HANDS-ON: The Grand Seiko SBGJ241 GMT, only the second vertical striped dial of this kindZach Blass
Watch designs can be very homogenous at times, with brands capitalising on iconic silhouettes and forms to elevate their offerings. Grand Seiko, among other manufacturers, never utilises borrowed design and constantly puts the “novel” in novelties with fresh releases than can be easily spotted from across the room. Through their pillars of design, the brand creates meticulously crafted timepieces that are heavily reflective of Japan, its beauty, and traditions. The new Grand Seiko SBGJ241 is yet another stunning release that incorporates the essence of the brand in a original way.
The 40mm case is fabricated in stainless steel, built in their 44GS format beloved by collectors and buyers worldwide for its eye-catching finish combinations and intricate geometries. Whereas their other case styles may opt for a predominantly satin finish, the 44GS has highly polished and distortion-free lug facets with a hint of satin brush as the bracelet meets the case. Even in the renders of the watch, which typically mute the finishing textures more than live photographs, you can see the amazing display of light and shadow contrasts – a foundational pillar for all Grand Seiko designs. Note how the polished shoulder blade like flanks of the lugs go dark while the break to satin lights up bright. The case includes a screw-down crown for added protection, and a water resistance of 100 metres.
The Grand Seiko SBGJ241 presents one of their most distinct dials yet, inspired by elements of regional nature and traditional Japanese architecture. It has been seen only once before in the limited edition Grand Seiko SBGH269. The SBGH269 celebrated autumn with a deep red dial that reflected the forests during that time of year with the depth and texture of traditional wooden floorboards in Japan. The SBGJ241 is an evolution of that form, but instead reflects the green foliage of nature when autumn passes and spring arrives.
Another deviation from the SBGH269? This watch is not only in a different case style, but also has added complication with the inclusion of a GMT function. The dial has a radial 24-hour indicator within its inner bezel, with the silver half indicating the daylight hours and the dusk green half indicating the hours of the evening. When dials are brighter, such as the SBGA211 “snowflake”, you may find the top of the hour and minutes hands rendered in a distortion-free high mirror polish – but this will cause the hands to go black against the dial when under light. Here, Grand Seiko has smartly opted to render the hands with a satin-brush so they will remain lit against the darker tones of the dial. The second hand has also not been fired blue to ensure legibility against the blueish green of the dial.
The bracelet utilises the standard satin and polished finishes found on many Grand Seiko models. One benefit of its fabrication in stainless steel is that the links are secured by screws instead of the less illustrious pin/collar system found on their titanium watches. Comprised of 5 components, each link has alternating finishes switching from satin to polish (three satin wide links, with two thinner small polished links sandwiching the centre). The outer flanks of the bracelet’s links have a nice polished bevel that catches the light well from all directions. While some may find a full satin bracelet more consistent with a utility watch aesthetic, Grand Seiko has made a name for itself adding touches of elegance to its sporty designs. They are truly versatile wrist chameleons able to be worn in almost every situation.
The Grand Seiko SBGJ241 uses the in-house manufacture caliber 9S86. Expected of any Grand Seiko watch, it boasts a high degree of accuracy running within -5 to +3 seconds a day with a power reserve of 55 hours. Grand Seiko, always one to consider all the details of look and wearing experience, has built the movement to have a calendar-linked time adjustment function. This means the date wheel found at the 3 0’clock on the dial will correct itself as you move the GMT hand and jump into different time zones. While it has hacking seconds functionality, the seconds hand will not stop running while the GMT hand is adjusted – ensuring the watch remains an accurate timekeeper.
Grand Seiko SBGJ241 pricing & availability:
The Grand Seiko SBGJ241 is a regional limited edition of 700 pieces, available now for purchase at a price of $9950 AUD.