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Grand Seiko SBGJ001 Versus Jaeger LeCoultre Master Hometime



Today we have one of the most exciting comparisons we've ever written. We're massive fans of Grand Seiko, but we're also huge fans of Jaeger LeCoultre, and as luck would have it, an excellent condition one passed through our hands and, wouldn't you know it, we just happened to have the all-new SBGJ001 Hi-Beat GMT available for a review. What a truly amazing comparison--Japan's finest watchmaker and their finest mechanical GMT watch, versus what is arguably Switzerland's best watchmaker. This is especially interesting because each watch characterizes their respective nation's approach to high-end movement design. While we have the newest, most cutting edge mechanical GMT Japan has ever produced, the Jaeger LeCoultre we have is actually the last edition of the Master Hometime. This is not especially important for a couple of reasons: one, the dial layout is the only significant difference between them, and two, I like the old layout more. So read on to see our more fascinating cross-brand comparison since we put Patek up against Girard-Perregaux.

The Introduction



We'll start with the newcomer, the SBGJ001. Its teammate, the SBGJ005 special edition, has already won its category of the important Grand Prix D' Horlogerie contest and was one of the hottest new watches of Baselworld 2014, so we're off to a great start. The SBGJ001 (white dial, blued hand), SBGJ003 (black dial, red hand) and SBGJ005 (green dial, gold hand) make up the first three Hi-Beat Grand Seikos to receive a GMT complication--ever.



The SBGJ001 is part of the elite Hi-Beat collection, Grand Seiko's premier line of mechanical watches. The new 9S86 movement inside features Japan's absolute best mechanical movement tech, but what makes it a Hi-Beat is its frequency. All mechanical watches beat at a particular frequency which gives them their characteristic "tick tock" sound. Virtually all modern watches beat at 28,800 BPH, or in other words, they tick 8 times per second. The Hi-Beat, however, is one of few production watches to beat at 36,000 BPH, or 10 times per second, an honor it shares almost exclusively with the also-legendary Zenith El Primero.



Don't think for a second, however, that this Jaeger LeCoultre isn't up for a fight. The Master Hometime is JLC's main dual time watch, which is not precisely a GMT complication, but regardless, it's functionally so similar as to make an excellent competitor for any GMT watch on the market (thanks in large part to the AM/PM subdial). It features JLC's characteristic silver dial but with a more avant garde approach to dial layout. It's surprisingly thin for a fairly complicated watch and it even has something of a secret power--when the GMT hand is not needed, you can make it disappear--more on that later.



Powering the Jaeger is the formidable Cal. 975, really the first in a new wave of Jaeger movements known as Autotractors. It marked a substantial shift in the way JLC, and others in the Swiss watchmaking industry, viewed automatic winding. The 975 is not merely a trend setter, however, but an example of some of Switzerland's ideas on fine mechanical watchmaking. While the 9S86 relies on advanced material science and a high frequency escapement, the 975 has a free sprung balance and innovative manufacturing techniques, like laser welding the hairspring to the collet and stud. The free sprung balance is a design that, in the world of Swiss watches, often separates the men from the boys. Omega, Rolex, Patek, Journe and Audemars Piguet have all almost entirely embraced this approach to watchmaking.



So the stage is set for this great battle. Two watches that tell two timezones each, both offering among the best movements and watchmaking their countries can offer, yet both in their own distinctive way, a way that symbolizes their respective national approach to design.

Read the rest here: http://timelessluxwatches.com/reviews/grand-seiko-sbgj001-versus-jaeger-lecoultre-master-hometime
 

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Great post. Formatting is good.

As for the watches, I far prefer the SBGJ001, but there's something which is just doesn't quite click about the SBGJ's. The biggest thing is the finishing of the GMT hand - no beveling on a GS? What the what? Maybe it's better in person.

JLC is one of my favorite brands, with knockout watches of pretty much every function/tier, but this busy MH just doesn't work for me. Also, who doesn't love a big center seconds hand, especially a high-beat one?

My favorite Seiko/JLC dress GMT is the SBGJ007:



An even better version of the SBGJ, with a better GMT complication, and a gorgeous case back instead of that stupid rotor. ... at Patek pricing, though.

Edit: oops - stupid rotor comment was for the SBGJ005 - for some reason I thought it was shared with the 001:
 

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Many thanks for the elaborate review!

Personally, I would take the GS over the JLC anytime without thinking twice.
IMO, the GS wins in each category apart from maybe the movement finishing - but then the JLC lacks finishing of the main plate below the escapement, which I find unacceptable in this price category.

Best
Hermann
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Many thanks for the elaborate review!

Personally, I would take the GS over the JLC anytime without thinking twice.
IMO, the GS wins in each category apart from maybe the movement finishing - but then the JLC lacks finishing of the main plate below the escapement, which I find unacceptable in this price category.

Best
Hermann
Amazingly, virtually everyone that read this article has said the same thing. I've gotten about 30 response, I'd say 25 are in favor of the GS, 4 can't decide and 1 would go with the JLC.
 
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