Style / World of Watches (WOW)

20th anniversary of the Grand Seiko 9S mechanical calibre

There is a reason why Japan has the most 3-starred Michelin, the trains are always on time and Grand Seiko watches are some of the best timepieces in the world

May 04, 2018 | By Jonathan Ho

The Grand Seiko 9S mechanical calibre is a reference of esteemed provenance, we dare say, beyond reproach. At the launch of the very first Grand Seiko watch in 1960, Seiko Corp was obsessed with producing the most precise mechanical watches possible. In fact, the first Grand Seiko launched achieved chronometer standard rated by the Swiss Bureaux Officiels de Controle de la Marche des Montres. This meant that Grand Seiko models with the Chronometer appellation achieved mean daily rates of between -3 and +12 seconds. That said, an understandable if controversial decision by the Swiss agency soon meant that only Swiss watches could be certified chronometers and so, rejection by the Swiss Bureau and the perfectionist attitude of the Japanese led to two key developments: chiefly, the introduction of the “Grand Seiko Standard” and 10 years later, the debut of the V.F.A or “Very Fine Adjusted” series.

Understanding Grand Seiko Standard comparative to VFA

The famed “Grand Seiko Standard” was defined by a daily rate of between -3 and +5 seconds but the the “Grand Seiko Very Fine Adjusted Standard”, achieved a mean daily rate of between -2 and +2 seconds per day. However, the Quartz revolution heralded by Seiko themselves would not only see only 11 VFA models from 1970 to 72 but also the use of the VFA appellation on precision quartz calibres. By 1975, Seiko’s “Quartz Superior” had become its literal namesake with +/-1 second variation per month that the entire Grand Seiko range was discontinued and mothballed. Till 1988 where Grand Seiko returned once again as a high precision quartz model and another 30 years, before we could have another VFA certified Grand Seiko model today.

20th anniversary of the Grand Seiko 9S mechanical calibre

At Baselworld 2018, Grand Seiko released a wholesome threesome of limited edition timepieces marking the epic 20th anniversary of the first modern mechanical Grand Seiko calibre relaunched in 1998. The 9S calibre was entirely new and designed from scratch to deliver the high precision and excellent durability for which Grand Seiko was renowned.

Today, 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 millimetre make the entire Grand Seiko suite powered by 9S mechanical calibres, one of the world’s finest references.

This new 2018 creation proudly carries on the V.F.A. tradition thanks to the extraordinary precision rate of its 9S85 Hi-Beat 36000 calibre, +3 to -1 seconds per day, a level achieved by the highest level of adjustment and a testing program extended to 34 days. The 20 piece limited edition Grand Seiko 9S is offered in a platinum 950 case (€53,300) which is a new interpretation of the most widely admired Grand Seiko design, created by Nobuhiro Kosugi, the designer of the first 9S watch in 1998.

Way of the Samurai: Zaratsu polishing on the anniversary of the Grand Seiko 9S

Two surfaces of Zaratsu polishing extend to the very edge of the lug where these curved surfaces meet the hairline finish to create a perfect triangle that only the most skilled Grand Seiko craftsmen and women can achieve. 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, the company now known as Seiko Instruments Inc.

The 9S anniversary is also celebrated in gold and steel: Two additional limited editions celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 9S calibre. The first is in an 18k gold case and the second in stainless steel. Both share the same case design as the V.F.A. creation, the same calibre 9S85 and the same dial design.

The limited edition 150 piece Grand Seiko Special standard and offers a precision rate of +4 to -2 seconds per day while the 1500 piece limited edition Hi-Beat 3600 SBGH267 offers a precision rate of +5 to -3 seconds.

Grand Seiko 9S Price and Specs

Movement Automatic Grand Seiko 9S with 55 hours Power Reserve
Case 38.5mm platinum, gold or steel case with 100 metres water resistance
Strap Leather or bracelet
Price Prices start from €6,300

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