The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT is already known from collectors, and praised for its superior quality, its design mixing elegant and casual attitude and its highly technical movement. It is a watch that was already available in both standard editions and in one colorful edition (the SBGJ005, with its green dial and highly decorated rotor). Already at that time, we had two regular watches and one limited. Well, the same scenario is about to happen, with 3 new versions of the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT: 2 elegant regular pieces (SBGJ017 and SBGJ019) and one limited edition with deep red dial and a rotor depicting the sunrise on Mount Iwate (SBGJ021). Overview.
The watch itself and its movement, Caliber 9S86
Well, without taking too many risks, it is easy to say that the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT is simply one of the few opponents to the highly consensual but iconic Rolex GMT Master II. Both watches share many elements: a same concept of casual-chic, with robust steel case and bracelet, a rather sporty look that however can be used on a daily basis, a GMT complication indicated by a central hand, an efficient automatic movement. Both are also the results of highly recognized manufactures and are produced entirely in-house – and we mean by that 100% done by these companies.
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT has strong arguments. Its overall quality is certain, it shows some interesting details, such as the superb hands, sharp, beveled, polished on the sides, or dials with great patterns and lacquers. That’s for the cosmetic side. But the mechanics should not be forgotten. Inside these Grand Seiko GMT is Caliber 9S86. This movement was introduced in 2014, in the new collection that we reviewed for you here. This was at that time a brand-new, completely in-house movement, with automatic winding, 55 hours of power reserve (not that bad compared to the competition – Rolex has 48 hours with the 3186 of the GMT Master II), 37 jewels (that’s a lot for a Time / GMT movement) and a GMT function indicated classically via a 24-hour central hand, while the hour hand can be adjusted by the crown, by one hour increments.
This movement has one other interesting and rare feature, however traditional of the Grand Seiko production: a high frequency. The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT beats at 5Hz / 36,000bph. It is based on the 2009 Caliber 9S85. And one knows that high frequency can lead to greater accuracy – of course, if the movement is well regulated. In fact, Seiko announces an accuracy of +5 to -3 seconds per day, which is rather impressive.
This movement also feature an antimagnetic balance spring. Overall, we’re talking about a serious engine, with nice finishing and superior technicality. This movement even led the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT ref. SBGJ005 to win the “Petite Aiguille” award at the GPHG 2014, right under all the Swiss brands’ nose.
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT Limited Edition SBGJ021
For 2016, Seiko has a new limited edition to offer to collectors – and we all know that Seiko limited editions do usually sell like hot cakes. The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT Limited Edition SBGJ021 will sound familiar to those already aware of the 2014 limited edition, as we’re talking about the same watch as a base, just being slightly different on the visual side. While the previous SBGJ005 featured a dark green dial and a golden rotor, this new Seiko SBGJ021 comes with a dark red dial, still with the same pattern visible underneath the translucent lacquer covering the dial. This pattern as well as the color used are references to Mount Iwate, the mountain that is visible through the windows of the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio where all Grand Seiko mechanical watches are made. Hands and applied indexes are still silver metallic, with the usual polished chamfers and brushed top surfaces, and the GMT hand gives echo to the golden GMT logo.
On this Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT Limited Edition SBGJ021, the 24-hour scale is indicated on the inner flange surrounding the dial. The case is the sporty version, with these typical robust “shoulders” and a stainless steel bracelet. It measures 39.5mm and does certainly has a great finishing, like the rest of the Grand Seiko production.
The second evolution of the SBGJ021 compared to the SBGJ005 concerns the treatment done on the rotor, a specially designed oscillating weight made of titanium and tungsten. The titanium part (which is located on the top side) is treated in an anodic oxidation (to generate artificially a titanium oxide film) process that delivers a vivid gradation of the blue, purple, orange and yellow colors that make up the dawn light as it strikes Mt Iwate. The rich colors on the oscillating weight are generated entirely by this oxidization treatment, not by coating or painting; meaning no possible alteration of these colors.
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT Limited Edition SBGJ021 will be limited production of 500 pieces only, with a retail price in Europe of 7,300 Euros, available worldwide from November 2016.
The regular pieces: Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ017 and SBGJ019
For 2016, Seiko not only brings a new limited edition of the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT but also introduces two new regular editions (understand non-limited), the SBGJ017 (cream dial) and SBGJ019 (black dial), which differs in all the possible visual ways. Indeed, while based on the same technical features – caliber 9S86, 30m water resistance, GMT function, sapphire caseback – their inspirations and design are drastically different. The previous one was a rather sporty, casual-chic watch, with metallic bracelet, these new Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ017 and SBGJ019 are dress and classical timepieces.
The Grand Seiko Caliber 9S86, with the regular rotor
First of all, the case, which still measures 39.5mm, has a more elegant shape, which gets rid of the robust shoulders and ovoid shape for a more traditional design, with straight lugs. Same goes for the crown, which is now completely apparent and not protected anymore. These watches, with a clear dressed vocation, are only delivered on crocodile straps and not on metallic bracelets. The dial also differs in finishing and layout. The hands, which are the same as the limited edition (and the same as most Grand Seiko watches), are the only common point. The dial is now flat, with sunburst pattern, and shows the 24-hour scale directly on the periphery and not on the inner flange. The applied indexes are also thinner.
Two editions will be available; the SBGJ017, sporting a cream dial and a blue GMT hand, complemented by a brown strap, and the SBGJ019, with black dial, red tipped GMT hand and black leather strap. The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ017 and SBGJ019 will be priced at 7,200 Euros.
Specifications of the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT
- Case: 39.5mm diameter, 13.9mm thickness – stainless steel – sapphire crystal on the front and on the back – 30m water resistant
- Movement: Caliber 9S86, in-house – automatic winding – 55h power reserve – 36,000 vibrations/h – Hours, minutes, seconds, GMT function, date
- Strap: metallic bracelet (ref. SBGJ021), crocodile strap on steel folding clasp (SBGJ017 and SBGJ019)