Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The US-Exclusive Grand Seiko 44GS Spring Drive SBGA489, SBGA491 & SBGA493

Grand Seiko introduces three US-exclusive models influenced by the materials and craft of the katana.

| By Brice Goulard | 3 min read |

Whether it’s about culture, landscapes or artistry, many of Grand Seiko‘s recent creations have been inspired by its country of origin, Japan. Not only this does pay tribute to the land where these watches are manufactured, but it also brings a unique identity, setting these watches apart from Swiss-based competitors. For its latest trio of timepieces, which are exclusive to the American market like these two other watches, Grand Seiko brings the Artistry of the Katana to the dials of 44GS Spring Drive models, with the new references SBGA489, SBGA491 and SBGA493. 

The Japanese sword, known as the katana, is a world-renowned masterpiece in steel. The distinctive and sophisticated process of crafting the katana, coupled with its superb functionality, has created a fascination and allure worldwide. This art form has inspired three new US-exclusive Grand Seiko creations influenced by the materials and craft that reflect strength and beauty of the katana. The raw materials used in the creation of a katana are earth, fire, water, and air. Iron sand is drawn from the Earth and then heated using fire and air in a furnace known as the tatara.

Ad – Scroll to continue with article

The melted sand forms the Japanese steel known as tamahagane. From tamahagane, two variations can be found. One is the high carbon steel used for the outer sharp edge, known as kawagane. The other is the strong inner core of the blade, shingane. The shards of metal are then stacked individually; heated to a glowing yellow, orange, and red colour; forged; folded; and quenched in water until the inner core is welded within the hardened exterior. Forming the katana is a demanding and exacting art, yet it creates the foundation of a perfectly balanced and beautiful sword. Finally, polishing a katana is, by itself, an art only a few can master…

In the same vein, Grand Seiko watches, and these new 44GS Spring Drive SBGA489, SBGA491 & SBGA493 are no exception to the rule, and show particular attention to detail when it comes to the finishing of the multiple facets that compose their cases. Executed according to the Grammar of Design and executed with the praised Zaratsu technique, these 44GS-based watches pay tribute to a watch designed in 1967 and now measure 40mm in diameter, 12.5mm in height and 46.2mm in length. Classic specs for the rest, with a 100m water-resistance, a sapphire crystal with AR coating and an exhibition caseback. All three references are identical case-wise.

These SBGA489, SBGA491 & SBGA493 are also identical mechanically, with the Spring Drive Calibre 9R65 working inside. This hybrid movement, combining the perpetuity of a self-winding mechanism and the precision of a quartz-based regulator, displays the time, the date and the power reserve (72 hours) with a precision of ± 1 second per day (± 15 seconds per month). All three models are worn on a stainless steel bracelet with a three-fold clasp, while the SBGA493 comes with an additional kimono fabric strap.

What matters with these US-exclusive editions are the dials. The SBGA489 and SBGA491 share the same granular texture, with a gold-coloured power reserve indicator and central seconds hand. The SBGA489 is coloured grey and is inspired by kawagane, the high-carbon steel used for a katana. The SBGA491 comes in dark green and is inspired by shingane, the inner core of the blade. These two editions will be part of the permanent collection (not limited) and are now available at USD 5,600.

The SBGA493 shows a bolder and different texture and is said to be inspired by the forge itself. The deep red colour and yellow gold-coloured accents are influenced by the heated blade during the forging process while the texture, with a deep sunray pattern, is inspired by the radiating sparks created when the hammer strikes the blade. This SBGA493 is a limited edition of 500 pieces and will be available in September at USD 6,000.

For more details, please visit

1 response

  1. The only GS special edition in recent memory I would have jumped on is affectionately called the Peacock. Others are sitting in my ADs case longing for a good home, even after 2 events where the local rep shows up to talk about his product. IMO, there is a mismatch between the intricate dials and the case / bracelets. The Zaratsu polishing doesn’t seem to be a major selling point for GS. On these models, putting the PR on the movement or leaving it off may have been better. A matching date wheel color might have been more interesting also. The price is good but there’s a mismatch in style – something GS needs to consider.


Leave a Reply