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Grand Seiko GMT SBGM003, a Great Example of Watchmaking Craftsmanship

5 min read December 19, 2022

Grand Seiko GMT SBGM003

We have a special item on the menu for you today: the Grand Seiko GMT SBGM003 - a crafty treat made by the watchmaking masters at Seiko. Although pristine craftsmanship is something we are accustomed to when it comes to the watches from the Grand Seiko GMT family of such a long tradition, their individual features amaze us repeatedly. 

This hands-on review will cover all the general features of the SBGM003 Grand Seiko GMT, emphasizing the unique features that make this watch special. So, please, sit back and enjoy the read. If you are half as thrilled about the Grand Seiko family as we at Strapcode are, you're bound to a genuine treat.

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT, in all its elegant glory, paired with a Q.R. Dark Grey Horween Chromexcel Watch Strap

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT, in all its elegant glory, paired with a Q.R. Dark Grey Horween Chromexcel Watch Strap

 

Grand Seiko family, in short

The first Grand Seiko model dates all the way back to 1960. The idea behind the Grand Seiko foundation was to establish a line of supreme quality watches that could stand shoulder to shoulder with the Swiss watchmakers who were unrivaled then. The rest is history. The longevity of the Grand Seiko series and the constant innovations it has incorporated and embodied in its models manufactured for the previous 60-plus years stand as proof of the validity of the original intent.

The Grand Seiko SBGM003 itself is a great representative of the GS family on a number of levels. How is this so? Let's get into both the general features it comes with, as well as its specialties.

 

Grand Seiko SBGM003 GMT general features

The SBGM003 is the first Grand Seiko that was sold outside Japan. It was released in 2004. As the name says, it comes with a GMT complication. The GMT hand is of metallic blue color that adds a sophisticated touch to the overall elegant appearance of the watch. 

The round, stainless steel case is made with utmost precision and feels and looks very smooth. A clear display of the utmost craftsmanship employed in the manufacturing of this watch and something to expect in a Grand Seiko watch. It's 39.2mm in diameter and 13.5mm thick.

The dial is creamy white and features a 24-hour printed scale, three different fonts, and a date display. The state-of-the-art hands (which will be discussed in detail later), the aforementioned blue GMT hand, and the renowned Grand Seiko hour markers round up the classy design. In addition, the dial is protected by a domed sapphire crystal glass, another feature of the Grand Seiko series.

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT sporty and elegant looks with a Heavy Scratch Brown Italian Leather Watch Strap

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT sporty and elegant looks with a Heavy Scratch Brown Italian Leather Watch Strap

 

Other general features are:
  • Caliber 9S56
  • Up to 50 h power reserve
  • Accuracy +5/-3 sec/day
  • Mechanical automatic movement (with manual winding)
  • 30m water resistance
  • Burgundy color leather watch strap with a folding buckle
  • Fixed three surface bezel
  • 88.0 g weight
  • Six-screw case back fixation
  • 27 jewels

 

Grand Seiko SBGM003 GMT special features

Each Grand Seiko watch has an ace up its sleeve. The SBGM003 has one for each hand. The exquisite skill needed to craft each hand is apparent just by glancing at the dial. Upon closer inspection, that impeccable mastery becomes crystal clear.

Even under a magnifying glass, the edges of the hands are super sharp and perfectly straight. The deep blue of the GMT hand is applied by hand using an over-the-flame technique. Finally, the outer edge of the oval second hand is curved down in the direction of the minute markers. Such a distinctive type of curve is obtained using a special tool resembling a rolling pin, all aiming to prevent a parallax error.

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT hands’ superb sharp edges and crafty looks, calmed by a MiLTAT Sandblasted Nubuck Leather watch strap

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT hands’ superb sharp edges and crafty looks, calmed by a MiLTAT Sandblasted Nubuck Leather watch strap

To make things even more special on this extraordinary watch, the Grand Seiko team made a special effort to design and craft its lugs. Namely, the lugs have beveled edges and are curved toward the back. That unique feature, coupled with an impeccable polish, makes them appear almost cylindrical, which adds to the overall original appeal of the watch.

The elegant looks of the Grand Seiko SBGM003 inspired subsequent additions to the Grand Seiko series. Although that's perfectly understandable from the design and user perspective, it sometimes creates confusion among potential buyers. One of the most frequent dilemmas is whether they are looking at the SBGM003 or its successor, the SBGM221.

So, how can one tell the difference?

 

Grand Seiko SBGM003 vs SBGM221

The dials on SBGM003 and SBGM221 seem very similar at first glance. That's due to identical hour markers and dials featured. Still, once you take a closer look, you'll see that the placement of the GS and Grand Seiko writing is different on the SBGM221 (as featured in the images below). On the left of the first pic. , SBGM003 features two Seiko logos, which is a rather rare feature, and the one that makes it more sought after than SBGM221.

The comparison of the two Grand Seiko dials: SBGN003 vs. SBGM221

The case back of the Grand Seiko SBGM003 is solid, featuring the renowned GS Lion crown. On the other hand, the SBGM221 is open.

A clearer difference between these two great watches can be seen by looking at their case backs. The case back of the SBGM003 is solid, featuring the renowned GS Lion crown. On the other hand, the case back of the SBGM221 is open. The engravings on the outer edge of the open case back, among other things, reveal the second difference between these two watches. The trusty timekeeping performance of SBGM221 relies on the 9S66 caliber. 

The third difference is that the younger sibling, the SBGM221, offers up to 72 hours of power reserve, compared to up to 50 hours its elder brother guarantees. Finally, the SBGM221 features 37 jewels, while the SBGM003 comes with 27.

Finally, the SBGM221 full set includes two additional watch straps, while the SBGM003 box set includes one.

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT box set

Grand Seiko SBGM221G full set, with two additional watch straps

 

In summary

Users and reviewers praise Grand Seiko Mechanical GMT watches for their precise timekeeping and durability. As a true representative of the 9S Mechanical Seiko watches, coupled with its elegant design and timeless appearance, Grand Seiko SBGM003 GMT holds one of the top spots among the favorites in its price range, regardless of the manufacturer. So, it comes as no surprise that it has been highly sought after since day one.

The palette of the available replacement watch straps for the Grand Seiko SBGM003 is varied and rich, and enables its increased usability in almost any occasion. As a result, the two decades-long popularity of this watch shows no sign of decreasing. Apart from its out-of-the-box formal and elegant appeal, the SBGM003 becomes a true stylistic chameleon paired with adequate replacement watch straps and easily blends into less formal and even sporty dress codes. 

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT sporty casual transformation when paired with a Tropical-Style Pro FKM rubber watch strap

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT sporty casual transformation when paired with a Tropical-Style Pro FKM rubber watch strap: center, bottom and top

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT, Strapcode watch bands

Grand Seiko Automatic SBGM003 Mechanical GMT sport style potential emphasized by a Khaki Suede Green Stitched Leather Watch Strap

 

External Ref :

 

 Written by S.K., images by Toni and others as noted


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