A Lion’s-Mane Dial for the Grand Seiko Sport Spring Drive

The “Tokyo Lion” SBGA481.

The Sport case inspired by the Grand Seiko emblem is a fairly new addition to the brand’s stable, having made its debut in 2019 with a trio of limited editions to mark the 20th anniversary of the Spring Drive. Now the distinctive facetted case joins the regular collection with the Sport Spring Drive SBGA481 “Tokyo Lion”. The big and bold case is accompanied by a fresh opaline dial featuring a texture reminiscent of a lion’s mane. 

Initial thoughts 

Although Grand Seiko historically expended a significant amount of effort in developing its more formal offerings, it more recently extended its efforts towards its Sports line, particularly the “Lion” models with its trademark facetted case. Initially found only on limited editions, this case has now transitioned into a readily-available production model.

As with many Grand Seiko watches, sports or not, the Tokyo Lion’s standout feature is the dial, specifically the intricate and abstract textured pattern that complements the zaratsu polishing on the titanium case. The pattern is appealing enough that I hope the brand further iterates on this captivating pattern; though I expect that is a given since Grand Seiko inevitably iterates on successful models and elements.

It is worth noting that the Tokyo Lion is fairly oversized at 44.5 mm, like many Grand Seiko Sports models, but given that the case and bracelet are made from titanium, it should feel light and comfortable while on the wrist. 

The Tokyo Lion is priced at US$10,400, which presents a comparatively lower cost than the 20th anniversary limited edition that was very similar but in different colours. Considering the execution and availability, the Tokyo Lion is a value proposition, although priced towards the higher end of the Grand Seiko price range.

The SBGA403G from 2019 made for the 20th anniversary of the Spring Drive movement. Image – Grand Seiko

The mane in “opaline”

The Tokyo Lion is the most recent addition to Grand Seiko’s growing sports watch collection. The angular case draws inspiration from the brand’s lion mascot, which was historically found on the case back of  Grand Seiko watches starting from the brand’s creation in 1960.

The dial has a textured pattern modelled on a lion’s mane that’s similar to the 20th anniversary limited edition from 2019. However, while the 2019 edition had an olive green hue, this is in a more striking opaline colour, which accentuates the pattern’s prominence.

Beyond the dial colour, the Tokyo Lion maintains the same form as the preceding limited edition in both design and movement. The dial has a power reserve indicator between seven and eight, a date window at three, and a 60-minute bezel in black ceramic.

The angular titanium case is notable for its numerous faceted surfaces that are achieved with the zaratsu polishing technique and then refined with brushed finishing on certain planes. The case measures 44.5 mm in diameter and 14.3 mm high. 

The Tokyo Lion is powered with the 9R65 that’s also found in the Grand Seiko “Snowflake” models. Equipped with power reserve and date display, the movement features the brand’s Spring Drive technology, essentially a mechanical movement with an electronic oscillator made up of a flywheel regulated by an electromagnet and integrated circuit.

Consequently, it boasts a precision of approximately one second per day and a maximum deviation of 15 seconds per month, an extraordinarily high degree of accuracy for a (semi) mechanical movement.

Key facts and price

Grand Seiko Sport Spring Drive “Tokyo Lion”
Ref. SBGA481

Diameter: 44.5 mm
Height: 14.3 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200 m

Movement: Cal. 9R65
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date and power reserve indicator
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: Spring Drive
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Matching bracelet with folding clasp

Limited edition: No
Availability: At Grand Seiko boutiques and retailers starting in August 2023
Price: US$10,400

For more information, visit Grand-seiko.com.


Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.