Considering we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, with big ups and sometimes bigger downs along the way, some brands have decided to perhaps postpone big releases to a more appropriate time. Others, like Grand Seiko have been rather busy and released multiple new collections. The Japanese high-end manufacture has presented an impressive range of novelties, and it’s quite a challenge to select just 4 or 5 for a “Best of 2021” list. Not deterred by such an unsurmountable challenge (kidding of course) here is what we think are the best new watches launched by Grand Seiko in the year 2021.
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat SLGH005 “White Birch”
We’re kicking off this list with one of the best watches released in 2021, period! The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat SLGH005 “White Birch”, or “Shirakaba” impressed us big time. The execution of the dial is pretty much top-notch and had a ton of life to it. Made to resemble birch forests thriving in the northern parts of Japan, near the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi, the facility this watch is made. The intense metallic tone shifts colour under changing light angles, and has a unique shimmering effect. Of course we also see distortion-free Zaratsu polishing on the indices and hands, a detailed and finely executed case and the advanced Calibre 9SA5 to back it all up. This movement uses a dual impulse escapement, free-sprung balance and a high frequency of 36,000vph for greater efficiency and chronometry.
Quick Facts: 40mm x 11.7mm – stainless steel case, Zaratsu polished and brushed – boxed sapphire crystal with sapphire caseback – 100m water-resistance – silvery-white textured dial inspired by white birch tree forests – faceted and bevelled hands and indices – Calibre 9SA4, in-house – automatic winding – 47 jewels – 36,000vph – 80h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date – EUR 9,500
Grand Seiko Elegance 4 Seasons GMT collection
Simply put, the Grand Seiko Elegance 4 Seasons GMT collection is like a Grand Seiko “Best of” quartet. It features all the elements we hold in high regards when it comes to watchmaking. Fine attention to detail, practical functionality, superb levels of finishing and of course an interesting movement to boot. And considering this collection comprises 4 references all inspired by elements in nature linked to the passing of 4 seasons, each dial is just lovely. Split into two pairs, the Hi-Beat Automatic Shunbun SBGJ251 & Shosho SBGJ249 are representing spring and summer, while the Spring Drive Kanro SBGE271 & Toji SBGE269 are inspired by autumn and winter. This set of four watches is all about textures and colours, something where Grand Seiko simply excels.
Quick Facts: 39.5mm x 14.1mm (SBGJ251 & SBGJ249) or 40.2mm x 14mm (SBGE271 & SBGE269) – steel case & bracelet, brushed and Zaratsu polished – domed sapphire crystal & caseback – 30m water-resistance (SBGJ251 & SBGJ249) or 100m water-resistance (SBGE271 & SBGE269) – green (SBGJ251), light blue (SBGJ249), dark brown (SBGE271) or metallic silver (SBGE269) dials – Calibre 9S86 Hi-Beat automatic movement (SBGJ251 & SBGJ24) or Calibre 9R66 Spring Drive automatic movement (SBGE271 & SBGE269) – Priced between EUR 6,800 or EUR 7,600
Grand Seiko Elegance European Editions SBGW267 & SBGW269
Inspired by Japanese architecture, the Grand Seiko Elegance SBGW267 and SBGW269 are the more refined side of Grand Seiko but no less spectacular. The elegantly shaped case with very subtly textured dials look just sensational. Based on the disarmingly simple hand-wound SBGW231, this pair could be perceived as Japanese Calatrava style watches. The use of shadow and light is important within Japanese architecture, and it reflects with this duo. The subtle texture on the dial is inspired by the texture of shoji paper used in screen doors. It is applied to two very different colours, with a surprising result. The dial is curved and creates a slight gradient effect, in either dark brown or bright silver. Applied faceted indices, matches with faceted hands, are of course Zaratsu polished. Power comes from the manufacture Calibre 9S64, which is manually wound and provides an admirable 72h power reserve.
Quick Facts: 37.3mm x 11.6mm – stainless steel case, Zaratsu polished – box-shaped sapphire crystal – sapphire crystal caseback with etches GS logo – 30m water-resistance – curved dial with fibre-like ‘washi’ pattern in warm silver or dark brown – polished and faceted hands with applied indices – Calibre 9S64, manually wound – 28,800vph – hours, minutes, seconds (hacking) – EUR 4,800
Grand Seiko Masterpiece Spring Drive SBGZ007
We’re closing off this list with something that is even bolder than what we’ve seen and represents the pinnacle of what Grand Seiko is capable of. The Grand Seiko Masterpiece Spring Driven SBGZ007 is one of the most spectacular watches we’ve ever seen from the brand. This masterpiece is once again inspired by Japan itself, with details coming from the nature and environment in Grand Seiko’s own surroundings. The dial is made to look like a starry night sky and is just exquisite. The platinum case is adorned with a star-like pattern of hand-cut grooves, each one individually polished by hand. And then there’s the icing on the cake, the hand-wound Calibre 9R02 Spring Drive movement. Apart from the technical side of things, like the Torque Return System, the finishing is all done by hand using traditional techniques. We’re talking fine hairline finishing on the bridges, hand-bevelled edges, polished pockets for the rubies and screws, a hand-engraved plaque and a bellflower symbol on the barrel. It is truly a masterpiece.
Quick Facts: 38.5mm x 9.8mm – 950 platinum case, Zaratsu polished and fully hand-engraved – domed sapphire crystal with sapphire crystal caseback – 30m water-resistance – deep blue, star-speckled dial with transparent plating revealing coloured metallic particles – applied faceted and polished indices and hands – Calibre 9R02, in-house – manually wound ultra-thin Spring Drive movement – 39 jewels – dual-spring barrel with Torque Return System – 84h power reserve – accurate within +/- 15 seconds per month – hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve indicator (back) – limited edition of 50 pieces – EUR 80,000
For more information, please visit Grand-Seiko.com