Hands-On With The Grand Seiko SBGN011 And SBGN013 GMT Watches
If you were to ask watch enthusiasts what their favorite complication is, the answers will be very diverse. Ask them to list the most practical, and it is likely that GMT functionality would land near the top. Especially for frequent travelers, a GMT watch is the perfect timepiece. The all-new quartz Grand Seiko SBGN011 and SBGN013 could be the ideal travel companion for many of those frequent travelers.
When finding the right GMT-watch for your travels, a question could be whether you prefer to travel stylish or sporty? I prefer the latter, but by no means does one necessarily exclude the other. And that’s certainly true when it comes to the Grand Seiko SBGN011 and SBGN013.
Although they are part of Grand Seiko’s Heritage Collection, they are in no way formal dress watches. But they do offer a more classically styled alternative for the Grand Seiko SBGN003 and SBGN005 that are part of the brand’s Sport Collection.
Grand Seiko models for 2020
For 2020 Grand Seiko has put a lot of focus on introducing new quartz models to its line-up. The SBGN011 and SBGN013 novelties were announced back in February. These pieces, along with five others, boosted the Heritage line-up. Of the seven new models, five were quartz.
I reviewed the SBGP003 here that was part of that same introduction. If we quickly compare the looks of the SBGP003 and the SBGN013 GMT — both with black dials — the thing that stands out immediately is the red GMT hand and the red GMT lettering on the dial.
The red elements add a bit more zing to the overall design.
The red elements add a bit more zing to the overall design, and I prefer that. It makes sure the watch doesn’t become boring to look at.
There are more differences like the slightly different case shape and the 24-hour GMT scale on the dial, but my point is that the SBGN013 not only benefits from having an extra practical feature. The useful addition becomes a critical design feature that spices things up perfectly.
The design of the SBGN011 and SBGN013
But let’s back it up a bit and start at the beginning. The SBGN011 and SBGN013 both have 40mm cases that are 12.2mm thick. The SBGN011 features a champagne-colored dial with a light blue GMT hand, and the SBGN013 boasts a black dial with a bright (really bright) red GMT hand.
The dials are printed with a 24-hour GMT scale that integrates with the regular 12-hour scale. Both watches also have a date indication at 3 o’clock. What I love is that for SBGN013, Grand Seiko used a black date disc with white printing. I like it when a date indication harmonizes as much as possible with the overall aesthetic of the dial.
Speaking of aesthetics, while the SBGN011 offers a certain sophistication, the SBGN013 pops a lot more. It’s a different principle altogether. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my personal favorite after wearing both is the black dialed SBGN013. It feels more lively, and I prefer that over the toned down aesthetic of the SBGN011.
Grand Seiko Finishing
As we have come to expect from any Grand Seiko watch, the attention to detail is exceptional. The finishing of the case is an excellent mix of brushed finishing and the famous Zaratsu polishing. Every part of the case has been finished meticulously, giving you a new perspective from every angle you look at the watch.
The steel bracelet has an overall brushed finish and a small bevel on the edges and high polished flanks. A double pusher folding clasp with the Grand Seiko logo is used to open and close the bracelet. The quality and finishing of the bracelet are excellent, making the watches a joy to wear.
9F86 GMT Movement
The Grand Seiko 9F86 GMT movement powers the watches. The 9F86 GMT movement is a high-end quartz caliber with GMT function and accuracy of accuracy +/- 10 seconds per year.
Setting the time and date is very easy with these watches. Pull the crown out to the first position, and you can move the hour hand backward or forward in one-hour increments. Pull the crown out even further to the second position, and you will be able to adjust the hour and minute hand to set the exact time.
The crisp action of the date change is a little bit of magic on your wrist.
The local time is displayed by the minute and hour hand, while the GMT hand indicated the home time. The date changes automatically when moving the hour hand. And the crisp action of the date change is truly a little bit of magic on your wrist. The speed of that change and the little click is top-notch!
Wearing the SBGN011 and SBGN013
The 40mm SBGN011 and SBGN013 are perfect in size. Thanks to the shape of the case and the quality bracelet, they sit very comfortably on your wrist. You can see and feel the Grand Seiko quality in every detail. Out of the two, I preferred wearing the black-dialed SBGN013 a lot more because of its more outspoken overall aesthetic.
As mentioned in the intro, the SBGN011 and SBGN013 offer a more classical alternative to the sporty SBGP003 that I reviewed here. The new SBGN011 and SBGN013 are rooted in the iconic Grand Seiko aesthetic from the past, and that is was a lot of people love about Grand Seiko.
The SBGN011 and SBGN013 could be a great alternative to the SBGP003.
With the same quartz 9F86 GMT movement and a price tag of €3,000, the SBGN011 and SBGN013 could be an excellent alternative to the SBGP003. Grand Seiko might have created a winner for the traveler that wants great accuracy from a high-quality quartz movement and loves the renowned Grand Seiko aesthetic, whether you are sporty or stylish.