Face-to-Face – The Battle of Elegant Time-Solely Watches Half Three – Drive de Cartier Additional-Flat vs. Grand Seiko SBWG231 – The Verdict

There are moments in life that decision for a sublime, time-only watch. Conditions by which a strapping software watch with protruding pushers and a glowing dial received’t look fairly proper. In case you are out there for a good-looking, simple time-only watch we now have two very attention-grabbing candidates as completely different in appears as their cultural backgrounds. The Drive de Cartier is a très French tackle magnificence and refinement; the Grand Seiko SBGW231 can also be a really elegant and refined watch however interpreted from a Japanese aesthetic. Let’s put them aspect by aspect and gauge the strengths and weaknesses of every watch earlier than we formulate a verdict.

Case measurement and presence on the wrist

The Drive de Cartier Additional-Flat has a diameter of 39mm and a case top of 6.6mm, proportions that categorically affirm its standing as a costume watch. The cushion-shaped case of the Drive spells Cartier over and over and appears to have been a member of Cartier’s famend household of formed watches eternally (word: the Drive assortment was launched in 2016). The case is fantastically proportioned and its easy, rounded edges and mild cambering permit the watch to sit down on the wrist like a second pores and skin. It’s slim however not anorexic like another fashions in the marketplace at present with sufficient weight and presence to make itself felt. The finishes are passable with a sophisticated bezel and lugs and horizontal brushing on the flanks of the case and sealed case again. In line with a really Cartier custom, there’s a blue cabochon within the crown.

Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat Steel WSNM0011Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat Steel WSNM0011

The Grand Seiko SBGW231 has a diameter of 37.3mm and a case thickness of 11.6mm. The diameter will please purists though they may argue that the thickness of the case disqualifies the GS as an ideal costume watch. There’s nothing revolutionary concerning the form of the spherical case till you uncover the distinctive finishes of the metallic. Like a gleaming Japanese katana sword, the Zaratsu polished bezel and lugs replicate the sunshine like a mirror, with no distortions.

Grand Seiko Manual 37mm SBGW231Grand Seiko Manual 37mm SBGW231

Conclusion: The Drive de Cartier shows superior design aptitude and proportions however the finishes can’t maintain a candle to the Grand Seiko. The case of the GS is much less unique, extra conventional and barely thicker than the mandates of a costume watch. Nonetheless, the craftsmanship of Seiko’s artisans brings the metallic surroundings to life with finishes that rival and sometimes surpass the crème de la crème of Swiss watchmakers. Design-wise the Cartier is extra attention-grabbing, finish-wise the GS shows a fantastic deal extra consideration to element.

The face of time

As soon as once more, the dial of the Drive de Cartier is quintessential Cartier and all of the recognizable household traits are on show: the pronounced Roman numerals, the railway minutes monitor, the blued-steel palms and the key Cartier signature on the VII numeral. The dial is a beautiful silver-white with a sunburst end that shines ever so barely; a clear, minimalist background for the time-only features.

Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat Steel WSNM0011Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat Steel WSNM0011

The dial of the Grand Seiko can also be a minimalist, nearly frugal affair impressed by the primary Grand Seiko mannequin of 1960. Along with the hour and minutes, this watch has a central seconds hand. The dial is an off-white color with twelve elongated and utilized hour markers and a easy minutes monitor with black markings. The obvious sobriety is countered by essentially the most beautiful consideration to element on the hour markers and palms. The sharp faceted edges and the sprucing carry the main points to life as gentle bounces off their edges. The interaction of sunshine and shadow could be very a lot a Japanese aesthetic contact and provides extraordinary quantity and brilliance to the in any other case easy dial.

Grand Seiko Manual 37mm SBGW231Grand Seiko Manual 37mm SBGW231

Conclusion: Two quite simple time-only dials that faithfully replicate their provenance. Even when only a portion of the dial was revealed, you’ll have little question concerning the model behind the Drive de Cartier Additional-Flat, and the identical might be stated concerning the Grand Seiko. It too conforms to a set of strict guidelines and design tenets laid down in 1967 by designer Taro Tanaka for the Grand Seiko household.


The Drive de Cartier Additional-Flat is fitted with a hand-would calibre (430 MC) based mostly intently on Piaget’s ultra-thin 430P. Beating at 21,600vph, the ability reserve is of 36 hours. Though you may’t see the motion and the ability reserve is on the quick aspect, these are a good trade-off for the svelte profile.

Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat Steel WSNM0011Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat Steel WSNM0011

The motion of the Grand Seiko is seen beneath the sapphire crystal case again and is completely made in-house with in-house elements to Seiko’s exacting (above COSC chronometry) requirements. Calibre 9S64 is a hand-wound motion with a Three-day energy reserve calibrated to a formidable precision charge of -Three to +5 seconds a day. The stability spring is shock-resistant and anti-magnetic and the time setting features are enhanced with a stop-seconds operate. The bridges are embellished with Seiko stripes that decide up the sunshine/shadow theme of the dial.

Grand Seiko Manual 37mm SBGW231Grand Seiko Manual 37mm SBGW231

Conclusion: No debate right here. The Grand Seiko wins palms down on this class providing a superlative manual-winding motion with further stop-seconds performance, longer energy reserve and superlative ornament (however a thicker profile too). If you wish to nitpick, the shortage of an influence reserve indicator on the GS may be a con.

Value and Availability

The Drive de Cartier Additional-Flat in metal retails for EUR 5,650 or USD 5,600 (excl. gross sales tax). The Grand Seiko SBGW231 retails for USD four,300 and is at the moment fairly laborious to search out in Europe.

Conclusion: The value of each fashions displays their entry-level standing. Given the status of each manufacturers, the worth shouldn’t be exorbitant in both case.


Editor’s word: needless to say the decision right here relies on Rebecca’s private preferences.

The Drive de Cartier and the Grand Seiko are two ambassadors of exceptionally good style and breeding. They’re merchandise of their respective cultural backgrounds and as such transmit completely different sensations and core values.

If we gauge mechanical prowess, precision, and execution of finishes, the Grand Seiko wins palms down. The watch may look disarmingly easy and maybe a little bit chilly at first, however it’s a true consultant of Japanese aesthetic style the place discretion and magnificence are key and craftsmanship a matter of nationwide pleasure. It’s a watch that must be found and appreciated. I do know that it took me time to heat to its stark aesthetics, however having found the fantastic particulars it has discovered a spot in my coronary heart.

Grand Seiko Manual 37mm SBGW231Grand Seiko Manual 37mm SBGW231

However, and it is a huge “however”…the final word arbiter on this battle is style. And irrespective of how laborious a promote I’ve made for the Seiko, there shall be lots of you who’re comfortable to swap the technical superiority and superlative finishes of the Seiko for the extra eloquent, stylish fantastic thing about the French candidate.

Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat Steel WSNM0011Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat Steel WSNM0011

As you may see, the decision shouldn’t be written in stone for the straightforward purpose that these two watches aren’t meant for a similar sort of collectors/prospects. Their designs will replicate the persona of the wearer and there are not any dangerous decisions, simply completely different tastes. I can’t blame anybody for having a choice for the Seiko – the execution and worth/high quality ratio are unbeatable. Nonetheless, I can’t blame somebody whose coronary heart cries out for the Cartier because it oozes magnificence and an old-European sense of style. In any case, these two watches are wonderful decisions for somebody on the hunt for a sublime, discreet time-only watch with nice pedigree.

Wanting ahead to listening to your ideas on this one!

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