The development of the 9S caliber in 1998 was an important milestone in the history of Grand Seiko. The first mechanical movement built for the second generation of Grand Seiko timepieces, It is the platform on which the entire suite of Grand Seiko’s mechanical calibers have been built in the last two decades. Grand Seiko celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 9S Caliber with a trio of watches that once again demonstrates the brand’s artisanal watchmaking skills to the rest of the world.
The first model is a nod to the 61GS V.F.A. (Very Fine Adjusted) from 1969, a legendary Grand Seiko with a precision rate of one minute a month. Back then, it represented the most precise mechanical watches that Grand Seiko built and had a precision rate far in excess of the Grand Seiko Standard. Almost 50 years after it was first launched, the prestigious V.F.A. appellation appears again on a modern Grand Seiko dial in a platinum case and a commemorative dial.
Referred to as the Hi-Beat 36000 V.F.A.: SBGH265, this new watch is powered by the 9S85 Hi-Beat caliber with an extraordinary precision rate of +3 to -1 seconds per day, achieved by a level of adjustment and a testing program extended to 34 days. The 39.5-mm-wide and 13-mm-thick 950 Platinum case was designed by Nobuhiro Kosugi, who designed the first 9S watch in 1998. The case design is exceptional - look closely and you’ll see how the two surfaces of Zaratsu polishing extend to the very edge of the lug where these curved surfaces meet the hairline finish to create a triangle.
The stunning dial design incorporates the special mark that was used to designate watches made by the team at Daini Seikosha, now known as Seiko Instruments Inc., which developed the first Grand Seiko hi-beat watch in 1968. This long-remembered mark alternates with the GS initials in a delicate mosaic that radiates out from the center of the dial in a geometric pattern.
The dial uses baton indices that have polished surfaces and the brand’s trademark sword shaped hands to indicate time. A date window is placed at 3 o’ clock and the famed V.F.A. appellation appears at 6 o’ clock. The watch is paired with a black alligator leather strap fitted with a three-fold clasp with push button release. It is a limited edition of 20 pieces and is priced at $65,350 (AED240,000).
The second timepiece is in an 18K gold case (Ref. SBGH266) and the third in stainless steel (SBGH267). Both share the same case design as the V.F.A. model, the same caliber 9S85 and the same dial design. The gold version, however, is adjusted to the Grand Seiko Special standard (+4 to -2 seconds per day). As with the V.F.A. version, the oscillating weight carries the Grand Seiko lion emblem in 18k gold as a symbol of the enhanced accuracy.
While the gold version is again paired with a brown crocodile leather strap, the stainless steel reference is fitted with a steel bracelet. This watch is powered by caliber 9S85 too, but adjusted to the regular Grand Seiko standard (-5 to +3 seconds/ day). It has a special oscillating weight, made of titanium and tungsten.
The titanium surface is colored blue by an anodic oxidation process. The gold version, Ref. SBGH266, is a limited edition of 150 pieces priced at $33,000 (AED121,000) while Ref. SBGH267 is a limited to 1,500 pieces and is priced at $7,700 (AED28,275).