Grand Seiko Automatic GMT SBGM239 Limited Edition For HODINKEE
Roll up, roll up, we’ve got some tasty Grand Seiko news for all lovers of Japanese watchmaking today! Our good friends at Hodinkee have just announced their latest limited edition model. It is, as of 10 am EDT today, available in the Hodinkee shop. Given how quickly these models sell out, you might want to hop over there and grab one before reading this article as only 500 pieces will be made. But if you’re happy to hold fire for a few minutes more, allow me to introduce to you the Grand Seiko Automatic GMT SBGM239 Limited Edition For HODINKEE.
Fans of Grand Seiko may be family with the brand’s raft of attractive GMT models, available in a variety of configurations. A great many GMT models from Grand Seiko have the 24-hour scale either printed around the outside of the dial, on an angled rehaut encircling the dial, or on an external bezel. There was only one reference — reference SBGM221 — that had the scale printed on the inside of the hour track, indicated therefore by a shorter GMT hand that sits beneath the hour hand on the watch’s central axis. That was, of course, until now…
The Grand Seiko SBGM239 follows the layout of the SBGM221 exactly, with the only major differences from the dial side the color of the dial, and the handset. The SBGM221 is aligned with the Heritage Collection. Of all the GMT models made by Grand Seiko, it is certainly the most classically styled. Its beautiful off-white dial is a real sight to behold in natural light. However, light-colored dials are not for everyone. The rich blue of the SBGM239 limited edition adds a new dimension to the collection and is a smart addition to the Hodinkee shop catalog.
That deep matte blue has been given the nickname “Yūgure” (Japanese for dusk or twilight) by the team behind its creation. It’s also the first reference with an SBGM prefix to be delivered on a bracelet. And while the dial style and layout clearly retain the heritage-vibe of its predecessor, the bracelet adds a sportier and arguably more versatile aspect to the design.
The other color change applies to the GMT hand itself. On the SBGM221, the GMT hand is blue. Here, we have a light gray-colored indicator. That vibes well with the hour, minute, and seconds hand nicely. Pleasingly, it matches with the subtle accent color on the dial, used for the 24-hour scale and the automatic text.
It’s all about the details…
And here is where you might notice an incredibly slight difference between the dial printing of the 221 and the 239. Although it is almost imperceptible, the numerals and the arrows used to indicate the 24-hour track are different. Tiny additional serifs have been added. The change to the arrows is easy enough to identify when you know about it, but if you’re struggling to tell the numbers apart, focus on the tale of the “4”. You will see a small upstroke on the very end of it that is absent from the SBGM221.
The polished and faceted indices express the usual high-finish of Grand Seiko timepieces and stand-out starkly against the blue background. This colorway is by no means adventurous, but it is certainly a smart move from both brands. Blue is always a popular color choice, especially from Grand Seiko. As far as “brand colors” go, “Grand Seiko Blue” is one of the more famous. It’s also really nice to see how much this blue changes in natural light. The lifestyle images attached to this post show that the blue comes across very differently in differing conditions.
The nature of limited editions
This watch achieves what I personally believe every limited edition watch should strive to achieve. In my opinion, a successful limited design is one that looks as if it should (and, crucially, could) be part of the regular collection. I don’t feel exactly the same about “special” unlimited editions (they can be wild, as far as I’m concerned). But for limited editions to be wild successes they must sell not only because of limitation but also because they are simply fine-looking timepieces.
The two dial colors complement each other excellently.
Additionally, the SBGM239 sits very comfortably alongside the SBGM221. The two dial colors complement each other excellently. The fact the 221 comes on a strap and the 239 comes on a bracelet also highlights how massively accessories affect the overall mien of a watch.
The watch and bracelet are made from stainless steel. Pleasingly, the case is wearable 39.5mm wide and 13.7mm thick. For all you strap-changing fiends out there, the lug width is 19mm. The water resistance is 30 meters. Unusually for a Grand Seiko limited edition outside of Japan, the case back is signed with HODINKEE’s wordmark. It’s a nice, subtle touch, that surely adds value for collectors. Furthermore, each model is individually numbered. That is supremely better than simply stating, “one of”, in my opinion.
The Grand Seiko Automatic GMT SBGM239 Limited Edition For HODINKEE is powered by the 9S66 caliber. That in-house engine boasts a three-day power reserve and automatic winding. The date complication at 3 o’clock is framed by a polished window, matching the hour indicators. Caliber 9S66 is tested for over 17 days and in six positions across three temperatures. The timekeeping parameters? A stout +5/-3 seconds per day. Additionally, of course, the 9S66 has a GMT complication with a jumping hour hand setting mechanism.
Price, limitation, and availability
With an attractive price of $5,400, I can imagine all 500 pieces of this HODINKEE special edition finding homes by the end of the day. However, those homes will have to be located in the United States. This model will only ship to US-based addresses. More than half of the 500 pieces are available immediately. The remainder, however, will ship in February 2021. To reserve your own, head over to the HODINKEE shop now.