This New Seiko 5 GMT is the Best Affordable Rolex Explorer 2 Polar Dial Alternative

This New Seiko 5 GMT is the Best Affordable Rolex Explorer 2 Polar Dial Alternative

Seiko SBSC009 Review

The Rolex Explorer II, particularly the white dial “polar” dial variants have always been a grail of mine. But since it’s way outside my price range I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect affordable alternative. With the release of the Seiko SBSC009, a new affordable GMT watch in the Seiko 5 Sports range, I think I just might have found the ultimate Rolex Explorer II alternative. The one catch is that while Seiko offers a couple of black dial versions internationally (the SSK023 and SSK025), the white dial SBSC009 is reserved for the Japan Domestic Market. Lucky for me I live in Japan!

Introducing the Seiko SBSC009 – a timepiece that exudes the luxury vibes without breaking the bank. Reminiscent of the iconic Rolex Explorer 2, this affordable watch packs a punch with its impressive features and stylish design. Sporting a fixed bezel adorned with engraved 24-hour markers and a striking white dial, the SBSC009 mirrors the aesthetic appeal of its high-end counterpart. But what truly sets it apart is the inclusion of a GMT function and an eye-catching orange GMT hand, allowing for easy tracking of multiple time zones with precision. With its sleek appearance and practical functionalities, this Seiko timepiece offers a compelling option for watch enthusiasts seeking both style and affordability.


  • Durable, Low Cost GMT
  • Premium finishing on the bezel
  • High Quality bracelet
  • Classic Seiko design


  • Hardlex crystal instead of sapphire
  • A little bit on the thick side
  • Competition from microbrands and Chinese manufactures using the same movement

Design and Features

Powered by the New Seiko 4R34 Automatic GMT Movement

This watch is made possible by Seiko’s recently released 4R35 Automatic GMT movement, which essentially created a whole new category of affordable and reliable automatic GMT watches. This movement is based on the Seiko’s proven 4R36 movement which has a reputation for being rock solid and easy to maintain. It features the same 40 hour power reserve and 3hz beat rate found in its predecessors, but now includes an independently settable 4th GMT hand while also keeping the quickest date function.

A GMT Field Watch

Like the Rolex Explorer II, the Seiko SBSC009 design concept is that of a field watch with a GMT functionality, and features a striking engraved 24 hour bezel. The Seiko SBSC009 has a stark white dial that exudes a timeless charm reminiscent of powdered snow. However, while the simple 12-hour Arabic markings offer an elegant touch, some may find the lack of individually applied markers a slight drawback. The metallic paint coating on the markers provides adequate contrast against the dial but falls short of maximizing visibility in certain lighting conditions; I would have favored the black on white contrast seen on the Rolex Explorer II. Additionally, the inclusion of 24-hour military time markings on the inner section of the dial may overwhelm some users, leading to potential confusion when reading the GMT time against the bezel markings.

Premium fixed GMT Bezel

Despite these minor design considerations, the Seiko SBSC009 shines with its thoughtful design elements, offering a blend of sophistication and functionality. One standout feature is its meticulously crafted 24-hour bezel, which not only serves as a practical tool for tracking additional time zones but also adds a distinct character to the watch. Like the Rolex Explorer II, the bezel of the Seiko SBSC009 features detailed engraved markings, filled with crisp black paint, which exude a sense of precision and attention to detail, elevating the overall aesthetics of the timepiece. Its vertical brushing creates a captivating sunburst effect, further enhancing its visual appeal and setting it apart from other watches in its class.

A Clean Design with Universal appeal

Beyond the bezel, the SBSC009 boasts a sleek and versatile design that appeals to a wide range of watch enthusiasts. The stark white dial, adorned with simple 12-hour Arabic markings and a subtle date window at 3 o’clock, exudes a timeless elegance that pairs effortlessly with any outfit or occasion. The inclusion of an orange-tipped GMT hand adds a pop of color to the monochromatic palette, injecting a playful touch into the design. Combined with the upgraded bracelet featuring solid links and end links, the SBSC009 offers both style and substance, making it a standout choice for those seeking a reliable and visually appealing timepiece.

On the Wrist

The Seiko SBSC009 offers a comfortable wearing experience, despite its slightly increased thickness. This is one area where the Rolex Explorer II has an obvious advantage managing to produce a much slimmer case compared with tall 14mm case of the Seio SBSC009. However Seiko’s thoughtful design ensures that it doesn’t feel overly bulky on the wrist, distributing that thickness evenly across its components, including the exhibition case back, midcase, bezel, and crystal, creating a subtle step effect that minimizes the perception of its height.

On the wrist, the SBSC009 feels well-balanced and secure, refined bracelet and solid links and end links, both upgrades over the non-GMT versions of this watch. Despite its robust construction, the watch maintains a comfortable fit, allowing for extended wear without causing any discomfort. Overall, while the slightly increased thickness may be noticeable to some, it doesn’t detract from the watch’s overall wearing experience, making it a practical and stylish choice for daily wear.

Strap Monster

When it comes to strap options, the SBSC009 offers versatility and customization to suit every wearer’s preference. With drilled lugs facilitating easy strap changes, the possibilities are endless. Whether you prefer the classic look of a stainless steel bracelet or the casual elegance of a leather strap, this timepiece can effortlessly adapt to your style. Additionally, NATO straps and rubber bands provide additional options for those seeking a more sporty or casual vibe. With its compatibility with various strap styles, the SRPG 009 JD M Edition allows you to personalize your watch to perfectly complement any occasion or outfit.

After Dark Performance

The lume on the Seiko SBSC009 offers decent visibility in low-light conditions, but falls short of expectations compared to previous models. While the hour and minute hands boast thick pencil-shaped markers that retain luminescence for a considerable duration, the smaller lume plots on the hour markers fade relatively quickly. Despite this drawback, the watch still outperforms many field watches from other brands in its price range, providing adequate visibility for reading the time in the dark.

Let’s talk money

Priced at approximately $400, the Seiko SBSC009 faces stiff competition from microbrand alternatives offering similar specifications at a more affordable price point. The lack of a sapphire crystal in favor of the cheaper and more sctratch prone hardlex, is an especially difficult pill to swallow at this price. However Seiko’s retail prices tend to drop over time, so I would expect this to settle into around the $350 range shortly. At that price it’s a real bargain. But even at it’s current retail price Seiko’s reputation for quality craftsmanship and heritage cannot be overlooked. Overall, despite the availability of alternatives, the SBSC009 remains a solid choice for those looking to add a versatile and reliable timepiece to their collection without breaking the bank.


In conclusion, the Seiko SBSC009 presents itself as a compelling option for watch enthusiasts seeking a balance of style, functionality, and affordability. With its sleek design, upgraded bracelet, and GMT complication powered by Seiko’s reliable 4R34 movement, the watch offers considerable value for its price point. However, it’s not without its drawbacks, such as the relatively weaker lume compared to previous models and minor design quirks like the crowded dial. Despite these shortcomings, the SBSC009 remains a standout choice, particularly for those who appreciate Seiko’s heritage and craftsmanship. Whether you’re exploring multiple time zones or simply looking to make a stylish statement, this watch is sure to impress with its blend of sophistication and practicality.

SBSC009 Specs

Retail Price 59,400 JPY ($400)
Movement: Seiko 4r34 Automatic GMT
Case: 39mm
Lugs: 20mm
Lug-Lug: 47mm
Thickness: 14mm
Hardlex Crystal
100M WR


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