Last week, we created an overview of all the Seiko releases we covered in 2023. It only makes sense to follow that up with an overview of the Grand Seiko releases we wrote about this year. While Grand Seiko does not release as many new models as Seiko in a year, the brand still adds many references to its collection. As we all know, with a stream of reference numbers as names, it can be hard to remember which watch is which. That’s why we created an overview of all the Grand Seiko goodness that came out in 2023.

This year, Grand Seiko celebrated the 25th anniversary of its caliber 9S. The brand released the mechanical calibers 9S55 and 9S51 in 1998. These two movements marked a turning point in Grand Seiko’s history. On top of that, they are still the base on which the current mechanical collection is built. As such, the 9S calibers have been pivotal in getting the brand where it is today. But it wasn’t all about celebrating the 9S calibers, as the overview shows. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

January starts with a celebration

The first pair of Grand Seiko releases we covered in January celebrated the 9S calibers. As Nacho explained, the SBGH311 and the SBGR325 are part of the brand’s Heritage collection. Additionally, they both have dials inspired by Mt. Iwate — or the skies around it, to be more exact.

The SBGH311 has a silver dial inspired by the “sea of clouds” phenomenon. It is paired with a 37mm case with a display case back, revealing the stunning ice-blue titanium rotor of the Hi-Beat caliber 9S85.

The second model is the SBGR325 with a light blue sunray dial inspired by the clear daytime skies one sees when standing atop Mt. Iwate. Inside the 37mm case, you will find the caliber 9S65, which has a darker blue titanium rotor. Both models were produced in a limited run of 1,200 individually numbered pieces.

January continues with two stellar releases

Just before the end of the month, Grand Seiko also introduced the SLGA021. The watch was a new addition to the brand’s Evolution 9 collection, similar to the SLGA007. This new SLGA021 featured a darker blue dial inspired by the rippling waters of Japan’s Lake Suwa.

Combined with the angular Evolution 9 case, it makes for a stunning release. As Nacho explained, the watch is powered by the 9RA2 Spring Drive movement with 120 hours of power reserve.

On the last day of January, we were treated to the SBGW295. At first glance, Grand Seiko fans immediately recognize the first model the brand created in 1960. The SBGW295 was created to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Laurel, the Seiko company’s first wristwatch. The modern remake of Grand Seiko’s “First” has a 38mm Brilliant Hard Titanium case that houses the manual-winding 9S64 movement.

The case is paired with a beautiful, deep black urushi (lacquer) dial with 24K gold maki-e hour markers. The result is stunning, but please read Brandon’s article to get the full picture. You will be amazed by the craftsmanship and dedication that went into creating this 500-piece limited edition.

In February, the Grand Seiko lion makes a return

Early February saw the release of the sporty Grand Seiko SBGC253 Spring Drive Chronograph GMT. First of all, this was a new addition to the brand’s Sport collection. As a result, it is part of a diverse line of sports watches, including divers, chronographs, and GMTs. This new model is a combination of the last two.

The 44.5mm high-intensity case matches a champagne-colored dial with a “Lion’s Mane” pattern. Additionally, the watch is powered by the Spring Drive 9R86 caliber, visible through the sapphire crystal of the display case back. But this one is all about the special dial.

Grand Seiko SBGJ271

Another February release was the Grand Seiko SBGJ271 “Yukigesho.” This classically styled GMT from Grand Seiko was one of my favorites this year. Its elegant 39.5mm × 46.9mm case is paired with a stunning white dial with a vertically striped texture. The polished lacquer floors of traditional Japanese homes inspired the pattern. These floors often reflect their outdoor surroundings, and here, the dial “reflects” the fallen snow on the tree branches outside.

Furthermore, the dial is contrasted by a matte black GMT hand and black writing on the dial. It creates a stunning black-and-white aesthetic with a tremendous amount of depth. Grand Seiko equipped the watch with its Hi-Beat 9S86 GMT movement to make this one of this year’s unexpected bests.


Watches and Wonders with two stunning novelties

Grand Seiko unveiled its first fully mechanical chronograph during Watches and Wonders in March. As a result, the new SLGC001 Tentagraph, part of the brand’s Evolution 9 collection, was big news. The Tentagraph, however, was not the first Evolution 9 chronograph. That honor goes to last year’s SBGC249 and SBGC251, which used Spring Drive movements.

But honestly, the new Tentagraph is the best of all of them. Its 43.2mm high-intensity titanium case combines with the brand’s signature “Mt. Iwate pattern” in dark blue and the brand-new mechanical 9SA5 Hi-Beat chronograph movement. As a result, this is one of the year’s true highlights.

During Watches and Wonders, Grand Seiko also released the hand-engraved SBGZ009 “Majestic White Birch” as part of its Masterpiece collection. As I explained in the introduction article, the elite craftspeople of the Grand Seiko Micro Artist Studio were responsible for creating this Majestic White Birch in the Japanese town of Shiojiri.

The town is close to a forest of white birch trees that inspired the engravings of the platinum case and the dial. If you turn the case around, you will be greeted by the decorated Spring Drive caliber 9R02, which is accurate to ±1 second per day. This impressive piece had fans talking this year.

July saw a full Grand Seiko Sunday Morning Showdown

In July, we put two new Grand Seiko releases up against each other in one of our installments of Sunday Morning Showdown. The first was the SLGA019, part of the Evolution 9 collection.

It is another one of the models with a dial inspired by the waters of Lake Suwa, just like the SLGA021 that I mentioned earlier. This new model came with a lighter blue dial inspired by the early morning breeze over the lake.

It was going toe to toe with the new SBGA481 that is part of the brand’s Sport collection. Thomas explained that it was a bonkers creation that only Grand Seiko could have made. The 44.5mm angular case is combined with a dial similar to the dial of the SBGC253.

The titanium watch with its black bezel and H-link bracelet is a different beast compared to the SLGA021 that ended up winning the battle.

Grand Seiko Heritage Collection

August saw a stream of celebratory new models

Grand Seiko released the US-exclusive Heritage Collection 44GS Katana watches in late August. This trio takes inspiration from the katana. The production process of this world-famous traditional Japanese blade inspired the dial colors of the black SBGA489, dark green SBGA491, and deep red SBGA493. Lex perfectly explained how creating a katana leads to this unique combination of colors and textures for the trio of 44GS models.

Grand Seiko SBGM253 and SBGM253

Only a couple of days later, Thomas wrote about the SBGJ275 and SBGM253, both featuring dials inspired once more by the skies around Mt. Iwate.

Grand Seiko SBGJ275 "Sea of Clouds"

The SBGJ275 is an addition to the brand’s Hi-Beat GMT watch lineup with a 24-hour bezel. This 44.2mm model got the nickname “Sea of Clouds,” and with a dial like that, it’s no wonder why.

The second is the more traditionally styled SBGM253, which aligns with my favorite SBGJ271 “Yukigesho” that I mentioned earlier. Thomas explained that the biggest difference is that this model has a beautiful blue dial and a 4Hz automatic GMT movement rather than a Hi-Beat movement. It also makes the SBGM253 significantly more affordable.

Grand Seiko SBGJ273 "Yuka Momiji"

September brings autumn dial colors

In early September, I wrote about the brilliant SBGJ273. This was another GMT addition to the Elegance collection this year. With a dark red dial inspired by the same lacquered wooden floors that also inspired the dial of the SBGJ271 “Yukigesho,” this time reflecting fall foliage, it was another winner.

Grand Seiko SBGJ273

A gold-colored GMT hand contrasts the rich dark red dial to create a stylish and sophisticated aesthetic. Add the Hi-Beat caliber 9S86 inside the 39.5mm case, and you get another standout GMT release.

Grand Seiko SBGW303

Another release in September was the SBGW303 that Mike wrote about. This European-exclusive model combines a 44GS-style case with a hand-wound movement and a beautiful green sunray dial. This 400-piece limited edition features a modestly sized 36.5mm case and a beautiful dial that only features the Grand Seiko logo and wordmark. It’s simplicity at its best.

Grand Seiko SBGW297 and SBGW299 Kamisen

October brought more stylish goodness

In October, Mike wrote about the SBGW297 and SBGW299 Kamisen models. Both watches came with mid-sized 36.5mm 44GS-style cases and were combined with brand-new dials. The white and blue dials feature a similar pattern inspired by kamisen, the Japanese folding fans often made of paper.

Both watches are powered by the hand-wound 9S64 caliber with an accuracy of +5 to -3 seconds per day and a power reserve of 72 hours. But those dials are the stars of the show. In particular, the white version with the contrasting blue seconds hand is a winner in my book.

Grand Seiko SBGW305

November closes out the year in style

The last Grand Seiko release of the year that we covered was also one of the absolute highlights. The SBGW305, part of the Elegance collection, is brilliant in all its visual simplicity. The watch features a perfectly sized 37.3mm stainless steel case and a sunray-brushed silver dial protected by a box-shaped crystal.

Grand Seiko SBGW305

Finishing the look is the brilliant beads-of-rice bracelet that injects the watch with the necessary style to keep it from becoming too simplistic. This aesthetic hits the right note for many of us here at Fratello. At the heart of this watch is the hand-wound 9S64 caliber that also powers the 44GS-style Kamisen models I just mentioned. The result is a timepiece that Mike calls the watch he has been waiting for.


Closing thoughts on Grand Seiko in 2023

With many new releases, it’s been another great year for Grand Seiko. The absolute standout in terms of technology was the SLGC001 Tentagraph. The new mechanical Hi-Beat chronograph was a first for the brand, and we can’t wait for more releases with the new 9SA5 movement.

My favorites this year were the SBGW305, which closed out the year in November, and the “Yukigesho” GMT. While inherently different, they perfectly show what makes Grand Seiko a unique brand. Whether simple, stylish, intricate, or full of details, the visual impact of the brand’s releases is always stunning. Combined with an incredible eye for detail, meticulous finishing, and great movements, Grand Seiko never fails to find a way to surprise me. As you will understand, I can’t wait to see what is next in 2024.

For more information, visit the official Grand Seiko website, and let us know in the comments which of these models impressed you the most in 2023. Finally, if you haven’t already, check out Gerard’s two-part account of his recent visit to Grand Seiko in Japan here and here!