Two new references, taking advantage of the spirit of the 44GS from the mid-60s, in an extremely small size of 36.5mm.
Back in 1967, three years after producing the first watch, fake Grand Seiko launched the iconic 44GS reference under a new “design grammar” guideline developed by designer Taro Tanaka. Reinvigorated under the name Evolution 9, these nine standards continue to set the aesthetic standard for Grand Seiko’s watches. With key elements such as the faceted case, contrasting finishes, flat dial, faceted hands and indexes, the spirit of the 44GS is very much alive. With watches like the White Birch, Green Birch, and Night Birch, we’ve gotten used to this philosophy on the 40mm scale. However, as the new Grand Seiko Heritage Collection 44GS SBGW291G and SBGW293G will prove, it works just as well, if not better, in a more compact size.
If we look back at the equally compact Grand Seiko Heritage Collection 44GS SBGW289 55th Anniversary Limited Edition, one thing is important: the 36.5mm size should not be seen as purely feminine. It may sound petite on paper, but once worn on the wrist, it fits perfectly on a male wrist too. It depends not only on the color of the dial, but also on the ergonomics. Reducing the size of the 44GS-style case to a more compact 36.5mm without changing the proportions works really well.
Thanks to the lug-to-lug distance of 42.7mm, the stainless steel case is very comfortable to wear. The distortion-free Zaratsu finish brings incredible life to the angular case. The 1960s retro appeal is further enhanced by a box-shaped sapphire crystal, which adds a little extra to the watch’s 11.6mm height.
Changing things from a very light pink to a silver or brown sunburst brushed dial gives a more refined look and feel. Overall, the size and aesthetics are the same, but the color and texture changes give the watch a shift towards a more classic boardroom style. However, the understated execution is just as impressive, as we still see all the attributes that make the 44GS Heritage model so great. Applied, Zaratso polished and faceted hour markers are distributed around the dial with a double marker on top.
The faceted and polished hour hand subtly touches the inner edge of the hour markers, and the minute hand extends to the printed track on the outer edge of the dial. The only other elements on the dial are the applied Grand Seiko logo and the words “Japan 9S64 – 00V0 R 3” printed on the bottom. The result is a clean, uncluttered dial with an excellent level of trim.
Like most other Grand Seiko Heritage Collection 44GS models, the 9S64 movement is hidden from view by a solid caseback adorned with a Grand Seiko lion. This hand-wound movement can be found in a range of models including the “Japanese Calatrava”, model SBGW231, and of course the pink dial limited edition sibling model SBGW289. Caliber 9S64 is one of Grand Seiko’s main movements, made by In-house production, including ruby pivot stones, is often outsourced to specialist suppliers. Equipped with an anti-magnetic and shock-proof balance spring, and has a stop-second function, which helps to accurately adjust the watch. Runs at 28,800vph with 24 gems, within +5/-3 seconds per day. When fully wound, the 9S64 gives you a comfortable 72 hours of power reserve.
The Grand Seiko Heritage Collection 44GS SBGW291G and SBGW293G are worn on a charcoal or chocolate brown alligator strap with a stainless steel buckle. While the bracelet we saw on the pink dial SBGW289 limited edition might look beautiful paired with the brown dial of the SBGW293G (or the silver SBGW291G), a leather strap is a great way to make it look sophisticated. Although the strap A bit short for my above average wrist, but the fit and finish is really good.
Specifications – GRAND SEIKO HERITAGE COLLECTION 44GS SBGW291G & SBGW293G
Case: 36.5mm diameter x 11.6mm height – 42.7mm lug to lug – Stainless steel case, Zaratsu polished and brushed – Box sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating – Screw-down case back – 100m water resistance
Dial: Silver or brown sunray brushed dial – Facets and application markers – Zaratsu polished faceted hands
Movement: Caliber 9S64 by Grand Seiko – Manual winding – 28,800vph – 72 hours power reserve – 6-speed adjustment – Chronometry accuracy – -3 to +5 seconds per day – 24 jewels – Stop seconds function – Hours, minutes and central seconds
Strap: Charcoal or brown alligator leather with stainless steel buckle
Reference: SBGW291G – Silver Dial
SBGW293G – Brown Dial