The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT
How can you make a promise and not keep it? It is like seeing a timepiece that you do like on display, wanting it, than telling yourself that it's not the case to buy it, only to go back to that store in the afternoon and buy it. That's exactly what happened today: while on vacation in Patmos, I started looking at a couple of photos I took of two Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT that SEIKO has kindly provided me with for some time now.
I'm not talking about breaking news as I wrote about it some time ago while, during Baselworld 2014, Seiko showed me the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT reference SBGJ005, which is the limited edition model out of an entire collection featuring the GMT upgraded version of caliber Hi-Beat 36000. The Hi-Beat is a legend, especially among those watch enthusiasts living between Tokyo and the US, not so widely known in Italy and represents the Japanese proposal among high frequency mechanical movements offering worldwide.
If the SBGJ005 is limited to just 600 pieces, the two wristwatches you can see in these photos, namely the SBGJ001 and the SBGJ003, represent the other two models in this collection. They all employ the new mechanical automatic caliber 9S86 with the balance wheel vibrating at 5Hz, 55 hours of power reserve and the chance to wind it manually, as it is usually with mechanical automatic Japanese movements.
Let me now a remark just before, as has already happened in the past, somebody did the following observation: don't tell me please it looks like a Rolex. It is not about being wheeler and dealer but the typical buyer of a Rolex does not usually buy a Grand Seiko or the other way round. The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT is a classic 40mm wide watch that resembles, with its design, a 60s Grand Seiko and there is where high end Japanese manufacturing and craftsmanship reach their highest peak.
It is their pride, the flagship of Japanese ability with working steel and mirror polishing it as nobody is perhaps able to do today. The dial on the SBGJ001 and SBGJ003 is white or black with a design that could vaguely remind of a snowflake Grand Seiko's dial, while it is a reproduction of nature from Mount Iwate, where the Grand Seiko workshop is located.
The first one features a blue second timezone hand, the latter a red one. They're both very nice but, to be honest, the combo on the SBGJ001 is nicer, its bright dial is unique, even on the wrist. They're all equipped with a stainless steel bracelet, polished and brushed, double release push button and applied GS logo.
What I've underlined some time ago when talking about the limited edition model remains true now: it would be great to provide the customer with a replacement leather bracelet with a tang buckle, as provided on the historical collection. The case back is transparent, it allows full view over the caliber, which is hand assembled, fine tuned and finished and is secured to the case via rectangular hollows that I do not, however, find very attractive. It is not in discussion the quality of the timepiece but it is about those tiny details that should set apart a Grand Seiko from a Seiko and the competition.
The retail price, which is 6,700 Euros, fits the quality of a timepiece made for connoisseurs, that one you will hardly find wrapped around the wrist of a person sitting close to you at the downtown bar for it is made in limited quantities per year and sold only through selected boutiques. A timepiece I strongly suggest to appreciate through a loupe before wearing it.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Seiko; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®