Featured Grand Seiko Hands-On

Hands-On: Grand Seiko Elegance GMT Seasons Collection
SBGJ251, SBGJ249, SBGE271, SBGE269

Today we go hands-on with four relatively new GMTGMT A GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) complication is a feature found in some watches that allows the wearer to track two time zones simultaneously. It typically includes a 24-hour hand and a bezel or a second hour hand that can be adjusted independently of the main hour hand to track the time in a different time zone. [Learn More] watches that joined Grand Seiko’s Elegance collection earlier this year. You’re looking at four GMT watches, two with a spring driveSpring Drive A Spring Drive movement, pioneered by Grand Seiko, is a type of mechanical watch movement that combines the traditional mechanics of a mechanical watch with the precision of a quartz watch. It uses a mainspring as the source of energy, just like a mechanical watch, but instead of using a traditional escapement, it uses a quartz crystal to regulate the release of energy. The Spring Drive movement is considered to be highly accurate, and is known for its smooth, gliding seconds hand. [Learn More] movement and two with a hi-beat movement. In addition, within each caliberCaliber The caliber ('movement') is the heart and engine of a watch. It consists of a number of interconnected components that work together. Energy is transmitted through the gear train, to the escapement mechanism. The escapement mechanism releases this energy in a controlled manner. This drives the gear train, which ultimately rotates the hands of the watch and keeps time. [More Info] 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 zaratsuZaratsu Polishing Zaratsu polishing is a type of polishing technique used in watchmaking, specifically for the polishing of steel components, such as the case, lugs, and bracelet. It is a process that uses a spinning circular disk with an abrasive surface. The craftsperson, holding the watch part, applies a certain level of pressure and uses a specific angle to ultimately achieve a mirror-like finish. [Learn More] 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 reserveRéserve de marche Also known as Power Reserve. A watch's power reserve refers to the amount of time a mechanical watch can run without being wound. The power reserve of a mechanical watch can vary depending on the size of the mainspring, the efficiency of the gear train, and the rate at which the mainspring releases energy. If a watch has a Power Reserve 'complication' it simply means that the status of the power reserve can be seen on the watch itself (either on the dial or movement side of the watch). [Learn More] 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
GMT hand
Number of jewelsJewels Watch jewels are small, synthetic sapphire or ruby bearings that are used in mechanical watches to reduce friction and wear on moving parts. They are typically made from corundum. They are used as bearings for a.o. the pivots to reduce friction. [Learn More]: 37

Caliber 9R66: SBGE269, 271
Driving system: Automatic
Accuracy:±1 second per day (±15 seconds per month) Power reserve: 72 hours
GMT hand
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

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