Are you a fan of the Grand Seiko “Snowflake”? If you’re a watch geek and you’re breathing, chances are you probably wouldn’t kick the Snowflake out of bed, right? Unfortunately, even as an “entry level” piece to the world of Grand Seiko, the Snowflake remains firmly in the would-love-to-own-it-but-can’t-afford it bucket for the vast majority of us. Until now. Well, kind of.

Recently released as a JDM model, the SARX055 (as part of the Presage line) has already been dubbed the “Baby Snowflake” by Seiko fanboys. And to their credit, they’re not far off. At five feet, one would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the 055 and the much-more-expensive Grand Seiko. It has a beautifully textured, minimalist white dial, a simple and elegant titanium case, and a blued second hand that pops off the dial.

Move in and you’ll start to notice the differences. The craftsmen in Grand Seiko’s studios use a proprietary process to create the snow-mimicking effect on the dial of the Snowflake. It’s quite astonishing up close, and I’m hard pressed to argue that it doesn’t, in fact, resemble freshly fallen snow. The 055, on the other hand, looks more like small bits of spray-on fiberglass have been shot at the dial, which is then coated with a layer of white paint. It creates a very nice effect in and of itself, but is a step down from the Grand Seiko’s mesmerizing dial.

The applied indices are intricately faceted and polished, giving a similar shine and glint to the dial that you’d get from the 055’s more expensive cousin. The minute and hour hands are likewise faceted and polished to a brilliant sheen, and while likely not heat-blued, the second hand still pops and offers a fantastic contrast to the snow-white dial beneath.

The 41mm titanium case has a mixture of polished and brushed surfaces, and is coated with Seiko’s Dia-Shield coating, offering a super hard, scratch resistant surface. The same treatment is applied to the titanium bracelet. Powering the watch is Seiko’s 6r15 movement, considered a small step up from the entry level 4rxx series that powers much of Seiko’s Prospex and Presage lines. The 6r15 offers 50 hours of power reserve and runs at a steady 21,600 beats per hour. The see-through case back offers a glimpse of the mostly undecorated movement.

Coming in at right around an even $1,000, the new “Baby Snowflake” is by no means cheap. But if you’ve been lusting after the Grand Seiko, this may be the perfect solution to get that look on your wrist for thousands less. Keep in mind you’ll need to hunt for this one online given that it’s only being made officially available in the Japanese market. And you’d better hurry. It’s likely to sell out very quickly.

Technical Specifications

  • CASE
    • Material: Titanium
    • Size: 40.8mm x 11mm, 46.3mm lug-to-lug
    • Crystal: Sapphire
    • Case Back: Titanium, screwed, sapphire exhibition window
    • Water Resistance: 10 atm/100 m/330 ft
  • MOVEMENT: Seiko 6R15 Automatic Mechanical, 23 jewels
    • Functions: Hacking and Manual Winding with date
    • Beats Per Hour: 21,600
    • Power Reserve: 50 Hours
    • Material: Titanium
    • Clasp: Locking deployant

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