It was only last month that I wrote about a new 44GS-inspired Grand Seiko SBGW303. The limited-edition model was met with overall praise, and some asked for more variety from this highly wearable platform. Now we have two more additions to the line, and the good news is that they’re serial-production pieces. The SBGW297 and SBGW299 Kamisen models are worth a look.

Yes, we all know that Grand Seiko issues a lot of watches at a near-weekly pace. Reactions range anywhere from fatigue to jubilation. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, I think it’s best to realize that this is simply the company’s strategy. Instead of one tranche of watches (or even two as there are two Geneva shows these days), the brand’s management prefers to keep the momentum going. It is what it is, and if nothing else, it generates conversation. The SBGW297 and SBGW299 Kamisen models are the latest additions, and I think they’re damn good.

Grand Seiko SBGW297 Kamisen

The SBGW297 and SBGW299 Kamisen

As part of the stream of new releases, there’s always a background story from Grand Seiko. Whether the epistle relates to mountains, streams, seasons, or some artisanal handicraft, Grand Seiko loves its imagery. The new SBGW297 and -299 models take their story from kamisen, which are the Japanese folding fans often made of paper. As we can see, the dials evoke these objects with their radiating ridges.

Specifically, the SBGW297 features a white dial, and the SBGW299 is in dark blue. Whereas the blue-dialed Kamisen makes do with steel hands, the white-dialed version adds a distinctive, contrasting blued seconds hand. Both references feature an applied “GS” logo and applied indices. These models fall within the 44GS Heritage Collection and are offered solely on a bracelet with a push-button folding clasp. Dimensionally, Grand Seiko refers to these watches as “mid-size.” I prefer to call the sizing “just right” at 36.5mm in diameter and 42.7mm in length. Granted, the bracelet has male end links, so these watches should wear larger.

Grand Seiko SBGW299 Kamisen

More hand-wound models? Yes, please

It’s also nice to see more globally available models with the hand-wound 9S64 caliber. At a time when so many watches come with bulky automatic movements or feel the need to add date windows, I salute Grand Seiko’s commitment to producing time-only watches that straddle the line between dress and sport. The sapphire box crystal and this movement within the Kamisen models help maintain a reasonable 11.6mm thickness (0.1mm thicker than the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36). If that sounds a tad thick, note that this case is water resistant to 10 ATM. The 9S64 runs at 28,800vph and has a stated accuracy of +5 to -3 seconds per day along with 72 hours of power reserve.


Globally available and thought-provoking pieces

The Kamisen models will be available globally in November. Pricing is set at €5,700 or £4,900, which is €500 or £250 more than the SBGW291 and -293 models on straps. When I caught a quick glimpse of these models, the texture brought concerns of fussiness. However, judging from the images we received, I’ve come full circle. They’re actually relatively reserved but bring the level of detailing and texture that most expect from Grand Seiko. So yes, I really like them and look forward to seeing them in person at the local boutique. What are your thoughts about this newest dial style from Grand Seiko? Is this compelling enough for a daily wearer?

For more information on the Grand Seiko SBGW297 and SBGW299 Kamisen models, visit the official Grand Seiko site.

Watch specifications

Heritage Collection 44GS Kamisen-inspired Models
SBGW297 / SBGW299
White (SBGW297) or dark blue (SBGW299) with ridged texture, applied indices, and date window
Case Material
Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
36.5mm (diameter) × 42.7mm (lug-to-lug) × 11.6mm (thickness)
Box-style sapphire with antireflective coating on inner surface
Case Back
Screw-in stainless steel
Grand Seiko 9S64 — manual winding, 28,800vph (4Hz) frequency, 72-hour power reserve, hacking seconds
Water Resistance
10 bar (~100m)
Stainless steel bracelet with single-deployant clasp with push-button release
Time only (hours, minutes, and central seconds)
€5,700 / £4,900
Five years
Special Note(s)
Available in November 2023