Credor Eichi II GBLT997
The Credor Eichi II GBLT997 is the latest creation to leave the brand’s Micro Artist Studio in Shiojiri, Japan. Housed in a 39mm platinum case and featuring a Spring Drive movement, this high-end timepiece marks the 140th anniversary of Kintaro Hattori establishing his eponymous company, a firm that is now better known as the Seiko Watch Company.
In 1881, aged just 21, Kintaro Hattori established his own company, ‘K. Hattori’. Today, that company is better-known as ‘Seiko’. Next year (2021), several Seiko brands will acknowledge the 140th anniversary of Kintaro founding his firm by releasing several new models.
It has been a long journey for the Japanese company. It started by repairing, importing and selling clocks as well as watches. Now Seiko encompasses numerous brands, including Seiko Presage, Seiko Prospex, Grand Seiko and Credor.
Founded in 1974, Credor has created some remarkable timepieces worthy of the term Haute Horlogerie. The luxury brand has made both a Sonnerie (2006) and a Minute Repeater (2011), two of the most technically challenging complications to realise. These models do not purport to be better than Swiss watches, they are merely different. Moreover, they are infused with a sizeable dose of Japanese culture.
For example, the Sonnerie features three modes. A silent mode, a ‘sonnerie’ mode, where the watch strikes the hours on the hour, and, lastly, an ‘original’ mode. This latter setting causes the gong to be struck every 3 hours and was inspired by the bells found in Japanese temples that were used to indicate 3-hour intervals throughout the working day.
When Credor unveiled the inaugural Eichi in 2008, it was comparatively simple when contrasted with its older sibling, the Sonnerie. However, behind the chaste-white dial of the original Eichi there was much mechanical excellence at play. The watch was equipped with a hand-wound Spring Drive movement, the Calibre 7R08A, delivering superb precision. The inventory of functions was limited to hours, minutes and seconds with a power-reserve indicator positioned between 9 and 10 o’clock. One potential weakness of this model was that its platinum case measured just 35mm in diameter, a size that would prove off-putting to many Western horophiles.
In 2014, the Japanese marque unveiled the Eichi II. Again it was housed in platinum, but this time measured 39mm in diameter. The dial was even cleaner, displaying merely hours, minutes and central seconds against a pure white backdrop. The power-reserve indicator had been moved from the dial to the movement, making the display appear even cleaner and less cluttered than its predecessor. Four years later, in 2018, a rose gold version of the Credor Eichi II was released.
Now, eager to pay its respects to Kintaro Hattori, the esteemed Maison has unveiled the Credor Eichi II GBLT997. Housed in a 39mm platinum case this model features a gorgeous lapis lazuli dial. The indications remain the same as the first Eichi II model of 2014 and it is fitted with the highly precise Spring Drive 7R14.
A few years ago, I had the great privilege to visit the Micro Artist Studio in Shiojiri. Whilst looking around this small workshop, I noted a picture of Philippe Dufour on the wall. Mr Dufour is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest watchmakers and probably the best practitioner of high-end finishing.
My host explained that several of Credor’s watchmakers have travelled to the Vallée de Joux, Switzerland to spend time with Philippe Dufour honing their finishing skills. I was also informed that Mr Dufour regularly sends sticks of gentian wood from the region to the personnel working in the Micro Artist Studio. This wood is used to deliver the final polish to plates and bridges. The reason for my mentioning these latter facts is that a Credor movement is finished to an elevated standard worthy of comparison with the very best watchmaking has to offer.
- Credor Eichi II GBLT997 – approximate recommended retail price in Europe €59,000 (RRP as at 12.11.2020)
The brand’s press release (November 2020)
Since the first Credor Eichi was created in 2008, the combination of its beautifully simple design and the exquisite hand craftsmanship of its manufacture has made a lasting mark on the world horological stage. To begin a year of celebration of the 140th anniversary of the establishment by Kintaro Hattori of the company known today as Seiko Watch Corporation, a new edition of Credor Eichi II has been created with a Platinum 950 case and, for the first time, a blue dial.
Handcrafted and with a hand painted porcelain dial
Eichi II is the work of the elite team of watchmakers at the Micro Artist Studio in Shiojiri. It is made, assembled and finished by hand and, remarkably, each of the 12 indexes and the letters of the name Credor are hand-painted on to the porcelain dial by one of studio’s own craftsmen. Now in its 20th year, the Micro Artist Studio created not only Eichi (2008) and Eichi II (2014) but also many others including the Credor Spring Drive Sonnerie (2006) and the Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater (2011).
The mysterious, deep blue of Ruri
Known as Ruri in Japan and elsewhere as lapis lazuli, this deep blue colour has entranced makers of jewellery and other objets d’art for centuries because of its intensity and its richness. It perfectly suits the simple, clean layout of the Eichi II dial and provides the ideal contrast to the white indexes and hands. It took over two years to develop this particular shade of Ruri blue and to achieve it requires each dial to be fired repeatedly, a process that takes place at the Micro Artist Studio under the close supervision of the studio’s own craftsmen. Thanks to the Spring Drive movement, the white seconds hand moves in perfect glide motion across the Ruri dial, creating a powerful experience of the true, continuous flow of time.
The dial has a gentle curve thanks to the careful application of the porcelain glaze which creates a surface tension, giving it a slightly domed shape. The very nature of porcelain leads to the glaze being slightly thinner at the edge and centre of the dial so that, as light plays across each dial, it reveals its own particular shades and tones.
Powered by Spring Drive. Finished to perfection
The Spring Drive 7R14 movement is a joy to behold. It has a two-piece bridge for strength and stability and the eye is caught by its perfectly bevelled edges. The rims of the bridges, the holes for rubies and the screws are all expertly hand polished to a perfect mirror finish and the tempered blue screws stand out in contrast to the hairline finish of the bridges to heighten the perception of the perfection of the engineering. The barrel has the shape of the bellflower that is the symbol of the city of Shiojiri and a slender, tempered blue hand indicates precisely the power held in reserve. The Spring Drive movement is manual-winding and features the unique Torque Return System* which delivers a power reserve of 60 hours.
*Torque Return System: When the mainspring has been fully wound and the torque output is at its highest, approximately 30% of the available power is not needed to maintain the precision of the watch, and is in effect wasted in a normal movement. The Torque Return System uses this energy to rewind the mainspring, resulting in an increase in the power reserve.