The GMT complication is, without a doubt, one of the most practical functions you can have in your watch. Our environment is becoming more and more international and crossing time zones while traveling is the new normal. This is something that Grand Seiko hasn’t ignored, as the brand has a wide range of dual time zone watches – including the all-time classic Elegance GMT SBGM221. Today, Grand Seiko brings a couple of new watches in another segment, the sports traveller’s watch, a natural competitor to a famous cola-inspired watch (you can guess…) Sturdy, powerful and masculine, but also equipped with all the usual high-end features the brand is famous for, let’s look at the new Grand Seiko Sport GMT Hi-Beat SBGJ239 and SBGJ237.
At first glance, these two new edition feel familiar. And arguably so, since these are modeled on the same base as already existing GMT watches of GS’ Sports collection, including the SBGE248 presented here, as well as its siblings SBGE251, SBGE215 and SBGE201. But besides the new colour schemes, the new SBGJ239 and SBGJ237 features major evolutions, the main one being swapping the Spring Drive movement for a mechanical engine, and an edition worn on a leather strap, something that is extremely rare in the Sports line of watches.
So two new models, new Hi-Beat mechanical calibres, a very attractive green dial model on leather strap and high-end finishing all over are the recipe used for these new models. What really catches the attention first is the presence of this sapphire bezel around the dial – bi-directional and graduated with a 24-hour scale, acting as a third time zone when placing it in front of the local hour hand. With its material and two-tone execution, which represents day and night hours, this bezel adds a great depth to the watch, as the scale is printed on the inner side of the insert – a modern representation of the old-school bakelite bezels of 1950s/1960s watches.
Important to note, the bezels, whatever the model, are luminous, with the two sections acting differently. The dark section, for night hours, features luminous numerals, while on the white section of the bezel, for day hours, it is the background that is illuminated to contrast with the dark numerals. Pretty cool. Also, Grand Seiko deliberately divided the bezel in an unusual way, not precisely in half – but at 6:30 and 17:30 – so the numerals are not split.
The rest of the display is classic for a sports GMT watch, with local time indicated by the main central hours and minutes hands. The second time zone is displayed thanks an arrow-shaped central hand, in white or in red depending on the model, which serves to indicate either home time when travelling or an additional time zone when working in an international environment or tracking the time of your family abroad for instance. This indication is read via a 24-hour scale printed on a thin inner flange (maybe a bit too thin…) All operations are done via the crown and acts as a true GMT watch, meaning that the local time hand can be adjusted by one-hour increments without disturbing the rest of the indications.
Being a member of the Sports collection, the new Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ239 and SBGJ237 are fairly large pieces, with a 44.2mm diameter and 14.4mm height. Despite these robust specifications, the watch wears comfortable for anyone with a wrist above 17cm. The case is designed and finished in the typical GS fashion, meaning the very high standards. There’s a combination of finely brushed surfaces and polished accents, with a flawless and distortionless surface due to the Zaratsu technique. The caseback of this edition is closed and, combined to the screw-down crown, the watch offers a comfortable 200m water-resistance.
To power this GMT indication, no more Spring Drive movement but some good old mechanical parts, with the calibre 9S86. Beating at 36,000 vibrations/hour, this movement can be finely adjusted by Grand Seiko, with an accuracy rated at +5 to -3 seconds per day (better than most chronometer standards). The power reserve remains solid, at 50 hours. A date is also included at 4 o’clock, a feature that makes sense in this GMT context.
Two editions are launched. The first one – SBGJ237 – is worn on a stainless steel bracelet and comes with a classic blue and white colour scheme, greatly contrasting with the applied indexes and hands, with superb finishing. The same colours are used on the sapphire bezel and the GMT hand is white, matching all inscriptions on the dial.
The second version of this Grand Seiko Sport GMT Hi-Beat – SBGJ239 – is more surprising, yet very attractive. First of all, it is worn on a leather strap, something rare in this sports collection. Second, the dial has a nice dark green colour over a sunray-brushed surface. The colour remains very discreet though. The same concept is used on the bezel, which relies on dark green and white sectors. The dial is finally energized by red accents on the GMT hand and the GMT printing at 6 o’clock.
Price and availability
These new Grand Seiko Sport GMT Hi-Beat watches are launched as members of the permanent collection, available from retailers and boutiques from July 2020. The SBGJ239 on strap will be priced at EUR 6,800 and the SBGJ237 on bracelet at EUR 7,000.
More details to be found at www.grand-seiko.com.