The first time I truly appreciated Grand Seiko as a brand in its own right was during a spot of window shopping back when Jura Watches had a boutique in Mayfair. The thing that caught my eye was just how damn fine the sapphire crystal-topped bezels of Seiko’s prestige marque looked compared to everything else in the display. The optical qualities of the crystal serve to lift the markings of the bezel from their recessed locale and make them far more immediate.
Sapphire crystal bezels aren’t always a great idea as the stiff structure of the material will crack given the right impact, but their presence adds a real defining touch of class to a sports watch, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Grand Seiko.
So, the brand adding two such watches to its Sports collection can only be viewed as a plus. The fact that they are GMTs with Hi Beat movements and 200m of water resistance even more so.
Grand Seiko are billing these as Triple Time Zone GMTs as the arrangement of GMT hand, fixed 24-hour scale on the rehaute and rotating 24-hour bezel makes it possible to discern the time in three different locations, which is certainly an added bonus.
This brace also adds Seiko’s own Lumibrite material (remember Seiko Corp makes everything) to its GMT bezel, logically using it for numerals on the dark background of the night hours section and the background of the daylight hours section for maximum contrast and legibility. These are also notable as the only GMTs within the Grand Seiko Sports collection to currently use contrasting colours for these segments, all the others use single colour bezels with numerals in contrasting colours. Grand Seiko approaches this a little differently from other brands such as Rolex, where the contrasting colours meet at the three and nine o’clock on, for example, the bezel of a GMT-Master II. Grand Seiko opts to have the colours meet a hair’s breadth lower, we assume, so that numerals don’t straddle the line. It’s a small point but introduces asymmetry, so worth addressing.
Inside both watches is Grand Seiko’s 36,000vph 9S86 automatic movement with quick-setting local hour hand so as not to disturb timekeeping when adjusting for current time zone. The movement is accurate to +5 and -3 seconds a day and good for 55 hours between winds.
Grand Seiko aren’t known for shy, retiring Sports watches (I’ve barely recovered from wearing the SBGA405 Godzilla tribute) and these are no different. The stainless steel case is 44.2mm in diameter and 14.4mm high, a figure added to by the use of a pronounced glassbox sapphire crystal glass.
Aside from colours and where you’ll be able to buy them, both watches are identical. The blue and white SBGJ237 will go on general sale through Grand Seiko’s retailers while the green-dialled (with black and white bezel) SBGJ239 will only be available through Grand Seiko boutiques.
Price & Specs:
Brand: Grand Seiko
Model Name: SBGJ237; SBGJ239
Case/Dial: 44.2mm diameter x 14.4mm height, stainless steel
Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)
Movement: Calibre 9S86, automatic, Chronometer Certified, +5 to -3 seconds per day when static, 37 jewels
Functions: Hours and minutes, seconds, date, GMT with third time zone
Frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz)
Power reserve: 55h
Strap: Metal bracelet with three-fold clasp with push button release (SBGJ237) or crocodile leather (SBGJ239)
Price: €7,000 (SBGJ237) and €6,800 (SBGJ239)
More details at Grand Seiko.