In the wonderful world of Grand Seiko, if it’s not using a quartz crystal – and, yes, that includes the Spring Drive – then inside is a Caliber 9S movement. Introduced in 1998, the Caliber 9S is the staple of all mechanical Grand Seikos and forms the base for everything from humble three-handers to hi-beats and GMTs. This year, Grand Seiko are celebrating the 20th birthday of the 9S with – in addition to quite a few other LEs – the release of the Grand Seiko Blue Ceramic Hi-Beat GMT “Special” Limited Edition. Vital statistics Inside is a very “special” version of the Caliber 9S86 movement. Adjusted to six positions and allowing for changes in temperature, the movement exceeds the already stringent accuracy tolerances set by Grand Seiko, and is accurate to within +4 to -2 seconds per day, while it still features the added functionality of a GMT hand, and runs at 10 beats per second for up to 55 hours. This particular version of the 9S86 is now kept running by an oscillating weight made from titanium and tungsten. Visible through a sapphire crystal case back, the titanium sections of the weight are treated with an anodic oxidation… Read More
The story of Grand Seiko at Baselworld 2018 is really the story of two movements. The legendary quartz 9F, which turns 25 this year, and the high-end workhorse that is the 9S, which marks its 20th anniversary. Both calibres received special tribute models, which really showcase the movement — literally in the case of the SBGV238. Quartz movements typically don’t receive the sapphire case-back treatment, and I believe this is the first time the 9F ever has. And really, it’s quite amazing to look at, as is the rest of the watch, especially that intricate dial. The 9S tribute models also have typically stunning dials. We didn’t shoot it, but the platinum one is phenomenal, and quite subtle. The two steel versions are strong too, in brown and blue, with a radial mosaic-style pattern. And finally there’s a sporty-looking GMT to round out the family. All told, a calm, considered and confident collection from Grand Seiko.
At the heart of many Grand Seiko watches beats the mighty 9S calibre, which is celebrating its 20th birthday, and the location of the party is Baselworld 2018. There’s a swathe of new offerings on the table, including this deliciously dialled number, the Grand Seiko SBGR311. Vital statistics Excuse me if I rush through the key stats, because, really, I want to talk about that dial. The SBGR311 is 42mm across, steel, with that characteristic mix of exceptional polish and brushed finishes that define Grand Seiko’s zaratsu-polished cases. From behind there’s the 9S68 (obvs), visible behind a sapphire caseback with a Grand Seiko lion and gilt 20th anniversary text. Now, that dial. Have you ever seen a brown dial quite so wondrous? It’s as mercurial as the brand’s best, glistening like hot chocolate when the light hits it just right. But beyond the colour and finish, there’s that pattern, a radial explosion of tessellating shapes, each marked with either the gothic G, S or historic Daini Seikosha mark. On top of that the applied, polished hours seem to float, as do those very pointy-looking dauphine hands. The choice of a gold seconds hand and ‘GS’ marker provides just the right… Read More
The foundation upon which modern Grand Seiko is built is the calibre 9S, first unveiled 20 years ago. Basel 2018 sees the Japanese brand pay tribute to this important movement with this new Grand Seiko model, the SBGH267 Vital statistics Grand Seiko’s dial and case finishes are rightly lauded for their high level of quality. But the far less visible movement is just as significant. And, if the watch is automatic, the chances are high that movement is the 9S. First introduced in 1998, this movement, with its high level of precision, lengthy power reserve and rock-solid construction, was ahead of its time for a high-volume commercial calibre. With a distinctive purple oscillating rotor in the style we’ve come to expect from Grand Seiko’s LEs, it forms the heart of this watch, which features a subtle mosaic pattern dial in Grand Seiko’s blue, as well as a completely new 39.5mm wide by 13mm tall case. This version is in steel, but there’s also a yellow gold version and a platinum model with a V.F.A. (very fine adjusted) movement, which promises accuracy of +3/-1 seconds, compared to the +5/-3 range of the SBGH267. On the wrist Classic Grand Seiko. The design is… Read More
In addition to the scene-stealing 9S 20th anniversary pieces, Grand Seiko have announced two new Spring Drive models at Baselworld 2018. Reference SBGA373 with a champagne dial, and SBGA375 in rich blue. Vital statistics With its inexorably smooth sweeping seconds hand, there’s something hypnotic about Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive technology, powered and regulated by an ingenious combination of kinetic, magnetic and electrical energy. And while the Snowflake tends to garner the most attention, there are other time and date members of the collection, the most recent being these two. Both are powered by the 9R65, visible through clear casebacks on both models, and housed in broad-shouldered 40mm, 44GS-inspired steel cases. It’s worth noting that these pictures are of prototype models, and I’ve been told that the (very) large crowns are likely to be replaced by something a little smaller and more balanced. On the wrist Grand Seiko’s champagne dials are exceptional and — apparently — very technical, requiring numerous layers of lacquer to achieve that soft golden colour that is nigh on impossible to capture with any accuracy. In direct, bright light it fades to silver. It may lack the flash of the brand’s more distinctive dials but it’s still… Read More
If you’re a regular reader, I’m willing to bet that your views around quartz timekeeping will be pretty negative. After all, this is a technology that was (almost) responsible for the downfall of mechanical watches. But, as you’re about to find out, not all quartz watches were created equal. Sure, there’s the cheap and cheerful plastic contraptions that consist of battery, circuit board and a very big spacer. And then there’s the 9F. Seiko pioneered quartz technology with the release of the Astron back in 1969, and they’ve innovated ever since. Of all their many achievements in the field, one of the most impressive is the 9F, introduced in 1993 as part of Grand Seiko’s quartz line. Simply put, it’s a true, high-end quartz movement, treated with the same level of care and precision as a traditional mechanical movement. Hand-assembled, with 133 parts, an aged quartz crystal, which is paired with a specifically programmed integrated circuit, for optimal accuracy. Not to mention the sealed, finely aligned coil block. The date wheel shifts in 1/2000th of a second, and the whole thing can go for 50 years without needing lubrication. And on the accuracy front, it’s good for +/- 10 seconds… Read More
When we think of Grand Seiko, it’s easy to associate them with classic but slightly left-of-centre designs: architectural case lines and instantly recognisable designs. Which is why this watch was such a surprise when we first saw it — it’s a deeply traditional dress watch design. A simple round case, in yellow gold no less (though there are steel and platinum versions too), seems like it’s from a different time, which makes perfect sense, as the watch, the SBGW252, is a re-creation of the first Grand Seiko from 1960. And of all the versions, this yellow gold number has to be the closest to that 1960 original, and not just because of the yellow gold case material. The creamy opaline dial, simple double baton hour markers and shining gold dauphine hands all paint a picture of mid-century modishness. The very slim alligator strap is also stylistically apt. It’s important to note that while the SBGW252 looks like it might be from 1960, it’s been updated where it counts. The glass is sapphire, the case is a slightly larger-than-original 38mm, and the movement is the manually wound 9S64. Grand Seiko re-creation in yellow gold, ref. SBGW252, Australian pricing and availability Grand… Read More
The belles of Grand Seiko’s Baselworld ball this year were three takes on the first Grand Seiko, a buttoned-up dress watch that managed to be both effortlessly timeless and very of-its-time, all at once. Grand Seiko released steel, yellow gold and platinum takes on the classic, but they also released a completely new interpretation, the SBGR305, a watch very much in the same vein, but with numerous contemporary touches, such as the larger 40.5mm case, the brilliant hard titanium case material (a proprietary, extra hard version of the lightweight metal), and the addition of a date. The dial, too, is what we’ve come to expect from Grand Seiko: crisp, with a fine, hammered texture that’s hard to beat. So if you like the old stuff and the new stuff, you’ll like this one. Grand Seiko SBGR305 Australian pricing and availability Grand Seiko SBGR305, limited to 968 pieces, $10,400