It seems that Quartz has lost. While the technology set the industry ablaze in incendiary fashion killing off huge parts of the watch world today mechanical watches make up figuratively 99% of the watch world for enthusiasts. Like a lone wolf however Grand Seiko, at this point I won’t even try to contain me being a fanboy for the Japanese brand, keeps their 9F series alive.
For the uninitiated, the 9F was introduced in 1993 as an ultimate version of the quartz watch showing what the platform is capable of if only it gets the same amount of attention and effort that high-end mechanical watches are used to. Since then it has become the unparalleled standard for those looking to buy the best new quartz watch the market has to offer. Safe for a dive watch however these incredible movements have always been limited to simple designs which do not necessarily catch the eye of younger generations.
Seiko, however, wishes to change this with the introduction of the Grand Seiko 9F Quartz GMT proving that to this day that there is value in continuing to develop this range. The model takes much of what was already established in the mechanical counterpart and adapts it to the quartz model. This allows for the watch to have a slender profile coming in what I consider perfect measurements of being 39 mm wide and 12.1 mm thick.
Grand Seiko will release three different versions of the GMT. The SBGN003 and SBGN005, priced at €3,200, will be unlimited and released in January 2019. Additionally, there will be a limited edition ref. SBGN001 of 800 pieces priced at €3,600 which features yellow accents as well as a higher level of accuracy of 5 seconds a year (compared to 10 for the other two) and is marked by a special texture and a golden star on the dial. The limited edition will be released in October of this year and personally is the most attractive of the three, however, I am also a big fan of the orange hand version.
From what I read on the web the initial reactions were mixed with a lot of people complaining about the price as well as the similarity to the Rolex Explorer 2 particularly for the orange hand version. As to the pricing it sure is steep compared to other quartz watches, however, I consider that an erroneous comparison because there really is no other quartz watch like this out there. For the money, you get in my eyes a watch not only with amazing fit and finish but additionally the ease of mind and cheap running costs that a quartz can guarantee. In regard to the watch visually being too close to the Rolex I can see where you would get that impression from. I think this is though more due to the fact that the GMT segment is so dry that every watch inevitably gets compared to Rolex than lacking creativity from the side of Grand Seiko.
So how do I sum up my impressions on this watch? For me, a defining criteria in how I assess a watch is whether I would recommend it to a person who knows little about watches and has the funds available. That is where this watch hits home for me because I could see it on the wrists of not only the hardcore Seiko fans but also casuals who are just looking for a quality timepiece. For me, it has been clear for a long time that the Grand Seiko 9F offers amazing value and a real alternative to Rolex, and with the new GMT I hope they can convince a much broader audience of that.