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This week, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed generational superstar Shohei Ohtani to a 10-year, $700 million deal—the largest in professional sports history. And for his first-ever press conference at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, the Japanese icon strapped on a most excellent timepiece.
While many would celebrate the better part of a billion bucks with some iced-out monstrosity, Ohtani sprung instead for a Grand Seiko ref. SBGM221—an automatic, 39.5mm GMT that costs less than $5,000. Having grown up in Japan and begun his baseball career there, the choice certainly seems to reflect pride in his heritage—though there’s plenty to love about this watch beyond that connection.
Grand Seiko, of course, has been crafting incredible, high-end timepieces in Japan since 1960. While Seiko is known for its affordable wares, G.S. covers the upper end of the market, with watches retailing for between a few thousand bucks up to several hundred thousand. (An even higher-end, vaguely secretive Seiko marque, Credor, builds exceptionally fine timepieces out of precious metals.)
Housed in a stainless steel case, the SBGM221 is a gem in a catalog full of beautiful pieces. Boasting a box-shaped sapphire crystal and Zaratsu-polished lugs—a Grand Seiko hallmark—it has the look of a classic GS model from the mid-20th century, but upsized for more modern tastes. (Though, thankfully, not overly so—it still clocks in below 40mm.) Its ivory dial with applied indices, an inner 24-hour track in black, and beautifully polished dauphine hands is simple and elegant, while its blue, arrow-shaped GMT hand makes checking the time in a second time zone a cinch.
The Rolex GMT-Master is, of course, the golden standard for dual-time watches. But its heavy steel case and matching bracelet conveys a particular utilitarian aesthetic; the SBGM221’s look, on the other hand, is much dressier, especially with its included brown crocodile leather strap. Powering it, meanwhile, is a Grand Seiko 9S66 automatic movement with a 72-hour power reserve and +5 to -3 seconds per day of accuracy—a top-notch in-house caliber. The watch’s designer, Nobuhiro Kosugi, received the Contemporary Master Craftsman designation from the Japanese government.
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