Hands-on with the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Sports Watches (with Video)

Just a few days ago, I wrote about Grand Seiko’s introduction of a trilogy of sports watches within their new Evolution 9 Series. Watches I was eagerly awaiting getting some hands-on time with. Well, that happened at Watches and Wonders, and I wanted to take a little time to share my thoughts in written and video form, as well as some hands-on photos. Now, this isn’t a review by any measure. The watches were just dummies and my time was brief, but I learned a decent amount about them from handling them and trying them on, if only for a few moments.

Across the board, the high-intensity titanium gave them a darker tonality than their steel siblings that lent itself to their sportier intentions. Combined with the material’s noticeably lightweight, and the Evolution 9’s low-riding case design, these watches felt like sports car-tuned companions to luxury sedans. The asymmetrical case shape and natural crown guard, common to all three if executed differently, adds just the right amount of muscularity and attitude, while also increasing the amount of joy-inducing finishing, with a wide bevel of Zaratsu polish along each.

The SBGE283 and SBGE285 GMTs are bound to be crowd-pleasers given their tempered sizes. At 13.9mm, while certainly robust, they are actually on the thin side for 9R66 Spring Drive GMTs ( the Elegance models are around 14mm). Plus, the wide set lugs, and low center of gravity makes them really grip the wrist, so they seem, if not “thin” then in proportion with themselves. Between the two versions the SBGE285 is likely going to be the favorite given its “snowflake” style texture, which brings just the right amount of Grand Seiko whimsy into the picture, but the clean gloss black had a sharpness that shouldn’t be overlooked.


Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive GMT Chronographs are niche, to begin with. These are Grand Seikos for the truly diehard fan. They are always big, they are always aggressive, and they are just funky looking thanks to the odd dial layout. They are also super impressive, featuring possibly the most precise chronographs on the market (they don’t even tick), while also being local jump hour GMTs.

The SBGC249 and SBGC251 are still too big for my tastes, they are the most easy-wearing Grand Seiko chronos I’ve tried on. This is thanks, once again, to the low-riding design and lightweight materials, but also to the lack of screw-down pushers. If my wrists were closer to 7.5” or my tastes just different, I could see really falling for one of these.

The last one ended up being my surprise favorite, the SLGA015 “Black Stream” diver. I say surprise because the numbers put it outside of my comfort zone, and while I have nothing against them, Grand Seiko’s other divers just never stood out to me. Well, I’m happy to say my preconceptions were incorrect as it wore extremely well, and looked absolutely gorgeous. The Evolution 9 DNA shines the best here, as its streamlined angles and facets took the bulk out of the diver, which is 13.8mm, so the thinnest of the group. The low-riding design also balanced out the bezel, which adds some visual thickness. The bracelet, which is 23mm at the lug, features a more dramatic taper than the GMT or chrono, further adding to comfort and a light feel on the wrist.

Additionally, the Black Stream dial is stunning. At some angles it looks full black, at others the subtle textures within the black emerge dynamically, creating a subtle shift. Catch the light, and waves appear. It’s dark, mysterious, and gorgeous. Add in the newer generation 9RA5 5-day Spring Drive caliber, and you have one really impressive dive watch.

Before the Evolution 9 Series, Grand Seiko sports watches felt like isolated pieces. A GMT here, a diver there, a chrono on occasion, some additional lume for good measure… All sporty, of course, but not part of a singular concept. By building off of the Evolution 9 base, Grand Seiko has created a far more cohesive sub-collection of sports watches than ever before. Three new lines, each with its own personality, style, and purpose, yet sharing a core DNA. From here, they can apply colors, textures, and materials, creating collections within collections. It’s an exciting new approach that I’m very much looking forward to watching develop. Grand Seiko

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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