Snowflake Or SBGA: The Ultimate Guide To Understanding Grand Seiko Reference Numbers

Snowflake Or SBGA: The Ultimate Guide To Understanding Grand Seiko Reference Numbers

28 Nov 2023 |
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Do you own a snowflake? Is that an SBGA211 on your wrist? We know you’re completely confused by what we are trying to say. And no, this is not a code word you need to decipher. These are merely watch reference numbers for the Japanese brand Grand Seiko. Well, it’s difficult to keep up with watch reference numbers and their pet names. But here’s a detailed guide to help you keep up with watch enthusiasts! 


The model numbers for Grand Seiko watches consist of seven characters. The first four alphabetic characters signify the series, while the remaining three digits uniquely identify the model within that series. This numbering scheme applies to modern Grand Seiko models launched after the brand was relaunched in 1988. Vintage Grand Seiko models utilize a distinct numbering approach.

The series encodes critical details regarding the movement. It directly correlates with the specific calibre used in that series' models. Though multiple calibres may fall under the umbrella of a single series, an individual calibre can only belong to one series. For instance, all watches housing the 9R65 calibre exist under the SBGA series.

As the series represents included calibres, it inherently reveals key specifications. All SBGA models will contain Spring Drive movements from either the 9R15 or 9R65 families, featuring both date and power reserve complications. Further illustrations include the Hi-Beat automatics with the date and GMT in the SBGJ series, utilizing the 9S86 calibre. Or the 9F86 quartz with day and date in SBGT models.

Grand Seiko SBGT241
Grand Seiko SBGT241

However, the series coding does not signify aesthetic style or the particular Grand Seiko collection. For example, dive watches spanning the Grand Seiko Sports collection may have codes like SBGA229, SLGA001, or SBGH255.

The starting two letters in the sequence indicate the target gender for that series. Series beginning with SB or SL are marketed towards men, while ST models target women.

When Grand Seiko originally launched, early men's models fell under the initial SBGS sequence. Since regular Seiko men's watches used SB prefixes at the time, SBGS aligns with that convention. Later in 1990, some regular Seiko women's models adopted the ST prefix, leading to the first STGS series for early Grand Seiko women's entries.

Grand Seiko Sports Collection

As new calibres emerged, the third and fourth letters shifted to denote separate series like SBGA, SBGH, etc. Eventually, this exhausted most letter combinations while avoiding potentially confusing characters like Q, O, U, or I. In 2020, the fresh SLGA and SLGH series were introduced conforming to existing naming conventions.

Grand Seiko Evolution 9 collection

For example, SLGA highlights Spring Drive automatics with date and power reserve in parallel with the SBGA series. The 3-digit number uniquely identifies the model within its series. Even numbers signify gold or rose gold bezels, while odd numbers indicate alternative metals like steel or titanium. Therefore, most models have odd numbers despite some even editions.

The numbers loosely correlate with the release sequence, though not perfectly chronological. Some exceptions occur like SBGE265 and SBGE267 launching just before SBGE263. This suggests model digits get designated during early design phases prior to final production schedules.

Unused numbers remain unfilled rather than reassigned later. When new SLGH models debuted, SLGH002 was the first, but the subsequent steel model became SLGH003 rather than backfilling 001.

Grand Seiko Masterpiece Collection

During Grand Seiko's reorganization in 2017, existing models had their numbers increased by 200 to reflect updated dials without the Seiko branding. Hence, SBGM221 succeeded SBGM021. Models above 99 took on 300 numbers instead like SBGX119 turning into SBGX319.

SBGA229 Sport Collection
SBGA229 Sport Collection

After this overhaul, the newly introduced series started from 001 rather than linking to old sequences. So post-rebrand SBGK, SBGN, etc families commence with 00 numbers, unlike the pre-transition series.

SBGD213 High Jewellery Collection
SBGD213 High Jewellery Collection

A detailed table: 

SeriesMovement TypeCalibresFeatures
SBGASpring Drive Automatic9R15, 9R65Date, Power Reserve
SBGBSpring Drive Automatic9R84Date, Power Reserve, Chronograph
SBGCSpring Drive Automatic9R86, 9R96Date, Power Reserve, Chronograph, GMT
SBGDSpring Drive Manual9R01Rear Power Reserve
SBGESpring Drive Automatic9R16, 9R66Date, Power Reserve, GMT
SBGFQuartz8J55, 8J56[Date 8J56]
SBGKMechanical Manual9S63Sub-Seconds, Power Reserve
SBGLMechanical Automatic9S67Date, Power Reserve
SBGYSpring Drive Manual9R31Rear Power Reserve
SBGZSpring Drive Manual9R02Rear Power Reserve
SLGASpring Drive Automatic9RA5, 9RA2Date, [Power Reserve 9RA5], [Rear Power Reserve 9RA2]
SLGHHi-Beat Automatic9SA5Date, Dual Pulse Escapement
SLGTMechanical Manual9ST1Constant Force Tourbillon, Deadbeat Seconds, Power Reserve
STGFQuartz4J51, 4J52[Date 4J52]
STGKMechanical Automatic9S25, 9S27Date
Hope this guide helps you understand the Grand Seiko Reference Numbers!