In 1993, back when it was still a sub-brand of the main Seiko collection and scarcely known outside its native Japan, Grand Seiko introduced its first exclusive quartz movement, Caliber 9F. Among that pioneering movement’s attributes were an instantaneous calendar change for the day-date display; a “backlash” auto-adjust mechanism that prevented shuddering of the seconds hand; a twin-pulse control system for increased torque, which allowed for minute and second hands that reached all the way to the dial’s edge; and a special shield that protected the gear train and motor from dust. Most significantly, Caliber 9F maintained a precision of just +5 to -5 seconds per year, which meant Seiko could claim that watches equipped with it were “the highest performing in the world” in their category. This year, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of caliber 9F, the now independent and world-renowned Grand Seiko adds a GMT complication to its flagship quartz movement, debuting it in three new watches, one a limited edition.
Grand Seiko Caliber 9F86 incorporates new components, created especially for this movement, which allow for the independent adjustment of the GMT hand while still maintaining then watch’s timekeeping precision. Despite the addition of these new components into the base Caliber 9F movement, the thickness of the new watches’ cases have increased only slightly over those of their predecessors (just 12.1 mm in total), owing to a redesigned mainplate and gear train and a new, manually executed hand attachment process. The central GMT hand, like the main hour and minutes hands, is mounted on its own axis to ensure smooth operation.
The 25th anniversary commemorative-edition timepiece (above), which is limited to 800 pieces, has a 39-mm-diameter stainless steel case and a metallic charcoal dial with a distinctive relief pattern based on the traditional symbol for quartz and a five-pointed star — symbolizing, the brand says, the +5 to -5 seconds-per-year precision — above the 6 o’clock position and directly under the indication “GMT.” The date appears in a window at 3 o’clock. The central yellow GMT hand points to a second time zone indicated on the bezel’s 24-hour scale, and a section of the dial’s outer rim, also indicated in yellow from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock, makes it easy for the wearer to see at a glance if the GMT hand is indicating AM or PM.
Both non-limited versions of the new GMT watch — the latest additions to the growing Grand Seiko Sport collection — have the same 39-mm steel case and bracelet and offer either a black dial with an orange GMT hand (above) or a blue dial with red GMT hand (below). The AM/PM semicircle from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock is in these versions executed in a silvery metallic color that contrasts with the upper part of dial’s flange. On all of the new GMT models, Seiko’s Lumibrite luminous material is used on the hands, the arrow tip of the GMT hand, and the applied hour indices for enhanced legibility. The cases are water-resistant to 100 meters and magnetic-resistant to 4,800 A/m.
The 800-piece commemorative edition (Ref. SBGN001) will be priced at approximately 3,600 euros, Seiko says, and will be available in October in select markets. The black-dialed and blue-dialed non-limited pieces (Ref. SBGN003 and SBGN005, respectively) will be available in January 2019, priced around 3,200 euros.