Grand Seiko: A New Direction With New Models For 2017
While Seiko’s premium mechanical collection Grand Seiko has long been an insider tip among connoisseurs since its re-launch in 2010, today it enjoys an almost legendary reputation and is highly sought-after by fans of minimalist and timeless design.
Consequently, Seiko has decided to put the Grand Seiko collection even more into the spotlight by turning it into a brand of its own.
In the world of watches, for many the 1950s and 1960s constituted the golden era. Back then, some of the most iconic timepieces were introduced, watches that continue to delight us right up to today: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Memovox, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, Breitling’s Navitimer, and the Omega Speedmaster to name just a few.
These Swiss legends were joined on the other side of the world by the first Grand Seiko, which made its debut in Tokyo on December 18, 1960. Also an outstanding timepiece, yet of more exotic Japanese origin, the Grand Seiko was a perfect fit into this splendid era of elegantly understated watch styling offering superlative technology.
Powered by hand-wound Caliber 3180 beating at 2.5 Hz, it provided chronometric accuracy at a very high level, even exceeding the standard testing procedures of the Swiss C.O.S.C. institution.
The company’s quest for “the creation of the most advanced practical watch in the world” was symbolized by a lion logo engraved into the case back, hinting that the Grand Seiko might just be the “king of watches.”
The Grand Seiko dial expressed purity at its best according to the Japanese sense of beauty, further accentuated by the slender case style. In fact, the very first model along with Reference 44GS from 1967 laid the fundamental signatures for the stunning functional form of all subsequent Grand Seiko generations.
Nine elements comprise the hallmarks of the Grand Seiko style:
- A double-width index at 12 o’clock
- Multi-faceted rectangular markers
- A highly polished bezel
- Highly polished planes and a two-dimensional surface
- A half-recessed crown
- A flat dial
- Multi-faceted hour and minute hands
- A curved sideline
- A reverse slanted bezel wall and case sides
These characteristics have contributed to the Japanese aesthetic vision of light, shadow, and flat forms. Naturally, the combination of fine polishing and flat surfaces evokes an ever-changing interplay of light and shadow, an element that is admired by Grand Seiko connoisseurs and enthusiasts around the world.
Laying the foundation for a great future: Grand Seiko of 1960
Back to today.
At Baselworld 2017, Seiko president and CEO Shinji Hattori announced exciting news for Grand Seiko: “From today, Grand Seiko lives a truly independent life and sets out on a new journey. My intention is that, in the coming years, Grand Seiko will scale new heights of watchmaking excellence and commercial success.”
In line with this new brand policy, the Japanese watch giant has debuted a host of new, mostly limited-edition timepieces that share an old yet new characteristic: the latest generation again proudly displays the “Grand Seiko” logo just below the 12 o’clock position as was the case with the very first Grand Seiko back in 1960.
So does the purest interpretation of this year’s introductions, the so called Re-Creation of the First Grand Seiko, which is bound to delight collectors as the series, available in platinum, yellow gold, and stainless steel, perfectly recalls the minimalism of the first Grand Seiko models.
The dial of this timepiece is as understated as one can imagine: a set of hands and markers and that is all. The diameter is slightly increased to 38 mm in order to make for more contemporary proportions.
All three versions are powered by manual winding Caliber 9S64 beating at 4 Hz and boasting a power reserve of 72 hours. This movement offers a high accuracy of -3 to +5 seconds per day, except the platinum version, which is adjusted to an even more advanced level of precision in a range of -1 to +5 seconds per day.
Additionally, it is equipped with magnetic resistance to 4,800 A/m, the standard for Grand Seiko.
Awesomely authentic: the Grand Seiko Modern Re-Interpretation
The so-called Modern Re-Interpretation Reference SBGR305 is also inspired by the past, but features the signatures of the contemporary collection such as the slim case with recessed sides and narrow, elongated lugs.
Water-resistant to 100 meters, it is clad in Brilliant Hard Titanium, an exclusive material that is notably light but twice as hard as stainless steel in order to provide a high scratch resistance.
The special polishing technique Seiko calls Zaratsu further highlights the distinctive classic three-hand character by lending some of the surfaces an almost architecture-like sharpness and a unique matte shimmer in accordance with Grand Seiko’s core light-and-shadow philosophy.
The ticking heart inside is a new automatic movement, Caliber 9S68, achieves its power-lending beats underneath a see-through case back in order to exhibit its fine decors and finishing.
Caliber 9S68’s architecture allows for a larger date display as well as a 72-hour power reserve.
Diving deep: Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s
In addition to these modern classics, Seiko adds to the sporty line of the collection with a new diver’s watch designed for professional use, including saturation diving. Thanks to its heavy-duty construction and the proven L-shaped gasket, no helium valve is needed.
The Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s offers the same high precision with a deviation of only -3 to +5 seconds a day. It is powered by automatic Caliber 9S85 beating at 36,000 vibrations per hour and boasting an exceptional magnetic resistance of 16,000 A/m.
Its case is crafted from very durable high-intensity titanium, allowing the bold 47 mm case featuring a four-part bezel to still feel quite light on the wrist.
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s is available in two variations: a limited edition with a blue dial and a blue silicone strap in addition to a High Intensity Titanium bracelet. The second version features a black dial and is not limited.
For more information, please visit www.grand-seiko.com.
Quick Facts The Re-Creation of the First Grand Seiko References SBGW251, 252, 253
Case: 38 x 10.7 mm, platinum, yellow gold, stainless steel
Movement: manual winding Caliber 9S64, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency, 72-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 136 pieces in platinum; 353 pieces in yellow gold; 1,960 pieces in stainless steel
Price: €38,500 (platinum), €21,700 (yellow gold), €7,200 (stainless steel)
Quick Facts Grand Seiko Modern Re-Interpretation Reference SBGR305
Case: 40.5 x 13.6 mm, Brilliant Hard titanium
Movement: automatic Caliber 9S68, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 72-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 968 pieces
Quick Facts Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver’s References SBGH255, 257
Case: 46.9 x 17.0 mm, High Intensity Titanium
Movement: automatic Caliber 9S85, 5 Hz/36,000 vph frequency, 55-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: Reference SBGH257 limited to 500 pieces
Price: €12,100 (Reference SBGH255), €12,300 (Reference SBGH257)
Available from: August 2017
Also published on Medium.