Throughout 2022 Grand Seiko have been celebrating the 55th anniversary of their heritage 44GS design. We’ve seen the Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ255, Sea of Clouds SBGP017 and ‘Tsuki Tenshin’ – ‘High Moon’ SBGY009, all of which have 40mm diameter 44GS cases. Now though, Grand Seiko have launched two new versions with even more vintage proportions, the 36.5mm ‘Tsuji’ SBGW293 and ‘Kuuki’ SBGW291 44GS.
There’s no avoiding the fact that the new case proportions are particularly small. The 36.5mm diameter lends itself to a more feminine aesthetic, although the bold facets and Zaratsu polishing means it looks just as good on men. Ultimately the modern 44GS has always been unisex and these models emphasise that, while also offering the smaller wristed man a good alternative in the heritage collection.
Where the SBGW293 ‘Tsuji’ and SBGW291 ‘Kuuki’ 44GS differ are the dials. ‘Tsuji’ means ‘earth’ and so it has a rich brown dial with sun ray brushed finishing that glistens in the light. It’s not too dissimilar at a glance to the Tsuki Tenshin except that the pattern on that watch is achieved through a textured surface. ‘Kuuki’, on the other hand, means ‘sky’ and has a silver-coloured dial. It’s definitely as light and airy as the sky but a more thematic colour would be light blue, especially with the current appetite for Tiffany Blue variants. Although, the silver is immensely attractive.
Housed inside both models is the Grand Seiko 9S64 manual movement. It’s a calibre that first debuted in 2011 and its specs continue to impress with a 72-hour power reserve and an accuracy of +10/-1 seconds per day. A manual movement makes sense for a watch with these proportions as it doesn’t have to house a cumbersome rotor. However, it doesn’t have quite the reputation of Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive or Hi-beat movements, but the 9S64 is still admirable and allows for a more accessible price point.
Speaking of which, both SBGW293 ‘Tsuji’ and SBGW291 ‘Kuuki’ are priced at £4,460. That’s the most accessible price of any 44GS anniversary model so far and also towards the lower end of GS prices generally. Personally, I’d still opt for the Tsuki Tenshin because the calibre and dial have more of the signature Grand Seiko elements I look for. However, if price and size are sticking points for you, then either ‘Tsuji’ or ‘Kuuki’ are ideal.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Grand Seiko Heritage Collection 44GS 55th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGW293 ‘Tsuji’ and SBGW291 ‘Kuuki’
- Ref: SBGW293 (Tsuji)
- Case/dial: 36.5mm diameter, Zaratsu polished stainless steel case, brown or silver dial
- Movement: Grand Seiko calibre 9S64, manual winding, 24 jewels
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve: 72h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
- Strap: Brown or black crocodile leather
- Price/availability: £4,460