Grand Seiko Quartz GMT SBGN023 — The New Celebratory Limited Edition Watch
The 140th anniversary of Seiko’s foundation has brought us many a limited edition in 2021. And the year is far from over. And it’s not just Seiko that’s throwing a party. The new celebratory limited edition Grand Seiko Quartz GMT SBGN023 also joins in. And the unlimited versions (SBGN019 and SBGN021) in the Sport Collection provide a sportier counterpoint to the chic black and gold “LE”.
Grand Seiko found a new way to present its 9F quartz GMT caliber. It all started for Caliber 9F in 1993. Despite being almost 30 years old (where has the time gone?) the 9F series is still one of the finest movement series in its class. That’s because of the movement’s durable qualities and precision of ‒10 to +10 seconds per year. Seiko uses aged and selected quartz crystals and thermo-compensation to reach this level of accuracy.
One thing I really like about the Caliber 9F is the visibly tight movement of the second hand. Because of a backlash auto-adjust mechanism, the seconds hand beats very steadily and without a shudder. Just like a gymnast that sticks the perfect landing time and time again, the seconds hand motion is stark, precise, and perfectly controlled. And Caliber 9F86 with the GMT function (debuting in 2018), shows the same level of taut performance. To round things up movement-wise, Caliber 9F86 has a high-torque stepping motor to effortlessly move the oversized hands around. And the date at 4 ‘o clock has an instant change mechanism.
A muscular GMT
Now that we’ve introduced the very fine quartz movement of this model, it’s time to have a good look at the new case design in the Grand Seiko Sport collection. It’s a straightforward design, with clear lines and crisp edges. Since these three GMTs are sports watches, I dare call them muscular and even buff.
The 40×13.1mm steel case with a screwed case back and screw-down crown is stocky and compact (the gymnast comparisons continue, come to think of it). But thanks to the sharp Zaratsu polished surfaces, the watches don’t look “overweight” or bulky. The shiny bits highlight the athletic shape. A sports watch should be an all-rounder and with a 200M water resistance and magnetic resistance of 200 Gauss, the Grand Seiko Quartz GMT is just that.
A lion in 18k yellow gold
The Grand Seiko Quartz GMT SBGN023 is a limited edition of 2,021 watches that come with a black dial with gold color details. And the highlight of that watch is the small 18k yellow gold Grand Seiko emblem. There’s also an individual serial number engraved on the back. The non-limited Quartz GMT SBGN019 has a black dial with red accents and the SBGN021 has a deep blue dial and bezel that matches the blue color accents of the dial. If you flip either of those versions over, you won’t find the gold medallion.
What all of these models have in common are scratch-resistant, ceramic, 24-hour bezels, and two-tone chapter ring on the outer side of the dial, distinguishing night and day hours as indicated by the GMT hand. Those GMT hands are color-coded (so either gold, blue, or bright red). Because Grand Seiko uses green Lumibrite for the hour and minute hands and indexes, and blue for the GMT hand legibility in the dark is not just clear but also practically on point.
The new celebratory limited edition Grand Seiko Quartz GMTs in the metal
The 44GS case shape could well be my favorite case design of all time. But I also don’t mind the angular modernity of the SBGA403 Spring Drive 20th Anniversary Limited Edition or the SBGA405 Godzilla 65th Anniversary Limited Edition. But these models have a massive 44.5mm case that is not for everyone. The new case design looks like a toned-down and refined version of the XL design that works perfectly fine for a Godzilla monster watch, but less for a potential daily beater.
To me, the case is the star of the show. But for others, it could be the sun-ray finishing of the dial. The combination of black and gold has my personal preference. For others, the proven sporty combination of black and red could be a winner. The splashing blue version will undoubtedly also find an audience.
… the Quartz GMT’s independent hour hand adjustment function is both indispensable and essential for any serious travel watch.
On the wrist, the mundanely sized 40×13.1mm Quartz GMT feels right at home. It is well-balanced too and that’s also because of the small lugs. The solid, comfortable, integrated three-link bracelet is superbly finished and the three-fold clasp with push-button release keeps the watch safely on the wrist. And I haven’t mentioned this earlier, but the Quartz GMT’s independent hour hand adjustment function is both indispensable and essential for any serious travel watch.
And what about prices? Well, the prices of Grand Seiko watches are on a steady rise. Both the unlimited SBGN019 and SBGN021 cost €4,450. And the limited edition SBGN023 with its gold medallion has a price of €5,350. The steel SBGN011 and SBGN013 from the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection, for instance, use the same quartz movement as the new GMT trio but have a price of €3,000.
… what about open case backs for non-limited Grand Seiko quartz models and gold emblems for limited versions starting 2022?
The €1,450 extra for the SBGN019 and SBGN021 is divided between the newly designed case, the ceramic bezel, and the sun-ray dial. And what about the €900 premium for the SBGN023 with the yellow gold lion emblem? I kind of hoped that the regular versions would have an open case back that shows the quartz movement like the magnificent SBGV019G of a few years back. I know that was a limited edition, but what about open case backs for non-limited Grand Seiko quartz models and gold emblems for limited versions starting 2022? Any thoughts on that?
All three watches will be available in June 2021 at Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected Grand Seiko retail stores worldwide. For more information, please have a look at Grand Seiko’s dedicated website.
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