HANDS ON: Grand Seiko’s tool-tastic steel bezel GMTs HANDS ON: Grand Seiko’s tool-tastic steel bezel GMTs

HANDS ON: Grand Seiko’s tool-tastic steel bezel GMTs

Ricardo Sime

I always find it interesting how certain releases seem to fly under the radar. We all remember that watch that grabbed our attention but barely got a peep from the community. Maybe it’s bad timing or just bad luck but whatever the case may be, some watches just don’t make headlines. However, it tends to be those watches that grab my attention the most. I need to dive in for a closer look. A perfect example of this is these new pair of GMT watches from Grand Seiko that I refuse to let you sleep on. Join me as we break down the SBGM245 and SBGM247.

The Case

Both the SBGM245 and SBGM247 are placed within Grand Seiko’s more sportier and more compact case. At 40.5mm, it flirts with near perfect sizing on my wrist. While the 48.9mm lug-to-lug leaves ample room above and below the watch when sitting on most wrist, there is one measurement that I’m quite sure wards off many buyers. That would be the 14.4 mm thickness. However, this could easily be one of the most deceptive measurements I’ve seen on a watch.

Often times when speaking of the thickness of Grand Seiko watches, collectors will make a comparison to chronographs. The mistake with that comparison is that unlike a chronograph, whose sides tend to be straight, the sides on the SBGM245 and SBGM247 case slope inward. Add to that the fact that the lugs curve downward, and you’re left with a watch that is constantly hugging the wrist. This means that the watch consistently slides under a cuff with ease.

As for the overall look, there is no question that these are tool watches. Grand Seiko’s zaratsu polishing steps aside and makes way for topside brushing on the bezel and lugs. You will find some polishing on the sides of the case and trimming the bezel, yet there is no mistaking this for a dressy piece. Especially with the bezel featuring bold engraved numerals filled with black lacquer. But should you still question its sportiness, 200 metres of water resistance, a closed caseback and a screw-down crown reinforce my position.

The Dials

For SBGM245 and SBGM247, Grand Seiko makes use of two different colour dials. On SBGM245, you get that beautiful midnight blue with a red accented GMT hand. For the SBGM247, we are treated with a new green from the brand, with an orange coloured GMT hand. Beyond these colours, what’s immediately noticeable here are the indexes. Never have I seen a sports watch sparkle this much. Eight out of every nine facets of each index is polished, leaving you to enjoy a light show on the wrist.

The dial also features a two-tone rehaut with odd numbered GMT hours. On first glance, this may seem off, however, by painting the bottom half (day side) of this rehaut grey, it blends in well with the bezel. The night side blends in well with the main part of the dial as they are the same colour.

The final feature that bears noting is the four o’clock date wheel.  It’s a signature look for Grand Seiko and the brand did well here by placing it within a polished frame. That small decision brings more balance to the dial.

The Movement

Beating inside both watches but sadly hidden behind a closed caseback is Grand Seiko’s workhorse GMT movement, the calibre 9S66. It’s an automatic mechanical movement with a weekend-friendly three day power reserve. This movement beats at 28,800 bph and has 35 jewels. Its GMT function places it within the subcategory of traveller’s GMT. This means that the hour hand can be adjusted in hour increments when travelling, while the GMT hand stays at home or reference time.

As for the accuracy of the movement goes, my SBGM247 is running at a lovely +2 seconds a day when left face up over night.

The Bracelet

The bracelet on SBGM245 and SBGM247 is brushed on the top surface and polished on the sides. It features a slight taper from 20mm to 18mm and back to 20mm at the deployant clasp, which features four holes for micro adjustment. One thing here that has to be mentioned is how thin the bracelet is, which lends it to feeling less weighty on the wrist. Another added benefit of this is that the bracelet warms up pretty quickly. Even on a cold winter day, that feeling of cold steel on your wrist quickly dissipates.

The Verdict

Chances are this watch will undoubtedly get compared to a Rolex Explorer II. However that comparison is such a lazy attempt to discredit these watches from what they really are. And that is a strong competitor to any sporty GMT watch on the market. The three days of power reserve, exquisite detailing and case work places these watches miles ahead of many GMTs out there. And the cherry on top? Reasonable sizing. At the end of the day, if you love the aesthetic, you can’t lose with either one of these GMTs.

Grand Seiko Sport Collection Automatic GMT Price and Availability:

The Grand Seiko Sport SBGM247 and its blue dialled sibling, the SBGM245, are now available for purchase via Grand Seiko and their authorized dealers. Price: $8,500 AUD