The celebrations at Grand Seiko continue this week, with the esteemed Japanese watchmaker releasing its latest of celebratory pieces marking the 55th anniversary of the original 44GS design. The new watch, dubbed the 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition ref. SBGY009, joins the brand’s historically influenced Heritage Collection, with it taking direct influence from the original 44GS Grand Seiko design launched in 1967 which has since proved as a longstanding major influence for the brand.
The new SBGY009 follows up on the cloudy sky inspired SBGP017 and cherry blossom dial SBGW289, both of which preceded today’s model as 44GS 55th Anniversary launches. Like those watches preceding it, the SBGY009 features strong influences from the original 44GS, embodied in the various nine design principles associated with “Grand Seiko Style.” Yet differing from those models, the new anniversary release takes its direct inspiration from the “moon over the Shinshu mountains,” with its dark blue sunray dial recalling the nighttime view from Grand Seiko’s studio in Shinshu where each of its Spring Drive powered watches, like this model, are produced.
Taking a closer look at the timepiece, its case features a 40mm steel construction, with its sharply faceted, slightly curved silhouette recalling historical designs first outlaid in the original 44GS editions from the late 1960s. An expert Zaratsu style polishing is applied throughout case for finishing, with the contrasting textures of mirror polishing and brushed touches adding to its elevated aesthetic.
Heading underneath its sapphire crystal, the dark dial of the SBGY009 greets the viewer, with the brand obviously not content with color alone and executing the display with a radial pattern that further accentuates its sunray texturing. The uncommon pattern is mean to assist the dial in catching light at every available angle, in-effect working to recreate “the gentle sparkle that the moon casts over the [Shinshu] landscape when it is at its very highest point in the sky.”
Other details to note on the dial are in its applied hour markers— each equally as sharp in their faceting as those cuts on the case— with a pair of signature dauphine hands sweeping at the center and serving for the hour and minute indicators. Some gold touches in the seconds hand and Grand Seiko logo add some color variation, these further hinting at a bright, full moon in the clear night sky which have informed the creation of the timepiece.
Notably, where the blue hued SBGP017 opted for a quartz Grand Seiko caliber 9F85, and the rosy SBGW289 featured a manual-winding caliber 9S64, the latest anniversary edition instead makes use of a Spring Drive mechanism via the caliber 9R31. The manually-wound caliber carries a 72-hour power reserve thanks its dual mainspring barrels, and has previously been featured in other top-of-range watches from the brand, like the “Omiwatari” SBGY007 debuted in 2021 (above).
The caliber 9R31 is visually noteworthy for indicating that running autonomy in analog fashion on its back side and for its array of tempered blue screws. From a technical standpoint, it boasts an accuracy of +/- 1 second per day and +/- 15 seconds per month thanks to the brand’s Spring Drive technology, which combines a traditional mainspring with a quartz oscillator.
With this Spring Drive edition of the 55th Anniversary making its appearance to market, it seems likely Grand Seiko will continue the series for the year and continue releasing follow-up 44GS editions through the remainder of 2022. If the trend of varying movements continues, too, then the next 44GS Anniversary release will likely feature an automatic caliber or some welcome complication such as a date indicator or a GMT mechanism.
The new Grand Seiko 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition ref. SBGY009 will be limited to 1,500 total examples, with each featuring an individual serial number as well as the phrase “Limited Edition” engraved upon the case back.
The new Heritage Collection launch will become available in August via Grand Seiko boutiques and authorized dealers, with pricing marked at $8,100.
To learn more, visit Grand Seiko, here.