March 30, 2022
by Bilal Khan
Recently, Grand Seiko introduced a new line called “Evolution 9,” which takes inspiration from the iconic 44GS, the brand’s very first watch from 1964. As of now, the Evolution 9 has been comprised of dressier pieces like the SLGA009, AKA the “White Birch,” and the striking SLGA007, but now Grand Seiko is adding five sports watches to the collection for Watches & Wonders 2022. With two GMTs, two chronograph GMTs, and a diver, the Evolution 9 collection grows to include a variety of sports watches all with Spring Drive movements.
I know many of you won’t be familiar with what the Evolution 9 collection is based on, so here are the nine design elements: a multi-faceted case made of a flat upper surface with a hairline finish and a distortion-free flat mirror finished surface; curved side profile for the case; double or greater width index at 12 o’clock; a flat dial; Multi-faceted minute hand that reaches all the way to the minute track and hour hand shape distinct from the minute hand; Indexes all have deep middle grooves; case with a low center of gravity; stable bracelet with proper thickness; bracelet width at least half of case diameter.
In short these principles amount to wider lugs, higher quality bracelets, nicely balanced case weight, and improved indices/legibility.
So, on to the new pieces. The two Spring Drive GMT pieces are the SBGE283 which comes in a black dial and the SBGE285 with a textured light grey dial. Both have a high-intensity titanium case and bracelet and are water-resistant to 100m. The case measures 41mm wide and 13.9mm thick and you’ll notice the curves on the sides of the case which are for ease of wear. Obviously, anything to do with comfort and wearing experience will have to be judged when wearing the watch in the metal, so I’ll let you know how that goes in a later hands-on. Another interesting point on the Spring Drive GMTs is the addition of a new font on the bezel. Outfitted with the Spring Drive GMT 9R66, these are accurate +/-15 seconds per month and have a 72-hour power reserve.
There are two new Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronographs, one of which is a 15th-anniversary limited edition. The SBGC249 is limited to 700 pieces and comes in a blue dial and bezel but it’s not just aesthetics that differentiate it. This model uses the Spring Drive Chronograph GMT 9R96 which is accurate to +/- 10 seconds per month with a 72-hour power reserve. The non-limited SBGC251 comes in a black dial with black bezel and has the slightly different 9R86, which is accurate to +/15 seconds per month and also has a 72-hour power reserve.
Other than the color and movement, both pieces share the same titanium case and bracelet. The case measures 45.3mm wide and 15.8mm thick with a water resistance of 100m.
Finally, there is the new SLGA015 200m diver’s watch with a new black textured dial inspired by the Kuroshio Current aka the Black Stream. This may be the piece from these new Evolution 9 watches that I’m most anticipating seeing in person, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one. In all titanium, the case of the SLGA015 measures 43.8mm-wide and 13.8mm-thick. Inside is the Spring Drive 5 Days Caliber 9RA5 which is accurate +/-10 seconds per month and has a five-day power reserve.
We’ll have hands-on impressions of all these new Grand Seiko Evolution 9 pieces in the upcoming days of Watches & Wonders 2022. For now, prices are as follows: the Spring Drive GMT SBGE283 and SBGE285 are priced at $8,400; the non-limited Chronograph GMT SBGC251 is priced at $11,400 while the limited edition of 700 pieces SBGC249 is priced at $12,400; and finally, the SLGA015 200m diver’s watch is priced at $11,600. You can learn more at grand-seiko.com.