Introducing The Grand Seiko 44GS 55th Anniversary High Beat SLGH009 And Spring Drive SLGA013 Limited Edition Watches

Two models celebrate the 55th anniversary of the legendary 44GS watch.


Launched in 1967, the Grand Seiko 44GS was the first to adopt Taro Tanaka’s “Grammar of Design,” a strict set of design rules that GS still uses today. Tanaka was the first formally trained designer to join Grand Seiko in 1959 and his design rules covered all aspects of the aesthetics – case, indices, hands, dial, etc. These latest two models look back at the 44GS with vintage-inspired designs, but feature the most contemporary, high-end movements. The SLGH009 has a high-beat automatic and the SLGA013 has the latest Spring Drive, but both are otherwise nigh identical in appearance (from the front, of course).

The cases are universally sized at 40mm in diameter with the high-beat model having a thickness of 11.7mm. The Spring Drive is a bit thicker at 12.1mm. Both cases and bracelets are made from Ever Brilliant Steel, which is basically Grand Seiko’s version of 904L stainless steel. It’s more corrosion resistant than the common 316L variant with a brilliant white hue. Both anniversary models have a box-shaped AR sapphire crystal and sapphire exhibition case back, and are water-resistant to 100 meters.

The cases and three-link bracelets (with three-fold clasp) feature distortion-free, mirror finishes known as Zaratsu polishing. The dials have the same curving pattern, but are black on the Spring Drive and blue on the High-Beat. They’re inspired by the elliptical orbit of stars and celestial bodies. The applied indices and dauphine-style hands also showcase Grand Seiko’s brilliant Zaratsu polishing, which prove themselves under high magnification. A white date window sits at 3 o’clock.

The engines in these watches bring the classic design to present day. The High Beat Caliber 9SA5 automatic beats at 5Hz (36,000vph) for maximum precision with an accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day. It has 47 jewels and an impressive 80-hour power reserve, and features the very innovative and efficient GS Dual Impulse escapement. The movement is finished with a technique called Shizukuishi River Finish, which is inspired by the beauty of the river in Iwate Prefecture (in Honshu, Japan). The contrast of its many jewels, blued screws and gold escapement/gears against the silver plates is pure eye candy.

The Spring Drive Caliber 9RA2 was introduced in 2021 and is very similar to the Caliber 9RA5, but a bit slimmer. The hybrid nature of this movement (automatic rotor/mainspring with an electric regulator) allows for incredible accuracy, +/-10 seconds per month. It has 38 jewels and the power reserve is 120 hours (5 days), and the power reserve indicator has been moved to the back, opposite the crown. Decorations are toned down in comparison to the High Beat Caliber 9SA5 with frosted surfaces, blued screws and polished edges. 

Both models are limited to 550 pieces with the High Beat SLGH009 retailing for EUR 10,500 and the Spring Drive SLGA013 for EUR 9,500. In many ways, both watches showcase the best of Grand Seiko and are well priced, but I wish the brand (and industry in general) would slow down a bit on limited editions.

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