One of the biggest complaints about the Grand Seiko ‘Four Seasons’ collection had nothing to do with the watches themselves, but the fact that they were only available to the US market. Their nature-inspired dials were lauded for their colour and texture, making the international market envious of what was available in the States. Today a new set of sekki (seasonal phase) inspired dials have been released in the new Grand Seiko GMT Seasons Collection – a line-up of four GMT watches, two of which are powered by the automatic hi-beat caliber 9S86, with the other duo powered by the Spring Drive caliber 9R66.
The Hi-Beat models
Shunbun – SBGJ251
While the previous Shunbun inspired model SBGA413 was outfitted with a pink-hued cherry blossom dial, within the new Grand Seiko GMT Seasons Collection it takes on a new tone and texture. Due to the darker tone of the dial, the hours, minutes and GMT hands have a satin-brushed surface on their top facing facet that under direct light will brighten against the deep green dial. The bright pink-gold toned GMT hand symbolises the cherry blossoms that begin to peer out from the trees in spring.
According to Grand Seiko, “The dial is inspired by the lovely ‘Yamazakura’ that blooms quietly deep in the remote mountains, and the bright pink GMT needle on the green dial evokes the arrival of spring. It is in Shunbun that the spring equinox finally arrives and everyone senses spring is truly in the air. The cherry trees in the mountains start to bloom and their sakura blossom decorates the slopes. The green dial and rose-gold accents perfectly capture the promise of spring.”
Shōsho – SBGJ249
The second configuration pays homage to nature when the high summer approaches and the rainy seasons end. Here the seemingly icy dial evokes the delicate ripples in the water created by the warm wind of the season. The texture also ties into the high-beat movement, as if its 10 vibrations per second are, in fact, creating small waves in a stream. The hours, minutes, and GMT hands are mirror polished on their top side and edges to increase legibility against the dial. Whereas the brushed hands on the SBGJ251 will brighten against the darker green backdrop, here the hands will actually darken under direct light against the brighter dial. Of the four watches in the collection, this is the only GMT hand that has been hand blued by one of Grand Seiko’s artisans.
Grand Seiko explains, “With the end of the rainy season, you can feel the coming of real summer. The fresh wind under the early summer sun shakes the lakes and ponds… the continuous ripples of ‘Hakunanpu (Shirae/Shirasae)’ which blows after the rainy season. The organic embossed dial and the powerful beat produced by the 10 vibrations are reminiscent of the perpetual ‘rippling wave’.”
Inside both the SBGJ251 and SBGJ249 is the automatic hi-beat caliber 9S86, with a beat rate of 36,000 vph. The movement has an approximate power reserve of 55 hours and features a dual-time function with 24-hour hand and quick correction function of time difference adjusting to a calendar. It is very accurate, running within +5/-3 seconds per day when static and +8/-1 seconds per day during normal usage.
The Spring Drive models
Kanro – SBGE271
The SBGE271 takes on a familiar texture, the same found in the previous collection’s SBGA413 (Spring) and SBGA415 (Winter). Known by collectors as the “lion’s mane” texture, the dial will reveal subtle shimmers when moved under the light. The dark black dial will disguise this texture in darker settings, but during the day the full shimmer is visible. As explained previously, the hours, minutes, and GMT hands have satin-brushed top facets so that when they catch the light will brighten up against the black backdrop inspired by the night sky of Autumn. The spring drive movement utilised here also add symbolism to the aesthetic, the fluid glide of the seconds hand evoking the moon and clouds moving across the sky.
The black dial encapsulates the image of night in Autumn as the moonlight shines through the clouds. According to Grand Seiko, “The quiet, smooth movement of the second hand overlaps with the moon’s gentle movement across the night sky.”
Tōji – SBGE269
The dial of the SBGE269 paints the picture of the winter solstice where the days are short and the air crisp and clear. It takes on an almost grained and pebbled texture to the eye. With a brighter dial on the SBGE269, the hours and minutes hand are mirror polished for the legibility reasons mentioned earlier. The GMT hand here is also seemingly pink gold in tone, and also plays into the theme of the watch. As white is the opposite of black, the opposite of the moon is the sun and here the fluid GMT hand powered by the spring drive symbolses the sunrays as they kiss the snow-laden surface with warmth. A lesser seen design element within the Grand Seiko catalogue that appears in both the SBGE269 and SBGE271 is a railroad outer minutes track that also frames the radial 24-hour scale of the GMT complication.
Grand Seiko explains, “The white dial, [is] inspired by the sunset of the ‘clear snow’ that shines in the silence and cold as the snow stops and penetrates, evokes images of deep, three-dimensional embossed snow and the warm glow of the setting sun from the GMT needle.”
The SBGE271 and SBGE269 are each powered by the automatic Spring Drive caliber 9R66. The Spring Drive caliber provides unparalleled accuracy, running within +/- 15 seconds per month or +/- 1 second per day – a conservative estimate from my own personal experience. The movement features a power reserve indicator (seen on the dial), dual time function with 24-hour hand, and quick correction function of time difference adjusting to a calendar.
The Grand Seiko GMT Seasons Collection pricing and availability:
The Grand Seiko GMT Seasons Collection will be available in May 2021
The Grand Seiko SBGJ251 and SBGJ249 are priced at $6,800 USD
The Grand Seiko SBGE271 and SBGE269 are priced at $6,000 USD
Made in partnership with Grand Seiko. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.