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The Grand Seiko Mist Flake GMT SBGE285 Has A LOT To Offer

Sporty credentials, ultra-precise movement, useful functions... and a truly serene dial that makes the difference.

| By Brice Goulard | 7 min read |
Grand Seiko GMT Mist Flake Spring Drive SBGE285

Talking Grand Seiko, the Evolution 9 collection and the beauty of the dials that have been released under the Birch series could become a bit repetitive. And the same goes for anything “flake” from GS… But I can’t help myself; the brand keeps surprising me with its stunning textured dials, even when they are done in a discreet dark tone. Up until recently, however, the textured dials of the Evolution 9 collection have mostly been seen in rather sleek models, but things have changed in the last months, with the launch of this watch; the Mist Flake. And today, we’ll take a closer look at this Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Sport Spring Drive GMT SBGE285 (yes, Mist Flake sounds much better…)

Grand Seiko GMT Mist Flake Spring Drive SBGE285

The Grand Seiko GMT SBGE285 was officially presented at Watches & Wonders 2022 together with an identical model with a black dial, the SBGE283. The whole collection introduced during this important watch fair was revolving around a central topic; the implementation of the Evolution 9 codes within sportier watches. This has resulted in a robust dive watch (the SLGA015) and a pair of bold, not-so-discreet chronographs. And then, there was this SBGE285, which clearly was my personal highlight – and I know, a favourite of many other members of the press present during the show. The reason? A combination of a stunning dial, a coherent design, an overall serenity and an all-rounder, practical, not overly-sporty concept, making this SBGE285 one of the best offerings of the brand now.

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Grand Seiko GMT Mist Flake Spring Drive SBGE285

What was important for Grand Seiko in this Spring 2022 collection was the implementation of the Evolution 9 concept within sportier models. For now, we’ve mostly seen these new guidelines applied to the Heritage collection, with models such as the automatic White Birch, the Spring Drive White Birch, the Green Birch, the Night Birch or the high-end Tree Ring. It was time to use these modernized codes in the context of more robust watches. And we know that sports watches by Grand Seiko could do with a bit of subtlety…

Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Sport Spring Drive GMT - SBGE283 SBGE285
The Mist Flake next to its black dial counterpart, the SBGE283

As explained already, the Evolution 9 Collection – extensively described in this article – takes the legibility and comfort of Grand Seiko models to a new level. Evolution 9 is all about modernizing the collection, making them more contemporary visually but also mechanically, as well as a slight transformation of the cases with the aim of making them more ergonomic, yet without betraying the emblematic Grammar of Style. Impressively sharp again, the Evolution 9 collection also feels more refined, more deeply conceived than in the past, and many of the watches also play on nature inspirations to create dramatic textured dials.

Grand Seiko GMT Mist Flake Spring Drive SBGE285

Now, sports watches at Grand Seiko have often been big and bold, and not the most refined. The GMT Hi-Beat SBGJ239 and SBGJ237 here, for example, are high-capable and beautifully executed, but are too large. And a watch such as the Chronograph SBGC238 was simply too much… It’s not all wrong of course, but let’s agree that there was room for improvement within Grand Seiko’s Sports collection.

And really, the new Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Sport “Mist Flake” benefits from the Evolution 9 treatment. First of all, the case has been revamped to bring more ergonomy and refinement. Surely, the look is immediately identifiable to Grand Seiko. But what the Mist Flake does is add a layer of comfort and elegance in an overall sporty context. The case is not the most compact but at 41mm in diameter, with a height of just below 14mm and a 48mm length, it plays in the same league as a GMT-Master II or a Submariner. And importantly, the case is here made of High-intensity titanium (equivalent to grade 5) meaning that it’s also relatively light. A good point though, it doesn’t feel too light like some other titanium GS watches. At about 120 grams on a bracelet, it feels just about right.

Grand Seiko GMT Mist Flake Spring Drive SBGE285

Design-wise and looking at the specifications, the Mist Flake SBGE285 is a perfect definition of an all-rounder, do-it-all sports watch. It has presence yet comfort, it comes with a comfortable 100m water-resistance, it has a screw-down crown, it features a practical (and real) traveller’s GMT function, its dial is framed by a fixed, relatively discreet brushed titanium 24h bezel, and it’s worn on a metallic bracelet. Comparing it to previous generation models, such as the SBGM245 & SBGM247, you can quickly spot a rather drastic evolution of the shape, most notably on the side of the case. Still unmistakably GS, the Mist Flake is more complex, it has more curves and fewer straight lines. The polished bevels running alongside the case have a complex shape too and the crown, classically positioned at 3 o’clock, is also recessed between protective shoulders.

Overall, handling the watch gives you a much better impression of quality and refinement. There are more details to observe, more shapes to explore, and more textures too. I wouldn’t say that the design is more complex, as it’s still a pretty straightforward shape overall, but it’s simply more interesting, more dynamic than before. And also, the way the case has been designed, mostly the profile, is rather different. It’s more curved, so it can hug the wrist, and the weight has been positioned closer to the caseback too. And the finishing is what you’d expect from a GS, meaning sharp and precise.

Grand Seiko GMT Mist Flake Spring Drive SBGE285

It’s time now to move to the reason why this watch has been named Mist Flake; its dial. Grand Seiko’s expertise in this field isn’t to be demonstrated anymore, and the GMT SBGE285 is yet another example of this savoir-faire. The main reason for the beauty of this watch (I know, it’s 100% subjective, and you’re fully allowed to disagree here) comes from its dial and, in my eyes, the overall serenity and consistency that transpires from its grey-ish colour and subtle texture. It all blends superbly with the titanium case and this subtle, discreet colour offers a great playfield to the striking applied markers and hands, both overly-designed and overly-executed, with a series of polished bevels and luminous inserts.

Grand Seiko GMT Mist Flake Spring Drive SBGE285

The SBGE285 or Mist Flake is still relying on the oddly positioned power reserve indicator, which has been the cause of many discussions in the past. Here, however, it isn’t recessed. I could live with an indicator on the caseback, but it feels less intrusive here than before. And this watch comes equipped with a GMT indication, which is a proper traveller’s function with the crown adjusting by one-hour increments the local time, and not the GMT hand.

Grand Seiko GMT Mist Flake Spring Drive SBGE285

Inside the case, and visible under a sapphire caseback is the well-known calibre 9R66. For this series of sports models, Grand Seiko didn’t go for the latest generation of the 5-day movement. Still, this in-house Spring-Drive calibre has a lot to offer, with a 72h power reserve and the superior precision of its quartz regulation… with a claimed accuracy of ±1 second per day or ±15 seconds per month. The decoration is clean, even though it’s slightly cold and could use more refinement.

The final touch comes from the fully brushed 3-link bracelet, once again done in high-intensity titanium. Solid and soft to the touch, it complements nicely the look of the Mist Flake SBGE285. It is closed by a three-fold clasp with a push-button release. It still lacks a micro-adjustment system, however. It is time that Grand Seiko considers adding this important feature.

Conclusion, Availability & Price

With this Evolution 9 Sport Spring Drive GMT SBGE285, Grand Seiko has a watch that brings everything the brand stands for. High quality, precision, superb execution of the dial, originality of the design with yet some discretion. The grey-white Mist Flake version, compared to the black model, adds a layer of serenity and consistency that makes it extremely attractive. Now available and priced at EUR 8,500, it’s also a strong alternative to other luxury sports GMT watches on the market, with the GMT-Master II right in the middle of its crosshair. It does have, however, a rather different philosophy, which isn’t a bad thing!

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7 responses

  1. old movement in a new case, with a new price. A really new price, WOW!
    This one is a no go unless you can get ~50% discount on MSRP.

  2. Honestly, they look insanely cool! and gorgeous! they are freaking badass! WOW! not gonna say I wish they have a slightly more compact measurements, because until you put them on your wrist you can’t really know! but WOW!

  3. The case, dial and dial furniture all look stunning and beautifully finished.
    Unfortunately, the super-wide non-tapering bracelet kills the sense of elegance it appears to be trying to capture.
    A real missed opportunity as it could easily have been one of the most beautiful GMT timepieces out there.
    Also, the movement is a bit of a letdown considering the price.

  4. This is a lovely watch, and in my view is better than the GMT Master 2. However, Rolex and Tudor bracelets are state of the art, and maybe this GS would be more attractive and comfortable on a well made strap. And now for a curve ball… for less than half of the GS MRP you can buy a Black Bay Pro… after an inglorious start, the MT5652 is proving to be an excellent movement… That would be my choice here.

  5. Robert Lock says:Half of the GS MRP you can buy a Black Bay Pro, which is really ugly

  6. I hear a lot of misconceptions regarding the case size. If this was measured the Rolex way it’s a true 40mm case (bezel to bezel at the lugs). The 13.9mm height is exaggerated by a protruding domed crystal which adds just under 2mm.

    Reality is its more like a 40mmx48mmx12.5mm

    Which is awfully close to a 16570 Explorer 2 which I don’t think anyone would say is an over sized watch.

    And the bracelet does taper down to 20mm. I do wish it tapered down to 18mm. That would make the design a touch more elegant.


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