Grand Seiko SBGM221: A Review of Grand Seiko’s GMT Watch

Grand Seiko has always been about packing stylishness and quality into a single watch. Those familiar with the watch industry probably know that this Japanese watchmaker has consistently created timeless pieces that leave an indelible mark on the whole watch market. Apart from its famous roster of dress watches influenced by nature’s grandeur, which includes models like the Grand Seiko White Birch and Grand Seiko Snowflake, this luxury watch brand is also known for producing vintage-inspired timepieces. In this article, we will be taking a look at one of Grand Seiko’s most popular vintage-influenced watches — the Grand Seiko SBGM221.

Elegant and handsomely built, the Grand Seiko 9S Mechanical Ref. SBGM221 clearly epitomizes the brand’s distinguished reputation for making exceptional watches. As a GMT watch, the Grand Seiko SBGM221 is easily on par with some of the most famous GMT luxury watches. Hailing from the brand’s 9S Mechanical series, this timepiece is especially notable as it is powered by Grand Seiko’s outstanding, state-of-the-art Hi-Beat caliber. 

Without further ado, let us delve deep into the details of what the Grand Seiko SBGM221 has to offer. 

A Closer Look at the Grand Seiko SBGM221:

Case and Caseback

Front View of Grand Seiko SBGM221

The Grand Seiko SBGM221 is housed in a 39mm stainless steel case, with a height of 13.7mm. With these dimensions, this Grand Seiko watch fits well on small-to-average-sized wrists, especially for men with slimmer and more slender wrists. The entire case is polished with the brand’s in-house Zaratsu polishing technique. Thanks to Grand Seiko’s Zaratsu polishing technique, the Grand Seiko SBGM221 has a glossy, mirror-like shine. So, if you are looking for a truly lustrous and luxurious timepiece, then this is the perfect watch for you. 

When you flip the Grand Seiko SBGM221 over, you will find a transparent caseback made of stainless steel and sapphire crystal. Like the rest of the watch case, this caseback is embellished with the brand’s Zaratsu finish, so it has an impeccable glamor when viewed under the light. Through the sapphire crystal insert, you get to see a full view of the powerful in-house movement that drives this watch. 

This caseback is also screwed in using six sizable bolts, which keep the caseback firmly secured to the rest of the case, protecting the watch’s inner mechanisms from any dust or moisture exposure. Thanks to its screw-down caseback, the Grand Seiko SBGM221 has a depth rating of 30 meters. This is a fairly standard water resistance capacity for a dress watch like the Grand Seiko SBGM221, allowing it to withstand any splashes or showers. 


Tucked on the right side of the Grand Seiko SBGM221’s case is a polished screw-down crown. This crown is quite thick and is designed with a grooved pattern, giving wearers an easy grip so they can hold and turn the crown with little trouble. As is the tradition with most luxury timepieces, the top of the crown is stamped with the brand’s iconic “GS” emblem, marking this as a uniquely Grand Seiko timepiece. 

Unlike most watches, the Grand Seiko SBGM221’s stout crown can be used to set not just the time, but also the timezone of the watch. When the crown is wound to the first position, you can turn it to move the hour hand and set the intended hour. When wound to the second position, the turning of the crown determines the minute and GMT hands, allowing you to set your desired time and timezone.   


Dial of Grand Seiko SBGM221
Image by: user/torpedo109 on Reddit

A glorious sight to behold, the Grand Seiko SBGM221’s dial is easily its most aesthetic component. Unlike the snow-covered dial of the Grand Seiko Snowflake or the azure sky-inspired backdrop of the Grand Seiko Skyflake, the Grand Seiko SBGM221’s dial shows off a clean, rich ivory ensemble. Although it has a fairly simple layout, the interior elements of this dial come together to create a very enchanting, well-organized watch face. 

This ivory dial is adorned with thick, silver applique indices and razor-sharp dauphine hands, all of which are nicely beveled and completely polished. This ensures that the hands and indices of this watch all show off the same mirror-like finish as the case, so that they shine just as exuberantly when this dial is viewed under the light. A rectangular date display is also placed at 3 o’clock, encased inside a polished stainless steel frame. In addition, the rim of the dial is furnished with simple black stick indices for the minute track. 

You probably also noticed that, apart from its usual stainless steel hands, the Grand Seiko SBGM221 also has a fourth hand made of blued steel. This thick, arrow-headed hand is the watch’s GMT hand. It is the very feature which makes this timepiece so intriguing. This hand points towards the printed 24-hour GMT scale, which is located near the applique hour markers. As a GMT watch, the Grand Seiko SBGM221 uses this display to keep wearers updated on a second time zone. 


Strap of Grand Seiko SBGM221

A dress watch would not be as classy as it is if it is not paired with a stylish, elegant strap. Grand Seiko lives up to expectations by pairing the Grand Seiko SBGM221 with a handsome brown leather strap. This durable band is made from calfskin leather. It bears an aged crocodile pattern that adds to the watch’s vintage aesthetic. It also comes with a convenient stainless steel deployant clasp, so you can easily slip the watch on and off your wrist at any time. 


Movement of Grand Seiko SBGM221

Visible through the watch’s see-through caseback, the Hi-Beat Caliber 9S66 that powers the Grand Seiko SBGM221 is truly a well-engineered one. The Caliber 9S66 is a state-of-the-art GMT movement that is crafted entirely in-house. 

As one of the brand’s exclusive, innovative Hi-Beat movements, this movement is incredibly efficient, beating at a breathtaking frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour (5Hz). Held together by 35 jewels, it offers an accuracy rate of -3/+5 seconds per day. When fully wound, the Caliber 9S66 can also last for up to 72 hours, or approximately three days, which is extremely impressive for a high-beat movement. 


The price for the Grand Seiko SBGM221 is set at around $4,889 USD. For a high-end luxury timepiece equipped with an appealing Zaratsu finish and a highly advanced movement, you will find that this is actually quite a reasonable price. 

Alternatives to the Grand Seiko SBGM221

If you think that the Grand Seiko SBGM221 is a little too exorbitant for you, fear not! We have prepared a few alternatives to the Grand Seiko SBGM221 that you might be interested in. Coming from highly-recognized watch companies in the industry, all of the dressy timepieces below show off the same vintage appeal as the SBGM221 and are also set at more budget-friendly price points. 

1. Omega De Ville Ref. 424.

Front View of Omega De Ville Ref. 424.

First up, we have the Omega De Ville Ref. 424. This is a classic dress watch with very minimalistic features, boasting a quiet simplicity that is reminiscent of the German Bauhaus watches

This Omega De Ville timepiece is presented in a 39.5mm stainless steel case, coupled with a quintessential black alligator leather strap. While its case is only half a millimeter larger than the Grand Seiko SBGM221, this watch also has a height of just 10mm. On the whole, this is a much slimmer timepiece, which you can easily and unobtrusively slide under the cuff of your shirt. 

Complementing the sleek silver case of this Omega watch is a clean, silver-white dial. It contains Roman numeral hour markers, slender applique indices, beveled dauphine hands, and a date complication at 3 o’clock. All of these dial components come in sleek silver, which blends well with the rest of the dial, creating a very consistent color theme. 

Underneath this straightforward watch face, you can find an in-house Omega Caliber 2500. Based on the ETA 2892-AT movement, the Caliber 2500 has been modified to fit this Omega watch. Held together by 27 jewels, it offers a reliable power supply of 48 hours or two days.

The Omega De Ville Ref. 424. sells at about $3,750 USD. 

2. Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ref. 112520

Front View of Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ref. 112520

Next up, we have the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ref. 112520. Like the aforementioned Omega piece, this watch has a very simple and classic appeal. That said, it offers a different, slightly more ostentatious style, with its colorful dial components and livelier watch face. 

This Montblanc timepiece is packed in a 38mm stainless steel case, with an extremely slim height of just 7.65mm, and an alligator leather strap in black. Of all the dress watches listed in this article, this is by far the smallest one. As such, this watch is best suited for smaller wrists with measurements that are on the slender side. 

The dial of this watch comes in a soft white finish, which stands out well against the black strap. It is decorated with slim applique indices in rose gold, Arabic numeral markers in a rounded typeface, and rose gold dauphine hands with sharp, well-beveled edges. A rectangular date window, outlined in rose gold, can also be found at 6 o’clock. These rose gold accents, along with the single, blued steel seconds hand, add an exquisite, luxurious edge to this watch face. 

Driving this Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie watch is the in-house Montblanc Caliber MB 24.09. Consisting of 25 jewels, it has a beat frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz) and sustains an average power reserve of up to 42 hours. 

The Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Ref. 112520 retails at approximately $2,835 USD. 

3. Seiko Presage Ref. SARW049 

Front View of Seiko Presage Ref. SARW049

A sibling brand of Grand Seiko, Seiko is another very reliable brand when it comes to suave dress watches. The Seiko Presage lineup offers elegant, dressy pieces with varying price points that range from as low as $300 USD, up to as high as $3000 USD. 

The Seiko Presage Ref. SARW049 utilizes a 40.6mm stainless steel case, paired with a deep brown crocodile leather strap. That makes this Seiko Presage watch the largest timepiece to show up in this article. 

The dial of this watch comes in a lovely porcelain white finish, which looks almost snow-white when viewed under the light. It is filled with Roman numeral hour markers in thin black font, blued steel leaf hands, and two sub-dials at 6 and 9 o’clock. The sub-dial at 6 o’clock serves as the pointer date display, while the sub-dial at 9 o’clock indicates the watch’s power reserve. At 12 o’clock, you can also find a Roman numeral marker in bright red, adding a burst of vibrancy to this watch face. 

This watch runs on an in-house Seiko Caliber 6R27. Wearers can admire this movement in all its glory through the watch’s transparent caseback. Moreover, this movement also provides a power reserve that lasts up to 45 hours when fully wound, and you will be able to check this anytime using the sub-dial at 9 o’clock. Finally, although this Seiko Presage timepiece is designed as a dress watch, it actually has an excellent depth rating of 100 meters. As such, you can bring this watch with you to your swimming adventures without any fear. 

The Seiko Presage Ref. SARW049 costs just $1,859 USD, making it the most affordable alternative to the Grand Seiko SBGM221. 

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that the Grand Seiko SBGM221 is indeed one majestic dress watch. What better way to pair your formal attire than with an elegant timepiece that exudes great charm? 

When it comes to aesthetics, the shine that radiates from the Grand Seiko SBGM221 and its captivating dial is just one of the reasons why you should not miss out on this watch. It also offers top-notch functionality, with its useful GMT feature and efficient, innovative Hi-Beat caliber. On the whole, the Grand Seiko SBGM221 is definitely a superb dress watch that is worth investing in. 

All images courtesy of WatchShopping website, unless otherwise stated.

Photo Credits: Reddit and Grand Seiko. Featured image courtesy of Grand Seiko.

Interested in a very flamboyant luxury dress watch? Read our article about the Rolex Rainbow Daytona!

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