March 28, 2023

Although the SBGJ021 is the third Grand Seiko I’m reviewing this week, it’s also the one that’s the most exciting. That’s partly due to its relatively rare 9S86 GMT movement, but mostly to its beautiful red dial and cool rotor.

The SBGJ021 is unique mostly for its exotic looking dial, and it’s caught a lot of attention since its existence was leaked some time ago.

Grand Seiko is a brand revered for their dials and their famous dynamic character. As such, it can be hard to pin down what, exactly, the dial even looks like. In what lighting? From what angle? Well, from this one, it’s a very dark red, something akin to a merlot, but with hints of brown, possibly brought out by those gold accents.

Yet, at this angle, it has an almost purple hue to it. Whatever angle you look at it from, however, the dial does have a very fine texture to it, not unlike one of its predecessors, the SBGJ001.

It’s a remarkably beautiful dial, something that is assisted by its gold GMT hand and gold writing throughout, which, as opposed to the high-contrast, more provocative gold accents on the SBGH051, blend quite nicely with the red of the dial.

The 40mm steel case is the same angular version as other Hi-Beat GMTs, a little sportier and more aggressive than most of their Hi-Beat brethren like the SBGH047 and SBGH051 I’ve just reviewed.

The GMT complication does seem to have a bit of a cost though, in terms of thickness (as it necessarily must), as the SBGJ021 is 14.3mm thick, about a millimeter thicker than its three hand siblings. Like most modern Grand Seikos, the crown screws down for 100 meters of water resistance.

For many, however, the charm of the Grand Seiko is either the spring drive, or in this case, the Hi-Beat automatic, movement. This is the 9S86, GS’ GMT version of their regular 9S85. Though an amazing movement, it’s the rotor that steals the show. This isn’t the first time Grand Seiko has used one of these larger rotors, but this is definitely the boldest, with its almost psychedelic coloring.

So that’s the SBGJ021, perhaps the most provocative Hi-Beat GMT since the green SBGJ007. To be honest, though, I actually like it more than the SBGJ007. Green dials are real gems to GS collectors, but for whatever reason the SBGJ021 just stands out as more special to me.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with these Grand Seikos, it’s a limited edition, although not quite as scarce as the SBGH051, with a total run of 500 pieces. Still, colorful GS dials are usually gone quite quickly, so it might be worth reserving one if you find it as appealing as I do.