Grand Seiko just released a trio of new sport watches, including the new limited edition SBGN023. Each of these watches has aggressive, yet reasonably sized, cases, GMT complications, and eye-catching color accents, and each uses the latest 9F86 movement.
We’ll start with the new limited edition model, of which 2,021 will be made. It uses (nearly) the same case as the others but differs in two important ways. The first of these is that, while each of the three has its own unique color (in this instance, gold), only this model receives a matching gold GS logo at 12:00.
The second difference is actually on the back, and may be my favorite. Like the days of yore, it’s sporting a gold medallion on the case back. I always admired the gold medallions on the first generation of Grand Seikos, and if you’re not going to use a display back, why not have something cool to show for it.
Here’s a good place to look at these very angular, and short, lugs, which give these watches a slight “cushion case” look to them. You’ll also notice that it’s sporting a ceramic bezel, which is true for all three models today. It’s interesting to note that each of these cases has 200 meters of water resistance and a screw down crown. They’re not advertised as divers (and lack the nearly synonymous unidirectional bezel anyway), but it looks like they could sub-in for a diver (no pun intended, I promise) if you needed them to.
The other two models, the SBGN019 (red) and SBGN021 (blue) are very similar, but there are a few differences. Naturally, both lack the gold medallion and gold GS logo, but the best stuff is still there. They have the same super-accurate 9F86 GMT movement, the same 40mm case, and, at least in the blue model, a special blue bezel which is a nice bonus. Best of all, neither are limited, and they’re both more affordable at $4,550; the limited edition SBGN023 will cost you $5,450. Interestingly, Grand Seiko says that the accents on the SBGN019 are orange; to my eyes, these images are bright red, but perhaps this is something that will look a little different in person.
As per my favorite, it’d be the limited edition. Whether or not a gold medallion justifies a not-insubstantial $900 increase in price is definitely something that can be debated, but I simply think it’s the best looking of the three, and oddly, the most toned down. I love the case in these models and think it’s a very interesting, and unique, way for Grand Seiko to participate in the growing (and in my view, positive) trend towards more stylized case design, but if I had to make one complaint, it’s that I’m not fond of the date. Naturally, I’d prefer it without a date at all, but in lieu of that, I think it would benefit from an applied frame that would take the place of the hour marker (a remark I would make about all three). Aside from this, however, I love the SBGN023, and it’s the one I’d have from this release.