Home » The New Grand Seiko Heritage SBGY011 “Asaborake”

The New Grand Seiko Heritage SBGY011 “Asaborake”

Photo: Monochrome

Grand Seiko recently introduced the Heritage Series SBGY011 “Asaborake,” the very first regular-manufacturing, manually wound Spring Drive 44GS. This came after launching several elegant and succinct time-only timepieces in the year.

The fusion Spring Drive movement and the unique 44GS case—two of Grand Seiko’s (GS) greatest features—are combined in the SBGY011. Although the pairing has been used previously, the SBGY011 adds something fresh since the movement is manually wound rather than self-winding, like most Spring Drive calibers are.

Grand Seiko took 7 years to establish a design standard that would serve as the company image and a series of guidelines for a good taste that enabled it to survive through the generations. The 44GS from 1967 was the first timepiece to embody the “Grand Seiko Design.” So with the company celebrating 55 this year, it’s the ideal opportunity to highlight its gorgeous, angular design. Strict guidelines for dimensions, finishings, and angles were used to portray a distinct Japanese concept of elegance and are still used today. 

Manufacturer Taro Tanaka defined the “crisp curves and the glitter of excellence” as the guiding principle for the 9 essential features of the Grand Seiko Style of his “Grammar of Design” in 1967. These requirements comprised the casing structure with an internally inclined case edge. A crown is placed deeply into the casing, a smooth dial, and multi-layered indexes and hour markings to refract even the tiniest light ray. The flat frontal face of the case was completed with distortion-free Zaratsu finishing.


Photo: SJX Watches

Asaborake (the period when daylight rips back the curtain of darkness) is the source of inspiration for this innovative Heritage 44GS Spring Drive, which also gives the variant its moniker. The dial of this watch, as well as other Grand Seiko Spring Drive pieces, which are handcrafted in Shinshu, Japan, symbolizes that fleeting moment when, just as dawn shatters, light bursts through the morning fog and starts to unveil the mountain scenery.

Regarding size, this SBGY011 is a slender, classy interpretation of the 44GS model. It also comes in a casing that is 40 millimeters wide and 10.5mm high (quite small by GS norms).

As is typical for Japanese watchmakers, the lug-to-lug measurement, slightly over 46mm, is likewise nicely regulated. With its blend of sharp edges, flat Zaratsu lacquered faces on the (robust) sides, thin polished highlights on the margins, and interior aspect of the lugs, with a nearly nonexistent bezel, the case’s design is unmistakably that of a GS timepiece. Despite its compact, attractive design, this watch nevertheless manages to be user-friendly thanks to its 100m waterproof and somewhat sunken crown for additional comfort.

A brand-new dial is hidden beneath the sapphire crystal, which has anti-reflective treatment on the internal layer. This dial is distinguished by its fine, subtle texture. Moreover, the Asaborake motif is similar to the pattern found on the Elegance SBGW267 and SBGW269 European Versions but with a distinct slant. The dial’s remaining portions are, however, quite basic and traditional. 


Photo: SJX Watches

In addition, the Grand Seiko Heritage SBGY011 is a time-only piece without a date. It thus has the company’s exquisitely produced faceted and glossy hands and markings. A blue seconds indicator, which has the distinctive continual glide action that distinguishes Spring Drive timepieces, adds a subtle touch of color. 

In terms of drive, the thin hand-winded caliber 9R31 is an exquisite movement hidden beneath the transparent caseback. It is produced internally at the Shinshu Watch Studio using the company’s patented Spring Drive innovation. It blends the elegance of manual movements with the efficiency of a quartz movement (signified by the purported precision of ±15 seconds each month or ±one second a day).


Photo: Monochrome


On the other hand, this in-house movement lacks the torque recovery mechanism but utilizes the same two-mainspring design as the caliber 9R02. As a result, the power reserve drops slightly yet remains adequate at 72 hours. A power indicator is situated on the side that faces the movement to maintain the dial as clear as possible. 

Lastly, this brand-new Grand Seiko Heritage Series 44GS Spring Drive Hand-Wound Asaborake SBGY011 is secured by a foldable steel buckle and is set on a black crocodile band.

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