2020 is Grand Seiko’s 60th anniversary, so it was inevitable we’d be seeing some really interesting releases. The four announced today, no doubt, are not the last we’ll be seeing from GS this year, but they do start 2020 with a bang. And, surprisingly, the biggest news from this release comes in the form of two quartz watches, powered by the new 9F85.
Here’s the new 40mm SBGP007 with a beautiful blue dial, a red seconds hand, and a gold star that symbolizes accuracy to just +/- 5 seconds per year. But the really impressive part is the new 9F85 inside. For years Grand Seiko fans have asked for an independent hour hand because changing time zones or DST interrupted the incredible accuracy of the watch by hacking the seconds hand. GS partially solved this problem by introducing a true GMT version of the 9F recently, but people looking for a three-hander were left out. The 9F85 is the solution for them, a simple three hander + date with an independent hour hand, so DST and time zones are no longer an obstacle. The dial also has a very subtle repeating 2020 texture to it as well (very difficult to see in these images, but it’s there). GS will be making 2,500 of this one.
This movement is also debuting in the sportier 40mm SBGP015 with a much more aggressive case and a cool blue ceramic bezel–I like it, a lot. It seems that this watch is “only” accurate to +/- 10 seconds per year, unlike its brother’s 5, but I highly doubt this will be too bothersome for most people. GS will produce 2,000 of these.
Automatics aren’t left out of the celebration, of course. The first we’ll look at is the new SBGH281, which uses the beloved 9S85 36,000 BPH movement. Like the other members of this new release, it features a blue dial, and particularly like the SBGP007, red and gold accents. GS says this symbolizes a sunrise, speaking metaphorically as the dawning of a new era. It’s also in a relatively sporty 44GS-inspired case, in particular the more angular lugs (compared to the smooth ends of the SBGH201’s case, for instance). GS will produce 1,500 of the new SBGH281.
Ladies weren’t forgotten in the new release, either. This STGK015 has a beautiful blue mother of pearl dial to match the other blue new watches, but comes in a much smaller 28mm size. It’s powered by the 9S27 automatic and Grand Seiko will make just 300 of these.
These are all really cool watches, but I think this release, or the 9F85 specifically, is more profound than that. If you ever had any doubt that GS was listening to its most ardent fans, the 9F85 should soundly put them to rest. The creation of a 3-hander 9F with an independent hour hand is a direct response to GS owners who complained that their amazing accuracy was being undercut by the need to hack the seconds to travel or adjust for DST. This, combined with other changes, like the addition of spring drives with the power reserve on the movement instead of the dial, shows a company that’s actually remarkably in tune with its fanbase. These four watches are just the beginning, and I have no doubt that Grand Seiko is going to have more very important releases for their 60th anniversary, so stay-tuned for more.