During Baselworld 2017, Seiko made the announcement that it was separating its Seiko and Grand Seiko lines. This move made a lot of sense at the time. The idea was that they are already equally beloved by Seiko-holics, but this distinction helps make the difference apparent to everyone else. One consequence of this meant that all the Grand Seiko timepieces currently being produced were scrubbed of Seiko branding so only the lion logo of Grand Seiko would be placed on the dial. While there were other timepieces released by the now-separate brand in 2017, this move dominated the discussion during the show and for much of the year. With that distinction now fully in the rear window, Grand Seiko has followed up with multiple interesting new models at Baselworld 2018.
The 9S Caliber was introduced in 1998 and served as a defining point in Grand Seiko’s history. Over the years it has been improved with new Spron alloys for both the main and balance springs and MEMS engineering that allow key components to be manufactured to tolerances as small as one-thousandth of a millimeter. As of this morning, we now have the 9S85 Hi-Beat 36000 caliber. With a rate of +3 to -1 seconds per day, the new watch (SBGH265) both honors the 9S caliber’s history and elevates the brand to new heights of mechanical accuracy. It comes in a platinum 950 case created by Nobuhiro Kosugi, the designer of the first 9S watch in 1998. Two surfaces of Zaratsu polishing extend to the very edge of the lug where these curved surfaces meet the hairline finish to create a triangle.
While the movement is certainly technically impressive, the dial is even more memorable. Featuring a swirling mosaic pattern of alternating GS initials that radiates out from the center of the dial in a geometric pattern, it is plan stunning in person. The images don’t do it justice, trust me.
Two additional limited editions celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 9S caliber. The first is in an 18k gold case (SBGH266) and the second in stainless steel (SBGH267). Both share the same case design, the same caliber 9S85, and the same dial design as the SBGH265. The gold version, however, is adjusted to the Grand Seiko Special Standard and offers a precision rate of +4 to -2 seconds per day. As with the SBGH265, the oscillating weight carries the Grand Seiko lion emblem in 18k gold as a symbol of the enhanced accuracy. The stainless steel design also has a special oscillating weight. It is made of titanium and tungsten and the titanium surface is colored blue by an anodic oxidation process.
The Hi-Beat 36000 SBGH265 is limited to 20 total pieces and is priced at $53,000; the Hi-Beat 36000 SBGH266 is limited to 150 total pieces and is priced at $27,000; the Hi-Beat 36000 SBGH267 is limited to 1,500 total pieces and priced at $6,300. All three will be available later this month.
That’s not all. Grand Seiko is also releasing a special Limited Edition Blue Ceramic GMT that features the same alternating mosaic initial pattern and a Hi-Beat movement that has been specially adjusted to the Grand Seiko ‘Special’ standard and offers a precision rate of +4 to -2 seconds.
The inner case and outer bracelet links are crafted from the very light high-intensity titanium. The outer case and the center links of the bracelet are made from a new proprietary material that is seven times harder than stainless steel so that the watch is virtually impervious to scratches called blue zirconia ceramic. Behind the sapphire case back, titanium and tungsten combine in the oscillating weight to resist distortion even when the watch is subjected to shock. The titanium section of the weight is treated with an anodic oxidation process that creates a new, rich and vivid blue that complements the Grand Seiko blue of the ceramic and the dial.