To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its proprietary Spring Drive movement, Grand Seiko has unveiled a trio of sports models — two chronograph GMTs and a time-only piece — that feature a refreshed case design for the Grand Seiko brand.
The watch’s design is a nod to the lion emblem of the brand. The lion has stamped its mark on several aspects of the design, notably in the strong and angular case, the claw-like shape of the lugs and the delicate lion’s mane pattern on the dial. In addition, all three watches carry the lion symbol in the form of an 18k gold insert in the oscillating weight.
Seiko’s proprietary Spring Drive movement celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Seiko produced the first prototype of the Spring Drive-powered watch in 1982. It was developed by Yoshikazu Akahane, an engineer who wanted to create the perfect watch, a timepiece that would tick three boxes – the accuracy of a quartz movement, the perpetual power supply of an automatic caliber and possess refined good looks. It took 17 years to develop the first production model in 1999.
The first of these anniversary models is the 18k rose gold Spring Drive Chronograph GMT 9R96 (ref. SBGC230). The 44.5-mm watch uses a unique faceted case design (specially finished with the brand’s Zaratsu-style polishing) with two prominent chronograph pushers and a LumiBrite accented black GMT bezel. Beneath the dual-curved sapphire glass is a deep red dial to match the crocodile leather securing it to the wrist.
It uses an outer racing minute track common to chronographs, along with large applied indices, a 3 o’clock date window, power reserve indicator, and three sub-dials for running seconds, chronograph 30-minute counter, and chronograph hour counter.
Passing over the dial are two adjusted diamond cut hands that have acted as another signature of the Grand Seiko Sports line, along with a simple pointer for the chronograph seconds. Powering the watch is the automatic Spring Drive 9R96 capable of a 72-hour power reserve, accurate to +/- 0.5 seconds per day, and visible with a gold lion embedded rotor through a sapphire case back. This rose gold model will be limited to 100 pieces, and will be priced at $42,000.
The next of these models is a titanium Spring Drive Chronograph GMT 9R96 (ref. SBGC231), limited to 500 editions and priced at $12,900. This model is much the same as the previous rose gold model, but differentiated with its textured brown dial and H-link bracelet over the previous crocodile leather.
The last of the watches is the Spring Drive 9R15 (ref. SBGA403), a time-only model retailing at $10,600 and also limited to 500 pieces. This watch uses the same case as the two chronographs, but is differentiated in its 60-minute outer black bezel rather than the 24-hour GMT design. The painted brown dial of the watch is also quite different, using a curved outer minute ring over the split-second chronograph style, as well as exclusively featuring a power reserve indicator and 3 o’clock date window.
The watch is relatively thick at 14.3-mm, as are both of the chronograph models at 16.8-mm, though Grand Seiko has made wearability a priority thanks to the curved shape of lugs, the low center of gravity on the wrist, and the H-shaped links that offer a more secure fit over traditional metal links.