New Releases Watches

Grand Seiko Release GMT Pair ‘Sea of Clouds’ SBGJ275 and ‘Mid-Heaven’ SBGM253

Grand Seiko Sea of Clouds SBGJ275 Mid Heaven SBGM253

Grand Seiko has released a pair of new GMT watches inspired by the view from the peak of Mt Iwate, called the Sea of Clouds and Mid-Heaven. Both feature light blue dials that are designed to conjure images of the light, airy atmosphere of the mountain top. Although while the dials are fairly similar, the watches themselves are vastly different.

Grand Seiko ‘Sea of Clouds’ GMT SBGJ275

Grand Seiko Sea of Clouds SBGJ275

The name Sea of Clouds, or in Japanese Unkai, stems from the natural phenomenon of clouds sitting below the peak of a mountain due to air pressure. Which means you can climb above the cloud line and look down at them like an ocean beneath you. This effect is recreated across the Sea of Clouds’ dial by having a sky-blue base colour decorated with shifting patterns of frosty white. It’s a style that Grand Seiko have returned to a handful of times now with other examples being models like the 44GS.

Grand Seiko Sea of Clouds SBGJ275
Grand Seiko Sea of Clouds SBGJ275

Here though it’s presented in the context of a 44.2mm GMT. It’s the same design as the previous Sport collection GMTs with a large 24-hour bezel with day-night split. Interestingly, the day night colour split isn’t exactly 50-50 as you’d see on a watch like the Rolex GMT-Master II, instead the colour change is located just after 6:00 and before 18:00. I don’t mind it because it reinforces the idea of the blue sky above the ground, but it also makes the daylight hours of the day feel shorter.

Grand Seiko Sea of Clouds SBGJ275

Housed inside the stainless steel case is the hi-beat calibre 9S86. As a hi-beat movement it has a frequency of 36,000 vph and this particular calibre has a 55-hour power reserve with automatic winding. It’s also positioned in such a way that that date function and crown are located at 4 o’clock.

Price & Specs

  • Ref: SBGJ275|
  • Case/dial: 44.2mm diameter x 14.4mm thickness, stainless steel case, light blue detailed dial inspired by the sea of clouds around Mount Iwate’s summit also known as ‘Unkai’|
  • Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)|
  • Movement: Seiko calibre 9S86, automatic, hi-beat|
  • Frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz)|
  • Power reserve: 55h|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT|
  • Strap: Stainless steel bracelet|
  • Price/availability: £7,250

Grand Seiko ‘Mid-Heaven’ GMT SBGM253

Grand Seiko Mid Heaven SBGM253

Second of the pair is the Grand Seiko Mid-Heaven GMT SBGM253, which is inspired by the view from Mt Iwate on a clear day without clouds. As such, it has a sky-blue dial without any of the patterning seen on the model above. Further difference comes from the fact that it has its 24-hour scale on the dial rather than the bezel and features a much shorter and thicker GMT hand.

Grand Seiko Mid Heaven SBGM253
Grand Seiko Mid Heaven SBGM253

When you combine the dial with the stainless steel case measuring 39.5mm in diameter it definitely has strong visual similarities to popular designs like the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. I think the fact that I’ve made two comparisons to Rolex is symptomatic of the main problem I have with these two watches: they lack a little bit of the originality that we’ve come to expect from Grand Seiko. They feel more like part players that fill out their corresponding collections rather than stars in their own right.

Grand Seiko Mid Heaven SBGM253

However, that’s entirely opinion and on paper they’re still impressive. The Mid-Heaven actually has a higher-spec movement than the Sea of Clouds, housing the hi-beat Calibre 9S66 with 72-hour power reserve. It’s also a touch more accessible at £5,350 compared to the larger model’s £7,250.

Price & Specs

  • Ref: SBGM253|
  • Case/dial: 39.5mm diameter x 13.7mm thickness, stainless steel case, light blue sunburst dial inspired by the crystal clear view at Mount Iwate’s peak also known as ‘Chūten’|
  • Water resistance: 30m (3 bar)|
  • Movement: Seiko calibre 9S66, automatic, 35 jewels|
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)|
  • Power reserve: 72h|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT|
  • Strap: Stainless steel bracelet|
  • Price/availability: £5,350

More details at Seiko Boutique.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.