The last release of the Grand Seiko GMT Seasons Collection provoked extreme jealousy all around the world. The reason for this is that it was only available in the USA, which seemed dreadfully unfair for the rest of us. Thankfully, the collection is now back and this time it’s available for all.
Despite the prodigious creative output of Grand Seiko – that seems greater than practically any other manufacturer – they still manage to surprise us. This speaks volumes of the sheer imagination within the Grand Seiko design studios.
Last year we loved the US-only Four Seasons collection, including Zach’s pink Shunbun delight here, but for us outside the US, the release was bittersweet as we could only dream of unfolding the washi paper to become lost in the textured pink cherry blossom dial. This time we have our thankful mittens on the global release GMT Seasons collection, all set within the still angular but more pronounced circular case of a near perfect 39.5 and 40.2mm.
The Four Seasons are all imbued with the smooth seconds hand sweep of hi beat and spring drive movements, the latter necessitating a slightly larger 40.2mm case. At 14mm, the case seems less than slim on paper, but the magic of a well-rounded Zaratsu-polished case side will have you feeling you have a much more slender shape on your wrist.
With a reserved dome on the sapphire crystal and a polished sloping bezel, the balance and ergonomics are on point, sharp in the smallest detail, with smooth sweeping downturned lugs. The cases on the GMTs are among the roundest and least angular of Grand Seiko cases, becoming a perfect frame for what we all really came here for, the dials…
The SBGJ251 is the first to invite us on a virtual tour of Japanese nature, its Shunbun dial bringing a deep green textured surface of Spring, with its pink gold tone GMT arrow a symbol of the first cherry blossom making itself known through the foliage. Classic razor-sharp sword hands are instantly recognizable Grand Seiko calling cards, the inner 24hour scale making this an eminently readable travel companion for that trip to see the cherry blossoming season in Tokyo.
As the second automatic hi-beat 9S86-powered reference, the SBGJ249 has, like the Shunbun, the smooth seconds hand that’s only possible with a 36,000vph movement, an easy and quickly adjustable GMT function, and that dial! The Shōsho has an icy cool almost river-like structure, a poetic vision of ripples in the water stirred by the warm winds of high summer. The blue-tinged wave structure is accentuated by pops of delicate blue, and on Grand Seiko’s soft bracelet I can only imagine how well this would go with a dark blue tailored suit – the hi-beat accuracy of +5/-3 sec in the 9S86 calibre making sure you’re on time.
On the dial of the SBGE271 Kanro there’s a tell-tale sign of a power reserve crescent at 8 and the fluid sweep of the seconds on the slightly larger dial, signalling a Spring Drive mechanical heart in the caliber 9R66. This offers unparalleled accuracy for a mechanical watch, running within +/- 15 seconds per month or +/- 1 second per day – and that’s even quite a conservative estimate of the hybrid magic imbued by Spring Drive. The Kanro has a subtle texture in its dark charcoal, almost black dial, evoking the dark autumn night sky. The gold-toned GMT hand and accents create an elegant twist and a perfect sparring partner to the shimmering dark dial surface.
The Tōji (SBGE269) is also powered by the 9R66 Spring Drive movement, and the dial on these two is also slightly different from their Hi Beat cousins, in a longer, more delicate GMT hand, pointing to a 24 hour scale within the outer minute track. This creates a calmer dial scene, Grand Seiko’s hand-finished indices making sure any sliver of light gets translated to pure legibility, each wink of reflection reminding us of of the almost poetic craftsmanship.
The Toji is inspired by the Winter Solstitce, its grained silver-white texture a crisp vision of purity in what might be my favourite in this GMT collection. The case is still the perfect blend of dynamic sweeping lugs and Zaratsu-infused curvaceous mid case, the quite large crown dialling up a more sporty aesthetic. The lack of contrast in the dial and case in the Toji creates a graphic monochrome vision, perfectly balanced with the discreet polished pop of a pink gold slender GMT arrow, and what better choice for the first intercontinental flight of 2021, perhaps to the Tokyo Olympics?
The Grand Seiko GMT Seasons Collection pricing and availability:
The Grand Seiko GMT Seasons Collection are available from Grand Seiko.
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.