Some of the most popular Grand Seiko models are the various GMT models, which add a very useful complication to the always appealing Grand Seiko aesthetic. The GMT hand came somewhat late to Grand Seiko, with the first model launching in 2002, but they’ve been very successful since then, and one model a limited edition Hi-Beat, with a green dial became not only a fan and critic’s favorite, but also won the Petit Aiguille prize at the 2014 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genve. Now, Seiko’s announced a new green dial Hi-Beat GMT, with a dial treatment Seiko says was inspired by the iridescent feathers of a peacock.
There are several different ways to show the time in two time zones on a wristwatch. The most common is to have two hour hands; the second hour hand makes one rotation every 24 hours, and can be set independently from the primary hour hand. If you want to use the primary hour hand to show local time, you must pull the crown to the setting position (which stops the watch) re-set the time to local time, and then re-set the 24-hour hand to home time.
The less common, but easiest to use, is found in such watches as the Rolex GMT Master II and Grand Seiko GMT watches. In these watches, there are still two hour hands, however setting the primary hour hand to local time is a more straightforward procedure. You pull out the crown to the first position this does not stop the watch, in this case and turn the crown in order to set the primary hour hand forwards or backwards in one hour jumps. As the hour hand passes midnight, the date switches, either forwards or backwards. The 24-hour hand can now be used to read off home time (AM or PM can easily be seen) and since the watch doesn’t stop when the primary hour hand is re-set, there’s no need to resynchronize the watch to a time standard.
True GMT watches under $10,000 are a fairly small family; two other options are the NOMOS Zrich Weltzeit, and of course, the GMT Master II from Rolex. The NOMOS is the least expensive of the three, at $6,100. Setting the hour hand is done with a pusher at 2:00, which is synchronized with a city ring; this does not move on its own and acts just as a reference for the local time zone, so while the Weltzeit is a true GMT complication, it’s not a world timer, which it superficially resembles. Home time on the Weltzeit is read off a 24-hour disk. Other than the setting system, the biggest difference between the Weltzeit and the GMT Master II or Grand Seiko, is that the Weltzeit doesn’t show the date. On a strap, it’s a more formal watch than the Grand Seiko or GMT-Master II, and has an in-house automatic movement.
The GMT-Master II in steel is $8,950 and is functionally almost identical to the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat GMT. However the GMT-Master II has a rotating 24-hour ceramic bezel, which means you can tell the time in up to three time zones (home time from the 24 hour hand, local time from the primary hour hand, and a third time zone from the set-able, two-way bezel. I should mention that the Explorer II, which is $8,100, offers most of the functionality of the GMT Master II, except that the bezel doesn’t rotate.
The Grand Seiko GMT Hi-Beat you see here is a limited edition, 40mm x 14.4mm watch, with a stainless steel case and bracelet, finished with Grand Seiko’s signature “Zaratsu” polishing, and housing caliber 9S86. (The case has drilled lugs, should you wish to change the excellent bracelet for a strap). The movement beats at 36,000 vph and has a rated accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day, with a 55-hour power reserve. At $6,500 (and limited to 700 pieces globally) it’s definitely an excellent option among true GMT watches under $10,000, with a dial that, though the resemblance to a peacock’s tail is somewhat abstract, looks from the press images we’ve received as if it should be very handsome in person.
For more, visit Grand Seiko online.