High-end and high-tech GMT duo: The Grand Seiko Tokyo Lion SBGC253 and Yukigesho SBGJ271Borna Bošnjak
Another week, another couple of impressively featured Grand Seiko releases. Today’s offerings include an until-now limited edition-only chronograph and an addition to the Elegance GMT collection. The former, taking inspiration from the mighty lion emblazoned on Grand Seiko’s logo, is the Spring Drive Chronograph GMT SBGC253, dubbed the Tokyo Lion, extending the large feline inspiration to the dial’s texture. Nature once again serves as inspiration for the latter, the Hi-Beat 36000 GMT Yukigesho SBGJ271, with the vertically striped icy white reminiscent of snow-covered trees. Both the Grand Seiko SBGC253 and SBGJ271 are regular-production models, a noteworthy fact, considering the brand’s love of limited-edition releases.
Tokyo Lion Spring Drive Chronograph GMT SBGC253
The lion has long been a symbol of power and prestige, which seemingly resonated so much with Grand Seiko’s design department in the late 1950s, that they created the brand’s logo around the big cat. Just like the Grand Seiko First, the lion continues to be a theme in the manufacturer’s line-up, most recently inspiring the Spring Drive Chronograph GMT. First released in 2019, it has featured in limited-edition variants only, until now. Already dubbed the Tokyo Lion, the SBGC253 takes the form of the animal not only in its imposing shape and size, but also the random texturing of the dial. The ivory white backdrop appears to have a random pattern of broad brushstrokes, offset by circularly grained and sunburst sub-dials for the chronograph and running seconds, respectively. It’s a very busy dial, with no less than eight sharply finished hands and a framed date window, making up the chronograph, GMT and power reserve complications.
It’s just as good that the case is large enough to house such a busy dial. At 44.5mm in diameter and with a thickness of 16.8mm, its flat, angled lugs were designed to mirror claws, while giving plenty of real estate for Grand Seiko’s famed Zaratsu polishing and sharp brushing. The crown and pump pushers are oversized too, while the double-domed sapphire crystal with AR coating matches the sapphire insert in the bezel.
Grand Seiko also takes care of legibility by differentiating lume colours used for the GMT function and the home time. To combat its heavyweight proportions, Grand Seiko crafts the case of their High-Intensity Titanium, which reduces the weight some 30% when compared to a stainless-steel case of the same size. The chunky H-link bracelet carries on the case finish, with a complex clasp mechanism that allows for on-the-fly adjustment. As the SBGC253 is a sports watch after all, GS outfits it with 200 metres of water resistance.
Finally, the movement side of things reveals the beast in hiding. The Spring Drive calibre 9R86 is decorated in expected GS fashion, while offering an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month, all the while giving the chronograph hand that deliciously smooth sweep.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT Tokyo Lion SBGC253 pricing and availability:
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT SBGC253 will be available from March 2023 onwards from Grand Seiko boutiques, e-commerce and authorised dealers. Price: A$17,950, US$12,000
|Model||Spring Drive Chronograph GMT Tokyo Lion|
|Case Dimensions||43.5mm (D) x 16.8mm (T)|
|Case Material||High-Intensity Titanium|
|Water Resistance||200 metres|
|Dial||Ivory white with brushstroke texture|
|Crystal(s)||Double-domed sapphire with AR coating front|
|Strap||High-Intensity Titanium bracelet with toolless quick-adjust deployant buckle|
|Movement||In-house 9R86 calibre, Spring Drive|
|Power Reserve||72 hours|
|Functions||Chronograph, GMT, power reserve, hours, minutes, seconds|
Yukigesho Hi-Beat GMT SBGJ271
Along with the feature-packed behemoth Spring Drive Chrono GMT, Grand Seiko also introduced a new addition to their Elegance collection in the form of the Yukigesho Hi-Beat GMT. This release is certainly more akin to GS’ regular source of inspiration – nature. The vertical slats on the dial, differentiated by alternate finishing, are meant to evoke the sight of a forest in deep winter, with frozen, snow-covered tree trunks forming a white wall. Those that keep in touch with Grand Seiko’s ludicrous novelty schedule might recognise this pattern from the SBGH269, released in 2019. There it featured as a rusty brown, capturing the reflections of autumn colours in lacquered floors of traditional Japanese houses. I’m especially fond of the black printing on the dial – it’s almost as if the characters are applied, much like the gorgeous ingot-like indices that surround the dial. The hand shape is classic GS, too, with a gentle curve to the tip of the minute and seconds hands.
The SBGJ271 uses an evolution of Grand Seiko’s first-ever case, upsized to 39.5mm in diameter and 13.9mm in height. Though not oversized by any means, the thickness is noticeable with this case, as the caseback bulges far past the midcase that the lugs flow into. Naturally, it’s finished with plentiful Zaratsu polishing along the case and three-link bracelet, both in stainless steel.
A look at the caseback reveals the beautiful 9S86 calibre behind a silk-screen GS lion on the sapphire crystal. The caseback is a screw-on one, only, providing just 30 metres of water resistance. The movement sits fairly small in the case, but the fluted accent and polished screws cover up the extra real estate. Spec-wise, it has a 55-hour power reserve, beating at 5Hz, with a stated accuracy of -3/+5 seconds per day.
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT Yukigesho SBGJ271 pricing and availability:
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT Yukigesho SBGJ271 is available from March 2023 onwards from Grand Seiko boutiques, e-commerce and authorised dealers. Price: A$10,600, US$7,100
|Model||Hi-Beat GMT Yukigesho|
|Case Dimensions||39.5mm (D) x 14mm (T) x 46.9mm (L2L)|
|Case Material||Stainless steel|
|Water Resistance||30 metres|
|Dial||Silver with vertical striping|
|Crystal(s)||Box-domed sapphire crystal front, sapphire caseback|
|Strap||Stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp|
|Movement||In-house 9S86 calibre, 36,000 vph (5Hz), -3/+5 seconds per day|
|Power Reserve||55 hours|
|Functions||GMT, hours, minutes, seconds, date|