On December 11th, Grand Seiko will have a chapter of 10 consecutive lots in the Phillips New York Watch Auction: Seven. Though the sale will commence on Saturday the 10th, the Grand Seiko chapter will kick off Sunday the 11th at 10 AM Eastern Time with several vintage watches and limited editions from recent years.
The chapter will begin with lot 91 and conclude with lot 100, the latter a unique execution of the only Grand Seiko mechanical complication to date, the reference SLGT001 Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon.
This highly anticipated lot is not only the rarest expression of an already rare first-of-its-kind high-complication, but it also features a unique design that actually came before the SLGT003 that has been offered to collectors. Poised to cross the rostrum of a high-profile public auction, it is also the only Kodo set to be offered up for sale in such a public way. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this watch will benefit the Children’s Heart Foundation, the leading organization dedicated to funding congenital heart defect research. Click here to learn more about SLGT001.
In the following preview of the Grand Seiko chapter, we explain what each lot is and why we think it will be of particular interest to Grand Seiko fans in the GS9 Club and the watch enthusiast community at large.
In Northeast Japan is a natural monument formed by the ash of Mt. Kurikoma and the flowing waters of the Iwai River. Named the Genbi Valley, this area in Iwate is famous for its dramatic and picturesque topography. With its steep, rocky cliffs and lush greenery, this storied landscape serves as the inspiration for a trio of manual-wind, green dial, U.S. limited edition timepieces – the SBGW273, 275, and 277.
The timepieces are new executions of the enthusiast’s favorite SBGW231. The pure form and function of the SBGW231 have earned the respect of those who understand watchmaking and the challenge of making something complex appear simple. Known as a charming manual-wind dress watch with thoughtful proportions, the SBGW231 boasts an impressive movement, a clean dial with no date, and distortion-free finishing. Those characteristics are carried through in these three additions to the SBGW series.
The SBGW273, 275, and 277 each express their own personality thanks to their distinctive, green-colored dials. The SBGW273’s green dial is light and bright, like the new growth that comes with the changing of the seasons. And its navy-blue seconds hand pops in contrast to its green dial background. The SBGW275 dial is teal in color, reminiscent of the flowing waters that have shaped the valley’s landscape for generations. The SGW277 is the purest expression of green, and with its brown leather strap, is the most literal interpretation of the vegetation that lines the valley walls.
With a case size of 37.3mm, the SBGW273, 275, and 277 wear comfortably on a variety of wrist sizes. Housed inside its stainless-steel case is the 9S64 mechanical manual-wind movement. This expertly constructed and beautifully finished time-only movement can be appreciated via the watches’ exhibition case back. With a power reserve of 72 hours and an accuracy of -3 to +5 seconds per day, the 9S64 showcases Grand Seiko’s expertise in creating highly efficient and accurate movements. Limited Edition 140 pieces each.
Grand Seiko’s Nature of Time philosophy is expertly expressed in the timepieces it creates, demonstrating grace, precision, and style. The pure, understated, and classical design aesthetic of Grand Seiko is evident in every detail, as is the skill and care taken by the watchmakers at the Shizukuishi Watch Studio, where the watches are crafted. The dial of SBGK015 is inspired by the vivid blue and emerald green underground lakes of the Ryūsendō. Located in Iwaizumi, in eastern Iwate Prefecture, Ryūsendō Cave features expansive subterranean galleries arching over deep sunless lakes filled with breathtakingly clear blue water. The slim profile case is polished by a special Zaratsu method created to accentuate the beauty of the curved surfaces. The dials and the sapphire crystals are also curved to give the watches a classic look. The minute and power reserve indicator hands are shaped by hand so that they follow the dials’ domed contour. Housed inside the 39mm case is the Caliber 9S63, which offers a small seconds hand at the nine o’clock position and a power reserve indicator at three o’clock. While the sub-dials are easy to read, they are also discreetly unobtrusive and allow the eye to enjoy the beauty of the unique colors and patterns in which the dial is made. Caliber 9S63 has a power reserve of 72 hours and delivers an accuracy rate of +5 to -3 seconds per day (when static). The SBGK015 Ryūsendō is a U.S. Limited Edition of just 250 pieces.
The design of the Grand Seiko Style carried through from the 1967 44GS to the 45GS of a year later.
The movement is a manual-winding Cal. 4522 with 36,000 vph and a date display. The balance is held firmly in place by a full balance bridge like the Cal. 4420B. The calendar is equipped with an instant date-change mechanism. The thickness of the movement has been reduced compared to the manual-winding Cal. 4420B, also manufactured by Daini Seikosha. The second hand stop/restart mechanism of the Cal. 45 series was applied for the Constance Force Tourbillon Cal. 9ST1, which was introduced in 2022. The mark on the dial at the 6 o’clock position indicates that this watch was manufactured by Daini Seikosha.
With the introduction of the Cal. 45 Series, the low-beat manual-winding calibers 4420 (Daini Seikosha) and 5722 (Suwa Seikosha) ended their roles and were retired from production. At this time, Grand Seiko watches were reorganized into two 10-beat series: the automatic 61 Series and the manual-winding 45 Series.
Following in the footsteps of the first-generation Grand Seiko, the date display and water resistance to 50 meters were adopted for more practical performance.
The manual-winding 18,000 vph movement Cal. 5722A was improved from the first Grand Seiko Cal. 3180 and is equipped with a calendar function. The date can be easily adjusted without turning the hands—the calendar display of the later Grand Seiko Cal. 9F was designed based on that of the Grand Seiko Self-Dater.
The thick and sturdy lugs are characteristic of this watch, which was the first to adapt Zaratsu polishing in Grand Seiko.
V.F.A. stands for “Very Fine Adjusted.” The V.F.A. is an ultra-high precision timepiece that pursues the utmost in accuracy under Grand Seiko’s own strict standards, which exceeds the international standards for high-precision watches. The accuracy was ±1 minute per month, or ±2 seconds per day, in actual usage, and the watch was assembled and adjusted by selected watchmakers.
The case design adopts the Grand Seiko style but has characteristic ridge lines between the lugs.
These models have a distinctive dial. The brand name at the 12 o’clock position is “GRAND SEIKO,” and all capital letters are applied. This design was adopted only for the Grand Seiko V.F.A. In addition, this model has indexes that are narrower and taller than those of the current models.
When Grand Seiko announced that it would become its own brand independent from Seiko, it released a trio of limited-edition watches in steel, gold and platinum paying tribute to the first Grand Seiko watch of 1960.
The SBGW251 is the platinum variation and was produced in only 136 examples, each stamped 999PT to indicate that it is made of 99.9% platinum.
Powered by the manually wound 9S64 automatic movement with center seconds, the watch’s dial features a engraved Grand Seiko logo in reference to the earliest Grand Seiko models as well as diamond-cut hands for the hours and minutes and diamond-cut indexes. The example offered in the Grand Seiko chapter is number 111/136.
After the launch of the very first Grand Seiko watch in 1960, the creation of the 9S mechanical caliber in 1998 was perhaps the most important moment in the history of Grand Seiko. The 9S caliber was entirely new and designed from scratch to deliver the high precision and excellent durability for which Grand Seiko was renowned. Ever since, the 9S caliber has been continuously enhanced, with new Spron alloys for both the main and balance springs and MEMS engineering, a technique that allows key components to be manufactured to tolerances as small as one-thousandth of a millimeter. Today, 9S is the platform on which the entire Grand Seiko suite of mechanical calibers is built and has earned a deserved reputation as one of the world’s finest calibers, thanks to its high precision, long power reserve, and robust construction.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this caliber, the Grand Seiko team introduced an 18k gold timepiece that is adjusted to the Grand Seiko Special Standard and offers a precision rate of +4 to -2 seconds per day. The dial, too, is exceptional; its design incorporates the special mark that was used to designate the watches made by the team at Daini Seikosha, which developed its first Grand Seiko Hi-Beat watch in 1968. This long-remembered mark alternates with the GS initials in a delicate mosaic that radiates out from the center of the dial in a geometric pattern. Limited edition 150 pieces.
This 18k rose gold Grand Seiko Spring Drive Limited Edition is one of three, first models designed and manufactured exclusively for the U.S. The dial of this special watch is inspired by a Japanese painting technique called kirazuri, true to its translation “sparkling painting”, the lustrous dial takes a life of its own. Commonly found in ukiyo-e paintings to create texture to the background of Kabuki actors, the inspired technique adds depth and excitement to the timepiece in movement and light. As with all Grand Seiko models, modern models pave their own path with their own unique characteristics, manufacturing methods, and calibers, but in some way, always pay tribute to the past. Designed in a 44GS case, referred to as the Grand Seiko Style, the gradient expressions of light and shadow found in Grand Seiko are based on Japanese aesthetics. Without one, there cannot be the other. The perfectly flat and mirror-polished surfaces found on the case design of the 44GS create a sense of harmony between light and shadow. This principle changed the standard of Grand Seiko’s design from 1967 forward. This Spring Drive model is fitted with a specially adjusted caliber 9R15 manufactured at the Shinshu Watch Studio. Limited Edition 50 pieces.
In 1999, after over two decades of development, Spring Drive was launched at Baselworld and has come to be recognized as one of the most important developments in the recent history of luxury watchmaking. In 2019, the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive was celebrated in a new series within the Grand Seiko Elegance collection that presents an even more refined and slim profile. A new manual-winding Spring Drive caliber carried the signature glide motion seconds hand, reflecting the natural and continuous flow of time. Offering one-second-per-day precision and a long power reserve, thanks to the dual main-spring design of both calibers, and the understated refinement and sparkle of quality that exemplify Grand Seiko’s uniquely Japanese sensibility.
Introduced by the Micro Artist Studio, Caliber 9R02 is as striking as the performance of the movement. The case is made of Platinum 950 and is just 9.8mm in depth. The hour and minute hands and hour markers are made of 14k white gold to ensure that their brilliance endures for decades. The Grand Seiko name, the minute markers, and all the other markings are etched into the dial, and the power reserve indicator is visible through the sapphire crystal case back, next to the barrel whose shape echoes that of the bellflower that is the symbol of Shiojiri, where the studio is located. The two bridges have edges that are highly and painstakingly polished so that their brilliance contrasts with the perfect hairline finish of the bridges.
The case design expresses the beauty of the natural surroundings of the Micro Artist Studio. The dial features the celebrated “Snowflake” pattern, which is inspired by the beauty of the snow in the Shinshu region. The dial’s silver finish complements the delicate hand carving on the platinum case. Limited edition 30 pieces.
For more on the upcoming Grand Seiko chapter at Phillips New York Watch Auction: Seven, visit Phillips.
Lead photo courtesy of Phillips.