Amidst a flurry of 60th anniversary editions this year, Grand Seiko also introduced a clutch of GMT watches in its newly formed Sports collection. The six watches – three powered by proprietary Spring Drive movements and the remaining by high-beat mechanical movements – should appeal to those looking for alternatives to more mainstream Swiss Made GMT watches.
We got a closer look at the SBGJE237, a handsome mechanical ‘Hi Beat’ GMT that is a good contender to be your go-to watch for the holidays. Grand Seiko’s sports watches are known for their extroverted and large cases, this one is no different. The stainless steel case is 44.2 mm wide and 14.4 mm thick, but thanks to its short lugs, even those with smaller wrists can hope to get away with wearing this. The case is depth-rated to 200 meters and has a screw-down crown, a closed caseback, and is fitted with a dual curved sapphire crystal. As you would expect now, the case features a mix of brushed and highly-polished, Grand Seiko deploys its characteristic Zaratsu-polishing to create distortion-free reflections on its polished surfaces.
The bi-color bezel insert in blue and white is made from sapphire crystal; it provides a sense of transparency and depth to the bezel and feels like a throwback to the acrylic bezels of yore. To recall, Grand Seiko first introduced the sapphire crystal bezel insert on the SBGE248 from last year. The blue and white combination is fresh and the white bits of the dial are luminous thanks to a coating of Seiko’s Lumibrite luminescent paint. The sunburst blue dial hosts the brand’s characteristic sword-shaped facetted hands, indexes, and a white GMT hand that takes 24 hours to complete one sweep of the dial.
The semi-circular section of the rehaut (the inner flange of the bezel) from around three o’clock to nine is picked out in silver gray and blue to display at a glance whether the GMT hand indicates AM or PM. The 24-hour markings on the rehaut has the odd hours displayed as opposed to even ones on the bezel. An oddity we noticed here is asymmetry of the bezel and rehaut. The demarcation for night and day displays do not align with the 3 and 9 o’ clock positions like in regular GMT models.
The watch is powered by the self-winding Caliber 9S86, a GMT caliber with quick setting for the local hour. The movement has a power reserve of 55 hours and an escapement that beats at 5 Hz (36,000 vph). The 9S86 in combination with the bezel can help the user track three different time zones – local time, via the GMT hand, and by rotating the 24-hour bezel.
The watch is fitted with a matching steel three-link bracelet with a three-fold clasp with push button release. The brushed outer links have polished flanks and the central ones have polished borders and the half-links near the clasp promise a more precise fit. This watch is not without its quirks – that asymmetrical demarcation for day and night displays need getting used to – but it remains an interesting proposition. It’s not every day that you see a sports watch with a depth-rating of 200 meters fitted with a high beat movement and GMT function. The SBGJE237 will retail at AED26,500.