For its latest U.S.-exclusive watches, Grand Seiko introduces the SBGA489 and SBGA491 alongside the limited edition SBGA493 in its Heritage Collection. Each draws inspiration from the katana, a Japanese sword known for its balance, beauty, and craftsmanship.
For Grand Seiko, the significance of the katana is in not only its material composition but also the way it’s formed. Making such a sword is a demanding and exacting art combining earth, fire, water, and air. First, iron sand is drawn from the Earth and heated using both fire and air in a furnace known as a tatara. This melted sand forms the Japanese “jewel” steel known as tamahagane, which in fact contains steel that varies greatly in carbon content. A high-carbon steel known as kawagane is used for the outer sharp edge, and a low-carbon steel known as shingane is used for the inner core of the blade. These shards of metal are stacked, heated, forged, folded, and then quenched in water until the inner core is welded within the hard exterior.
The spirit of the katana is reflected in each of the three watches. The SBGA489 is a rich black dial iteration that calls back to the hardness and beauty of kawagane on the sword’s sharp outer edge. Alternatively, the SBGA491 is a dark green version that reflects the resilience and strength of shingane, which makes up the blade’s inner core. While these two variations draw inspiration from the materials used to craft the katana, the limited edition SBGA493 mirrors the process of creation. Its fiery red dial immediately elicits the heat and flame of the tatara that’s used to melt the iron sand to steel. Between the three references, you also get a slightly different pattern to the dial. The dials of the SBGA489 and SBGA491 evoke the texture of tamahagane, while the dial of the limited edition SBGA493 emulates the sparks that radiate when the hammer strikes the blade.
All three models feature 40mm stainless steel cases with exhibition casebacks and complementary stainless steel bracelets with a three-fold clasp. Inside each iteration you’ll find Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive Automatic Caliber 9R65. The SBGA489 and SBGA491 are available today and priced at $5,600. The limited edition SBGA493 will launch in September in a run of just 500 pieces and will set you back $6,000. These U.S.-exclusives can be purchased exclusively at Grand Seiko Boutiques, the Grand Seiko Boutique Online, and select Grand Seiko Authorized Retailers.