2019 is the 20th anniversary of Seiko’s coveted Spring Drive movement technology and at Baselworld 2019 a slew of models destined for release this year have been announced – including these limited editions. Notably here is the return of a serious-looking sport watch that Grand Seiko now calls the Grand Seiko Sport. The two models here are the related Grand Seiko Sport Spring Drive Chronograph GMT SBGC230 in 18k rose gold as well as the high-density (scratch resistant) titanium Grand Seiko Sport Spring Drive Chronograph GMT SBGA231.
Unfortunately there are no new chronograph movements right now – which isn’t per se a bad things but we’ve seen this caliber 9R96 movement before as it was launched many years ago. The movement operates using Grand Seiko’s innovative regulation system that combines the accuracy of a quartz oscillator with the emotion and tradition (not to mention the “autonomy”) of a mechanical watch. An automatic rotor winds a spring, that causes a small amount of electric current to be generated as it unwinds. This current powers the quartz oscillator which provides accuracy of around half a second per day (and about 10 seconds per month). This isn’t exactly as accurate as top-performance quartz movements, but watch enthusiasts for over a decade now have hailed Spring Drive as one of Japan’s best kept horological achievements. And Spring Drive certainly beats purely mechanical watches when it comes to accuracy. Seiko has indicated use of a new automatic rotor with a small 18k gold Seiko lion emblem and it should be visible through an exhibition caseback on the rear of the watch.
The 9R96 automatic movement has a power reserve of 72 hours and features the time, date, 12 hour chronograph, GMT hand, and power reserve indicator. Watch lovers really enjoy the “gliding” seconds hand which moves elegantly and smoothly across the dial. The two Grand Seiko Sport Spring Drive Chronograph GMT watches feature the same movement as well as a new case. They different in the case material, dial style, as well as the strap.
What do we think about the new case for Grand Seiko Sport watches? The last few sportier Grand Seiko watches to come out were inspired, but not particularly attractive all the time and many people complained that they were too large for many wrists. I don’t disagree. Some of the most coveted sport versions of Grand Seiko timepieces are very much aging at this point so new sport watches from our luxury-loving friend in Japan makes a lot of sense.
The new Grand Seiko Sport case is angular but seemingly designed for ergonomics and construction. I’ll have to give a full report after I’ve worn them, but we see a case that has stubby lug (a good thing) sized at 44.5mm wide and 16.8mm thick. Nice features include a sapphire bezel insert, as well as sapphire for the crystal. Seiko’s Zaratsu polishing technique ensures an immaculate finishing both on the SBGC230 in 18k rose gold and the SBGC231 in titanium. The former piece comes on a matching alligator strap while the latter model comes with a new matching titanium bracelet that I look forward to experiencing – especially because Seiko has promised a new micro-adjust deployant system in it.
Both models have interesting dials with a deep maroon dial matching the gold Grand Seiko Sport Spring Drive Chronograph GMT along with a brown, textured dial on the titanium version. Prices are up there for sure. The limited edition Grand Seiko Sport Spring Drive Chronograph GMT SBGC231 (limited to 500 pieces) in titanium has a retail price of $12,900 USD and the 18k rose gold SBGC230 (limited to 100 pieces) has a retail price of $42,000 USD. Learn more at the Grand Seiko website.