Unless you’ve been living under a horological rock, you’re probably aware that this year Grand Seiko are celebrating their 140th anniversary. In February they launched a slew of celebratory timepieces including the “Tree Rings” and Masterpiece Spring Drive 8. But now they’ve turned their attention away from classic Grand Seiko fine finishing and elegance to give us a look at a sportier watch, including a 140th anniversary limited edition version. The new Grand Seiko quartz GMT collection.
When I say they’ve turned away from fine finishing, I don’t mean that these are unpolished chunks of metal, this is still Grand Seiko after all – there’s still plenty of Zaratsu polishing on the 40mm diameter stainless steel case and the dial is a lovely sun burst. However, in comparison to their recent releases like the White Birch it’s pretty simple fare, as befits a sportier timepiece. In fact, I would go as far to say that these are the sportiest Grand Seikos we’ve seen in a long time, with a muscular design emphasised by the squared-off lugs and bold ceramic bezel.
When it comes to dial colours, there are three to choose from. The limited edition SBGN023 version brings gold to the fore with a matching yellow GMT hand and two-tone day/night dial ring – the limited edition also stands out for its 18k yellow gold badge on the caseback. The non-limited SBGN021 and SBGN019 versions are a blue one with a full array of blue accents including a blue ceramic bezel, and a classy black option with red accents. On all three versions the hour, minute and GMT hands are coated with Lumibrite for easy reading in the dark.
Housed inside is the 9F86 quartz movement, which is touted as one of the most advanced and accurate movements ever produced at this price bracket. Using a temperature control system and specially selected quartz crystals it achieves an instant date change and an accuracy of +/- 10 seconds per year. Which is pretty incredible given that there are few accounts of them going out by even that much. Sure, it’s not a gorgeous mechanical calibre but it’s practically as special, definitely heirloom worthy considering that it has been designed to last a lifetime as well as being accurate.
The durable, sporty aesthetic is completed by a stainless steel bracelet and although I keep saying sport, you can probably get away with doubling up these watches as dress pieces, we all know you’re going to anyway. The 140th anniversary limited edition is limited to 2,021 pieces priced at £4,800 ($5,450/€5,350) while the regular versions are £4,000 ($4,550/€4,450). I quite like these watches, I think they’re smart looking and wearable timepieces that remind us that Grand Seiko can execute on the essentials of watchmaking just as well as their more outlandish and jaw dropping designs.
Price & Specs:
Model: Grand Seiko Quartz GMT 140th Anniversary Sport Collection
Reference: SBGN019 (black ridged dial, red accents)
SBGN021 (blue ridged dial, blue accents)
SBGN023 (black ridged dial, yellow accents)
Case/Dial: 40mm diameter x 13.1mm height, stainless steel, black or blue ridged dial (SBGN023 caseback has the Grand Seiko emblem in 18k yellow gold and the individual serial number)
Water Resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: In-house GMT calibre 9F86, quartz
Functions: Hour, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price/Availability: £4,000 ($4,550/€4,450) (SBGN019 & SBGN021) and £4,800 ($5,450/€5,350), limited to 2,021 pieces (SBGN023)
More details at Grand Seiko.