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The Grand Seiko GMT SBGJ275 and SBGM253, Tribute To The Caliber 9S

Grand Seiko marks 25 years of Caliber 9S with two new GMT watches featuring Mt. Iwate light blue dials.

| By Brice Goulard | 4 min read |
Grand Seiko 9S 25th Anniversary GMT Limited Editions SBGJ275 SBGM253

If the Spring Drive technology is, without a doubt, one of the most groundbreaking innovations in modern watchmaking, the real pride of Grand Seiko has to be the Caliber 9S. This movement, created from scratch in 1998 to deliver high precision and excellent durability, has been the backbone of most mechanical collections for a quarter of a century. Recently, it has even seen the arrival of the Dual-Impulse Escapement and the brand’s first mechanical chronograph, the Tentagraph. Yet, among all the complications available, the GMT function has to be the most emblematic. And to celebrate 25 years of Caliber 9S, Grand Seiko releases two new Mount Iwate-inspired light blue toned traveller’s watches, the Sports SBGJ275 and Elegance SBGM253. 

Automatic or mechanical, classic 4Hz frequency or high-beat, standard escapement or innovative Dual Impulse, a chronograph, GMTs and many other variations, the Caliber 9S became the platform on which all Grand Seiko mechanical watches would be built. The base movement, now working inside the case of GS watches for 25 years, is one fine mechanical engine. Considering its importance in the construction of the brand’s collection, it feels natural for Grand Seiko to pay tribute to the Calibre 9S, which is done today with two GMT limited-edition watches, the SBGJ275 and SBGM253. Both draw inspiration from the skies over Mount Iwate, the mountain that keeps an eye on the skilled craftsmen and women working at the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi.

The Sport Collection GMT SBGJ275

The first model to be unveiled by Grand Seiko is based on the familiar Sports GMT watch, which we’ve come to know mostly in Spring Drive forms. What we’re looking at is a large and robust sports watch, typical of GS’ production. Measuring a solid 44.2mm in diameter, with a non-negligible height of 14.8mm, this SBGJ275 is a watch with a commanding presence. Its brushed and finely Zarastu-polished case is topped by a bi-directional 24h bezel with a two-tone blue and white sapphire insert. A sapphire crystal protects the dial and, for the first time in a Grand Seiko mechanical watch with water resistance to 200m, the back also features a see-through crystal.

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Grand Seiko Sport Collection GMT Caliber 9S 25th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGJ275

What stands out most, as often with GS, is the dial and its texture. It is said to be inspired by the sea of clouds that sometimes develop in the sky over Mt. Iwate, the peak visible from the Grand Seiko Studio. Light blue in tone, it is framed by another two-tone 24h scale; dark blue and gold accents are found respectively on the GMT hand and GS logo. In full view is the hi-beat calibre 9S86, a real traveller’s movement that beats at 5Hz and delivers an accuracy of +5 to –3 seconds per day. Here it comes with a titanium oscillating weight that has been coloured in light blue thanks to an anodic oxidation process.

Worn on a 3-link stainless steel bracelet with a three-fold clasp, this Grand Seiko Sport Collection Caliber 9S 25th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGJ275 will be produced in 2,000 pieces, available from the Grand Seiko Boutique Online starting in September 2023 before availability extends to the Grand Seiko Boutiques and select retail partners the following month. It is priced at EUR 8,600.

Grand Seiko Sport Collection GMT Caliber 9S 25th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGJ275

Quick facts: 44.2mm x 14.8mm – stainless steel case, bi-directional 24h bezel with sapphire crystal insert, dual-curved sapphire crystal, sapphire caseback, screw-down crown, 200m water-resistance – light blue dial with cloud texture – Caliber 9S86, automatic, in-house, 5Hz frequency, 55h power reserve, Flyer GMT complication – 3-link stainless steel bracelet – limited to 2,000 pieces – EUR 8,600

The Elegance Collection GMT SBGM253

The other watch released in this commemorative collection is a fresh take on one of the most emblematic modern Grand Seiko watches, the Elegance GMT – like this cream-coloured reference SBGM221. This new limited edition relies on the same elegant 39.5mm case, with rounded surfaces on the sides, gently bevelled lugs and a sharp Zaratsu-polished bezel framing a box-shaped sapphire crystal. A classic design for the brand, the stainless steel bracelet gives it a sportier edge.

Grand Seiko Elegance Collection GMT Caliber 9S 25th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGM253

The dial, which respects the layout of other models, is fresh and light, with a sunray-brushed light blue colour. Here too, it has been inspired by the blue tone of the sky seen from the peak of Mt. Iwate. No surprises inside, as this new reference SBGM253 uses the classic Caliber 9S66, a fine GMT movement with traditional 4Hz frequency and proper traveller’s GMT function. The power reserve is a comfortable 72 hours, and the accuracy is rated at +5 to –3 seconds per day. As with the other watch above, the sapphire back reveals a titanium oscillating weight, this time in Grand Seiko blue, thanks to an anodic oxidation treatment.

A limited edition of 1,700 pieces, the Grand Seiko Elegance Collection Caliber 9S 25th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGM253 will be available at the Grand Seiko Boutiques and select retail partners worldwide beginning in October 2023 and will be priced at EUR 6,300.

Grand Seiko Elegance Collection GMT Caliber 9S 25th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGM253

Quick facts: 39.5mm x 13.7mm – stainless steel case, box-shaped sapphire crystal, sapphire caseback, 30m water-resistant – light blue dial with sunburst texture – Caliber 9S66, automatic, in-house, 4Hz frequency, 72h power reserve, Flyer GMT complication – 3-link stainless steel bracelet – limited to 1,700 pieces – EUR 6,300

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2 responses

  1. Just like my SBGM221, the dial on the 253 is clear and legible. The lineage is apparent, the shade of blue is terrific. The 9S movement has always been spot on, a nice reliable ticker. If only my 221 had as much as 30m water resistance, not that I swim with an alligator strap but a screw down crown would be nice.

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