We didn't see this one coming. Seiko has once again raised the bar, this time by lowering the barrier to getting a solid automatic GMT watch. New models in the Seiko 5 Sports collection have familiar looks and specs, but an extra hand for tracking a second time zone makes a huge difference.
Since its reintroduction in 2019, the modern Seiko 5 Sports collection has exploded with variations and limited editions. The basic dive-style model led to field watch designs, and the uber-popular GMT would seem to fit right in stylistically.
There's only one issue: adding that fourth hand to display a second time zone in 24-hour format is a somewhat involved proposition in a mechanical watch. This is why automatic GMT watches tend to be relatively expensive, and we didn't really expect Seiko to be able to pull off the GMT within their budget range.
They did so by modifying the basic 4R36 movements found in the collection's time-only watches and giving the new GMT movements the name 4R34. Just like the rest of the collection you can see them through the watches' casebacks — but don't expect them to look much different from that angle. Its operation is similar to popular GMT movements from ETA: the crowns second position adjust the GMT hand in one direction and the date in the other.
It seems that much of what we love about the standard dive-style Seiko 5 Sports watches is the same for the new GMTs. You've still got the basic design with a 42.5mm-wide, ergonomic case with 100m of water resistance. The differences are the GMT functionality, of course, the rotating bezel with its 24-hour markings, no day-of-the-week display, a cyclops (magnifier) over the date — and a probably negligible 0.2mm of thickness to the case which now comes in at 13.6mm. They also come on a new (for the collection) Jubilee-style bracelet which complements the style nicely.
Let's just reiterate why Seiko's new automatic GMT watches are a big deal in the grand scheme of modern watches. We've searched for affordable GMTs, and though you can get the a decent quartz example for about $200 from Timex, you're usually talking well into four figures for one with a mechanical movement (the Maen Greenwich 38 being about the cheapest we've found). In other words, there's nothing else like it on the market. Could something in the sub- or circa $1,000 Prospex range be next?
While these still fall within the budget Seiko 5 Sports range, there's an expected premium for the GMT. Compared to the basic, time-only models which start under $300 at retail, the Seiko 5 Sports GMT watches will be $475. That's still under the entry point for Seiko's higher-tier Prospex collection and an incredibly cool watch for the money.