Today, Hodinkee has announced their latest limited edition, and we have a gut feeling that this won’t be quite as controversial as a certain release from back in July that grabbed the watch conversation on social media for far longer than any of us had any good reason to expect. In fact, based on the brand that Hodinkee is working with, the dial color, and the complication, it’s not unreasonable to expect that this might be among the more well received limited editions that has been released in Hodinkee’s ongoing series. A collaboration with Grand Seiko has always felt like something of an inevitability – it’s a brand that has received broad support from the watch community, and Hodinkee in particular, over the last several years as both the website and Japanese watchmaker have grown by leaps and bounds. Today, with the all new Grand Seiko SBGM239 Limited Edition for Hodinkee, we see the fruits of a collaboration that has been years in the making. Let’s jump in.
The starting point for this watch is the SBGM221, which is certainly among the most admired watches in Grand Seiko’s current catalog. Ilya Ryvin reviewed his back in April 2019, and if you haven’t already read that review, stop what you’re doing right now check it out. It will give you a great sense of this watch’s case shape and finishing, which are the factors that make it so easy to enjoy. At 39.5mm, with classic dress watch lines and a subtle but still impressive execution of Grand Seiko’s famous Zaratsu polishing, this is the kind of watch that can disappear on the wrist but never stop holding your attention once you start focusing in on the details.
The SBGM239, like the SBGM221, is an old fashioned travel watch with a dressy flair, but the Hodinkee LE replaces the ivory dial of the earlier watch with one in a bright blue. The nickname given to the watch, “Yūgure,” refers to the color of the sky as it transitions from dusk to twilight, and is part of a long tradition of Grand Seiko dial designs taking inspiration from the natural world. The dial has a matte finish and has been paired with slate accents and the typical faceted hands and hour markers that we’re used to seeing on Grand Seiko watches. The elements of the dial that pertain to 24 hour timekeeping have been colored in gray, which has become a Hodinkee signature color, seen in several previous limited editions, often a reference to faded bezels on vintage dive watches. Here, it’s just a perfect match for the blue, and plays into the idea of a transition to evening.
A key difference between the SBGM239 and SBGM221 is that the Hodinkee LE is mounted to a brushed, three-link bracelet, whereas the earlier watch is sold on a strap. This release marks the first time a watch in the SBGM series has been offered on a bracelet to customers in the United States, and it changes the look of the watch in a pretty substantial way. We imagine the wearing experience will be much different as well, and perhaps lead to more casual, everyday use. The SBGM221 is a little hard to dress down, but with the SBGM239’s blue dial and bracelet, it immediately picks up a more easygoing vibe.
The movement powering the SBGM239 is Grand Seiko’s 9S66. This is a “true” GMT movement in that the hour hand is independently adjustable, and the caliber is finished to Grand Seiko’s typically high standard. This is a high end movement that uses the latest Grand Seiko MEMS technology and is tested for accuracy over the course of 17 days, resulting in an accuracy rating of +5/-3 seconds per day, which Grand Seiko is happy to remind us is a better timekeeping expectation than Switzerland’s COSC certification.
A total of 500 individually numbered watches will be made, and each watch will feature a special Hodinkee engraving on the caseback, making this the first time a modern Grand Seiko released with a collaborator has been signed in this fashion for the US market. To that end, the watch is only available to customers with a US address, and carries a retail price of $5,400. We’re told that over half of the watches are available for shipping today, with the rest being delivered by the end of February 2021. The Grand Seiko SBGM239 Limited Edition for Hodinkee goes on sale this morning at 10:00 AM, exclusively at the Hodinkee Shop.