While the first watch made by Grand Seiko dates back to 1960 – a watch that was recreated last year in a faithful re-release – another critical date in the history of the brand is 1998. Surely, twenty years ago, Grand Seiko presented Caliber 9S, a completely new movement planned from scratch to deliver high accuracy and superb durability. Today, the whole Grand Seiko mechanical assortment is worked around this movement. For its 20th anniversary, the brand launches three special movements, another case, and an exceptional dial. Meet the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH265 – SBGH266 – SBGH267.
In 1998, Seiko launched Caliber 9S, a movement planned from scratch and new on all levels. From the very start, this movement was meant to be the foundation of the whole assortment, which it has become as today, all mechanical watches in the GS assortment (not the Spring Drive pieces) are controlled by a movement that is based on the 9S architecture. The origination of this movement was clear: reliability, functionality, adaptability (several complications, including a chronograph, can be added to the base caliber) and precision.
Several versions, all of them with self-winding capacity, have seen the light. Some feature a straightforward time-and-date display, some add a GMT function, many sudden spike in demand for a high-beat frequency – the 36000 models, with their 5Hz frequency. Ever since its presentation, the 9S caliber has been persistently enhanced, with new Spron alloys for both the main and balance springs and MEMS designing, a method 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 a standout amongst other three-hand movements around, with three new restricted version watches. All of them share the same soul as the movement that ticks inside their case: reliability, obviously, yet mainly high-exactness, including the comeback of three legendary letters: VFA (very fine adjustment). Here are the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH265 – SBGH266 – SBGH267.
These three new references share the same base movement – Caliber 9S85 – as well as the same, recently planned case, with a very reasonable 39.5mm diameter. Also, another kind of dial, with a radial mathematical pattern, showing a mosaic of GS logos, is remembered for all three variants.
The Grand Seiko Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH265
The first of the versions is an exceptional piece regarding its rarity and its value. The reference SBGH265 is restricted to 20 pieces worldwide and is manufactured from 950 platinum – for the case and the folding clasp. Its dial is introduced in a silvery-white tone, with silver hours and minutes hands and a blued seconds hand – a common style on high-end Grand Seiko watches. The case is finished with great care and shows two surfaces of Zaratsu polishing that stretch out to the very edge of the hauls, 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 notice first utilized in 1969. To be sure, on this platinum version, Caliber 9S is adjusted to “+3 to – 1 seconds for every day”, after a testing program stretched out to 34 days – all of that in overabundance of the usual Grand Seiko standards. The back reveals the high-beat movement, with the rotor adorned with a gold medallion.
The Grand Seiko Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH265 will be available in March 2018 (soon after Baselworld) as a restricted version of 20 pieces overall for EUR 53,500.
The Grand Seiko Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH266
The second version to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Caliber 9S is a classical, elegant take on the same plan. Reference SBGH266 has the same 39.5mm case and the same finishing yet is introduced in 18k yellow gold. It will be a rather rare version as well, as just 150 pieces will be created. 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 for each day.
Also visible through the sapphire case back, the 9S85 movement is adorned with a gold medallion that portrays the Grand Seiko lion image. The dial has a silvery-white tone, with the signature radial pattern and small GS mosaic. All the hands and the lists are crafted in yellow gold, to match the case. The Grand Seiko Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH266 is delivered on an earthy colored crocodile strap. Restricted to 150 pieces the watch will be available in March 2018 and valued at EUR 27,000.
The Grand Seiko Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH267
Last however not least, Grand Seiko has a third release to offer for the 20th anniversary of its signature movement, this time meant for general society at large – or possibly, a version with a more affordable cost. The reference SBGH267 shares the majority of the specifications of the two different versions, however with a sportier plan. Its 39.5mm case is attached to a metallic bracelet and the entire watch is made of stainless steel. The dial, with the same radial pattern, is introduced in a dark blue tone with rhodium-plated hands and markers, as well as an overlaid seconds hand.
Visible through the sapphire case back of this ref. SBGH267 is the same high-beat Caliber 9S85, with the same regulation to +4 to – 2 seconds of the day, yet with an original rotor. The oscillating weight is shaped like a haggle of titanium and tungsten. The titanium surface is hued blue by an anodic oxidation measure (a surface treatment in which metals are exposed to electrolysis in order to artificially generate an oxide film). The outcome is very amazing and very attractive. The Grand Seiko Caliber 9S 20th Anniversary ref. SBGH267 will be delivered in 1,500 pieces, available from March 2018 at Seiko and Grand Seiko shops, as well as selected Grand Seiko retail partners. It will be estimated at EUR 6,500.
More details on www.grand-seiko.com .