Announced in December 2021, the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Mechanical Hi-Beat GMT 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition is based on the 1967 44GS and combines modern practicality. It uses a dial with a unique texture and has an easy-to-operate GMT function. This time, we bring you a review of wearing this model with its elegant appearance and practical functions.
Originally published on watchtime.com
Text by Alexander Krupp
Article published on April 13, 2023
Fusion of traditional design grammar and useful functionality for modern times
Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Mechanical Hi-Beat GMT 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGJ255
Automatic winding (Cal.9S86). 37 stones. 36,000 vibrations per hour. Power reserve about 55 hours. Bright titanium case (diameter 40 mm, thickness 14 mm). Water resistant to 10 ATM. Limited to 1,200 bottles worldwide (including 500 in Japan). 946,000 yen (tax included).
Intricately crafted dial, beveled hands, applied indexes and polished case. These are the characteristics of elegant dress watches, but watches are not just about aesthetics. What do watchmakers do when it comes to capturing these classic features while still delivering functionality?
What if we added practical features and gave it a robust exterior? Will you be able to convince customers that it is a watch suitable for everyday use?
Grand Seiko has realized a watch that combines classic features and practicality with the “Heritage Collection Mechanical Hi-Beat GMT 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition” announced in December 2021. The model name is derived from the “44GS” announced in 1967, and the case shape is the current Grand Seiko design standard. This model is not only elegant, but also has functions that are very useful for everyday use. In addition to the date display at 3 o’clock, a GMT hand and a 24-hour perimeter index have been added.
Not to mention the convenience of cleverly built-in additional functions. When traveling across time zones, you can pull out the crown in one step and adjust the main hour hand forward or backward in one-hour increments. If the hour hand passes 24 o’clock during this correction, the date display will also automatically jump to the previous day or the next day and switch accurately. This is very useful as a travel watch.
The blue GMT hand stays exactly in place and indicates home time during the journey. And when you’re at home, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can adjust from daylight saving time to winter time or vice versa in hourly increments in countries that have adopted daylight saving time. Since the time can be corrected by moving only the hour hand, accuracy can be maintained without stopping the movement of the movement.
Focus on details that appear in visibility and wearing comfort
But that’s not the only functional feature. The three hands and 11 indexes are coated with Grand Seiko’s proprietary luminescent paint, Lumibrite, which is barely noticeable during the day, but emits light in the dark to ensure visibility.
And the use of titanium material gives this model more value than a dress watch. The sturdy and lightweight titanium case and bracelet have a mirror and streak finish that makes them look like stainless steel. But that’s also intentional. This titanium is a material called bright titanium originally developed by Grand Seiko and has a strong shine. The hardness surpasses that of conventional titanium, enabling Grand Seiko’s rough finish that produces a uniform and distortion-free surface. As a result, the surface shines like stainless steel.
The weight reduction by using titanium cannot be overlooked. The watch body weighs only 107g. The bracelet is supple and fits comfortably on the arm. The thickness of the case is not forcibly reduced to 14 mm, and the shape of the case has a complex structure typical of Seiko.
Finish the dial with a contemporary luxury expression
Grand Seiko’s brand philosophy is to incorporate traditional Japan culture and natural elements and reflect them in new designs. The colors of the autumn leaves, the texture of the bark of the birch, the pattern of the snow surface that has fallen, and the rock garden of a Zen temple. It’s not always expressed directly, it’s subtle. This is in line with the traditional delicacy and restraint of Japan, and can be called a kind of modern luxury expression. Those who understand this will be able to understand the special charm of the dial.
The dial of the Heritage Collection Mechanical Hi-Beat GMT 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited edition model reinterprets and embodies the specifications that were considered during the development phase of the Grand Seiko GMT model released in 2002.
36,000 vibrations/h in-house Cal.9S86 movement
Based on its own standards, Grand Seiko conducts measurement tests on the movement alone before leaving the factory. The average daily difference of this model is announced to be -3 seconds to +5 seconds when measured under conditions of 6 posture differences and 3 temperature differences.
The word luxury is mentioned, but the price of this model is 946,000 yen including tax, so it is not something that can be purchased by passing. This price is a manifestation of the harmony between elegant design and diverse functionality. But that’s not all. From the see-through back, you can see Grand Seiko’s in-house movement with a number of excellent technologies.
The Cal.9S86 reliable automatic movement has a power reserve of approximately 55 hours thanks to a bidirectional hoisting rotor with a “magic lever” with two claws. According to Grand Seiko, the average daily difference is -3 seconds to +5 seconds. In addition, the high vibration rate of 36,000 vibrations / hour contributes to the accuracy instead of the 28,000 vibrations / hour typical of wristwatches. As a result, the second hand ticks 10 steps per second instead of 8. Theoretically, the higher the vibration, the higher the accuracy because the deviation remains in a narrow range around the optimal value.
This time, when the rate of this model was measured with Witch’s “Chronoscope X1”, the daily difference was -2.3 seconds, which was within the range specified by Grand Seiko. In a few more weeks of wearing, the lower limit was -3 seconds. In general, delays are not very good, but this degree is acceptable. In particular, the maximum posture difference in the six postures was only 4 seconds.
Brand uniqueness visible everywhere
The titanium rotor is gold-colored by oxidation.
Grand Seiko manufactures not only bridges and baseplates, but also main springs and balance springs in-house. We have also created high-brand alloys with excellent properties. Various ingenuity can be seen not only inside the movement but also from the see-through back. The self-winding rotor is not semicircular, but openwork circular and has a Grand Seiko lion plate.
The color of the rotor is also unique to Grand Seiko. It is based on the model that won the “Little Hands” award at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix 2014 and is a special edition in gold color. We used electricity in-house to apply an oxide film to the titanium rotor to achieve this gold color. Some may wonder how a round rotor can extract a sufficient moment of inertia on the wrist. The answer is simple: arched riveted weights are attached halfway around the part.
In order to convey the characteristics of the Heritage Collection Mechanical Hi-Beat GMT 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition model, it is necessary to mention everything from the unique dial to the unique titanium alloy and the high-vibration movement using in-house parts, as well as elegant and functional. Only those who get their hands on this limited number of 1,200 watches can enjoy the taste of Japan watchmaking.
Contact info: Grand Seiko Dial Tel.0120-302-617