January 30, 2020
Beyond just expanding Seiko’s offerings into the realm of luxury watchmaking, since 1960 Grand Seiko has pushed the bounds of horology with innovative new technologies and design techniques. To celebrate 60 years of the brand, Grand Seiko has created four new limited-edition timepieces that each highlight a different aspect of the brand’s ethos — these will be released from February to April of this year. They include the SBGH281 Heritage Collection Hi-Beat 36000 Limited Edition, the STGK015 Elegance Collection Women’s Automatic Limited Edition, the SBGP007 Heritage Collection Quartz Limited Edition, and the SBGP015 Sport Collection Quartz Limited Edition. While each of these new models takes a very different approach to commemorating the anniversary, all four share a striking new blue dial color exclusive to these models.
The first of these, the SBGH281 Heritage Collection Hi-Beat 36000 Limited Edition, takes the most traditional approach. The 40mm stainless steel case takes the broad, sharply faceted planes of the classic 1967 44GS “Grammar of Design” case and slightly upsizes them, adding the brilliant sheen of modern Grand Seiko Zaratsu polishing. The dial is a rich, deep sunburst in Grand Seiko-blue accented with the brand’s signature dauphine hands and applied baton indices. A commemorative gold rendition of the applied GS logo at 12 o’clock indicates that this is no ordinary piece. While the bright red accents of the seconds hand and dial text add a pop of vibrant color to the mix, in practice, these elements seem to be so bright they risk overwhelming the harmonious balance of design that Grand Seiko is famous for. Inside the SBGH281 beats the in-house caliber 9S85 high-beat automatic movement. High-beat automatics have been a staple of Grand Seiko’s lineup since the marque’s earliest days, and the 9S85 pays homage to that lineage while offering modern performance with a buttery smooth 36,000 BPH beat rate, +5/-3 seconds per day accuracy, and a robust 55 hour power reserve. Grand Seiko pairs this new model with a nicely finished oyster style bracelet and signed butterfly clasp. Only 1,500 examples of the SBGH281 will be made, and it will retail for approximately $6,845 when it goes on sale in February 2020.
By far, the largest technical achievement among the new limited editions comes courtesy of the SBGP007 Heritage Collection Quartz Limited Edition. This model aims to capture the spirit of quartz advancement that has driven much of Grand Seiko’s more recent history by introducing the new caliber 9F85 manufacture quartz movement. This new power plant is a high water mark for Grand Seiko’s quartz accuracy, keeping time to within +5/-5 seconds per year. The dial highlights this impressive accuracy with a subtle applied gold star above the 6 o’clock marker, its five points referencing that five second accuracy. The rest of the SBGP007’s dial design cleaves close to the template set by its SBGH281 stablemate, with the same royal blue sunburst dial and dauphine hands. Where the SBGP007 differentiates itself, however, is in the details. The applied baton indices are slightly wider and more aggressive here, while the GS emblem at 12 o’clock is silver tone rather than gold. Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, the red accents of the second hand are restricted to the tip and counterweight with the center remaining in bare steel, helping to alleviate the issue of overwhelming color. Overall, while the presentation is quite similar to the SBGH281, the SBGP007’s dial feels more cohesive and balanced. The 40mm stainless steel case of the SBGP007 is pure modern Grand Seiko, with simplistic sporty lines accented by high-quality finishing. Grand Seiko presents this model on a slightly simpler oyster style bracelet, finished with the same folding butterfly clasp. 2,500 models will be produced, priced at approximately $4,300 on release in March.
The third model in the lineup, the SBGP015 Sport Collection Limited Edition, seeks to highlight the explosive growth of Grand Seiko sports models in the past several years. The immediate highlight for this model is the case, which augments a sharply angular 40mm stainless steel body with a striking ceramic bezel in the same dark blue as the dial. This scratch resistant material is part of a more function oriented package that includes a screw down crown and caseback, along with 16,000 A/m of magnetic resistance. These elements together help to deliver 200 meters of water resistance, backing up the sporty posturing with functionality. The dial of the SBGP015 takes the elements of the previous limited edition models and puts them on steroids, broadening the applied indices with strips of LumiBrite and adding a generous lume fill to the dauphine hands as well. The bolder outer minutes track with its mix of lines and numerals help to drive home the sportier feel, resulting in a package that successfully translates traditionally dressy forms into something very different. The movement in the SBGP015 is the same 9F85 quartz powerplant as the SBGP007, but here the accuracy is regulated to a still impressive +10/-10 seconds per year. One of this movement’s party pieces, however, is the time difference adjustment function. In the second position, the crown can be used to adjust only the hour hand without stopping the running seconds, ideal for travelers to different time zones looking to maintain that handful of seconds per year in overall accuracy without tedious adjustment. The bracelet of the SBGP015 is identical to the SBGP007, as well. This model will be limited to 2,000 pieces and will retail for approximately $4,300 when it debuts in April.
Lastly, the STGK015 Elegance Collection Women’s Automatic Limited Edition showcases Grand Seiko’s creative chops in the realm of women’s watches. This model translates many of the guiding principles of Grand Seiko design into a diminutive 27.8mm stainless steel package, beginning with the broad curving “Grammar of Design” case surfacing. These lines are accented here by a glamorous diamond studded bezel featuring 45 individually set stones. The diamonds continue on the dial, where applied diamond indices mark the hours, but perhaps the most intriguing element is the dial surface itself. All four limited edition models are designed around Grand Seiko’s signature deep blue, but rather than taking the sunburst route like the men’s models the STGK015 presents a mother of pearl dial in that same rich blue for a uniquely luxurious feel. Without the punch of bright red used on the other models, these luxe materials are allowed to come to the fore and dominate the visual conversation. Inside the STGK015 is the Caliber 9S27 automatic movement, a high-beat power plant designed exclusively for Grand Seiko women’s models. The movement is no slouch, offering comparable accuracy to the men’s models at +8/-3 seconds per day with a smooth 28,8000 bph beat rate. An oyster style bracelet with signed clasp completes the package here. The STGK015 is the rarest of all of these limited editions, with only 300 units planned for production. This limited model will be available for approximately $10,925 when it debuts in February.
Grand Seiko has displayed both what made its history great and its modern diversity with this quartet of limited-edition models, but these four are far from all the brand has planned for its 60th anniversary celebration. 2020 is expected to be a full year of celebrations, so more new models may be on the horizon in the coming months. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.