INTRODUCING: The Grand Seiko Heritage Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ255 celebrates 55 Years of the 44GS INTRODUCING: The Grand Seiko Heritage Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ255 celebrates 55 Years of the 44GS

INTRODUCING: The Grand Seiko Heritage Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ255 celebrates 55 Years of the 44GS

Jared Belson

Limited editions have become a hot-button issue in the watch world, particularly in the past couple years and most people would agree that some of the best new references have come in the form of these unique releases. For this edition, Grand Seiko wanted to celebrate 55 years of their famed (and beloved) 44GS case. With this limited run of 1200, they’ve certainly set the bar high for any future anniversary celebrations.

Naturally, any watch celebrating 55 years of the 44GS uses that same case. While the design is similar to the 44GS Hi-Beat GMT that won an award at the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve, the brand chose to render it here in what they call “High-intensity titanium.” This proprietary blend is noted as being 30% lighter than stainless steel while maintaining titanium’s naturally high resistance to scratches and corrosion. The case’s dimensions – 40mm diameter, 46.2mm lug-to-lug and 14mm thick – provide a good middle ground of sizing for any wrist, while the aforementioned weight reduction helps it belie its size even further. Its multi-purpose durability is also enhanced by water-resistance of 100 metres.

The bracelet is relatively standard for what we’ve come to expect from Grand Seiko.  A combination of brushed links with polished edges on the centre links provide a bit of visual interest when the wearer’s eye wanders away from the dial, though it’s unlikely to show the scratches you’d typically see with polished centre links. A push-button tri-fold clasp gives the wearer an extra touch of security on the wrist.

Speaking of the dial, this is where the SBGJ255 truly stands out. While Grand Seiko is famous for their variety of dial textures and finishes, the references that make up the Heritage Collection are generally non-lume affairs. On a whole, the collection lends itself to the dress watch genre rather than being tool watches, so lume is generally considered to be unnecessary. Yet here the SBGJ255 features LumiBrite plots on each hour marker, while the hour, minute, and GMT hand are given the same treatment. Not to be outdone, the SBGJ255 also features a subtle (but beautiful) graining texture on the silvery-white dial. A contrasting blue is added for the minute track, GMT indicators, and GS and GMT logos, giving the watch an extra bit of pop.

As is the norm with Grand Seiko, the movement is its own technical marvel. The automatic caliber 9S86 is of the Hi-Beat variety, operating at a rate of 36,000 vph. Of course, the 9S86 has the requisite 24-hour hand for GMT purposes, and will continue to run for up to 55 hour ms once it’s set down. To give the movement in the SBGJ255 a bit of extra flair, the oscillating weight on the movement (viewable through a sapphire caseback) is a gold-coloured titanium affair.

According to Grand Seiko, the gold tone is achieved through a specialized anodic oxidation in which the metal is subjected to a controlled electrolysis to that provides specific color variations based on the thickness of the oxide produced on the rotor. Typical of Grand Seiko, they pay special attention to details that only the wearer will ever see.

Grand Seiko 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 GMT in titanium (SBGJ255) pricing and availability

The Grand Seiko SBGJ255 is a limited edition of 1,200 piece and is available from Grand Seiko boutiques for $12,750 AUD