Grand Seiko Introduces the SBGY009 to Celebrate the 55th Anniversary of the 44GS Case Design

As we’ve covered several times already this year, Grand Seiko is in the midst of celebrating the 55th anniversary of their iconic 44GS case design. While 55 years might be a somewhat arbitrary number, the 44GS case is truly special, and as an enormous fan of the brand I’m not physically capable of sneering at any opportunity to highlight it through the creation of new limited editions, no matter how fatiguing it might be to keep track of them all. The latest release to get the LE treatment, the new SBGY009, might be the highlight of the year so far. It combines the distinctive 44GS form factor with one of Grand Seiko’s coolest Spring Drive movements. And the dial isn’t so bad either. 


Since it would seem to be the reason for the existence of this particular watch, we’ll start with the case. The 44GS design has come to represent the Grand Seiko aesthetic for many collectors. It features wide bevels and an easily identifiable angular construction that fully takes advantage of Grand Seiko’s signature Zaratsu polishing and is essentially an open canvas for enjoying the brand’s exceptional finishing. The knock on modern 44GS cases has always been that they’re a bit tall. While this provides extra real estate for that finishing, many enthusiasts found these watches to simply be a bit too thick for regular wear. That problem appears to be mitigated here with a 40mm case that measures just 10.5mm thick. Best of all, it would appear that nothing substantial is sacrificed in terms of the dramatic construction of the case itself – this is still easily identifiable as a 44GS from a mile away. 

That thin profile is possible thanks to the use of Grand Seiko’s 9R31 Spring Drive movement. We’ve seen this movement before, most notably in the SBGY007 and the limited edition SBGY003. But this is the first time the caliber has been used in a 44GS case, and it’s frankly enough to make you wonder what took so long. The hand wound movement has 72 hours of power reserve thanks to Grand Seiko’s Dual-Spring Barrel, an innovation that allows two main springs to be run in parallel in the same barrel. This is a no-date movement with the power reserve on the back, which keeps the dial completely uncluttered. Of course, this movement has the same impressive accuracy as other Spring Drive calibers, and can be expected to keep time to within 15 seconds per month. 

The dial of the SBGY009 is dark blue and said to be inspired by the night sky lit by a full moon in the Shinshu mountains, which can be seen from the studio where these watches are made. As always with Grand Seiko, the links to nature and Japanese culture might resonate, or they might not. What’s really important is whether the aesthetic of the dial moves you, and this one is classic and reserved, but still has enough going on when you get to the details to make it appealing as a Grand Seiko limited edition. It has what appears to be a fairly pronounced sun-ray pattern emanating from the center. In photos it appears to have real texture, but is not overpowering. 

The new SBGY009 is a limited edition of 1,500 pieces, and carries a retail price of $8,100. It’s available to order right now from Grand Seiko, with delivery expected in August. Grand Seiko

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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.