The Grand Seiko Debuts the 44GS Ref. SBGP017
Celebrating the 55th anniversary of an iconic watch with a cloud-inspired 44GS
Written by Theo Baker
July 28, 2022
The Grand Seiko design legacy is no secret. Spanning from the 1960s when Seiko launched the luxury-minded Grand Seiko line, the collection, then sub-brand, then independent brand proper has long made use of strong Japanese design influences to create incredibly aesthetically sharp and mechanically precise timepieces.
In 1967, seven years after the initial launch of Grand Seiko, these efforts took shape in the form of the original 44GS – a model that over time would help write the standard design code for almost all succeeding Grand Seiko watches, with nine individual design elements from that initial vintage design still being cited by the brand as key touchpoints for “Grand Seiko Style.”
This year, in recognition of the 55th anniversary of this initial launch, Grand Seiko is once more recalling that original 44GS, now debuting one of its latest timepieces in the 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition ref. SBGP017. The new watch – like many of Grand Seiko’s recent creations – takes its influence from nature. In this case, the clouds that form around the mountains on some mornings in the Shinshu region where Grand Seiko quartz watches are manufactured provided inspiration.
The new watch features a 40mm stainless steel case, with its silhouette and size keeping in-line with other recent iterations of the 44GS design as well as with other models in Grand Seiko’s Heritage Collection. Opting for an almost curved side profile that has become a signature of the brand’s watches, mirror-like polishing and a hairline finish throughout highlight the case’s distinct shape and sharp edges. A matching steel bracelet secures the watch to the wrist, with its links alternating in their use of polished or brushed finishing for an elevated contrast.
As mentioned, the most notable feature of the SBGP017 is in its textured, blue-tinged dial, with the surface recalling the thick cloud covering that swallows Shinshu’s lowlands on particularly overcast days, and the clear skies above them tinting them a familiar sky blue. Accentuating the color choice, at the top of the dial is a deep blue applied GS logo, while at the 3 o’clock position a date window is placed to help balance the look and add some daily functionality. Then, towards the 6 o’clock position, an applied gold five-point star rests, which while adding to the pseudo-celestial theme of the dial, is further an intentional indicator that the watch utilizes a 9F quartz movement.
Speaking directly to its movement, powering the new 44GS is the Grand Seiko caliber 9F85. The elevated quartz caliber follows the sharp case aesthetic and creatively-minded dial of the watch, with its timekeeping precision providing a keen touch of reliability to the timepiece and adding to the performative legacy which Grand Seiko has worked to encapsulate in the limited edition.
Notably, the 9F85 features an accuracy to +/- 5 seconds per year. According to the brand, the caliber can maintain this accuracy even during a change of time, with independent adjustments to the hour hand able to be made in one-hour increments without stopping the seconds. Flipping the watch over, you can catch a glimpse of the caliber and its fine finishing via a sapphire exhibition caseback, with the mechanism featuring details like tempered blue screws which complement the blue accents of the dial.
The new Grand Seiko Heritage Collection 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition ref. SBGP017 is available in a limited edition release of 2,000 examples. Pricing is currently marked at $3,800, sitting in-line with other high accuracy quartz releases from Grand Seiko.