Grand Seiko Evolution 9
To date, the highest profile watches to feature Grand Seiko’s Series 9 design have been the popular White Birch models, known for their deeply textured dials. The first of these, a high-beat version, came out in 2021, and the second is a Spring Drive variation that launched earlier this year. Together, along with a handful of other releases, these watches form what Grand Seiko calls the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Collection. Key attributes of Grand Seiko Evolution 9 include markers and hands with additional facets, to better reflect light; and wider lugs and more robust bracelets at least half as wide as the case they’re married to. A lower center of gravity provides a more stable wrist presence. For Watches and Wonders 2022, Grand Seiko is applying the Evolution 9 design formula to some of its sportiest watches in a move that highlights the versatility of this design language, which promises to feature importantly in Grand Seiko releases in the coming years. These will include a pair of Spring Drive GMT Chronographs and a Spring Drive diver, but for now, let’s focus on a pair of Spring Drive GMTs – one featuring a simple black lacquer dial and another with a misty grey textured dial reminiscent of the popular Snowflake and Skyflake. Grand Seiko says the grey dial is inspired by a winter morning mist in the Shinshu region, the area where Grand Seiko Evolution 9 makes its Spring Drive watches. Finding inspiration from Japanese landscapes, seascapes, and seasonal nuances has become a major theme in Grand Seiko’s watchmaking over the years, most typified in its popular Seasons collection. The update to Grand Seiko’s sport watches has been applied with a light touch. The difference between this and existing models comes down mostly to the hands and markers, in my opinion, which achieve a level of reflection and interplay of light that surpasses many of the Grand Seiko watches already on the market. And that is saying something, considering that interplay of light and shadow, and reflection of light more broadly, is one of the things they already do better than practically anyone. In the GMTs here, the natural reflection of the hands and markers is enhanced with ample coatings of Lumibrite. The watch most likely to garner attention is the misty grey GMT – the Mist Flake? – given how much Grand Seiko fans tend to love their deeply nuanced, patterned dials, I think the simple black lacquer execution is a conservative winner. The contrast and reflection promised by the Evolution 9 design is heightened by the simple black dial. The Spring Drive GMT is about as core Grand Seiko as it gets, combining the company’s exclusive, highly accurate electro-mechanical timekeeping technology with the complication that we tend to associate more than any other with the Japanese brand. Seeing these two watches with their newly evolved looks that double down on the aesthetics that bring enthusiasts to Grand Seiko signals bright days ahead.
The history of Grand Seiko dates back to 1960 when Seiko decided it was time for a more luxury-focused range of products. Suwa Seikosha, a Seiko subsidiary at the time, produced the Calibre 3180 that would be used in the first Grand Seiko watch, presented in 1964. Three years later, the legendary 44GS marked a design standard and style for any future Grand Seiko labelled watch. Now, 55 years onwards, the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 code of design channels the spirit of the original design code set by the 44GS. But what exactly does this mean? We’re going to take you through it right now.
Just as Calibers 9SA and 9RA make a significant and defining statement about the future of Grand Seiko’s technical development, this timepiece charts a new course for its design. Launched to mark the 60th anniversary of the very first Grand Seiko, this design expresses the true essence of Grand Seiko in a new way. It speaks to the next generation with its confident lines, powerful presence and quiet radiance but also draws on its deep roots in the traditions and culture of Japan.