Monochrome Watches
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Celebrating 55 Years of the 44GS, with the New Grand Seiko Heritage Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ255

A tribute to a 1967 watch that defined the entire design language of the brand.

| By Brice Goulard | 4 min read |
Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Hi-Beat 36000 GMT 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGJ255

Zaratsu-polished case, facetted lugs with crisp angles, superbly-crafted hands with large bevels, razor-sharp edges all around and distortion-free surfaces. This is Grand Seiko! And if you look back in time, what we see today as the perfect definition of what a GS watch should be is actually not that new… The so-called Grand Seiko Style was born in 1967, with a watch that will define the entire collections to come, the 44GS. 55 years later and to celebrate this important model, Grand Seiko is now releasing a new watch that is directly inspired by this vintage model. Meet the Grand Seiko Heritage Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ255.

The Grand Seiko Style, defined by the 44GS

We could talk for hours about what makes a Grand Seiko unique. It’s actually both simple and complex, and mostly highly consistent. And behind this “Grammar of Design” is one man – Taro Tanaka – and one watch – the 44GS. This watch was created in 1967, seven years after the introduction of the first Grand Seiko. It was shaped to express a uniquely Japanese idea of design and it will set the ideals of Grand Seiko. If the 44GS was important for its accuracy, it was, however, its design that made an even greater contribution to the future of Grand Seiko.

The 1967 Grand Seiko 44GS

This watch will define the rules for later watches and it is still today the most important design inspiration for the brand, proud to use this 55-year heritage as a solid guide. Behind the design of the 44GS are characteristics found in many traditional Japanese art forms. Besides the notions of precision, legibility, beauty and ease of use so that form follows function, this design language is all about the subtle use of light, reflection and shadow.

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The case facets are Zaratsu-polished by hand to create distortion-free surfaces, enabling the case ridges to be crisp and sharp. The hands and indexes are diamond-cut so that they offer high legibility even in low ambient light. The dials are clear and easy to read. And if the result is certainly guided by rational notions, it’s also very pleasant to look at.

The new Heritage Hi-beat GMT SBGJ255

Following the tradition and celebrating 55 years of the 44GS, Grand Seiko today releases a watch that honours the set of nine principles that gave Grand Seiko its distinctive look – the 9 points you can see above. If certainly more modern and equipped with contemporary mechanics, the new Heritage Hi-beat GMT SBGJ255 certainly is greatly inspired by the design of the 44GS, starting with its distinctive case.

Measuring 40mm in diameter, the case of the SBGJ255 is made of high-intensity titanium, and boasts a combination of brushed and Zaratsu-polished surfaces. The overall shape is a direct reference to the 44GS, specifically the large shoulders, the curved sideline and the reversed slanted bezel wall and case side. This combination of angles and facets makes for a dynamic case that still feels highly modern today. The material used is not only lightweight but also highly resistant to both scratches and corrosion. It has a bright aspect and can be polished, with the Zaratsu technique providing distortion-free surfaces. The case is topped by a domed sapphire crystal, features a semi-recessed crown and is water-resistant to 100 metres.

The key characteristic of this Grand Seiko Heritage Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ255 is its dial, with a soft silver colour with a discreet vertical texture. This allows for a great contrast with the blue-coloured elements – the GMT hand and the GMT and GS logos – as well as the typically GS faceted hands and hour markers. Both are equipped with luminous material and the second time zone is read thanks to a 24h scale printed on the angled inner flange.

Inside the case is the brand’s classic high-frequency automatic GMT movement, the calibre 9S86. Running at 36,000 vibrations/hour or 5Hz, it boasts 55 hours of power reserve and is regulated at an accuracy rate of + 5 to –3 seconds a day. Note that this is a true traveller’s watch, where the local hour hand can be adjusted by one-hour increments. Under the see-through caseback, one can see the special rotor with the Grand Seiko lion emblem. The oscillating weight is executed in a gold-tone that is achieved through an anodic oxidation process, in which the titanium is subjected to electrolysis so as to generate an oxide film.

Availability & Price

The Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Hi-Beat 36000 GMT 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGJ255 (yes, that’s the full name…) is a limited edition of 1,200 pieces that will be available from Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected retail partners worldwide in January 2022. It will be priced at EUR 8,500.

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5 responses

  1. 14mm! How about for that price we get the new Hi beat 9SA5 movement with a gmt module and shave off a mm or so? Come on GS! Even though it’s an entry level movement, CW can produce 12mm GMTs for ~ $1000. 🤦🏼‍♂️

  2. First 44GS cased GMT with lume, nice move as now even more versatile. Price is a good step about the very nice versions without lume though like the white Mt Iwate. That’s some pricey lume

  3. Wow, they finally put Luke on the dial. This should have done a long time along on these GS’s .. Good Move

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