Monday, 4 November 2013

Grand Seiko GMT - SBGM003 & SBGM021

The Grand Seiko range is perhaps the most under-rated mechanical watch. Whether it is mechanical or the Spring Drive, the Grand Seiko represents the best in Japanese watchmaking.

I was first introduced to the Grand Seiko way back in 2006 when a friend showed me the SBGM003 GMT. Fell in love with the watch, simple, yet elegant and functional. An understated functional watch that non-collectors will probably not have heard of.
Grand Seiko SBGM003 Front photo GSSBGM00304.jpg

So when one came up for sale in Singapore, I had to do a favor and introduce it to my friend. And he is a happy man now. Only thing is that he has the SBGM021 while I have the closed case back SBGM003. The watch comes in a nice presentation box with the certificate right on top.
Grand Seiko SBGM 021 Box photo GSSBGM02101.jpg

The certificate clearly specifies the details of the watch.
Grand Seiko SBGM 021 Certificate photo GSSBGM02102.jpg

Underneath the Certificate Binder is a nice velvety box.
Grand Seiko SBGM 021 photo GSSBGM02103.jpg

And when you open the box, it reveals the watch! A simple beauty made to the strictest standards of the Seiko watch manufactory.
Grand Seiko SBGM 021 photo GSSBGM02104.jpg

So I took out my SBGM003 and took a picture of the watch - side by side. From the dial side, one cannot tell the difference.
Grand Seiko SBGM 021 & SBGM 003 photo GSSBGM02106.jpg

But when you turn it back, the difference is revealed. The SBGM003 is the first model with a solid case back - with the GS Lion crown clearly on the case. The SBGM021 is the follow up after SBGM003 was discontinued and has the open case back.
Grand Seiko SBGM 021 & SBGM 003 Case Back photo GSSBGM02107.jpg

The SBGM021 which has the exhibition case back comes with the in-house movement 9S66 and the words Grand Seiko is printed on the inside of the sapphire glass back. Grand Seiko uses only their in-house developed movements and one of the few "true" manufactures left. They even grow their own quartz crystals for their Spring Drive and Quartz range.
Grand Seiko SBGM 021 Case Back photo GSSBGM02113.jpg

The SBGM003 on the other hand houses the 9S56 movement and comes with the solid case back. Some say the SBGM003 is now sought after since being discontinued as it features the GS Lion Logo on the case back.
Grand Seiko SBGM 003 Case Back photo GSSBGM02112.jpg

Because of the exhibition case back. the finishing on the SBGM021 is better than the SBMG003 - in the SBGM021, the baseplate has perlage while the older model is not. The newer 021 has a longer power reserve - 72 hours versus 55 hours in the 003. But like I said, one can't really tell the difference from the front.
Grand Seiko SBGM 003 photo GSSBGM02108.jpg

The level of finishing on the Grand Seiko is second to none in that price point. For that matter, it is finished far better than many Swiss brands who charge significantly higher prices for generic ETA movements. As for the cream colored dial many have mistaken it for a lacquered dial.
Grand Seiko SBGM003 Dial photo GSSBGM00302.jpg

The seconds hand is well rounded and the blued GMT hands are beautifully done. The movement is tested to the strictest standards - more stringent than the COSC. The watch comes with a burgundy color leather strap with folding clasp.
Grand Seiko SBGM 021 photo GSSBGM02110.jpg

Whenever I travel, I usually wear the GS as I find it functional yet does not attract too much attention, unlike my Rolex GMT II which is easily recognizable. Here is a shot of my GS with my food on one of the flights.
GS with Salad in Flight photo GSSBGM003Salad01.jpg

Next, I shall hunt for a Spring Drive - hope to find one at a reasonable price.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Ed. It really is a lovely piece.

  2. Very nice photos and review! I have sbgm003 too and am still enjoying it.

  3. Very nice review!
    I have sbgm003 too and am still enjoying it.

    1. Thanks Tanaka-san. I continue to enjoy the Grand Seiko range too. I just feel that they are under-appreciated. But those who own one knows the value of the timepiece.