As explained in a recent article covering the new Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ255, one of the most important models of Grand Seiko, the 44GS, is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year. What’s important to remember about this 1967 model is its influence on the design of the watches produced by the Japanese watchmaker, even today. The watch that introduced the style manual known as the “Grammar of Design“, it is still celebrated in today’s collection, and even more this year with the launch of two new, modernly equipped watches, the Hi-Beat SLGH009 with Calibre 9SA5 and the Spring Drive SLGA013 with Calibre 9RA2.
What’s important about these two new limited editions is the combination of a classic design, that of the 1967 reference 44GS, with the most modern mechanics of the brand, its best stainless steel alloy, and typical GS textured dials. These watches also mark the new direction of the brand regarding thinness, with an effort to make these latest models more ergonomic. The Hi-Beat automatic SLGH009 is11.7mm in height, and the Spring Drive version SLGA013 is 12.1mm.
Basically, both models share the same case, with a restrained 40mm diameter and the typical large shoulders of the 44GS, the highly polished flat surfaces, the simplified bezel construction leaving more space for the dial and an overall design that is graphically sharp to reflect light in the best possible way. Both watches are made of Ever-Brilliant Steel, GS’s own alloy that is more corrosion-resistant and therefore more durable than steel which is commonly used in watches today (classic 316L steel). Its brilliant white hue goes perfectly with the highly polished Zaratsu-treated surfaces. Both watches are worn on Ever-Brilliant Steel bracelets with a three-fold clasp and push-button release, feature a box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, a see-through sapphire crystal and are water-resistant to 100m.
Finally, these new SLGH009 and SLGA013 come with dials that are immediately associated with Grand Seiko. Available in blue on the mechanical model or in black on the Spring Drive watch, they have a deeply etched pattern reminiscent of the tree rings design found on the 140th Anniversary Limited Edition SLGH007. However, the brand claims that the motif was inspired by “the elliptical orbit of the stars as they move across the heavens“. Both watches have a classic time-and-date display, and the Spring Drive model gets rid of the power reserve on the dial, now found on the back.
The Hi-Beat SLGH009 with Calibre 9SA5
First in line is the blue Grand Seiko Heritage Collection 44GS 55th Anniversary Hi-Beat 36000 Calibre 9SA5 SLGH009. Under this (too) long name is a watch equipped with the finest mechanical movements by Grand Seiko, the Hi-Beat 9SA5 with its Dual Impulse Escapement – a movement that made a sensation when launched in the acclaimed White Birch SLGH005.
As we explained when reviewing what’s probably the most important GS of 2021, this engine is all about innovation and refinement. The escapement is complex and entirely novel: there’s a new free-sprung balance; it has a longer power reserve of 80 hours on two barrels; and its architecture has been entirely revised to be both slimmer and far more appealing. The decoration has also been upgraded with a ‘Shizukuishi River Finish’, reflecting the nature around the studio where the movement is made.
This Grand Seiko Heritage 44GS 55th Anniversary SLGH009 will be a limited edition of 550 pieces, available in February 2022. It will be priced at EUR 10,500.
Quick facts: 40mm x 11.7mm – Ever-Brilliant Steel case and bracelet – sapphire crystals front and caseback – 100m water-resistant – Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 calibre 9SA5, automatic, 5Hz frequency, 80h power reserve, +5 to -3 seconds per day – 550-piece limited edition
The Spring Drive SLGA013 with Calibre 9RA2
The second model, the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection 44GS 55th Anniversary Spring Drive Calibre 9RA2 SLGA013, is basically the same watch with a different dial colour and, most importantly, a movement relying on the brand’s hybrid technology. As a reminder, Spring Drive combines the beauty and practicality of an automatic movement with the precision of quartz regulation.
For 2022, the brand expands the use of the recently introduced calibre 9Rxx, with its power reserve of 120 hours and a precision rate of +/- 10 seconds per month. The movement, also used in the White Birch SLGA009, improves all elements – size, performance, decoration and functionality – and sets a new standard for any spring-powered watch. It is slimmer and yet packs 5 days of power reserve. The decoration has been redefined with frosted plates/bridges contrasting with the blued screws and the diamond-cut edges, inspired by the Shinshu studio.
This Grand Seiko Heritage 44GS 55th Anniversary SLGA013 will be a limited edition of 550 pieces, available in February 2022. It will be priced at EUR 9,500.
Quick facts: 40mm x 12.1mm – Ever-Brilliant Steel case and bracelet – sapphire crystals front and caseback – 100m water-resistant – Spring Drive Calibre 9RA2, automatic, 120h power reserve, ±10 seconds per month – 550-piece limited edition
More details at www.grand-seiko.com.