It’s a somewhat common critique of Grand Seiko to say that the brand doesn’t have a killer sports watch in their lineup. To be honest, while I can’t point to a specific reference, I’m not sure I agree. Although their watches are immaculately finished and tend to have some flash to them thanks to a liberal use of Zaratsu polishing, anyone who has handled a Grand Seiko in the metal can attest to their robust quality. I wrote about this in my review of the SBGH271 – it can pass as a dress watch but it’s frankly built like a tank, complete with a screw down crown and a case with some sneaky weight and heft behind it. Still, I understand the desire many enthusiasts have for the brand to make a watch that steers more toward the tool watch side of things – a watch that really presents as sporty from the start. Today, they get a little bit closer to that kind of watch with the introduction of three new quartz GMTs in an aggressive case shape that probably won’t be pulling double duty with a finely tailored suit (but, as always, you do you).
Three new watches have been announced, all part of the Grand Seiko Sport collection. The quartz GMT is inherently sporty and useful, particularly in the way this type of watch is executed by Grand Seiko, with a local jumping hour hand perfect for frequent travelers, and a rock solid 9F derived caliber that is scarily accurate. The new references are an expansion of the quartz GMT format Grand Seiko introduced with their Caliber 9F86 movement in 2018, and the updated designs feel familiar if you’ve spent any time with the previous “SBGN” designated offerings from the brand.
The SBGN023 is the highlight here, a limited edition meant to celebrate the 140th anniversary of Seiko’s founding by Kintaro Hattori. The 40mm case has lines that are sharp and angular, and appear to have the wide, highly polished bevels Grand Seiko fans are so fond of. Like other watches in the Sport collection, it has the appearance of being almost squared off at the lug tips, which creates an inherently more casual look than the more rounded shapes found in other Grand Seiko lines. The SBGN023 features yellow accents on it’s ridged dial, as well as a gold medallion on the caseback with the limited edition number engraved below it. The SBGN019 and SBGN021 are the non-limited versions of the watch and feature red and blue accents, respectively. The blue SBGN021 also features a matching blue ceramic 24 hour bezel (it’s black on the other watches), a feature that sets it apart from the initial trio of SBGN GMTs launched three years ago with stainless steel bezels.
The cases and dials are certainly very nice and will find their audience, like most Grand Seikos tend to do. But what really sets these watches apart from travel watches made by other brands is the movement. The Caliber 9F86 is simply one of the most impressive movements of any type that you’ll find on a watch that’s even relatively approachable in terms of its pricing. It’s a thermocompensated quartz movement that’s accurate to plus or minus 10 seconds per year (anecdotally, many 9F owners report even better accuracy – as always, your mileage will vary, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of these watches performing worse than factory specs). These are truly advanced calibers and satisfying in a way that is similar to a mechanical watch once you grasp their technical merits. They include high-torque stepping motors for extremely precise movement of the oversized hands around the dial, and are constructed in a way that ensures they last as long as any traditional mechanical movement – these are anything but disposable and should last a lifetime with normal battery changes and prescribed maintenance from Grand Seiko. (If you haven’t already seen it, be sure to check our detailed look at the technology behind 9F right here for more background on how these watches work and how they’re made).
These new quartz GMTs from Grand Seiko will be available through authorized dealers in June. The SBGN023 (limited to 2,021 pieces) will retail for $5,450, and the SBGN019 and SBGN021 will sell for $4,550. Grand Seiko