The Japanese sword, known as the katana, is a world-renowned masterpiece in steel. Deeply rooted in Japan’s history and cultural heritage, the famous curved blade is the product of centuries of learned craft and a masterclass of form and function. This art form has inspired three new US Exclusive Grand Seiko models influenced by the materials and craftsmanship that reflect strength, perseverance, and beauty: SBGA489, SBGA491, and SBGA493.
Bringing together earth, fire, water, and air, the katana is derived from nature, and only through the skilled and meticulous hands of an artisan can these elements be formed into a perfectly balanced and beautiful sword.
Iron sand is drawn from the Earth and heated using fire and air in a clay furnace known as the tatara. Over the course of several days and nights, the sand is transformed into tamahagane, a pure form of Japanese steel. From tamahagane there can be derived two variations of steel: one is the high carbon steel used for the outer sharp edge, known as kawagane; and the other is the strong inner core of the blade, shingane. The shards of metal are then stacked individually. They are heated to a glowing yellow, orange, and red color; forged; folded; and quenched in water until the inner core is welded within the hardened exterior.
Tamahagane “jewel” steel.
The carbon-rich beauty of kawagane is the inspiration for the black dial of SBGA489, and the resilience and strength of shingane are represented in the dark green dial of SBGA491. The dial pattern itself evokes the unique texture in the variations of tamahagane, the “jewel” steel from which the swords are made.
A Limited Edition of 500 pieces, SBGA493 is the third reference in the series, and it pulls inspiration from the forge itself, as well as the determination and fire needed to craft the blade. The deep red color and yellow gold-tone accents are influenced by the heated blade during the forging process, and the pattern, which is unique to this model in the series, emulates the radiating sparks created when the hammer strikes the blade.
All three references feature a stainless steel case measuring 40mm in diameter, 12.5mm in thickness, and 46.2mm in length from lug tip to lug tip. The design derives from one of Grand Seiko’s most famous watches, the 44GS from 1967. Its iconic shape defined the Grand Seiko style via nine distinct design elements that continue to guide Grand Seiko’s Heritage Collection to this day. The case features perfectly flat and mirror polished surfaces shaped by Grand Seiko’s acclaimed Zaratsu finishing technique. Much like polishing the katana involves tremendous skill and dexterity, the same can be said of crafting a case for Grand Seiko through Zaratsu polishing.
Each reference comes on a stainless steel bracelet with a three-fold clasp (SBGA493 comes with an additional kimono fabric strap), a dual curve sapphire crystal, and an exhibition case back revealing the Spring Drive Automatic Caliber 9R65.
Hand assembled at Grand Seiko’s Shinshu Watch Studio, Caliber 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. Caliber 9R65 has a power reserve of 72 hours, 30 jewels, and an accuracy of ±1 second per day (±15 seconds per month). A distinct feature of Spring Drive, the seconds hand advances in a smooth gliding motion.
Models SBGA489 and SBGA491 will be available for $5,600 this August, and SBGA493 will be available this September for $6,000. All three models will be available exclusively at Grand Seiko Boutiques, Grand Seiko Boutique Online, and select Grand Seiko Authorized Retailers in the US.