Another year, another anniversary. Just as Omega can’t seem to stop churning out endless variations on the Speedmaster, Grand Seiko is keen to celebrate anniversaries for just about every step the brand took in getting to where they are today (which is, by all accounts, one of the most written about, discussed, and worn watch brands in the world), frequently with limited edition watches marking the occasion. It turns out that 2022 is the twentieth anniversary of the first GMT watch, which seems almost impossible. Grand Seiko’s GMTs are favorites among collectors for their varied designs and sought after local-jumping-hour functionality, so it’s hard to believe that a complication that seems so foundational to the brand has only been around since the turn of the millennium. To celebrate the Grand Seiko GMT entering its third decade, the brand has released a limited edition with a souped up Spring Drive caliber and a clean, winter inspired design.
Spring Drive watches are made at Grand Seiko’s Shinshu Watch Studio, located in central Japan, and the SBGE275 has a dial design inspired by the region’s mountainous landscape in a winter setting. The dial is a crisp white and has a texture that looks similar to others used in recent Grand Seiko references, expressing the vague idea of everything from cherry blossoms to rock walls. Here, the swirling white wisps take on the character of snow capped mountains, with blue accents representing a clear, cloudless sky. Yes, it’s another Grand Seiko dial inspired by the natural world, and if they haven’t sold you on this idea by now, it’s not likely they’ll generate new converts here. But if you take the artistic and whimsical backstory out of the watch, you’re still left with a beautiful, dynamic dial that can easily be appreciated on its own merits. In other words, you don’t need a clear picture of the Hodaka mountains in your mind’s eye to enjoy the SBGE275.
The SBGE275 is part of Grand Seiko’s Sport Collection, and shares a case shape with several other similarly equipped Spring Drive and hi-beat GMTs. This one has an aggressive, muscular stance with thick lugs and a prominent, grippy 24 hour bezel. It’s a 44mm stainless steel case that measures 14.9mm thick, so you’ve got to be into large watches to appreciate this one. That said, in my own experience, this case doesn’t wear nearly as large as you’d expect given these dimensions, and is well worth trying on if you’re intrigued by the aesthetic.
What makes this watch special is the 9R16 caliber, which has been specially adjusted for enhanced accuracy to within just half a second per day, or 10 seconds per month. Grand Seiko is of course known to be somewhat fanatical about chronometry, and for certain anniversary and limited edition watches, they take their standard movements and adjust them to be even more scarily accurate. On the SBGE275, that’s signified by the 18K gold Grand Seiko lion emblem seen on the rotor through the display caseback. Naturally, the movement still has all the functionality you’d expect from a Grand Seiko GMT, including that jumping local hour hand, and a seconds hand that sweeps smoothly across the dial as only Spring Drive will allow.
The new SBGE275 is a limited edition of 1,500 pieces, and has a retail price of $7,300. Grand Seiko