Seiko’s Credor Turns 45 – And Celebrates With Incredibly Detailed, Engraved Reference GXBE998 Pocket Watch
Though there are many ways to celebrate an anniversary, Seiko’s Credor may have just set a new precedent: 45 years after its founding in 1974, it celebrates the milestone with the release of a timepiece crafted to the highest degree by its master watchmakers in conjunction with award-winning master engraver Kiyoshi Terui.
Credor, whose name comes from the French “crête d’or” (“crest of gold”), is a Seiko sub-brand that is now primarily utilized to showcase the highest end of the Japanese marque’s artistry. This is where the most luxurious and painstakingly crafted creations of the brand are at home.
Seiko Credor GXBE998: honoring the Caliber 68 series
The Credor GXBE998 is a manual-winding pocket watch powered by Caliber 6898, a descendant of the brand’s historical Caliber 68 series dating back to 1969. This movement is ultra thin, which allows for a slim case, roughly the profile of a traditional 12-size gents’ dress watch.
Housed in 18-karat yellow gold – a color likely specifically chosen to underscore the vintage vibe of this watch – the GXBE998 also offers a sapphire crystal, water resistance to 30 meters (in a static environment), and magnetic resistance up 4,800 A/m.
The watch also comes with a matching single Albert chain – one with a spring ring at one end so that the watch may be attached through the buttonhole – and drop for the attachment of your favorite fob or charm.
While all these specifications are enticing, the most jaw dropping aspect of the timepiece is the engraving found beneath the exhibition case back.
The Seiko Credor GXBE998’s secret: an engraving that celebrates life
Rather than offering a solid case back or a transparent one with a simple view of the admittedly delicious movement, Credor’s artists decided to honor the anniversary with something truly unique: a three-dimensional hand-engraving of the tree of life, which is a significant concept in both the Shinto and Buddhist religions.
Not surprisingly, these are the main two forms of religion in Japan. Followers of Shinto – the country’s indigenous and dominant religion – believe that everything in nature is possessed by spirits.
The “tree of life” design is the result of more than 100 hours of hand engraving in a 1.85 millimeter-high space.
Incorporated among the exquisitely detailed gold trunk and branches of the tree are three symbolic motifs all crafted in mother-of-pearl inlay. These include a lotus, a peony, and other plants to denote good fortune. A pomegranate fruit indicates prosperity, while an owl boasting an unusual piece of black mother-of-pearl symbolizes growing old with joy and success.
The polished mother-of-pearl combined with the microscopic level of detail in the artisan’s work is breathtaking. Partially visible behind the tree is the Caliber 6898’s balance wheel, providing a nod to the past as well as to the future.
Seiko engraver Kiyoshi Terui
Terui joined the Seiko family in 1970 and has received two of the highest honors in Japan for his work: in 2002, Terui was awarded the title Contemporary Master Craftsman by the Japanese government and in 2007 he received the imperial Medal with Yellow Ribbon from Emperor Akihito.
Terui’s expertise with precious metals made him the perfect choice for Credor’s anniversary watch, particularly given the brand’s focus on those elements.
With pocket watches seemingly coming back in style – see my thoughts on that in The Current State Of The Pocket Watch: It’s Better Than You Might Think – it’s not a huge surprise to see Credor having announced the release of this beautiful timepiece at the 2019 edition of Baselworld.
Quick Facts Seiko Credor GXBE998 pocket watch
Case: 39 x 9.7 mm, yellow gold with yellow gold chain
Dial: silvered with Arabic numerals
Movement: manually wound Caliber 6898, 37 hours power reserve; 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 10 pieces
Price: 10 million JPY + tax (approx. $90,000)