When Grand Seiko revealed the first watch to mark the 55th anniversary of the 44GS case late last year, I figured 2022 would be all about what is arguably their signature case shape, and we’d see a slew of new watches throughout the year in this highly angular platform, which is perfect for showing off the brand’s Zaratsu polishing, and gives you an immediate sense of what the brand’s overarching aesthetic is all about. We got another 44GS release a few months back (remember these?) and I figured my assessment was just about spot on. I didn’t count on what Grand Seiko did this week, however, which is an extremely welcome surprise, and hopefully a sign of things to come, either later this year or well beyond.
Grand Seiko’s Celebration of the 44GS Case Continues, Now in a Smaller Size
The SBGW289 has the unmistakable lines of the 44GS case, but in a considerably smaller size. The modern 44GS case measures an even 40mm in diameter and has a tendency to wear tall (but compact) thanks to the dramatic beveling on the caseband. This new watch, a limited edition of just 1,200 pieces, comes in at a vintage inspired 36.5mm, which should create a very different impression on the wrist. It’s paired with a hand wound movement (Grand Seiko’s 9S64) and seems positioned at a kind of midway point between “dress watch” and “daily driver.” Because of the highly polished elements of the 44GS, it always gives off an heir of formality, but it doesn’t take long on the wrist to realize how robust the case is, and how suitable these watches are for everyday activity. The 36.5mm case should create a ton of new opportunities for the 44GS to be dressed either up or down, on a wide range of wrist sizes.
As a Grand Seiko fan, the highlight of this new release is certainly the new case size, but I think the general public and those in the community who aren’t already on board with Grand Seiko are going to be equally taken with the SBGW289’s dial. To state the obvious, it’s pink, and has a light texture that seems to be similar (if not identical) to what we’ve seen in other recent Grand Seiko releases that veer toward the dressier side. According to Grand Seiko, the color and design of the dial is inspired by cherry blossoms covered in light snow, as you’d see in Japan in the earliest days of Spring. The new watch also has the unusual distinction of being a modern 44GS case without a date window, which I’m betting has already excited many who are constantly asking the brand not to spoil their lovely textured dials with a symmetry destroying date display.
A pink dial, naturally, is not for everyone, although based on the runaway success of the SBGA413 “Shunbun,” it’s for more than anyone may have realized. Still, if pink isn’t your thing, it’s interesting to consider that this might be the first watch in a new series to use this smaller 44GS case. That would be fairly unsurprising for Grand Seiko – they have a tendency to debut new movements, cases, and dial designs in limited edition pieces, and then gradually expand with variants that are part of the permanent collection.
The new SBGW289 will be available in June at Grand Seiko boutiques and selected authorized dealers. The retail price is $5,400. Grand Seiko