To celebrate the brand’s independence from the mothership Seiko, luxury subdivision Grand Seiko introduced 3 limited edition watches at Baselworld 2017. All three limited edition watches paid tribute to a famous 1960 piece: the first-ever Grand Seiko model also known as “Diashock”. This year, which marks the 60th anniversary of Grand Seiko, is another important year for the brand. Building on the success of these previous limited versions, Grand Seiko reintroduces them with minor updates, new colours and now as part of the regular collection. Meet the recreations of the first Grand Seiko SBGW257, SBGW258 & SBGW259.
The first Grand Seiko
Although the international launch of Grand Seiko took place in 2010, the name actually dates back to 1960. That year, the Japanese Seiko brand decided to consolidate the best of its production in a single watch, hence the name “grand” added in front of Seiko. A team in Seiko’s Suwa facility in central Japan had been working on the creation of a watch that would be the epitome of precision, durability, comfort and beauty.
The result, launched on 18 December 1960, is the watch you can see above; a classic piece in a 35mm, yellow gold (14k) case with a slim chronometer-rated movement whose precision met the highest international standard of the time. This watch also established the foundation of the brand’s design codes, which includes the sharp faceted hands, the double hour markers and the famous polishing technique that makes the Grand Seiko cases so attractive.
This watch was celebrated at Baselworld 2017 with three limited edition reissues, the SBGW251, SBGW252 & SBGW253 – which have been explored in detail here. Since these watches were sold out and the brand is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2020, it was the perfect moment to see this beautiful and elegant design as a permanent member of the collection and not limited in production.
The 2020 Recreations of the first Grand Seiko
Let’s be real, the three new models are, in most aspects, identical to the limited editions presented in 2017. Case, dials, overall design and even the mechanics are the same. However, these new SBGW257, SBGW258 & SBGW259 introduce some novelties regarding colours and materials, as well as an important fact: they will have a permanent place in the Grand Seiko collection and are there for the long run.
Even though the diameter of the watch has been increased from 35mm to 38mm compared to the original 1960 model, the proportions and shapes are clearly inspired by this historic vintage watch. It was important for Grand Seiko to respect the watch that started it all. Consequently, the gently curved lugs with rounded facets on the side, the slim bezel and the thin profile, with a 10.9mm height are all in line with the original. It certainly isn’t the most striking of the Grand Seiko watches, but it is one of the most elegant models.
This new version also reintroduces the domed profile of both the dial and the hands, which follow the dial’s curvature. All the elements found on the dial of the 1960 version have been redimensioned but remain faithful to the original model in terms of design. The hands – those superbly finished GS hands – are faceted with a polished top surface. The double hour markers are still present too. A special mention, which will certainly talk to vintage enthusiasts, is present at 6 o’clock; “Diashock 24 jewels”.
There will be three recreations of the original Grand Seiko. This first model, reference SBGW257 – and the higher-end of the three – is a 950 platinum watch. It is worn on a black crocodile strap. The dial, which has a sunray-brushed silver colour is actually made of 18k white gold and features a sharply engraved Grand Seiko logo. The hour markers are gold, as indicated by the star on the dial.
The second version, reference SBGW258, is the closes to the original 1960 watch and comes in a classic 18k yellow gold case. The dial has a nice warm-silvery colour. The logo is applied on the dial and the hour markers are also crafted from 18k gold. It is worn on a brown crocodile strap.
Last but not least, the third version, reference SBGW259, isn’t stainless steel, as many would have expected, but “Brilliant Hard Titanium”, an alloy exclusive to Grand Seiko. It is as light as pure titanium but twice as hard as stainless steel and therefore highly resistant to scratches. Its colour is brighter than the other forms of titanium used for Grand Seiko and allows the Zaratsu polished surfaces to stand out even more prominently. This special case is combined with a dark blue dial with highly polished steel markers and brushed hands. The SBGW259 is worn a blue crocodile strap.
Powering these recreations of the first Grand Seiko is the in-house, hand-wound movement found, for instance, in the Elegance SBGW231. The calibre 9S64 is a relatively compact and thin movement, but with an impressive performance. It can store up to 72 hours of power reserve, has a 4Hz frequency and its accuracy is rated at +5 to –3 seconds per day. On the contrary to the 2017 limited editions, the movement is visible through a sapphire caseback, allowing a view of the nicely decorated bridges.
All the models are equipped dial-side with a dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, they are water-resistant to 30m and equipped with three-fold clasps with push-button release.
Price and availability
These three recreations of the first Grand Seiko will be available in the permanent collection as of June 2020, at Grand Seiko boutiques. The platinum SBGW257 will be priced at EUR 39,000, the 18k yellow gold SBGW258 at EUR 27,000 and the titanium SBGW259 at EUR 8,300. More details at grand-seiko.com.