Grand Seiko Celebrates 55 Years of the 44GS Case with a New Limited Edition

Keeping track of the various anniversaries being celebrated at any given time watch brands that have existed for over a century is something of a daunting task, so you’ll be forgiven if you’ve forgotten as we approach the end of 2021 that this marks Seiko’s 140th anniversary year (we’ve been covering releases to celebrate since they began at the tail end of 2020), and that 2020 was the 60th anniversary year for Grand Seiko. But, of course, watch brands celebrate more than just anniversaires of their founding, and as we head into 2022, we’re reminded that it’s been 55 years since Grand Seiko introduced what has become their iconic 44GS case shape. Naturally, a limited edition watch is in order for the occasion. 


While jokes about every year being an anniversary for something, however inconsequential, are easy enough to make, the 44GS case is a legitimately important part of Grand Seiko’s history, and it’s not surprising that the brand is highlighting it with a new watch. The 44GS case typified what became a distinct design language that set Grand Seiko apart from their Swiss rivals in the 1960s, with a focus on sharp angles, highly reflective polished surfaces, and absolute precision in both chronometry and the finishing of every exterior component. While Grand Seiko developed a variety of cases during this period, the 44GS style case, with a barrel-like design and wide facets, has endured, and for many is the case shape that pops into their head when they think of Grand Seiko. 

For this limited edition (only 1,200 will be made) Grand Seiko starts with a 40mm case made of their “high intensity” titanium material, with a bracelet to match. The use of titanium here is a bit of a flex for Grand Seiko, as they’ve become adept at finishing their titanium watches in a way that still allows the dramatic transitions that are so important in their Zaratsu polished case sides to stand out. It’s not that the titanium is made to look like steel, exactly, but it has its own unique aesthetic quality to it that no other brand achieves in quite the same way. 

The dial is white with what appears to be an extremely subtle texture. What’s a little unusual about the dial treatment is the use of lume on the hands at the tips of each hour marker. This is somewhat rare in watches outside of Grand Seiko’s sport collection, and should please fans of the brand for the novelty of it alone, to say nothing of its actual usefulness day to day. Another flourish for the limited edition can be found in the applied and blued Grand Seiko logo at 12:00, which looks great against the white dial’s backdrop. 

As you’ve likely gathered from the photos, this Grand Seiko is equipped with a GMT function, and runs on the hi-beat 9S86 caliber. This is a rock solid and proven Grand Seiko movement, offering 55 hours of power reserve and accuracy to +5/-3 seconds per day. Like all Grand Seikos with this complication, it’s a “true GMT,” which is a local jumping hour hand. 

The new Hi-Beat 3600 GMT 44GS  55th Anniversary Limited Edition (the typically cumbersome official name given to reference SBGJ255) will be available in January, and carries a retail price of $8,500. Grand Seiko

Images from this post:
Related Posts
Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.