While the first timepiece made by Grand Seiko dates back to 1960 – a watch that was recreated last year in a faithful re-edition – another extremely important date in the history of the brand is 1998. Indeed, twenty years ago, Grand Seiko introduced Calibre 9S, an entirely new movement designed from scratch to deliver high precision and excellent durability. Today, the entire Grand Seiko mechanical collection is built around this movement. For its 20th anniversary, the brand launches three special movements, a new case, and a unique dial. Meet the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Calibre 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH265 – SBGH266 – SBGH267.
In 1998, Seiko launched Calibre 9S, a movement designed from scratch and new on all levels. From the very beginning, this movement was meant to be the cornerstone of the entire collection, which it has become as today, all mechanical watches in the GS collection (not the Spring Drive pieces) are powered by a movement that is based on the 9S architecture. The conception of this movement was clear: reliability, functionality, adaptability (several complications, including a chronograph, can be added to the base calibre) and precision.
Several versions, all of them with self-winding capacity, have seen the light. Some feature a simple time-and-date display, some add a GMT function, many run on a high-beat frequency – the 36000 models, with their 5Hz frequency. Ever since its introduction, the 9S calibre has been continuously enhanced, with new Spron alloys for both the main and balance springs and MEMS engineering, a technique that allows key components to be manufactured to tolerances as small as one-thousandth of a millimeter.
For Baselworld 2018, Grand Seiko wants to pay homage to this movement, known as one of the best three-hand movements around, with three new limited edition watches. All of them share the same spirit as the movement that ticks inside their case: reliability, of course, but mainly high-precision, including the comeback of three legendary letters: VFA (very fine adjustment). Here are the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Calibre 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH265 – SBGH266 – SBGH267.
These three new references share the same base movement – Calibre 9S85 – as well as the same, newly designed case, with a very reasonable 39.5mm diameter. Also, a new type of dial, with a radial geometric pattern, showing a mosaic of GS logos, is included on all three variants.
The Grand Seiko Calibre 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH265
The first of the versions is an exceptional piece regarding its rarity and its preciousness. The reference SBGH265 is limited to 20 pieces worldwide and is manufactured from 950 platinum – for the case and the folding buckle. Its dial is presented in a silvery-white colour, with silver hours and minutes hands and a blued seconds hand – a recurring style on high-end Grand Seiko watches. The case is finished with great care and shows two surfaces of Zaratsu polishing that extend to the very edge of the lugs, where the two meet the hairline finish to create a perfect triangle.
Note the three letters on the dial of reference SBGH265: VFA, for Very Fine Adjustment – a mention first used in 1969. Indeed, on this platinum version, Calibre 9S is adjusted to “+3 to -1 seconds per day”, after a testing program extended to 34 days – all of that in excess of the usual Grand Seiko standards. The back reveals the high-beat movement, with the rotor adorned with a gold medallion.
The Grand Seiko Calibre 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH265 will be available in March 2018 (just after Baselworld) as a limited edition of 20 pieces worldwide for EUR 53,500.
The Grand Seiko Calibre 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH266
The second version to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Calibre 9S is a classical, elegant take on the same design. Reference SBGH266 has the same 39.5mm case and the same finishing but is presented in 18k yellow gold. It will be a rather rare edition too, as only 150 pieces will be produced. Inside the case is the same high-beat 5Hz movement, this time regulated to “normal” Grand Seiko standards, meaning a very precise +4 to -2 seconds per day.
Also visible through the sapphire case back, the 9S85 movement is adorned with a gold medallion that depicts the Grand Seiko lion emblem. The dial has a silvery-white colour, with the signature radial pattern and small GS mosaic. All the hands and the indexes are crafted in yellow gold, to match the case. The Grand Seiko Calibre 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH266 is delivered on a brown crocodile strap. Limited to 150 pieces the watch will be available in March 2018 and priced at EUR 27,000.
The Grand Seiko Calibre 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH267
Last but not least, Grand Seiko has a third edition to offer for the 20th anniversary of its signature movement, this time meant for the public at large – or at least, an edition with a more affordable price. The reference SBGH267 shares most of the specifications of the two other editions, but with a sportier design. Its 39.5mm case is attached to a metallic bracelet and the whole watch is made of stainless steel. The dial, with the same radial pattern, is presented in a dark blue colour with rhodium-plated hands and markers, as well as a gilded seconds hand.
Visible through the sapphire case back of this ref. SBGH267 is the same high-beat Calibre 9S85, with the same regulation to +4 to -2 seconds per day, yet with an original rotor. The oscillating weight is shaped like a wheel and made of titanium and tungsten. The titanium surface is coloured blue by an anodic oxidation process (a surface treatment in which metals are subjected to electrolysis so as to artificially generate an oxide film). The result is quite surprising and very attractive. The Grand Seiko Calibre 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH267 will be produced in 1,500 pieces, available from March 2018 at Seiko and Grand Seiko boutiques, as well as selected Grand Seiko retail partners. It will be priced at EUR 6,500.
More details on www.grand-seiko.com.