japan’s winter landscape and more charismatic than anything else hailing from the brand’s Nagoya shops. A 41mm case of “high intensity” titanium (likely a grade five titanium alloy) sports curves, creases, and a mix of satin and polished surfaces. All polished facets are executed via Grand Seiko’s “Zaratsu” tin plate polishing technique. Zaratsu, which produces a mirror-like finish, is executed principally my manual means and is guided by the craft experience of the individual artisans. Strap tool apertures in the Grand Seiko’s lugs provide a sharp contrast with the seamless flanks of the modern-era Rolex. A matching titanium bracelet with a deployant clasp completes the equipment; water resistance to 100-meters is assured by a screw-down crown. The Grand Seiko spring drive caliber 9R65 is both the most impressive and most controversial aspect of the SBGA211’s engineering. As a hybrid of a mechanical movement and a quartz caliber, the Spring Drive Automatic has potential to alienate mechanical watch purists. But those that dismiss Spring Drive as just another disposable device are ignoramuses, not connoisseurs. With no batteries, no capacitors, and no motors, Spring Drive achieves quartz levels of precision (+/- 15 seconds per MONTH) with motive power by mainspring and watchmaker serviceability for the lifetime of the owner – and then some. The 30-jewel Grand Seiko 9R65 is 70-hour power reserve automatic movement with a power reserve indicator, stop seconds (hacking), and a date display. Rolex’s Datejust 41 arrived at Baselworld 2016; today’s full stainless steel reference 126300 arrived a year later. While the Datejust II offered an appealing full-size alternative to the traditional 36mm Datejust, the “Deuce’s” dial and case proportions didn’t please all watch collectors and Rolex buyers. The Datejust 41mm resolves most of these shortcomings while adding a next-generation Rolex 3235 automatic caliber. The 41mm stainless steel Rolex case is crafted from the brand’s highly anti-corrosive 904L stainless steel. Its bezel differs from the gold models in its use of a flat surface angled in a cone form around the dial. A matching 904L Oyster bracelet and a deployant clasp with Rolex “Easylink” complete the accessories. Easylink permits 5mm of tool-free size adjustments, and three alternative anchoring points inside the Oyster clasp permits additional adjustment with a conventional strap tool. The Rolex Datejust 41 is water resistant to 100 meters. Rolex offers an array of dial, metal, and bracelet options for the Datejust 41, so the model carries more options for tailored appearance than the take-it-or-leave-it titanium Snowflake. The Rolex 126300 featured in this comparison includes a matte white dial with white gold indices featuring luminescent paint for nighttime use. A Cyclops eye date magnifier is present, but its humpback form is less obtrusive on the 41mm Datejust than on smaller models and the 36mm Day-Date. Rolex’s caliber 3235 automatic movement provides motive force for the Datejust 41. This next-generation Rolex movement employs a “Chronergy” escapement, reprofiled mainspring barrel, and a larger mainspring in order to boost the caliber 3135’s power reserve from 48 to 70 hours. A stop seconds (hacking) feature, quickset date, and COSC chronometer certification are standard in all models. Additional refinements include a full balance bridge, a free sprung balance with Rolex Microstella balance bolts, and a Breguet overcoil hairspring rendered in antimagnetic “Parachrom Blue” alloy. Rolex vs Grand Seiko starts now! Shop this Rolex watch: http://bit.ly/2N5gHby Shop all Rolex watches: http://bit.ly/2uUNJD9 Shop all Grand Seiko watches: http://bit.ly/2Ocj9wQ