Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Ever-Brilliant Steel
Grand Seiko had several noisy releases at Watches & Wonders this year, the Tentagraph chief among them. But there was a quiet drop in Geneva this year that might be of even more interest to some Grand Seiko collectors and enthusiasts, and is almost certainly a window into what the brand is planning for the future. Grand Seiko has released a total of five watches in their Heritage Collection that effectively serve as upgrades to existing models in, but are now available in Grand Seiko Heritage Ever-Brilliant Steel. This marks only the second time the brand has used Ever-Brilliant Steel in non-limited references, following up on last year’s SLGH013, which we covered here. A total of three GMTs and two time and date models have just been introduced in Grand Seiko’s most iconic case shape using the proprietary alloy, and they’re at once totally familiar and offer something new for the most dedicated Grand Seiko collectors.
Before we break down the watches, a quick review of the Grand Seiko Heritage Ever-Brilliant Steel material is in order. Aesthetically, Ever-Brilliant Steel distinguishes itself from standard steel with its bright white color. It’s tough to capture in photos, but in person it has a luster that makes it look and feel like something approaching a precious metal. It’s also significantly more corrosion resistant than standard steel, promoting increased longevity, which Grand Seiko reminds us is a key component of their watchmaking philosophy. The 44GS case, with its wide facets and unique geometry, is a great platform to show off the qualities of Ever-Brilliant steel, so it makes sense that the brand’s first large push with the new alloy in the permanent collection would come from this corner of the Heritage Collection.
The two time and date references are the SBGH299 and SBGH301. Both feature Mt. Iwate pattern dials, the 299 in a silvery white, and the 301 in black, and have cases measuring 40mm in diameter and 13.3mm tall. The movement used is the 9S85 caliber, a hi-beat movement with 55 hours of power reserve and accuracy rated to -3/+5 seconds per day. Each is paired with a matching bracelet, also crafted from Ever-Brilliant Steel.
The GMT equipped watches are the SBGJ263, SBGJ265, and SBGJ267, which effectively complement the prior references SBGJ201, SBGJ203, and SBGJ235, respectively. These hi-beat GMTs all have Mt. Iwate dials as well (in white, black, and blue), and varying levels of differentiation from the older stainless steel versions. The new SBGJ265, for instance, replaces the SBGJ203’s red GMT hand and dial text yellow accents, but the other two references appear to be basically carbon copies in terms of the dial aesthetic. The movements here are the 9S86 caliber, which comes from the same high frequency family as the 9S85, but with an added GMT complication of the traveler variety, which allows for independent jumping of the local hour hand. Cases are still 40mm in diameter, with a bit of added thickness for the GMT, measuring out to 14mm in height.
We anticipate that pricing will be something that is hotly debated on the various watch forums and social media, as there is a substantial premium for Grand Seiko Heritage Ever-Brilliant Steel , and it’s an alloy that has been somewhat rare up until now and thus might be a bit of a mystery to many consumers. The time and date references carry a retail price of $6,900, while the GMT models are expected to sell for $7,200. That’s an increase of $800 and $900, respectively, over their stainless steel counterparts. Obviously, nobody likes it when things get more expensive, which is a trend across the watch industry at all price levels, but there is, in my view, a significant difference in appearance between Ever-Brilliant Steel and the traditional stainless alloy, and these watches do a nice job of highlighting that difference with the dramatic facets and Zaratsu polishing that is such a hallmark of Grand Seiko in general, and the 44GS specifically. Whether that warrants what amounts to a roughly $1,000 premium is something that each consumer will have to decide for themselves, but in hand on the wrist, the new references have a lot of character, and a collection full of Ever-Brilliant steel, if it ever comes, would be impressive.