Follow The Green Wooden Trail To Horological Ecstasy – Going Hands-on With The Grand Seiko SBGJ241
Editor’s note: This review of the Grand Seiko SBGJ241 is part of our ‘W.R.A.T.H’ series, or ‘What’s Really Available Today Here’ watch photo reviews. It is a series where we go hands-on with watches that can at least at the time of photographing be bought! For our other reviews of latest novelties, please head here. For our in-depth deep dives, please head to our dedicated review section here. Today’s watch is brought with the grateful assistance of J Farren-Price Sydney
The Watch: The Grand Seiko Heritage Collection SBGJ241 ($9’950 AUD) is a limited edition Asian-market only release of 700 pieces. The green dial elicits a strong emotional response due to the stunning combination of youthful forest greenery as reflected in the wooden floors of traditional Japanese architecture
Available At: J Farren-Price Sydney, 80 Castlereagh St, Sydney (02 9231 3299)
There is a quote that reads: “By discovering nature, you discover yourself”.
The Grand Seiko SBGJ241 is for those who are brave enough to venture beyond the usual Swiss suspects in the under 10K AUD range and are willing to bask in the beauty of the Zaratsu polished case and stunning green dial of this Japanese beauty.
By discovering the nature inspired dial of the GS SBGJ241, one discovers his true horological style.
Will You Like It
Mountaineer John Muir once said: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”. With the relatively new Grand Seiko SBGJ241 one gets the opportunity to walk with nature on the wrist, and the 5Hz high-beat movement ensures that one’s horological thirst is quenched far more than he seeks for.
The beauty of the GS SBGJ241 is not simply superficial though; while the teal green adds a sense of adventure in one’s watch collection, the calibre 9S86 ensures +5/-3 seconds a day (when static) accuracy and the added GMT complication adds a sense of purpose for the well-traveled man.
We recently reviewed the GS SBGJ201 that is essentially the same timepiece but with a more understated, plainer dial. Just like that one, the SBGJ241 is a class in subtle refinement, but as a bonus provides one with exclusivity given the limited production. More importantly though, when the dial is exposed to natural light, one finds surrendering himself to an array of beautiful green hues.
The heart used — calibre 9S86 — in the SBGJ241 is an automatic movement using the brand’s MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical System) technology. It is the GMT version of the base calibre 9S65. It uses a reverser gear train system, hardened components that help improve the durability of this reverser system, and a semi-conductor manufacturing technology to produce watch parts.
It beats at the high frequency of 5Hz (36’000 A/h), comprises of 37 jewels, and boasts of a decent 55-hour power reserve. The above mentioned stated accuracy of +5/-3 seconds a day when static changes to about +8 to -1 seconds per day under normal usage.
Back in October 2019 Grand Seiko released a very similar timepiece, the SBGH269 that was designed to reflect autumn in Japan. This red linear pattern evoking a floorboard texture is pretty much the same as the one found on the SBGJ241, with the main difference being the absence of the GMT complication.
I have handled the SBGH269 as well, and personally, between the two, I prefer the newer SBGJ241 even though the SBGH269 was slightly smaller at 39.5mm diameter x 13mm thickness and the smaller dimensions for someone like me with slimmer wrists made a difference for the better. But still, I prefer the new one.
The reasons for that are two-fold: one, for a very similar price, I get an added GMT complication. And two, the green is more adaptable than red to at least my wardrobe choices and works better with the steel bracelet.
For those looking at any of these to add to their collection, it is worthwhile to note that besides the difference in dimensions and the complication, these are relatively similar timepieces. Both feature superb finishing including sharp angles and faceted lugs, and excellent readability with polished and faceted hands and applied indexes.
In the end, your choice would perhaps boil down to whether you miss the gold-coloured logo and seconds hand of the SBGH269 or not; also, the absence of a specially decorated movement on the SBGJ241 that featured an anodised green titanium rotor is something to think about.
Do We Like It
“The poetry of the earth is never dead,” said John Keats. The Grand Seiko SBGJ241 ensures that his words live on.
There is an enchanted forest foliage feel to these dials, and the more I look at them the more enamoured I get.
Nature is the perfect artist; and I am glad Grand Seiko has managed to capture one essence of it and bring it to 700 wrists.
I personally still don’t own a GS timepiece yet, but the SBGJ241 is probably the closest I have come to acquiring one. Continuing on a personal note, if this dial came with a Spring-Drive movement (sans the power-reserve indicator) and came on a leather strap, my personal finances would be in a world of turmoil by now.
For those who haven’t experienced a timepiece with a higher than 4Hz frequency like certain Breguet or Zenith timepieces, I would definitely recommend this or a similar Grand Seiko offering, especially given the relatively accessible price point.
On the whole, as a package, the high-beat movement, the stunning green, the high legibility, and the brilliant polishing all make this a very compelling buy.
In regards to how the timepiece performs on the wrist, it’s all designed by GS to ensure high legibility and an ergonomic aesthetic.
The black polished bezel complements the highly polished planes of the watch, driving the attention to the dial with its double-width index at 12’o clock that along with the multi-faceted rectangular markers ensures that time is always legible under any lighting.
It is not just the hour markers that are legible and multi-faceted; the classy dauphine hour and minute hands embody the same spirit. In fact, I am sure volumes can be written about the finishing and the beauty of these hands. Like a katana they are sharp and mean business. Look carefully enough and you see the contrasting polished and brushed surfaces working in harmony.
In terms of ergonomics, the half-recessed crown that is polished and embossed with the logo is comfortable and easy to manoeuvre.
The impressively 100m water-resistant GS SBGJ241 case, inspired by the famed 44GS design from 1967, features a wide mirror surface along with a curved sideline that meets the reversed slanted bezel wall and the case side to seamlessly place the watch on the wrist. Coming in at a wearable 40mm diameter, it fits perfectly on my almost 16cm wrist. I say almost because of the thickness.
The thickness of 14mm can be felt a bit on this one compared to the SBGJ201, mostly because the green dial contrasts with the steel finishing on the SBGJ241 while the textured champagne dial on the SBGJ201 complemented the steel case colouring, almost becoming a part of it. Given this green stands out a fair amount, those with smaller wrists might find it a bit on the large side. Nonetheless, like the SBGJ201, the case design still hugs the skin and doesn’t feel overbearing.
Given I have taken assistance from poetic quotes for this review, allow me to wrap it up with one more, this time by American poet Gary Snyder: “Nature is not a place to visit. It is home”.
Strap on the Grand Seiko SBGJ241 and you are at one with the nature. It is a poetic expression of nature for a true horologist.
To find out more about the Grand Seiko SBGJ241 and other GS timepieces, please head to the GS website here or visit their authorised retailer J Farren-Price. To explore the J Farren-Price website, please head here. All images unless otherwise stated are ©WatchYaGonnaDoAboutIt.