VIDEO: Grand Seiko make a compelling case for a one-watch collection with their new quartz GMTs VIDEO: Grand Seiko make a compelling case for a one-watch collection with their new quartz GMTs

VIDEO: Grand Seiko make a compelling case for a one-watch collection with their new quartz GMTs

D.C. Hannay

You may have your own opinion about quartz watches, but Grand Seiko has certainly elevated the movement technology to a whole different level. And their new 9F-powered GMT models make a compelling case for half of a two-watch collection, or even a one-watch collection, depending on your needs. A quartz GMT certainly fits the bill for travelers, given its ability to track two time zones, and Grand Seiko’s high-end quartz movement brings the real-world convenience of a set-it-and-forget-it timepiece. The 9F movements are several degrees beyond what most of us think of when we’re talking quartz, but more on that in a minute.

quartz GMT

Right off the bat, the new reference SBGN027 and SBGN029 models, featuring a black or blue dial, respectively, are eminently wearable, with measurements to suit a wide range of wrists. The stainless-steel case is 39mm in diameter, with a lug-to-lug of just under 46mm, and a depth of 12.3mm, which is, as a certain fairytale character would say, “just right”. Lug width is 19mm, which might limit your strap options, but I have a feeling that this one’s not going to leave the bracelet for most buyers, and the 19mm size is well-proportioned to the case.

quartz GMT

Finishing is exactly what you’d expect from Grand Seiko, with a tasty blend of hairline-brushed and signature Zaratsu-polished surfaces. The fixed steel 24-hour bezel is a gentle tip of the cap to the Rolex Explorer II, one of the all-time classic GMTs. The dual-curved sapphire crystal is antireflective-coated on the underside, so legibility is good in a variety of lighting conditions. Water resistance is 200 metres, courtesy of the screwdown crown at 4 o’clock and screwed-in caseback, which features a high-relief rendering of the Grand Seiko lion. The whole package should be more than adequate for whatever life throws your way, perfect for a timezone-hopping beach holiday.

quartz GMT

Dials choices are traditional, if not groundbreaking, in your choice of sunray-finished black or deep blue. The black variant goes for a monochromatic feel, while the blue shows off a bit with a couple well-chosen pops of red. As opposed to the bicolour bezel found on many GMTs, Grand Seiko goes for a more subtle look, with day and night indicated on the inner bezel. The rectangular and trapezoidal applied indices have that typical Grand Seiko level of fit and finish, with a variety of facets playing with the light. The finishing of the hands is also up to Grand Seiko snuff, with the GMT hand on the black-dialled model rendered in bright white, with red for the blue dial. Everything stays legible, courtesy of a generous application of Seiko’s torch-like LumiBrite. The date window at 4 might be a point of contention for some of the more ardent fans of symmetry, but for most it’s probably not a dealbreaker. A colour-matched date wheel might have been a more subtle choice, but dial legibility as a whole is excellent.

quartz GMT

Without diving too deeply into serious watch-nerd territory, suffice it to say that Grand Seiko’s high-spec 9F86 quartz movement ain’t your typical discount store quartz. It’s weird to say out loud, but you almost wish the watch had a visible caseback, just for the finishing alone. The 9F86 is the GMT version of Grand Seiko’s 9F series, which besides being immaculately hand-constructed and finished, has a list of features that you won’t find on a standard quartz. In a nutshell, the movement is temperature regulated, and allows for fine adjustment if necessary. Bottom line, the 9F86 should be accurate to 10 seconds a year. Not a month, a year. That’s some pretty stellar performance for a non-connected watch. Additionally, Grand Seiko’s 9F features something called a Twin Pulse Control Motor, which has as much torque as a mechanical movement, and allows Grand Seiko to use larger and heavier hands than can typically be used in a quartz watch. The date also changes over in the blink of an eye, by way of the cam and lever Instant Date Change Mechanism, and the Backlash Auto-Adjust Mechanism eliminates the shuddering movement of the seconds hand found in most quartz movements. Finally, the entire movement is sealed against dust during battery changes. Like I said, absolutely nothing like your typical quartz movement.

The bracelet is kept simple, with an oyster-like vibe that fits the sporty look of the watch. It’s finely brushed on the surface of its three links, but adds a touch of flash by way of the highly polished link edges. A well made dual pushbutton clasp keeps things secure, and it features a highly embossed GS logo.

Grand Seiko has an incredibly broad range of GMTs in their stable, but for me, this is one of their best. It’s not only highly attractive, the dimensions are note-perfect, especially when compared to some of their bulkier models. The steel bezel makes it a good alternative to an Explorer II, especially if you’re not a fan of waiting lists. It’s a pretty attractive value proposition too, at $3,300 USD, becoming even more attractive if you value a hassle-free, highly accurate movement.

Grand Seiko SBGN027 and SBGN029 pricing and availability:

The Grand Seiko SBGN027 and SBGN029 are available now for $4900. Click here for more details