Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ219G
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ219G houses the Japanese brand’s high-frequency calibre in a classically shaped, round case. In addition, the watch is fitted with a dual-time function, making it the ideal companion for stylish jet-setters.
This detailed review of the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ219G includes lives images, specification details and pricing.
A Grand Seiko watch is a very practical ownership proposition. The hands, indexes and dial layout collaborate to deliver peerless readability. Indeed, I frequently review incredible watches with six-figure pricing but few surpass the readability of a Grand Seiko timepiece.
Zaratsu polishing endows each case, whether steel or titanium, with a glass-like finish. Those individuals holding a Grand Seiko won’t be able to resist stroking the case with an inquisitive index finger. Indeed, I know of an owner of a super high-end watch brand, who wishes to remain nameless, once stating that ‘no one polishes steel like Grand Seiko’. He’s correct.
The movements within Grand Seiko watches incorporate an array of technical details which distinguish them as special. The ingenious Spring Drive models deliver incredible precision and feature a central seconds hand that circumscribes the dial with a degree of smoothness only an accomplished crooner could match.
Grand Seiko make both 4Hz and 5Hz movements equipped with a Swiss lever escapement. The brand has used cutting-edge MEMS technology (sometimes called LIGA) to produce components to infinitesimal tolerances. The elaborately shaped escape wheel features teeth fitted with lubricant-filled reservoirs, mitigating friction and wear. Both the escape wheel and pallet lever are openworked. This reduces mass and, in so doing, mitigates energy consumption.
Owning a Grand Seiko heightens one’s awareness to the brand’s models. Whenever I visit London, I always have to visit the Seiko boutique in Knightsbridge and see what’s new.
For some time, I have wanted a Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ203G. The dial is a deep shade of basalt black. The date disk matches the dial colour and the home hour is proclaimed with an ebullient red hand. Most pertinently, the watch contains a 5Hz movement, a technical feat only a few brands have mastered. I have introduced this watch to my wrist on several occasions, but the thoughts of my children’s university expenses stymies my acquisitive urges.
Recently, while perusing the window displays of the aforementioned Seiko boutique, I discovered an alternative high-frequency dual-time watch, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ219G. Within two nano seconds, the watch was affixed to my wrist and a period of evaluation ensued.
The anthracite dial incorporates a subtle sunray motif. The faint lines emanating from the centre of the dial flirt with light, producing a vista of dark and pale hues. This dalliance with light is augmented with the fitment of a box glass sapphire crystal.
The highly polished dauphine-shaped hands are faceted, granting a becoming gleam and heightening readability. Grand Seiko is renown for its attention to detail and, therefore, it comes as no surprise to learn that the underside of the hands are also polished.
Faceted, baton style indexes denote the hours. Their elongated shape help imbue the dialscape with an elegant mien. A 24-hour track is presented on a contrasting black circlet which, in conjunction with the red tipped GMT hand, allows the wearer to ascertain whether the ‘home time’ is day or night.
A date display is located at 3 o’clock. The hue of the date disk matches the main dial colour, a detail often overlooked on lesser watches. Each date value is the optimal shape and size in order to facilitate ease of read-off.
A minute track encircles the periphery of the dial, again helping the wearer interpret the information presented.
Many people will associate Grand Seiko with the case design of the legendary 44GS. However, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ219G sets aside the contemporary aesthetics of the 44GS in favour of a more classical case shape. The resultant appearance is not better nor worse than its iconic sibling, merely different.
The case and lugs are the blemish free consequence of zaratsu polishing. The surface smoothness of each case facet is sublime. The tactile properties of this watch usurp most others.
Measuring 39.5mm in diameter, the stainless steel case has an unassuming character. This watch does not flamboyantly proclaim its presence in a room, indeed, it is too polite and refined for such crass behaviour. This watch is a paragon of elegance.
Despite the restrained character of this watch, the case and lugs are highly polished. The verso plane of the case is fitted with a pane of sapphire crystal, allowing sight of the self-winding movement within.
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ219G is equipped with the Calibre 9S85. This self-winding movement is unusual as the balance has a frequency of 5Hz or 10 beats per second.
High frequency movements proffer several benefits. Firstly, they deliver greater accuracy than a 4Hz movement, especially when the watch is worn. This is because the precision of the movement is less prone to variation when the watch is held in different positions. Secondly, the high frequency provides superior stability, mitigating the adverse effects of physical impacts on the watch.
Considering that high frequency movements confer tangible benefits, it is logical to ask why there are not more watch brands offering 5Hz movements. There are several potential problems with high frequency movements.
By increasing the number of oscillations the balance performs, wear and lubrication consumption may potentially increase. However, Grand Seiko has addressed this by equipping the escape wheel with lubricant retaining teeth tips and polishing the gear teeth by hand to lessen friction.
Another potential problem of a 5Hz movement is that the increased number of oscillations quaffs energy, reducing the available power reserve. Again, Grand Seiko has addressed this issue.
The low mass of both the escape wheel and pallet lever mitigate energy consumption and the brand’s own mainspring technology helps provide an impressive power reserve of 55 hours.
Unlike most watch companies, Grand Seiko make virtually all its own watch components, save for sapphire crystals, rubies and straps. It produces mainsprings and, more surprisingly, hairsprings. The alloy ‘Spron 610’, used by the brand for its hairsprings since 2009, is said to be ‘more resilient to shock and magnetism and ensures stable accuracy’.
The balance wheel features four arms instead of the customary two or three. This prevents the balance wheel deforming when it is subject to different temperatures. This approach is said to confer greater precision. The rim of the balance wheel is free of screws and other protrusions, mitigating turbulence and, by default, aiding precision.
With the Calibre 9S85, Grand Seiko, once again, demonstrates its incredible watchmaking prowess.
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ219G is a beautiful timepiece. Stylistically speaking, it walks along a different path to its siblings. The round case and box glass sapphire imbue this model with a unique character which, personally, I find most becoming.
Every element of this watch is subtle. The dial is not ristretto black, but a slightly muted anthracite tone. The indexes are elongated and lithesome, suffusing the dial membrane with a graceful demeanour, while the hands enunciate the time with stylish aplomb.
However, beyond its aesthetic allure, the SBGJ219G is highly practical. Its dial is incredibly legible, the case confers impressive levels of wearer comfort and the movement is a paragon of mechanical excellence. This is a watch that you could wear every day.
This model demonstrates everything that is wonderful about Grand Seiko, a brand revered by those ‘in the know’. Sadly the company’s models are overlooked by some individuals who have foolishly chosen to walk on by. I urge all readers to place a Grand Seiko upon their wrist. You will find it hard not to succumb to the many attributes they offer.
- Model: Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 GMT SBGJ219G
- Reference: SBGJ219G
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 39.5mm; height 13.9mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date; GMT.
- Movement: Calibre 9S85; self-winding movement; frequency 36,000 VpH (5Hz); 37 jewels; power reserve approximately 55 hours
- Strap: Black crocodile leather with three-fold clasp with push button release.
- Price: £6000 (RRP as at 30.1.2019)