Grand Seiko was launched in 1960 by Seiko as a way for the Japanese company to prove that its watches could be just as prestigious as those from Switzerland. Rather than conceding any sort of inferiority, the watchmaker instead opted to challenge the notion that Swiss timepieces were better simply because of their provenance. In 1967, Grand Seiko unveiled the iconic 44GS, a watch that then guided the brand’s design ethos and established its nine rules for clarity and style that are still in place today.
55 years later, Grand Seiko has unveiled a limited edition in honor of the 44GS’s anniversary as part of its Heritage Collection in the form of the SBGP017. The 40mm case houses an upgraded Caliber 9F85 quartz that’s surprisingly visible through the sapphire caseback — a rarity among quartz watches. It makes sense that the experts at Seiko would want to display this handmade, fully-decorated, and ridiculously accurate movement since its deviation is only a mere +/-5 seconds per year, a feat acknowledged by the presence of the gold star on the dial.
Like many Grand Seikos, the most striking thing about the SBGP017 is its gorgeous nature-inspired dial, whose color and Iwao texturing echo the ethereality of the “sea of clouds” that hangs above the Shinshu region of Japan where Grand Seiko makes its watches. The stainless steel case has been given a Zaratsu polished and hairline finish, complete with the striking flat surfaces that are so key to the 44GS’s signature style.
Equipped with a date function at the 3 o’clock position and a three-link stainless steel bracelet, the 44GS Heritage Collection Edition SBGP017 has to rank as one of the most striking timepieces ever released by the Japanese watchmaker — and that’s saying something. Limited to just 2,000 pieces, it’s now available in Grand Seiko’s online boutique.