October 10, 2019
by Rob Nudds
Although special and limited edition watches are incredibly common these days, few brands make these offerings so aesthetically tempting as Grand Seiko. Many limited-edition watches are married with an event or brand partner and branded accordingly. While these models are pitched to appeal to fans of the watch brand and/or the partner company in question, they rarely stray too far from the brand’s lane. With the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection SBGH269 Limited Edition watch, the increasingly global brand from Japan continues its trend of producing stunningly beautiful dials that are simply unobtainable in its core collection. With Reference SBGH269, Grand Seiko brings to market a warm-hued dial celebrating the colors of fall in its home country.
And now for my customary second paragraph complaint: Grand Seiko produces some truly stunning watches, with a level of case and dial finishing few can match. The brand’s special edition dials often take that trend even further, with glorious patterns, colors, and textures that send fans of GS weak at the knees. I am no exception. I have gone positively doolally over some of the limiteds released by Grand Seiko in the last few years. The Grand Seiko Blue Ceramic Hi-Beat GMT ‘Special’ Limited Edition SBGJ229-A and the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT Limited Edition SBGJ227 watches spring to mind immediately as seriously stand-out iterations of the brand’s Hi-Beat series. But therein lies the rub: These show-stopping dials, as is the case for reference SBGH269, are almost always rolled out on the Hi-Beat models, rather than being installed with my preferred Spring Drive caliber. For an example of a sweet Spring Drive Limited Edition, check out Grand Seiko + Timeless Luxury Watches Spring Drive GMT SBGE249, which was released recently to a very positive reception.
Of course, none of this matters if you either already own a Spring Drive, prefer the excellent, purely mechanical 36,000vph Hi-Beat movements anyway, or care very little about the movement in comparison to the overall look of the piece. I’ve always been looking for a Spring Drive-powered watch that employs one of these magical, nuanced dials, but every time Grand Seiko drops a new Hi-Beat with this kind of visage, I get closer and closer to getting over my movement obsession and pulling the trigger. With the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection SBGH269 Limited Edition, the brand may finally have pushed me over the edge.
The dial on this model combines several shades of deep red, inspired by the aging trees of Japan’s mountainous regions as their leaves mellow from the bright green of summer, to a gamut of fiery hues. Not only is this colorway brilliantly on-trend, but it is also expertly executed. Red dials are arresting enough to give any potential purchaser pause for thought, but this one is so much softer than many of its peers thanks to its gradient that it seems to somehow avoid the shock factor red often possesses and goes straight to the wow category.
These colors are often used to lacquer the floorboards in traditional Japanese homes and, as you can see from the lead image in this article, are a way to bring the outside in and enable inhabitants to feel close to nature, as is such a part of Japanese culture.
Set against a 39.mm × 13mm stainless steel case, and adorned with highly polished applied hour markers, the red dial comes to life. The addition of a highly polished, bi-color handset ties the rose gold dial printing to the seconds hand, and the hour and minute hands to the case and hour indices. The edges of the lugs have been hand-finished by the most skilled Grand Seiko craftsmen and women through the careful use of multi-faceted Zaratsu polishing.
And the attention to detail doesn’t end there. Flip this watch over and you will be greeted with the sight of Caliber 9S85, which boasts a 55-hour power reserve and accuracy of +5 to –3 seconds a day. More interesting than those typically impressive technical credentials, however, is the anodized titanium oscillating weight, the bright, shimmering green of which stands in stark contrast to the autumnal face of the watch. Conceived as a reference to the summer months giving way to fall, the circular oscillating weight is an additional, and wholly unexpected, treat. The Grand Seiko Heritage Collection SBGH269 Limited Edition watch will be made available fall 2019, is limited to 900 pieces worldwide and will be priced at $6,400. Learn more at grand-seiko.com.