I don’t know if you agree, but many people regard Grand Seiko as a very conservative, almost too technical brand. But of all the players that compete in that price segment (watches between EUR 4,000 and EUR 12,000) the only one that dares to do something truly different with its dials is precisely Grand Seiko. Just cast a glance at the Snowflake that Brice reviewed and that has become the icon of the brand, the Grand Seiko Elegance Limited Edition, or the Hi-Beat 36000 Calibre 9S 20th-Anniversary, and you’ll see what I mean. So is the case with GS’ latest limited edition, the rich red-coloured Grand Seiko Heritage “Autumn” Hi-Beat Limited Edition SBGH269 that we’ll look at today.
When was the last time you heard “wow look at the dial of that Submariner, isn’t that different!?” Yeah, me neither, ever. We may like the results or not, but Seiko dares to dare. Not long before this Grand Seiko Heritage “Autumn” Hi-Beat Limited Edition SBGH269 was announced, Grand Seiko presented the Godzilla Edition with a powerful red dial. Red is also the colour of this model, but with a very different mood. But before talking about this, let’s get the basic information on the watch.
The case of the SBGH269 has a classical diameter of 39.5mm and a height of 13mm. Needless to say, all the polished sections of the case have the Zaratsu treatment for a mirror-like reflection. It is important to point out that it takes three years of in-house training to become a Zaratsu polisher. The screw-down crown reveals the Grand Seiko logo, and the watch is water-resistant to 100 metres.
You can see how much Grand Seiko likes to complicate lugs (especially if you put them side by side with those of its competitors). The only brushed upper section of the lug has the shape of an isosceles triangle with a very acute angle, which makes things much more difficult for the Zaratsu master. But the finishing is flawless.
STRIKING Red and textured DIAL
The tour de force of this Grand Seiko Heritage “Autumn” SBGH269 is, of course, the dial. It mixes red tones with slightly brown and even golden ones (the latter thanks to the painted minute indices and the reflection of the seconds hand). The colours are inspired by the Japanese woods during autumn. The dial also recreates the surface of the traditional lacquered wooden floors of Japanese houses with its overlapping planks and wood grain details.
The polish applied to the dial creates intense red hues. The effect is warm and elegant but to fully appreciate the richness and details, I recommend you admire the dial with a loupe. The rest of the elements have been executed with the maximum care and quality, as is always the case with Grand Seiko. The hands seem to be laser-cut, with brushed surfaces on top and polished facets. The Grand Seiko hands are already legendary and make those from the competition want to run home to mummy and cry.
The applied indices have also been faceted to reflect more light, and the surfaces are decorated with vertical ribbing. Same with the date window, that frames a white-on-black date that is perfectly legible. However, it might have been even braver not to include the date to avoid any interruptions on the wooden planks.
Seiko was the first to get to the market with a 5Hz calibre and since then it has always been in its collections. It is precisely this high-frequency calibre that gives the Grand Seiko Heritage “Autumn” Hi-Beat Limited Edition its name. It is a pleasure seeing that seconds hand jumping ten times per second, so close to the Grand Seiko Spring Drive continuous movement. The 9S85 offers a power reserve of 55 hours and is regulated in 6 positions and 3 different temperatures for an excellent result: -3/+5 seconds per day. Although we know that these watches always perform better than announced.
The rotor is made of titanium and occupies all the space available, although it is partly skeletonized to let us see a glimpse of the moving parts. It includes the Grand Seiko seal and it is decorated in green, like the leaves before they change to red. Not my favourite part of the watch, I must admit. But don’t let that stop you from giving it to me as a Christmas present.
I’m sure the 900 units produced of the Grand Seiko Heritage “Autumn” Hi-Beat Limited Edition have been one of Grand Seiko’s fastest-selling collections and will be highly appreciated in the second-hand market. A price of EUR 6,900 for such a high-quality case, superb movement and singular dial is something you simply cannot find outside of Grand Seiko. More information on GrandSeiko.com.