Today we go hands-on with four relatively new GMT watches that joined Grand Seiko’s Elegance collection earlier this year. You’re looking at four GMT watches, two with a spring drive movement and two with a hi-beat movement. In addition, within each caliber there are two dial variations. What all of them share, is the classical styled case, with the Spring Drive cases being slightly larger. If you’re looking for a Grand Seiko GMT wristwatch, choosing one just got a little bit more fun here.
Each of these GMT watches celebrates one of the year’s 24 seasonal phases or ‘sekki’: Shunbun (Spring), Shōsho (Summer), Kanro (Autumn) and Tōji (Winter). The Shunbun and Shōsho versions feature the Hi-Beat 36000 GMT caliber 9S86 while the Spring Drive GMT caliber 9R66 powers the Kanro and Tōji creations. Despite all four watches sharing the same case design, each of these watches feel quite different in the metal due to their elaborate and outspoken dial design.
Spring Drive: Kanro (Autumn) & Tōji (Winter)
Of the Spring Drive versions, my personal favourite would perhaps be the Autumn version shown above (but then, ask me again tomorrow and I may have a different one). The soothing texture on the dial plays nicely with the zaratsu polished hands and indices. The textured dial is wonderful to look at up close, while remaining reserved when observed from a distance. The way the black then also pairs with the subtle accent colors on the dial and the GMT hand is just right. The fact that it is then also powered by a Spring Drive movement is the cherry on the cake.
Within the Spring Drive family you will also find the winter themed SBGE269. As per Grand Seiko the dial has the texture and color of a winter landscape as the sun sinks lower in the sky. If you’ve ever seen a dial with tremblage engraving, it has a similar look and feel to this despite not being hammered. The dial is strikingly different (no pun intended) from the black dial.
Both these Spring Drive powered releases here have a depth rating of 100meters, whereas the Hi-Beat ones offer 30meters water resistance. Thanks to the ingenious Spring Drive caliber both watches boast an impressive accuracy of ±1 second per day (±15 seconds per month). The power reserve is a nice and comfortable 72 hours and can be seen at 8 o clock. Note that the spring drive versions are a tiny bit larger than the Hi-Beat ones. With a 40.2mm diameter they are still well within reach for nearly any wrist, no matter the size.
Hi-Beat: Shunbun (Spring) & Shōsho (Summer)
The Hi-Beat versions have a wonderful 39.5mm diameter, a little bit smaller than the Spring Drive ones. The most striking and perhaps also most polarizing one of the group has to be the SBGJ249 representing summer. The dial is inspired by the ripples in the lakes created by the wind, shimmering in the summer sun. Also notice that subtle hint of blue in there. This is perhaps the most elaborate dial execution of all four, and as a result there is a lot going on as well. For anyone wanting to keep a low profile, this may perhaps not be your first choice, for anyone else it’s party time. For reference, this dial has a feel that closely resembles Grand Seiko’s White Birch.
Finally then, the green dialed SBGJ251. Perhaps the most traditional version of all four, and certainly quite a bit calmer than the other Hi-Beat in the collection. While you may initially think this is a matte green dial, it in fact is also decorated with a lovely pattern. For lack of a better word, it has an almost ‘linnen’ like look to it. Being Hi-Beat the power reserve is different from the Spring Drive releases, with a practical 55 hour power reserve. The accuracy is rated at +5 to –3 seconds per day.
Grand Seiko has a wide range of absolutely stunning GMT watches, and these four make for a great addition to an already quite impressive range. Note that these are all true GMT movements, where the local time hour hand can be quickly set in one-hour increments.
Caliber 9S86: SBGJ249, 251
Driving system: Automatic
Vibrations: 36,000 vibrations per hour (10 beats per second) Accuracy (mean daily rate): +5 to –3 seconds per day Power reserve: 55 hours
Number of jewels: 37
Caliber 9R66: SBGE269, 271
Driving system: Automatic
Accuracy:±1 second per day (±15 seconds per month) Power reserve: 72 hours
Number of jewels: 30
Stainless steel case and bracelet
Three-fold clasp with push button release
Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating See-through screw case back
Water resistance: 3 bar (SBGJ249, 251) 10bar (SBGE269, 271) Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m
Diameter: 39.5mm, Thickness: 14.1mm (SBGJ249, 251) Diameter: 40.2mm, Thickness: 14.0mm (SBGE269, 271)
Approximate recommended retail prices in Europe:
€7,600 (SBGJ249, 251), €6,800 (SBGE269, 271)
More info right here