For the longest time, Grand Seiko’s incredibly complicated Spring Drive calibre was instantly recognisable because of two things. A smoothest seconds hand in the business and a characteristic power reserve indicator on the dial. Well, one of those elements is missing from the typically exquisite dial of this watch, the SBGY011, and the result is a dial which is pleasingly spare and, because this is Grand Seiko — exquisitely finished.
The Spring Drive calibre resting behind the dial is their newer manually-wound version, the 9R31, which offers 72 hours of silky smooth autonomy. This is the first time we’ve seen this particular bit of kit in the broad-shouldered, and boldly geometric 44GS case, and you can indeed see the calibre through the clear case back. The 40mm 44GS case is a fan favourite, and its easy to see why. It’s at once modern and historic, and shows off the Japanese brand’s famously high level of polish. The same care and attention has been paid to the dial too, which is in the same ballpark as the famed (and commercially successful) ‘Snowflake’. There’s a subtle sheen, texture, a variation on white inspired by Asaborake, the time when dark leaves the mountainous landscape of Shinsu, and turns to dawn. A blued second-hand provides tonal contrast, and the leather strap lends an elegant — rather than sporty — air.
All told this watch, with its fine lines and 10.5mm height, is a wonderful demonstration of just how versatile Grand Seiko’s refined design sensibility can be. The 44GS is, in some designations, exceptionally sporty, but here its finer side shines.
Movement: Calibre 9R31, manually-wound Spring Drive, power reserve 72 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve indicator on case back
Case: Stainless steel, 40 x 10.5mm, water-resistant to 100M
Strap: Alligator, 19mm
Price: USD 8,100