On a blackened slope, buried deep within the heartlands of the Blue Mountains, you’ll find a rather unexpected scene. Among the sea of deserted burrows and bushfire-ravaged forestry, still charred from the deadly events of 2019, a blossoming bud is weaving its way skyward. Somewhat out of place against the sobering backdrop, the Pink Flannel Flower is a colourful symbol of resilience in the heart of adversity. It’s also the inspiration behind seminal Japanese watchmaker Grand Seiko‘s first-ever Australian exclusive.
Unveiled overnight, the new limited-edition Grand Seiko SBGJ269 ushers in a new era for the premium watch producer. A proudly Japanese brand, Grand Seiko has always championed the unique scenery and landscape of its homeland, most notably through releases such as the SBGW289G, which featured a textured dial representing ‘Sakura-kakushi’ or the Spring blossoming of the cherry tree, alongside the GH013G model, which famously took its inspiration from Mount Iwate. This time around, Grand Seiko has turned to the Australian landscape for its design philosophy, pulling back the curtain on one of the country’s most unique natural phenomena.
The Pink Flannel Flower (Actinotus forsythii) is a symbol of the Australian spirit of resilience. The native flora blooms under the most torrid of conditions, emerging only after heavy rainfall in the season immediately proceeding a bushfire. Its seeds can lay dormant for years on end, only arising when the stars align and the environment is just right, making the Pink Flannel Flower one of Australia’s rarest natural occurrences. Grand Seiko’s reinterpretation of the flower is similarly hard to find.
Only 50 of the new Grand Seiko SBGJ269 Australian exclusives will be produced, each adorned with a subtle textured pink dial that harks back to its native inspiration. Similar to the SBGW289G, the watch face has an almost crushed-velvet-like finish, appearing more vibrant in high-light settings, however, it elegantly walks the line between colourful and chaotic. Sharp and angular from the outset, the new piece also features Zaratsu polished sides, which the brand says creates a distortion-free finish. Despite coming in at a slightly smaller 39.5mm diameter, it’s trademark Grand Seiko in every sense of the phrase, characterised by the distinctive edges that fans have come to expect from the Japanese legend. Inside, it’s more of the same.
The new Grand Seiko SBGJ269 Australian exclusive is powered by the award-winning Hi-Beat 36000 GMT calibre 9S86 movement, which is clearly visible through the sapphire caseback. The brand’s premiere in-house development, this movement is responsible for delivering 36,000 vibrations per hour, roughly 10 beats per second, providing an accuracy of +5 to -3 seconds per day. Additionally, the hour hand is independently adjustable so that this precision is maintained.
Most importantly, however, Grand Seiko has added a GMT function to the new release, visible in a stunning red that captures the unique colourings of the Pink Flannel Flower’s inner cluster. As with all Grand Seiko releases, the devil is in the detail. The iconic watchmaker has elevated the Australian exclusive with a number of subtle highlights including etched limited edition numbering on the case back and an additional crocodile leather strap.
Priced at AUD$10,600, the new Grand Seiko Australian Exclusive is a surprisingly affordable addition to the collection. Considering the number of industry exclusives from other brands that have ventured high into six-figure territory, the prospect of a world-first release with a modest price tag is undeniably enticing. The only challenge is actually getting your hands on one. The new Australian exclusive is limited to 50 pieces and will be available from October 24 at the Australian Grand Seiko Boutiques and select Australian retail partners.
Grand Seiko Australian Exclusive Limited Edition SBGJ269
Case: Stainless Steel
Movement: Seiko Automatic Calibre 9S86: SBGJ269
Bracelet: Stainless Steel
Crystal: Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Water Resistance: 3 bar