Initial Thoughts On the Grand Seiko SBGN003
Let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we? The SBGN003 at first glance looks almost identical to a certain existing GMT sports watch. But a copy or ‘rip off’ it is not. There are certainly common design elements such as the 24 hour bezel and the red GMT hand, but once you get deep into the watch, you could almost hear Mr Hattori screaming out “Grand Seiko” from the top of Mount Fuji. I have to admit, when the SBGN001, SBGN003 and SBGN005 were released, my initial impression was similar to that of a teenager reacting to a trend that has already passed its expiry date. I believe the correct terminology is ‘meh’. However, I should of known better because like every other Grand Seiko watch, the thing needs to be seen in person. This is my second day with the SBGN003 and I am starting to notice the fine details represented in this neat little package. Personally, when looking for a tool/dive watch, I do not need it to have a water resistance of 200 metres as I do not plan to go that deep any time soon. But I do require it to be at least 100 metres with a screw down crown so I can take it to the pool or beach with me. Yes, that’s right. I would take it into the water with me because I live life on the edge. So with that in mind, this is the ideal tool watch for me and for those of you who are not really tool watch guys or gals. Even if you do collect sports watches, this one definitely needs to be on your radar.
Case, dial and hands
The case is made of stainless steel which is just perfect for a sports watch and is sized at a perfect 39 mm with a thickness of 12.1 mm. Personally, I wish all of their sports watches were cased at this size or close to it. But at the same time, I am happy they are not or I will be a very poor man. Now this is where it gets “so” Grand Seiko. The case features multiple facets of brushed combined with zaratsu polishing. What this gives you is a watch on the wrist that looks the part of being a tool watch but also a piece of luxury that is restrained. Excuse me while I go perve on mine for a bit. The glass material on the SBGN003 is a dual-curved sapphire crystal of course and honestly, I would not expect anything less. Now onto the dial, it features a rich black glossy tone that almost looks as if it were ‘urushi’ finished. I wish! I am sure it is not though as they would be promoting the heck out of it. Contrasting against the black dial are highly polished indices and the iconic dauphine hands with a dab of Lumibrite. Now I know that some dudes out there whinge about Grand Seiko not utilising enough Lumibrite but honestly, any more and it will ruin the look and not to mention, mask the beautiful execution on the hands. So this is probably my favourite part about this watch, the red GMT hand. In the photos I have seen since its release, the hands appeared to be a solid blood red. But in person, and depending on the lighting of course, it goes from a pastel orange red to red. Another cool feature is that when adjusting the watch to local time, the typical hour hand jumps by hourly increments while the rest of the watch keeps on ticking. What this means is more time to go exploring instead of adjusting the whole thing looking like an idiot struggling to adjust his watch in front of the locals.
The 9F86 is surely a special movement and with good reason. To celebrate 25 years of 9F goodness, they incorporated the GMT function, making this series the first Grand Seiko movements to come equipped with this complication. Seriously, I cannot contain my happiness with this new line of movements as the ideas are limitless. Can I just say, I am looking forward to Grand Seiko using the 9F86 in a 44GS inspired case (and perhaps with a Mt Iwate dial, am I asking too much?). Come on, I bet you are licking your lips at the thought of this too right? Going back to specs, the accuracy of the watch runs at +/- 10 seconds per year. And for you accuracy nerds out there, if that is not good enough for you, you can also source yourselves the limited edition SBGN001 which is adjusted to +/- 5 seconds a year which is crazy. But you might find it difficult to source one as they may be sold out. If that is the case, you could always try the used market.