The New Grand Seiko Sport GMT Spring Drive SBGE253, 255 & 257
A versatile sporty GMT watch with all of GS' technology.
This year, Grand Seiko continues its expansion with the introduction of many new models, which also includes watches from the Sport Collection – and this year, there’s a strong focus on one of our favourite complications, watches made for travellers with a GMT function. Following the robust Hi-Beat SBGJ239 and SBGJ237, the brand now presents a more compact model with its in-house hybrid movement. Here are the Grand Seiko Sport GMT Spring Drive SBGE253, 255 & 257.
One watch, three references for three different colours. Grand Seiko has clearly divided its collection into three ranges; Elegance, Heritage and Sport. These three new models are, as you can expect from their robust and casual look, from the Sport collection, which already includes multiple GMT watches. Grand Seiko’s best-known traveller’s watch is the large, quite bulky SBGE201, equipped with a Spring Drive movement. Its design has recently been used to create new models with automatic, hi-beat movements with the references SBGJ239 and SBGJ237, introduced a couple of weeks ago. What Grand Seiko presents today is basically scaled-down versions of the SBGE201 with a slightly different design and, the main update, far more compact cases. Still, functionalities remain the same. In short, this is Japan’s answer to the all-rounder GMT watch that is the Rolex GMT-Master II… but with Grand Seiko’s technology.
If the SBGE201 and its automatic sisters SBGJ237 and 239 are great watches with a cool design – their sapphire bezel adds a lot to the perceived quality and presence on the wrist – some of us might be reluctant to wear a 44mm watch with a steel case and bracelet. With such a size and a weight of almost 180 grams, these are very masculine pieces that require a substantial wrist. Grand Seiko’s answer to this is this new offer, the references SBGE253, 255 & 257, not only have their own design and personality but flaunt more versatile proportions.
While the design of these new Sport GMT Spring Drive is undeniably GS, the proportions are pleasantly compact, with a diameter of 40.5mm – known as the sweet spot for a daily sports watch. Balanced, well-proportioned, with enough presence to bring a reassuring feeling but also compact enough to be comfortable and relatively discreet. The case is, as often with Grand Seiko, on the thick side at 14.7mm.
Design-wide, the SBGE253, 255 & 257 there are no surprises but the overall effect is pleasant. Most of the brand’s hallmark traits are featured here including the sharp facets, the robust lugs, the handsome alternation of brushed surfaces and Zaratsu polished accents and a screw-down crown positioned at 4 o’clock. The look is sporty and luxurious at the same time. This feeling of high quality is reinforced with a new, non-rotating bezel made of polished ceramic with a white engraved 24-hour scale, which is available in black, blue or green and thus matching the dial of each reference. The caseback is solid steel and allows for a comfortable water-resistance of 200 metres.
If the case is true to Grand Seiko’s reputation, the same can be said about the dials. Whether we look at the black, green or blue version, all have a nice sunray-brushed decoration and great contrast between the dark background and shiny applied indexes and hands. All the elements of the dial are finished to an impressive level, with sharp facets and finely polished or brushed surfaces. The dial is framed by a two-tone inner flange with another 24-hour scale. All the elements – indexes and hands – comprise Lumibrite for very efficient night-time readability.
The display of these SBGE253, 255 & 257 is classic to most sports GMT watches, with central H-M-S and a central 24-hour hand to display an additional time zone when home, or the home time when travelling. The date is linked to the local hour hand and can be moved forwards or backwards. The GMT hand is independent and settings are done the proper traveller’s way, meaning that when you pull the crown to the first position, you’ll be able to adjust the local time hand independently in one-hour increments, without affecting timekeeping. A power reserve indicator completes the display, located between 8 and 9 o’clock.
In addition to the different colour of dial and bezel, each model also includes different coloured accents that nicely match the rest of the colour scheme – red accents for the black model, light blue accents for the blue model and light green accents for the dark green model. Special mention for the originality of the SBGE257 and the warm and fresh look of its green dial.
Inside the case of these new models is a well-known movement, already used in the SBGE201; Calibre 9R66. This movement benefits from Spring Drive technology, meaning that it has most of the parts of an automatic calibre, including its self-winding capacity, but is regulated by a high-performance quartz device that allows for a ± 1 second per day or ± 15 seconds per month accuracy – for more details about the Spring Drive technology, take a look at this in-depth review. This movement stores up to 72 hours of power reserve.
Price and availability
The Grand Seiko Sport GMT Spring Drive reference SBGE253 (black), SBGE255 (blue) and SBGE257 (green) will be part of the permanent collection and is not limited in production. They are expected to be available from boutiques and retailers in August 2020. The retail price of all three versions will be EUR 6,400 or USD 6,200.
More details at www.grand-seiko.com.
I always liked the SBGE201 and I’m so pleased these models have been introduced. Which colour do I choose?
I would pay so much money for GS to remove that power reserve from the dial!
YES, YES, YES! As a long admirer of the SBGE001, this is what I’ve wanted from GS for quite some time. And regular production models too, thank goodness!
Waiting for the lug to lug measurement to pulm the trigger
First watch in 20 years that I’ve preordered on first sight!
At first glance, these watches look quite appealing. I understand this is a sporty watch, but the clipped dauphine hands would take some getting used to. I find a power reserve indicator very useful, but I wonder about the effect on dial symmetry. Moving away from the case and dial; Will Grand Seiko ever think outside the box when it comes to bracelets? And lastly; Does the bezel rotate?
unfortunate that the bezel doesn’t rotate. what is the point of a fixed, non movable bezel in a gmt watch? there are already gmt hour markings inside the dial, so the function is kind of redundant. chalk this one up as another design flaw of GS that doesn’t quite make sense. i liked GS and i have the gen 1 snowflake but their recent price increases suggest they want to go upmarket, design flaws and all. i think the value proposition has really fallen since i bought mine in 2017.
recently i was looking for a gmt and between the bb gmt and the sbge range. i chose tudor because with the price bumps it started to not make sense to stay with seiko (Tudor’s 5 years warranty vs. Seiko’s 2; $4k vs. $5.5k). don’t get me wrong i love Seikos, just not the recent direction they are taking.
Finally a 40mm case GMT… But 14.7mm thickness is still a deal breaker. Still waiting for 40mm GS diver with max 13mm thickness and micro adjustability bracelet/clasp. Until then I will always pass…
I am not sure I get the “spring drive” thing . I have a Seiko Kinetic which is also quartz , with a battery charged by a rotor and small generator. On test after replacing the battery it ran for 7 months after taking it off instead of the claimed 2 weeks. Other than that it’s a Seiko priced alongside Omega, Tudor and the cheaper Rolex offerings to name a few.
At first glance, I liked this release. Until I realized that the bezel is fixed. So, technically and functionally it’s identical to the SBGE 211 from the Heritage Collection. That watch, in my view, is much nicer in terms of overall appearance. Or, if you don’t mind a bezel design that is reminiscent of the Explorer 2 and a battery you could go with the SBGN005. By doing so you would shave off 2,6 mm in case thickness which IMO is a big deal.
I personally find GMT watches with rotating bezels extremely practical. You can display three time zones at once. Additionally, you can use the 24-hour marker of the rotating bezel to remind you of an appointment, to time the duration of events or to simply play around with your watch.
In creating this watch with a fixed bezel GS missed an opportunity. It’s a watch that pretends to be a rugged, fully fledged GMT watch, but is not. So, it’s a watch that is more about appearance than about substance. And that I find unfortunate, because I always thought that GS is about substance and function and that its designs are made to support function, while being aesthetically pleasing at the same time.
Comparing to the offerings GS has in its stable it seems to me that the SBGE 253/255/257 fail on both fronts. Which is a pity …
The main difference is that Spring Drive has all the elements of a mechanical movement, except the regulating organ. It means that the rotor charges a mainspring like a standard automatic watch, and not a battery.
@Brice Goulard – thanks for clarifying. I guess there is a certain intangible value attached to the fact that the Spring Drive still has most components that make up a mechanical watch … 😉
BTW, I really liked your article and I appreciate the fact that Monochrome brought an in-depth analysis of a watch I was curious about.
Best regards from São Paulo … 😉
Thanks Markus 🙂
Es un bonito reloj pero por el
valor y los impuestos que pago.en mi.pais me compro.un Rolex GMT usado y siempre va a tener valor de reventa
The Overriding point of a ‘GMT’ watch is that it shows the time where you are, and at home also. The ‘GMT’ hand achieves that; there is no need for the 24 hour bezel to rotate. For a third time zone yes, but that’s rarely needed and so shouldn’t imo be a make or break for the vast majority of users surely?
The main reason for a fixed bezel on a GMT is that you can leave the numbers on the bezel in an upright position and not have to turn them upside down. Since I don’t need a third time zone, I find that much more aesthetic than with a rotating bezel.