Grand Seiko Introduces New Spring Drive Chronograph GMT

by Sameera Gamage

Grand Seiko’s new Spring Drive Chronograph GMT comes with a colour-changing dial that captures the shifting hues of the Shinshu sunrise!

The Shinshu region of central Japan, where the vast Hotaka mountain range rises, is also where all Grand Seiko Spring Drive creations are made. When the sun reflects off this stunning landscape at dawn, it creates one beautiful piece of imagery, with ebullient colours transforming from pink to orange as the early morning progresses. It is stated that “on summer mornings, for just 30 minutes before and after sunrise, the sun illuminates the peaks of the Hotaka mountain range in a particularly special way.”

The year 2024 is special to the brand, as it marks the 20th anniversary of the first-ever Grand Seiko timepiece to feature the 9R Spring Drive movement. This movement is a signature of the brand and has been powering the entirety of the Spring Drive collection since its inception.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT.

Now, as part of the anniversary celebrations, Grand Seiko has unveiled a brand new timepiece at Watches & Wonders, with the watch referencing the roots of the Spring Drive. The colours of the mountain range of Hotaka inspire this new Spring Drive. The dial has been created using a new dial-processing technology, which expresses the Japanese appreciation for the delicate transition of time as seen through the changing colours of summer mornings in this special place.

This colour-changing dial is made using a patented dial-coating process known as “Optical Multilayer Coating.” Grand Seiko has bygone traditional techniques of colour coding the dial, to use this technology in which it now goes through a physical vapour deposition process. This process creates several layers of nanoscale film, which leads to a beautiful effect on the dial, where the colour will exhibit a different hue depending on the angle of view! The colour can change between dark red or a brighter and more vivid red colour. This is mimicked on the sub-counters as well, through their sunburst finish, where, depending on the viewing angle, it will change from dark red to bright red colours.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT – showing angular surfaces.

While the dial features a brand-new coloured look, the case is equally redefined. Grand Seiko has given this new Spring Drive Chronograph GMT a powerful, angular case design, which has been inspired by the lion. A symbol of the brand since the first Grand Seiko in 1960, the lion is seen as a symbol of strength and courage.

“The lion represented the aim of the original Grand Seiko team to create the very best timepiece of which they were capable in terms of accuracy, legibility, durability, and beauty.”

Grand Seiko

For this latest Spring Drive, Grand Seiko has taken the lion’s presence and instilled it into every possible detail of the timepiece. Firstly, the angular finish of the high-intensity titanium 44.5mm x 16.8mm case on each of the four corners represents the lion’s mane, while the hair-line finished lugs represent the animal’s ferocious claws. The red dial pattern has also been

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT – dial details showing lion mane pattern.

The dial, with its display of luscious red, is contrasted vividly thanks to the oversized hour indices and hands, which have been coated in white Lumibrite to enhance its dial presence. While the aesthetics of the dial and case are certainly a conversation starter, the functionality of the timepiece makes it highly practical, too. The GMT functions is arguably one of the most useable functions in modern-day watchmaking. Combine this with the chronograph, as Grand Seiko has done here, and you will get a tool watch that can be used for precision timing along with dual time zone workability.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT – full view.

The GMT hand is displayed on the dial through the arrow-tipped hand, which is also coated in Lumibrite. The chronograph counters have been displaced from their traditional 3-6-9 layout, to accommodate for the chronograph power-reserve indicator at 7 o’clock. To differentiate the GMT hand from the other hands, especially in low-light conditions, the Lumibrite of the hour and minute hands (and indices) glow green, while the GMT hand has a beautiful blue glow.

Grand Seiko is powering this latest Spring Drive Chronograph GMT with their Calibre 9R96 movement. This Spring Drive movement is a specially adjusted Calibre 9R86 movement that can now deliver an accuracy of (+/-) 10 seconds per month or (+/-) 0.5 seconds per day. In comparison, the Calibre 9R86 movement has a (+/-) 15 seconds per month accuracy. The movement puts out a power reserve of 72 hours, with a chronograph run time of 12 hours.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT – case back.

The see-through case back gives a view into this new calibre 9R96 movement, which has impressively detailed finishes. The prominent finish is the Côtes de Genêve on the main plates and skeletonised oscillating weight. Another notable feature, which is exclusive to models with the 9R96 movement as a reference to its enhanced accuracy, is the 18k gold Grand Seiko lion emblem on the oscillating weight.

Final Thoughts

This new Spring Drive Chronograph GMT is a great way to celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary of the Spring Drive. The model celebrates not only its hometown, with the stunning red dial depicting the Hotaka mountain range in the early morning hours, but also the lion, which played a large symbolic role in the creation of the first Spring Drive.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT.

The timepiece is a conversation starter, without a doubt. The unique case design complements the dial pattern nicely while, as mentioned previously, offering practicality through the chronograph and GMT functions. The only downside to this timepiece is its size. Measuring 44.5mm in diameter, it can be quite large on some wrists. It’s also 16.8mm thick, which will feel bulky on slimmer wrists. Grand Seiko has, however, tried to negate the size issue by implementing curved lugs and lowering the centre of gravity of the timepiece, allowing for a more secure fit on the wrist. While this may be the case, this is a watch that needs to be tried on the wrist, as pure measurements may not be indicative of how the watch will wear.

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT is limited to a production of 700 models and will retail for $20,000 AUD.

Reference: SBGC275

Specification

  • Case: 44.5mm x 16.8mm thickness
  • Case Material: High-intensity titanium case
  • Dial: “Optical Multilayer Coating” red dial depicting a lion’s mane.
  • Crystal: Dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Water resistance: 200m (20 Bar)
  • Movement: Spring Drive Calibre 9R96
  • Movement Frequency: 4Hz (28,800 VpH)
  • Power reserve: 72 hours, 12 hours for Chronograph (constant run)
  • Bracelet: High-intensity titanium bracelet with three-fold clasp with push-button release, secure lock, and extender.

Australian Recommended Retail Price: $20,000 AUD

Availability: Available for purchase in July 2024 through Grand Seiko boutiques or online at grand-seiko.com. Limited to 700 models worldwide.

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