A Closer Look: The Grand Seiko GS9 Club USA Limited Edition Spring Drive SBGY023
Is the SGBY023 Grand Seiko’s most coveted and exclusive watch release ever? For the time being, yes!
On a cold December day, during the 2022 GS9 Collectors’ Summit, Grand Seiko released a one-of-a-kind timepiece: The GS9 Club Limited Edition Spring Drive SBGY023, available exclusively to GS9 Club USA members following the collector event.
A 299-piece limited edition, this sought-after watch promptly sold out in the following days, so let’s take a look at it.
Down to a Fine Art
The watch features a beautiful warm grey dial and runs on one of the brand’s iconic Spring Drive calibres (specifically the 9R31, but more on that later). The unique dial takes inspiration from the Shinshu region in Japan (where all Spring Drives are crafted by hand), but at first blush, it may seem a bit plain.
However, look a little closer; the dial will reveal its true beauty.
Sparkling back at you is a pattern known as kirazuri, a pattern made famous thanks to the ukiyo-e woodblock print depicting the Matsumoto Castle in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture. The texture is reminiscent of fine printmaking paper with a degree of roughness left in, letting the natural fibers shine through. Except, on the SBGY023, the use of kirazuri creates dazzling, specular highlights!
Lastly, on the dial side, making a steady sweep across the face, is a hand-tempered blue seconds hand stacked upon faceted minutes and hours hands, all of which are curved by hand to follow the convex shape of the dial as it tapers towards the edge of the case.
A Bridge to the Past
Once you flip the watch over to look at the calibre 9R31 via the sapphire caseback, you’re presented with a beautiful single bridge plate movement, evoking the spirit of a master-crafted pocket watch. Additionally, all the jewels and screws are visible through chamfered recesses cut into the bridge plate.
Next is the power reserve. Hidden below the magnificent bridge plate are two spring barrels set in parallel. These give the SBGY023 a whopping 72-hour power reserve. And with the power reserve indicator tucked up neatly by the 2 o’clock position as it is, it blends in so seamlessly with the bridge plate that, unless you’re looking for it, you just might miss it!
I grant that, when compared to some automatic watches fueled by kinetic energy, the SBGY023’s power reserve may seem like a heartbeat. But the mainsprings that power the 9R31 are sandwiched inside of an elegant dress watch that is only 10.2mm thick, which I think is worth the power sacrifice.
Finally, presented on a matching grey crocodile strap with an elegant folding clasp, the SBGY023 is incredibly comfortable to wear and will complement almost any wrist. Plus, seeing as it’s almost monochromatic, you can pair it with just about any outfit.
Pricing & Availability
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell / watch modeled by Katrina Vrakas)