Released 50 years after Grand Seiko was launched as a brand by Seiko to challenge the prestige of Swiss watch brands the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SGBA211 has managed to quickly rise to be the brands most desirable model in its relatively short 9-year history. Affectionately known to the brand’s enthusiasts as the ‘Snowflake’ for its crisp white dial and soft looks this is a watch that packs a subtle punch of class and elegance. There are two sides of the Snowflake’s story and they lie in its design aesthetic and in the uniqueness of its Spring Drive movement. The Spring Drive movement was released in 2004, 5 years after it was completed and after a long 20 plus years of hard work from engineer and designer Yoshikazu Akahane. The Spring Drive movement works by marrying the reliability of a quartz movement with the prowess of a mechanical movement. This is achieved by combining a traditional mainspring that drives the watch and is powered by the wearers wrist movements and an electronic regulator. The Spring Drive also lends to the aesthetic of the watch as the second hand moves in a completely smooth non-stop motion symbolising the constant, unrelenting and ever forward passage of time. The main aesthetic draw of the watch is its elegant dial with the texture of freshly fallen snow. This effect is achieved by stamping the initial pattern on a blank dial and adding layers of coating in succession to achieve the subtle texture. This gentle look is inspired by the idea in Japanese culture that what you leave out is as important as what you put in. The Snowflake also has trapezoidal hands which help make the exercise of telling the time become an extremely instantaneous affair. The Grand Seiko Snowflake is the perfect embodiment of what Seiko initially intended for Grand Seiko to be – a challenge to the Swiss and to show them just how well the Japanese could make watches.