The only brand that can outdo Grand Seiko is Grand Seiko. Within days of impressing at Watches & Wonders 2022 with the Evolution 9 sports watches and Kodo constant-force tourbillon, they launched a few new non-limited variations of the increasingly popular 37.3mm SBGW models (always welcome). And then, out of nowhere, a watch that will likely become a new cult classic. Well, not really the watch, but the case, and to call it new isn’t exactly correct either, but no matter how you slice it, the SBGW289 and the 36.5mm 44GS case are winners, and I got to check them out in the metal.
Released in celebration of the 55th anniversary of the 44GS, the SBGW289 is a return to a smaller case that more closely reflects the 1967’s proportions (we covered the launch here). Compared to the 40mm 44GS models that have been central to Grand Seiko’s lineup spanning nearly all their movements from 9F quartz to the new 9SA5 dual-impulse and 9RA2 5-day spring drives, at 36.5mm x 42.7mm and with an 18mm lug width the 289 is quite small. Powered by the manual wound 9S64 caliber it’s also fairly thin for a Grand Seiko, coming in around 11.6mm with a boxed crystal. These numbers combine to make it a very welcome and exciting addition to the GS catalog.
That said, numbers are all well and good but nothing matters until you see it in the metal. Grand Seikos in particular are watches that are hard to fully appreciate in photos as their faceted cases, dial textures, and unexpected proportions require motion and scale to comprehend. They also tend to look a bit flat in top-down photos, which is very far from the truth. Luckily, I got a generous amount of time to handle and try on a demo model (nonworking, but correct weight) and I can tell you, this is the Grand Seiko a lot of people, myself included, have been waiting for.