The Grand Seiko SBGA497 Honors 20 Years 9R Spring Drive Movement

Classic Spring Drive with a twist

Grand Seiko made history with the debut of the Spring Drive system in 1999, and once again with its commercialization in a wristwatch in 2004. It has been 20 years since the clever hybrid system of electromagnetic and mechanical 9R movement was introduced. Naturally, this milestone calls for celebration, as expected from the Japanese watchmaker, beginning with the release of some limited editions. Among the latest commemorative watches, one example stands out: the SBGA497 “Pink Snowflake.”

Spring Drive and spring dial

Twenty years of 9R Spring Drive

It’s hard to believe, but the cal. 9R65 is actually the very first Spring Drive 9R movement that debuted in 2004 in the SBGA001 with a champagne dial and SBGA003 with a black dial. Its debut feels like just yesterday, perhaps due to its advanced technology. In fact, it is still a common workhorse found in many new Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches.


A year after the SBGA001 was introduced, Grand Seiko added the SBGA011, which is the original “Snowflake,” to its collection. That would later become the bestseller spring drive watch and perhaps even a cult watch – a must-know reference or model for Grand Seiko’s fans.

Spring blossoms

For the 20th anniversary of the 9R movement family, Grand Seiko has naturally selected the “Snowflake” as a base for design modifications, which makes a lot of sense given the widespread popularity of the “Snowflake.” The latest SBGA497 has a dial with the beautiful snowflake pattern but ironically in a spring instead of winter color – the entire dial has been clad in a cheerful, blossoming pink that adds warmth to the winter-themed pattern.

Aside from the dial, there are also a few details that got changed, but nothing is entirely new, as all the different elements have been found in previous models. There is the gold “GS” logo, which is rather common on limited editions. And more interestingly, the SBGA497 boasts a striking red power reserve hand reminiscent of the limited edition SBGA129 “Redflake” produced for the Association Japan de la Haute Horlogerie, a Japan domestic market limited edition that has gained massive popularity.

Classic design language of the Spring Drive series

The rest of the watch is just like the standard “Snowflake,” featuring elements such as the titanium case and bracelet. It’s worth mentioning that the latest models share the same case design as the inaugural SBGA001, with a wide, high-polished bevel running along the case side. Also retained are the familiar trapezoid markers at the quarters, a signature design found in the earliest Spring Drive watches as well as many modern ones.


Furthermore, the classic cal. 9R65 movement is retained. While some may have hoped for additional innovations in an anniversary model, the inclusion of the cal. 9R65 movement feels fitting, as it is the exact same movement found in the very first model of the Spring Drive wristwatch lineup.

Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Caliber 9R 20th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGA497

Movement: 9R65; automatic; 72 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, and power reserve indicator
Case: 41 x 12.5 mm; titanium; water resistant to 100 m
Strap: Titanium bracelet
Availability: At boutiques and select retailers starting March 2024
Limited edition: 1,500 pieces
Price: USD 6,300


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