In 2019, Grand Seiko unveiled the Japan Seasons collection with four watches originally exclusive to the USA (they have since become global models), with each representing one of Japan’s twenty-four sekki, or seasonal phases. Featuring a reimagined 62GS case design from the Heritage Collection, the assortment consisted of SBGA413 (Shunbun), SBGA415 (Taisetsu), SBGH271 (Rikka), and SBGH273 (Shubun). Two years later, Grand Seiko announced a continuation of the twenty-four sekki in the Elegance Collection with four new models: SBGJ249 (Shōsho), SBGJ251 (Shunbun), SBGE269 (Tōji), and SBGE271 (Kanro).
In 2020, Grand Seiko introduced two Special Edition timepieces exclusive to the USA. Pulling from sōkō, the sekki that translates to “frost descends” and is also known as “the first frost of autumn,” models SBGA427 and SBGA429 were inspired by the end of autumn precisely when the first frost embraces the beautiful Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto, its most popular season.
Marking the end of Autumn at the moment when the frost first blankets the visible landscape, SBGA471 and SBGH295 Sōkō Frost are two new, USA-exclusive Special Edition timepieces, and the next expansion of the Japan Seasons collection.
The first Sōkō Frost is SBGA471. Like the two Sōkō models that came before, the dial of SBGA471 is vertically textured, but instead of gray it is icy-blue, inspired by the frozen stalks of the bamboo trees that fill the Arashiyama forest. This beautiful dial is enclosed in the iconic 44GS case, whose design 55 years ago established the Grand Seiko Style. Rendered in stainless steel and measuring 40mm in diameter, the case features perfectly flat and mirror polished surfaces shaped by Grand Seiko’s acclaimed Zaratsu finishing technique. Today, the 44GS remains an iconic Grand Seiko design, and its modern interpretation is an important part of Grand Seiko’s contemporary catalog.
The second timepiece in the Sōkō Frost collection is SBGH295. With its fine texture, the dial is inspired by the clear blue skies over the Sea of Japan during the early winter months. Many will recognize it as the “ice blue” kirazuri dial introduced in the first U.S. Limited Edition collection from 2018. However, because the dial is produced by Grand Seiko at a different manufacturer, it is not identical to the 2018 version. Kirazuri, which translates to “sparkling painting,” is a fitting name for a dial that shimmers in the light.
SBGH295 features a reimaged 62GS case design identical to the cases of SBGH271 and SBGH273. Launched in 1967, the original 62GS was Grand Seiko’s first automatic timepiece. With its 40mm, multi-sided case rendered in stainless steel; wide dial opening and dual-curve box shape sapphire crystal; bezel-free construction; and signature Zaratsu polishing technique, the contemporary interpretation of the 62GS case is a striking example of both design and technique.
Both Sōkō Frost references feature quintessential Grand Seiko movements, each assembled by hand by the highly skilled craftspeople of the Shinshu Watch Studio and Studio Shizukuishi. Each watch has an exhibition case back offering a view of the complex engines within.
SBGA471 is powered by Spring Drive caliber 9R65. Hand assembled in Grand Seiko’s Shinshu Watch Studio, 9R65 masterfully marries the high torque of a mechanical watch with a high precision regulator that maintains the accuracy similar to that of a quartz watch. It delivers a precision of one second a day and has a second hand that advances in a smooth, gliding motion, a feature that is distinct to Spring Drive.
Powering SBGH295 is Hi-Beat caliber 9S85. This sophisticated movement, hand-assembled at Studio Shizukuishi in Iwate Prefecture, is the result of many years of research and development in both the design and manufacture of components, as well as the materials themselves, and specifically it makes use of innovations to its mainspring, hairspring, and escapement to improve precision. Operating at a higher oscillation rate of ten beats per second, 9S85 achieves greater accuracy via improved resistance against external forces, all the while still maintaining an impressive power reserve of 55 hours.
SBGA471 and SBGH295 are paired with matching stainless steel bracelets. Additionally, each model comes with a crocodile leather strap with a three-fold clasp with a push-button release.
SBGA471 is $6,000 and SBGH295 is $6,900, and both models are now available.