This past week, on a surprisingly cold and breezy day, Grand Seiko USA held its second annual GS9 Experience, an event for members of the GS9 club. Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, just south of the bridge in what was once the Williamsburg Savings Bank, it was an event and celebration unlike others I’ve attended. Dedicated to a single brand, one that only rose to prominence in the US within the last handful of years, the various rooms of the event space, from the cozy bar and gallery, to the massive, domed stage were filled with fans, members of the press, as well as watch industry at large.
Photo Recap: Grand Seiko USA Hosts their Annual GS9 Event in NYC and Launches a New Limited Edition
Starting at 11am and running nearly 12 hours, the event never stood still. On the lower level, you could find various vitrines with special watches, as well as full cases of watches to try. Watchmakers from the HSNY assembled movements in front of guests as surprisingly delicious hors d’oeuvres made their way through the crowd. A bar on one end had a mix of coffee, Japanese spirits, and beer. And all throughout, Grand Seiko collectors met, mingled, and talked watches.
Studding the day were various panels held in the separate cathedral-style room that once served as the main hall of the bank. From discussing the changing landscape of media in watch press and entertainment to the evolution of Grand Seiko and even a survey of the unique flavor of Japanese style, the panels covered wide ground. This led to a special announcement at 6pm (more on that below), and a sudden transformation of the event and space. A large curtain that everyone, myself included, assumed just blocked off back of house, pulled back revealing a second domed space that had been turned into a nightclub of sorts, with a large DJ set up, screens, a huge bar, and various food kiosks positioned around the facade of a Japanese Temple.
Why all the fuss? Well, at 6pm Joe Kirk, Grand Seiko Brand Curator, and Brice Le Troadec, President of Grand Seiko Corporation of America, got on stage to discuss the first GS9 USA Member exclusive LE, the SBGY023. Part of the elegance line, this edition of 299 pieces is inspired by a woodblock print from around 1934 that depicts the Matsumoto Castle of Shinshu. The castle, once black, has faded to an appealing gray, from which the 023 gets its smokey palette. As a nod to the first GS LE for the US, the dial also features kirazuri, or sparkling paint, texture adding that distinctive GS feel.
Built around their “thin dress series” case, which measures 38.5mm in diameter with a thickness of 10.2mm, the 023 is powered by the manually wound 9R31 Spring Drive caliber. One of the brand’s most refined movements, it features a single plate design that is finely finished with a prominent double-spring barrel, and a back-side power reserve. Completed with a gray crocodile strap, the 023 is $8,500, and available only to members of the GS9 club through Grand Seiko’s online boutiques while supplies last. To become a GS9 member you have to be a Grand Seiko owner who has purchased from an authorized Grand Seiko Boutique, Salon or Mastershop within the USA only, with proof of purchase.