INTRODUCING: The Grand Seiko SBGJ253 is a GMT with a lustrous black dial INTRODUCING: The Grand Seiko SBGJ253 is a GMT with a lustrous black dial

INTRODUCING: The Grand Seiko SBGJ253 is a GMT with a lustrous black dial

Fergus Nash

There’s very little mystery left with Grand Seiko’s design strategy, especially with their Heritage collection. Often taking direct inspiration from natural scenes that surround the famous Studio Shizukuishi, the Grand Seiko artisans manifest the beauty of the world around them into dials that breathe life into the watch. For most of us who can’t even remember when the four seasons begin and end, this embracing of environment has a definite air of magic to it. The new Grand Seiko SBGJ253 is a glittering example of how they do it. 

This particular dial is an evocation of the twilight hours when light is diffused around the sky, creating a serene glow of fading light behind and above the impressive geography. What we might call a sunburst dial is labelled by Grand Seiko as a Mt. Iwate pattern, with the brushing much more coarse and irregular than we might otherwise see to represent the peaks and troughs of the mountain’s ridges. The anthracite tone is wonderfully dynamic, washing across the broad spectrum of greyscale.

The accent colour of the dial is a pale yellow gold, which could be interpreted as the final rays of golden light that slip through after sunset, or the beginning twinkles of stars fading into visibility. This GMT dial design is definitely not new to Grand Seiko, however it’s one that I hope sticks around for a long, long time. The rectangular indices, date window frame and the powerful dauphine hands are superbly finished and always look impressive under macro imaging, summarising the character of Grand Seiko and their pursuit of perfection without causing too much distraction from the main exhibit of the dial.

The case is a modern interpretation of the lauded 44GS case which originated in 1967. It’s hard to pin down exactly why the 44GS looks so appealing, but the easiest summary is to do with balance. The ratio of its clean, sharp lines and soft, sweeping curves is really appealing, and it has a way of integrating with steel bracelets that creates a distinctly Seiko profile. The finishing is of course top tier, with the famed zaratsu polishing interrupted by precise strips of brushing that can’t possibly be done justice in the digital renderings. If there’s one area that Grand Seiko don’t excel in, it’s representing their remarkable watches in press imagery.

Powering the SBGJ253 is the Calibre 9S86, a true traveller’s GMT movement that boasts great specifications as well as lavish decoration. The +5/-3 second per day accuracy range is exactly what you’d want to see from a luxury movement of this standard, and the power reserve of 55 hours is impressive considering it runs at the Hi-Beat 36,000 vibrations per hour. Pulling out the crown to the first position allows you to independently adjust the hour hand in one-hour increments without the need to hack the movement and interrupt its timekeeping, making it incredibly practical when travelling across timezones.

The Grand Seiko SBGJ253 Pricing & Availability

The Grand Seiko SBGJ253 is an Asia Limited Edition, meaning it’s exclusive to Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East. Only 600 pieces will be released for $9595 AUD