2022 marks the 15th anniversary of Grand Seiko’s first Spring Drive chronograph. Grand Seiko has introduced SBGC249, a limited-edition Spring Drive chronograph and the first chronograph in the Evolution 9 Collection to commemorate this milestone.
In 2020, Grand Seiko unveiled a new design philosophy called the Evolution 9 Style. Though it is based on the foundational Grand Seiko Style, Evolution 9 is, as the name suggests, a leap forward, setting new standards for beauty, ease of use, and legibility. This aesthetic made its debut with the limited edition SLGH002, and today, with the introduction of SBGC249 at Watches and Wonders, we are seeing its expansion into the realm of sports watches.
SBGC249 measures 45.3mm in diameter, 15.8mm in thickness, and 52.6mm lug-to-lug. The case and bracelet are made of High-Intensity Titanium, and the bezel insert is sapphire, making it highly impervious to scratches. High-Intensity Titanium is notably resistant against corrosion, and it is about 30% lighter than stainless steel. It can also be finished to a high degree, and the case features a combination of Zaratsu-polished and hairline surfaces to give it its distortion-free appearance. Additionally, the finishing highlights the distinct Evolution 9 geometry, emphasizing the lugs and the beveling along the crown protector and pushers.
The pushers for actuating the chronograph function have been redesigned, and they now sit closer to the case. Despite the reduction in size, they remain extremely tactile. A dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating along the inner surface covers the dial, and a sapphire crystal on the case back offers a view of the movement inside.
The watch is powered by caliber 9R96, a Spring Drive chronograph with a GMT function. It features an 18k gold medallion on the oscillating weight, and it is specially adjusted to have an accuracy rating of ±0.5 seconds per day (or ±10 seconds per month). The chronograph measures elapsed time up to 12 hours, and the second hand moves in a silent glide motion, a feature characteristic of Spring Drive.
The base color of the dial is Cosmo Blue, inspired by the deep hues of a starry night sky. Chronograph functionality is highly legible. There is a thirty-minute register around two o’clock, a twelve-hour register below that at four, with the chronograph seconds centralized and an active-seconds hand at nine. Additionally, there is a power reserve indicator near seven. A GMT hand allows for tracking a second time zone, and because the bezel rotates in both directions, the wearer can even track a third time zone. This is a first for the Spring Drive chronograph GMT. The Evolution 9 Style hands and indexes offer immediate contrast against the inky dial, and their size makes reading the time immediately possible. Legibility is further enhanced with ample use of LumiBrite on the hands, indexes, and bezel.
SBGC249 is a limited edition of 700 pieces and will be available in June 2022 for $12,400.