When looking at the Grand Seiko catalog, most of us will likely gravitate to the Heritage collection. That is where iconic silhouettes from the past like the 44GS and 62GS come to life in fresh, modern versions. But the brand’s Elegance collection might be the right place for you if you are in the market for a more traditional but equally stylish timepiece steeped in Grand Seiko’s rich history. I sometimes overlook the Elegance collection because it has that more traditional ring to it. But with the new Grand Seiko SBGJ273, I am again reminded that plenty of goodness can be found in the Elegance lineup, especially regarding great GMT watches.

When we first got the new Grand Seiko SBGJ273 in the office, I had to warm up to the red dial. Overall, red is not my favorite dial color mainly because it’s such a dominant one. I always have to get used to it for a bit. But we all know that with Grand Seiko, it’s not just going to be a simple red dial, so I took the time to get accustomed to the color and understand its story. In the end, though, the new Grand Seiko SBGJ273 ended up doing much more than just awakening my appreciation for the great dial. It also turned the spotlight on the Elegance collection and revealed a charm that I had almost forgotten.

Grand Seiko SBGJ273 "Yuka Momiji"

The story of the new Grand Seiko SBGJ273

As most of you know, almost every Grand Seiko watch comes with a story explaining how Japanese nature inspired the dial design. This time, it is no different. Nature is an endless source of inspiration that allows Grand Seiko to inject its watches with a great link to the Japanese environment and traditions. For the dial of this new SBGJ273, Grand Seiko took inspiration from the changing seasons, as the brand has often done. If you know anything about traditional Japanese culture, you are aware that the changing of the seasons is a lot more than a date on the calendar.

For the dial of the SBGJ273, the red color is inspired by the exuberant colors of autumn. The dial expresses yuka momiji, a  scene you might encounter in traditional Japanese buildings when the deep red colors of changing maple leaves reflect off the lacquered floors. As a result, the outside and inside colors and textures merge, often resulting in striking scenes. This poetic approach to dial-making can indeed sound farfetched to some. I always greatly appreciate the stories, though, not only to understand the watch better but also to get an idea of Japanese culture and its many intricacies that are remarkably different from Western culture.

Grand Seiko SBGJ273 "Yuka Momiji" close-up

The dial of the Grand Seiko SBGJ273

The story translates to a beautiful red dial that immediately reflects Grand Seiko’s inspiration. As you can see, it is not just a simple red tone but a deep, multifaceted red that changes in different lighting conditions. You will also see the vertical lines that mimic traditional Japanese buildings’ wooden floors. And after trying the watch out for a couple of days, I can tell you that this dial is simply spectacular. The depth and detail that Grand Seiko achieved is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s a great follow-up to the SBGJ271 that came out earlier this year, which features a similar conceptual silver-colored dial.

Grand Seiko SBGJ273 "Yuka Momiji" close-up

While the dial is the star of the show, the watch’s overall elegance is special, too. When I think of Grand Seiko GMTs, I generally think of the 44GS-inspired versions in the Heritage collection or the more common models with a GMT bezel in the Sport collection. But the Elegance collection holds some of the most stylish GMT watches inspired by the first Grand Seiko design from 1960. This is why the watches in the Elegance collection generally look more traditional and feature cases with round shapes and raised, box-shaped sapphire crystals. This SBGJ273 is no exception.

Grand Seiko SBGJ273 "Yuka Momiji"

The specs

This watch features a 39.5mm stainless steel case that measures 14.1mm thick, 46.9mm long, and 19mm between the lugs. The case is water resistant to 3 ATM and features a push-pull crown at 3 o’clock. As mentioned, the box-shaped sapphire crystal protects the dial, giving the watch even more retro-inspired elegance. Under the sapphire crystal, you will find the red dial with large, immaculately finished rectangular indices, as we are used to from Grand Seiko. Working inward from the hour markers, you will find a 24-hour GMT scale, and at 3 o’clock, there is a date window with a white date disc and black printing.

Grand Seiko SBGJ273 "Yuka Momiji" close-up

The 24-hour hand and the “GMT” wording on the dial are elegantly matched in a shade of gold. Unlike many GMT watches that have an outer 24-hour scale and a longer GMT hand to go with it, this SBGJ has a shorter GMT hand, a logical result of locating the GMT scale on the inside of the dial. Overall, it creates a different visual experience but one that fits the watch’s classic appearance perfectly. Despite having a busy dial design, when wearing the watch, it never feels too complex or crowded.

Wearing the Grand Seiko SBGJ273

The watch comes fitted with the same bracelet as the SBGJ371 and features a folding clasp with a push-button safety release. The bracelet and clasp are familiar, and a lot of fans criticize the lack of micro-adjustment. This makes sense because most competitors nowadays offer clasps that do have that feature for greater comfort. But I was able to size the watch perfectly, so it was a joy to wear; no complaints there. The thing that stood out, though, when putting the watch on the wrist is the rather thick case. The overall dimensions are elegant, but the thickness may turn some people off.

Having said that, the watch was very comfortable to wear. Visually, the thickness is partly explained by the box-shaped crystal, so it’s not dissonant in the overall picture. Once on the wrist, you will also notice the great finishing that Grand Seiko applies. The mix of the Zaratsu-polished case and deeply brushed elements is a joy to behold, especially when you are wearing the watch. Combined with the unique dial, this finishing is a great testament to Grand Seiko’s craftsmanship. Obviously, many watch fans are aware of it by now, but it never gets old. And that’s great because it means I can still be surprised by the beauty every single time.

The Hi-Beat Grand Seiko 9S86

Visible through the sapphire crystal in the case back is Grand Seiko’s Hi-Beat caliber 9S86. It operates at 36,000vph, has 37 jewels, and provides 55 hours of power reserve. Additionally, Grand Seiko regulates the accuracy to +5/-3 seconds per day, and the movement is resistant to magnetic fields of up to 4,800 A/m. The caliber 9S86 also powers several other GMT watches in the Grand Seiko catalog. Among them are the recently announced SBGJ275 and, of course, the SBGJ271 that I mentioned before. As with all Grand Seiko GMT calibers, this one has an independently adjustable 12-hour hand. This makes it easy to adjust the local time when traveling through different time zones.

Final thoughts on the Grand Seiko SBGJ273

By now, you are probably aware that I loved spending some time with this new Grand Seiko SBGJ273. As mentioned in the intro, I sometimes forget the beautiful pieces in the Elegance line. Lately, I have focused more on the Evolution 9 collection, which contains some of my favorite recent Grand Seiko releases. Among them are the SBGE283 and SBGE285 “Mist Flake,” which show Grand Seiko’s vision of the future very well. I love the angular shapes of the new cases, and some of the dials have been nothing short of spectacular. That said, this SBGJ273 is a great reminder of the incredible versatility of Grand Seiko in terms of design. The watch will be available for €7,600 starting this month.

The Elegance collection features some amazing watches. I have always been a great fan of the SBGE269. That Spring Drive GMT is something I could easily see myself wearing every single day. But it’s also one of the many Grand Seiko watches that I like. By now, the brand has two or three watches that I would seriously consider for my collection and numerous models that I greatly appreciate. The Grand Seiko SBGJ273 is one of the latter. I greatly enjoyed every second I spent wearing the watch, but Grand Seiko simply spoils us for choice. And that’s a great compliment because there aren’t many brands with so many standout timepieces like this SBGJ273.

What do you think of the new Grand Seiko SBGJ273? Let us know in the comments below, and for more info, visit the Grand Seiko website.

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Watch specifications

Elegance Collection Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 GMT "Yuka Momiji"
Deep red with floorboard-like graining, applied indices, date window, and 24-hour scale
Case Material
Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
39.5mm (diameter) × 46.9mm (lug-to-lug) × 14.1mm (thickness)
Box-shaped sapphire
Case Back
Stainless steel with sapphire exhibition window
Grand Seiko 9S86 — automatic winding, 36,000vph frequency, 55-hour power reserve, 37 jewels
Water Resistance
3 ATM (30m)
Stainless steel five-row bracelet (19mm width) with folding clasp with push button release
Time (hours, minutes, central seconds), 24-hour GMT with independently adjustable 12-hour hand, date