November 29, 2022

Welcome to the first installment in a new series of articles called “Fratello Watch Exchange”. Here at the Fratello office, we try on each other’s watches all the time, but we don’t usually borrow them for long enough to take them for a proper spin. In this new series, though, that’s exactly what we’ll do. We’ll pick a watch from a colleague’s collection and wear it for a while to see what we think of it. Today, I have the honor to kick things off with Lex’s beloved Grand Seiko SBGX341.

It doesn’t sound very respectful, but I think we can call this one Lex’s daily beater. I overheard him saying once, “This one was on the nightstand, and as it doesn’t need to be wound, it’s the one I put on.” But if you’ve read his article or watched his video on this watch, you’ll know that he actually respects this one very much. And after a week of having it on the wrist, I can certainly see why! First of all, it has a thoughtful, impressive, and fun design, but even more importantly, it matches Lex’s character to a tee.

Not a total stranger

I’m not completely new to the Grand Seiko Tough Quartz experience. I actually owned one of the SBGX341’s ancestors, the SBGX093 with a pitch-black dial. It had the same super-accurate, no-date 9F61 movement, which was also similarly anti-magnetic. You can definitely see that these watches are related, but there are also some clear differences. Both watches have an angular case, a very pronounced bezel, simple dial markers, and sharp finishing. I especially appreciate the fact that the elevated minute track is still here. It was one of my favorite features on my SBGX093.

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That watch came out in 2012 alongside its silver-dialed brother (SBGX091) and a limited enthusiasts’ edition with yellow gold accents (SBGX089). That last reference proved that the designers at Grand Seiko were definitely able to come up with more playful designs. Lex’s watch, with its orange accents, also makes this very clear. But, as there are almost 10 years between these watches, it’s also quite evident that the designers have stepped up their game.

Grand Seiko SBGX341

Slightly wider, but more compact as well

Whereas my 39mm SBGX093 wore large due to its wider, longer lugs (47mm from tip to tip), Lex’s 40mm SBGX341 feels more compact on the wrist. That is thanks in part to its shorter lug-to-lug span of 44mm. However, the fact that the bezel overhangs a bit and has a brushed finish on the top also helps visually. The bracelet is the same one I had on my Grand Seiko. I still think it doesn’t perfectly match the angular case, and a bit more taper would’ve been nice. Plus, it’s still hard to get the perfect fit due to the lack of micro-adjustments. But regardless of its shortcomings, it’s a comfortable watch on my 17cm wrist, even if the bracelet causes it to wear a bit loose.

Grand Seiko SBGX341

The true enthusiasts’ edition

When I first saw Lex wearing this watch, I was surprised that I liked it so much. When I saw pictures of it online, I almost couldn’t believe what the designers had done to this series of “Milgauss-tribute” quartz pieces. With those orange accents, to me, it looked like they had totally messed up the design. It had become more of a toy watch than a serious luxury piece. The white version debuted alongside its more serious-looking black-dialed brother. The latter was certainly my favorite of the two.

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But now that I’m wearing this white-dialed version with its orange accents, I can fully understand why Lex likes it so much. It actually looks like this is the 2020 version of that limited edition for watch enthusiasts back in 2012. The quirky design totally works! The elevated minute track is black and orange on top and horizontally brushed on the side. I must say, in combination with the matte white dial, the look is quite striking. Then there are those simple but muscular-looking hour markers, which also add quite a lot of depth to the dial. Combined with the razor-sharp hands, it all looks oh-so-good!

And please, let’s not forget what could be its best feature of all — the bicolor “theme park” Lumibrite, which even shines in broad daylight!

Grand Seiko SBGX341

The perfect troll watch

So yes, the Grand Seiko SBGX341 is definitely a fun and playful piece. But what struck me the most is that it is the perfect watch for a troll like Lex. As you know, Lex loves to provoke you with his thought pieces and strong opinions. And that’s exactly what this watch does too with its razor-sharp edges, unusual angular shapes, and colorful accents. Every little detail has its purpose, just like those perfectly curated outfits that Lex wears day in and day out.

And what bigger middle finger is there than to walk into meetings and events with the world’s biggest watch brands while wearing one of the world’s most accurate quartz(!!!) watches? Well, actually, Lex has managed to make that an even bigger statement by setting his SBGX341 five minutes ahead. Why would you set such an accurate watch a few minutes ahead?  I guess it’s just another one of Lex’s unparalleled ways to mess with my head, and I can appreciate that!

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#ARCTICWHITE

Final thoughts

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Lex’s Grand Seiko SBGX341. As its design is a bit too modern for my style, I wouldn’t say it’s a watch for me. However, I can clearly see why Lex is enjoying it so much and why, for him, it was love at first sight.

What watch would you say perfectly fits your personality? Let me know in the comments!

Next week, it’s Lex’s turn in the Fratello Watch Exchange. I think he’ll take one of RJ’s Speedmasters for a spin, so keep an eye out for that!

You can also find and follow me on Instagram: @fliptheparrot