New Movements marking Grand Seiko's 60th Anniversary
Grand Seiko is known as the brand that always pushes its own limits. We have seen technological breakthrough over the recent years on Spring Drive and the 9S mechanical movement. They are exploring ways to distinguish itself from the very stiff competition from more established luxury watch brands.
Taking the 9S mechanical movement as an example. Since its release in 1998 marked the return of mechanical Grand Seiko, Seiko has improved the movement's spring and escapement material to level up the power reserve time and beat rates of the same base movement series. The 9S65 is considered as a completed basic movement to the modern Grand Seiko.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Grand Seiko, and the brand has released two very special movements to celebrate this special occasion.
The 9SA5 is the release from Grand Seiko in Mar, it is fitted on the SLGH002 a limited 60th anniversary edition of Grand Seiko limited to 100 pieces. The movement is fitted to a gold case with a transparent caseback. When you turn the watch over, you will find it looks very different from other Grand Seiko movements. The modified balance bridge is now a double balance bridge, giving the movement increase durability and shock resistance (of course we all know basic Grand Seiko movements are durable already, but it is still a nice touch). The cut off rotor with 60th anniversary limited edition engraving on gives you increasingly clear look to the movement decoration.
Looking closer, you will find a new escape wheel looking like a star shape. The escape wheel, on the left, alternates between impulsing the balance directly, and impulsing the balance via the lever when swinging in the opposite direction. You can see one tooth of the escape wheel just engaging with one of the jewels on the impulse roller in the image. The advantage of this new arrangement is increase in energy efficiency delivery to the balance.
Historically there are few brands trying to redesign the traditional escapement design, there are even fewer that manage to put the research findings into production. The escapement is probably the most expensive element in a watch to research and develop and it is being less visible on the actual benefit it will bring to the movement. The more commonly know watch brand building their own escapement is AP escapement, but even AP didn't not put their escapement into mass production watches.
According to Grand Seiko, the new movement is 15% thinner than a standard hi-beat automatic caliber and according to Grand Seiko's track record, they will not release a movement until they have full control on the technology.
So to conclude, this release is certainly an anticipation to all Grand Seiko fans as we are looking into a more thin and dressy release of Grand Seiko using this new movement. Maybe in the very near future it will become one of the basic movement using in high beat steel variance of Grand Seiko as well.
The 60th anniversary is certainly a big moment for Grand Seiko to step into a brighter and better future. We look forward to the great watches Seiko continue to bring us.
We will be talking about the second special movement release from Grand Seiko next week, stay tuned.
Information about the SLGH002
Watch case:18k yellow gold with box sapphire crystal
Size:40mm x 11.7mm Movement: Grand Seiko caliber 9SA5 Hi-Beat, 36,000 vph with 80 hour power reserve
Price, $43,000. Limited to 100 pieces world-wide.