“No, not that kind of Evolution 9, car nuts. We’re talking about the Evolution 9 collection from Grand Seiko.”
Let’s put a little context to this first, shall we? A while ago, Grand Seiko debuted the Evolution 9 Collection. A new range that joins the Heritage, Elegance, Sport and Masterpiece collections, it draws heavily on the brand’s ‘Grammar of Design’ philosophy which was fleshed out with the 1967 44GS. The Evolution 9 collection takes these values and updates if for the next generation. There are supposedly nine rules that dictate the aesthetics for all Evolution 9 models. They are:-
- Curved case profiles
- Double markers at 12 o’clock
- A flat dial
- A bracelet at least half the width of the case
- A bracelet that’s not too heavy or light
- A faceted case with contrasting finishing and a flat top surface
- Faceted hour and minute hands
- A split groove on each hour marker
- A low centre of gravity on the wrist
Standouts (purely my personal picks, of course) of the Evolution 9 collection would be the SLGH005, SLGH011 and SLGA009. There aren’t many to begin with actually. The range consists of seven models and out of the seven, four are limited editions.
Until now, that is.
*drum roll* *curtains*
Yeah, your eyes do not deceive you. You’re looking at not one, not two but five new additions to the Evolution 9 collection. And unlike the previous seven models we know, the five right here are unashamedly sports watches. Let’s dive right in with contestant number one!
The Grand Seiko SLGA015 is the first diver in the Evolution 9 range and it looks set to begin a fine tradition for divers in this collection. The textured, deep black dial is inspired by the Kuroshio current or ‘Black Stream’ that flows past Japan and towards the North Pacific. Elsewhere, we get a ceramic bezel and a 43.8 mm high-intensity titanium case that stands at 13.8 mm. The accompanying bracelet with a tri-fold clasp and push-button release is also fashioned out of titanium. This being a serious diver, the bracelet also features a diver extension for added adjustability.
Going back to the case for a bit, the crown guard here (and on all the other five) has been redesigned to minimize the chances of the timepiece getting caught in sleeves. Moving on, the SLGA015 features a sapphire crystal with AR coating and a solid case back and screw-down crown.
The Spring Drive Calibre 9RA5 powers the watch. The 38-jeweled movement has a power reserve of 120 hours and is accurate to +/-0.5 sec per day. Water resistance is 200 m. When it lands in Malaysia at Grand Seiko boutiques in August, it is expected to cost RM48,000.
“And now we have the Evolution 9 GMTs.”
For this particular subset, there are two references available. We have the SBGE283 and the SBGE285. Differences between the two are purely cosmetic so we’ll start with the similarities first, yeah? The 30-jeweled Spring Drive Calibre 9R66 powers both variants. We get 72 hours of power reserve and the watch has an accuracy of +/-1 sec per day. Meanwhile, the watch has a water resistance of 100 m.
Moving on to the titanium case, it measures 41 mm across and stands at 13.9 mm. A titanium bracelet with a tri-fold clasp and push-button release accompanies the case. Elsewhere, a box sapphire crystal with AR coating, a screw-down crown and an exhibition case back are standard issue.
And now, for what separates these two. The SBGE285 sports a light grey textured dial that is said to be “inspired by the morning mist in winter in the Shinshu region.” On the other hand, the SBGE283 features a simpler black dial. On paper, at least. We know from experience that Grand Seiko’s so-called “simple” dials are anything but.
Both models will go on sale at Grand Seiko boutiques in August at an estimated retail price of RM36,000.
“But wait, there’s more (GMTs)!”
The final duo in this release are GMT chronographs. We have the SBGC249 and SBGC251, this time differed by their aesthetics and movements. And production numbers. The former is limited to 700 units worldwide while the latter is set to enter regular series production.
The 50-jeweled Spring Drive Calibre 9R96 powers the SBGC249 while the 9R86 powers the SBGC251. Both feature 72 hours of power reserve, a 12-hour chronograph, a rotating bezel and GMT hand as well as 100 m of water resistance. So, what exactly is the difference you ask? Accuracy. The 9R96 has been adjusted to be accurate to a window of +/-0.5 sec per day while the 9R86 has a figure of +/-1 sec per day.
More similarities can be found in the case construction too. Both models have titanium cases measuring 45.3 mm across and 15.8 mm height wise. They also feature a titanium bracelet with push-button release, a dual-curved sapphire crystal with AR coating, a screwed-in exhibition caseback and a screw-down crown.
And now, the aesthetics. The limited edition SBGC249 has a blue dial and 24-hour bezel paired to a gold GMT hand and text. Moving on to the SBGC251, this one has a black dial and bezel to complement the blue GMT hand and text. Also, it should be obvious by now but all five watches will feature heaps of LumiBrite on the hands, hour markers and bezel pip (for the diver). The SBGC249 is set to hit the shelves of Grand Seiko boutiques in June while the SBGC251 is due in July. Estimated retail prices are RM55,000 and RM48,000, respectively.