On the Seiko/Grand Seiko Summit of Feb 25, 2021, Grand Seiko made the announcements for the 2021 novelties. Here is the entire release, summarized in an all-you-need-know handy article.
Press release information. Commentary in italics.
Grand Seiko 2021 novelties summarized
Grand Seiko Heritage Collection “White Birch” SLGH005 Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours Caliber 9SA5
Released on February 12, 2021. Retail price EUR 9,500
A new Grand Seiko creation powered by a high-beat movement. The dial is inspired by the slender and strikingly beautiful white birch trees that thrive in northern parts of Japan and that grow in profusion near the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi where this watch is made.
With its intricate texture, fine detail and delicate subtlety, this new timepiece is a window that opens onto the distinctive natural environment of Japan and the exquisite craftsmanship of Grand Seiko.
9SA5 the latest and finest Hi-Beat 36000 caliber.
This high-beat watch is powered by the revolutionary Caliber 9SA5, which offers a power reserve of 80 hours thanks to its enhanced energy efficiency. First presented in 2020, Caliber 9SA5 will form the basis of Grand Seiko hi-beat mechanical movements.
This new movement features a major update in the Grand Seiko mechanical movements – double barrel for a higher power reserve, a direct dual impulse escapement, and the new free sprung, inertia balance. This update is important as it brings the technical specifications of the Japanese made movements up to the level of the best of the Swiss. Of course, we are not in the position to know if this is under development. We will examine the direct dual impulse escapement and compare this with the Omega Co-axial escapement when we get our hands-on session with the watch.
This Hi-Beat 36000 watch will be available in March 2021 at the Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected retail stores worldwide.
Driving system: Automatic * Vibrations: 36,000 vibrations per hour (10 beats per second) * Accuracy (mean daily rate):+5 to -3 seconds per day * Power reserve: 80 hours * Number of jewels: 47 * Stainless steel case and bracelet * Box shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating * See-through screw case back * Water resistance: 10 bar * Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m * Diameter: 40.0mm, Thickness: 11.7mm * Three-fold clasp with push button release
Grand Seiko Elegance Collection GMT – two Hi-Beat, two Spring Drive
Retail price: EUR 7,600 (SBGJ249, 251), EUR 6,800 (SBGE269, 271)
In Japan, each of the four seasons of the year is experienced in six phases and all have their own distinct characters. The subtle changes from one to the next bring the nature of time ever closer to our senses. Each of these GMT watches celebrates one of the year’s 24 seasonal phases or sekki.
Grand Seiko has chosen to represent 4 of these 24 phases in these 4 new watches. With Spring and Summer with Hi-Beat movements, and Autumn and Winter in Spring Drive movement. Interestingly, the Hi-Beat GMT caliber is not yet updated with the new features found in the new 9SA5.
Shunbun – SBGJ251
It is in Shunbun that the spring equinox finally arrives and everyone senses spring is truly in the air. The cherry trees in the mountains start to bloom and their sakura blossom decorates the slopes. The green dial and rose gold accents perfectly capture the promise of spring.
Shōsho – SBGJ249
High summer approaches and, at last, the rainy season ends. In Shōsho, the warm wind creates delicate ripples in the many thousands of lakes and ponds that shimmer in the early summer sun throughout Japan. The wave pattern dial brings Shōsho to life.
Kanro – SBGE271
The evenings draw in and there is a chill in the morning air. The glide motion seconds hand moves silently, like the moon across the night sky. Autumn is at its height.
Tōji – SBGE269
The winter solstice is in Tōji. The days are short, the air is crisp and clear and snow muffles the sound of the wind. The dial has the texture and color of a winter landscape as the sun sinks lower in the sky.
As usual, Grand Seiko plays with their mastery of the dial, hands and the case. The dials all feature interesting textured surfaces, with the hands, indices and case surfaces treated to their magnificent zaratsu, zero distortion polishing. The watches will feature sapphire case backs.
Based on a series first presented in the USA, the Shunbun and Shōsho creations will be available in May and the Kanro and Tōji creations in September at the Grand Seiko Boutiques and retail stores worldwide.
Caliber 9S86: SBGJ249, 251 * Driving system: Automatic * Vibrations: 36,000 vibrations per hour (10 beats per second) * Accuracy: +5 to -3 seconds per day * Power reserve: 55 hours * GMT hand * Number of jewels: 37
Caliber 9R66: SBGE269, 271 * Driving system: Automatic * Accuracy:-1 to +1 second per day (±15 seconds per month) * Power reserve: 72 hours * GMT hand * Number of jewels: 30
Stainless steel case and bracelet * Three-fold clasp with push button release
Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating * See-through screw case back * Water resistance: 3 bar (SBGJ249, 251) 10bar (SBGE269, 271) * Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m * Diameter: 39.5mm, Thickness: 14.1mm (SBGJ249, 251) * Diameter: 40.2mm, Thickness: 14.0mm (SBGE269, 271)
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT: SBGC240, Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition
Retail price is EUR 19,200.
This powerful watch allies all the high functionality of the Spring Drive chronograph Caliber 9R86 with a new design and a new combination of materials. The result is a timepiece of rare refinement. The bezel catches the eye immediately with its dodecahedron shape, its zirconia ceramic outer layer and 18k gold base. Thanks to this combination of materials, it is both strikingly beautiful and highly durable.
The Spring Drive Chronograph GMT is not a new watch, but one which has been in the Grand Seiko catalog. The watch is essentially the same as the Spring Drive Chronograph GMT owned by the Chief Editor for more than 20 years. The novelty in this new release is in the play of new materials – zirconia ceramic and the 18k gold base.
The case, too, uses contrast to deliver a visually arresting impression. Its top surfaces have been given a hairline finish while the sides showcase the distortion-free perfection that only Zaratsu polishing can deliver. The dial is as rich as it is legible. The gold color hands and hour markers stand out against the pure black dial and, as the markers are aligned exactly to each apex of the twelve-edged bezel, both time of day and elapsed time can be read precisely and at a glance. The 18k yellow gold buttons that operate the chronograph are prominent and designed to ensure secure operation but they are also streamlined so as to look just as good when under a shirt cuff as on the sports field.
The Grand Seiko initials in 18k gold grace the clasp of the bracelet which is affixed to the watch while an additional crocodile strap with gold color stitches is also included in its presentation case.
Caliber 9R86 has more than 400 parts and all are made and hand assembled by the skilled craftsmen and women in the Shinshu Watch Studio in central Japan.
The watch will be available as a limited edition of 500 at Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected Grand Seiko retailers worldwide in July 2021.
Caliber 9R86 * Driving system: Automatic with manual winding mechanism * Power reserve: 72 hours * Accuracy: ±1 second per day (±15 seconds per month) * Chronograph up to 12 hours * Number of jewels: 50
Stainless steel case and bracelet * Zirconia ceramic and 18k yellow gold bezel * 18k yellow gold push buttons * Dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating * Screw see-through case back, Screw-down crown * Water resistance: 10 bar * Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m * Diameter: 43.8mm, Thickness: 16.1mm * Three-fold clasp with push button release .An additional crocodile strap is included. * Limited edition of 500
Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition SLGH007 Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours Caliber 9SA5
Retail price is EUR 60,000.
This watch is positioned as the hero product of this announcement. Seiko CEO Shinji Hattori attributes the character of this novelty embodies the spirit of his great grandfather Kintaro, who founded the company in 1881.
The speciality is in the dial, which is modelled after a tree trunk. Trees carry growth lines in the trunk, with each line marking a year of the tree’s life. The symbolism of this dial is to signify the 140 years which has elapsed since the founding of Seiko, represented by the lines on the dial. This watch also carries the new Caliber 9SA5 is a high-beat movement.
The dial delights the eye and warms the heart with its organic feel and brings to life Grand Seiko’s conception of the Nature of Time. An almost tactile effect is created by the way the light captures the multi-dimensional texture of the dial. The miniscule but visible variations in the dial’s depth reveal the subtlety of the dark and light tones of the wood grain.
Series 9 Design Language
This high-beat watch incorporates a powerful and distinctive overall design known as Series 9, that is set to be part of the future signature of Grand Seiko.
This new design code is a development from the original 44GS, and will set to be a signature and blueprint for future Grand Seikos. The hands are larger than earlier renditions, and feature a groove which aligns to the groove of the hour marker indexes. The hands and indices continue to be faceted to catch light under different angles, and finished in the zaratsu high polish. The width of the lug to lug dimension is also increased to enable the use a larger leather strap.
A limited edition in Platinum 950.
A special anniversary demands that precious metals are used to celebrate it. The watch’s case is crafted from Platinum 950 and, as is Grand Seiko’s tradition, the star mark at six o’clock indicates that the indexes are solid gold, as are the GS letters, the calendar frame and the buckle.
As is usual for Grand Seiko platinum editions, the pricing premium over gold or over non-precious metals like stainless steel and their high intensity titanium is enormous. This watch is targeted at a very high retail price of EUR 60,000.
The watch will be available as a limited edition of 140 at the Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected Grand Seiko retailers worldwide in July 2021.
Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours Caliber 9SA5 * Driving system: Automatic * Vibrations: 36,000 vibrations per hour (10 beats per second) * Accuracy (mean daily rate): +5 to –3 seconds per day * Power reserve: 80 hours * Number of jewels: 47
Platinum 950 case and clasp * Box shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating * See-through screw case back * Water resistance: 10 bar
Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m * Diameter: 40.0mm, Thickness: 11.7mm * Crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push button release * Limited edition of 140