Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Editions
The Japanese luxury watch brand has unveiled two new watches, the Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Editions, each endowed with an engraved dial.
Craftsmanship is an integral part of Japanese life. The nation’s artisans make exquisite objects employing an extraordinary degree of fastidiousness. The methods employed often respect historical techniques passed down from one generation to the next. For example, the making of a samurai sword is protracted. Everything starts with the making of the steel, a process where iron sand and charcoal are heated in a type of furnace termed a tartara.
The base of the sword is forged using an anvil and various types of hammer. It is the repeated hammering of the metal that removes impurities. The metal is repeatedly folded and shaped. This necessitates heating the metal and then quenching it in water causing the surface to oxidise. The oxidisation is subsequently removed, ridding the surface of impurities.
Ultimately, the sword is shaped, polished and signed by its creator. Unlike many so-called luxury goods, the high cost of the sword is a function of its time-consuming creation.
This fixation with perfection is not limited to merely samurai swords. The finest kimonos, Mingei pottery, artisanal inks or shoji, the legendary paper screens, used as interior walls and sliding doors, are all made to exacting standards.
Grand Seiko has repeatedly shown its respect for Japanese craftsmanship. Indeed, as any GS owner will attest, there are numerous components, painstakingly made with deft use of hand.
As part of its 60th anniversary commemorations, Grand Seiko has released two limited-edition models featuring engraved dials. One model, the Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGW263, is housed in a 39mm platinum case and features an 18-carat white gold dial. A further model, the Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGW264 is presented in an 18-carat rose gold case with a gorgeous green dial, said to be inspired by the birch trees close to the brand’s Shizukuishi atelier.
For several years, Shizukuishi has been the birthplace of Grand Seiko’s mechanical watches. Now, the brand has announced plans to open an additional production site, the new Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi, intended to cope with the growing demand for the company’s products. Clearly, an increasing number of horophiles are beginning to discover the charm’s of Grand Seiko and its wonderful use of artisanal crafts.
The brand’s press release
In this, the 60th year of Grand Seiko, the natural beauty of Shizukuishi, the home of Grand Seiko’s mechanical watches, is celebrated in a new platinum cased watch whose dial is hand engraved with symbols reflecting the legend that gave it its name. Powered by the manual- winding Caliber 9S64, this creation marks a new departure for the Elegance Collection and is a powerful symbol of the vitality that the start of Grand Seiko’s new 60 year cycle represents.
The legend of Shizukuishi
Legend has it that, about a thousand years ago, an old man who lived in what is now Shizukuishi started to hear a strange sound coming from deep underneath a huge old cedar tree. People traced its source to what seemed to be a bottomless cave and realized that the sound was that of water drops, “shizuku” in Japanese, dripping from the ceiling of the cave onto the rocks, “ishi,” and resonating throughout the cave and beyond. The area became known as Shizukuishi and it is this legend behind the name that provides the inspiration for the engraving on the dial and on the hands. The hands feature a water droplet motif along their full length and each hour marker carries the pattern of water splashing onto rock.
Every aspect of the watchmaking of this creation is handled with meticulous care but the engraving, especially, is a true labour of love. Master engraver Kiyoshi Terui and his small team engrave all the elements on the dial by hand. Their work covers not only the hands and indexes but also the Grand Seiko name and the star mark at the 6 o’clock position. Every stroke of the blade has to be exactly right, a task that is all the more delicate with this watch as both the plates on which the indexes and the minute track are engraved are curved. These plates and the dial itself are made of 18k white gold. The engraving of each watch requires many days of this intense and highly skilled work.
The engraving may be intricate but it is also powerful. Its straight lines accentuate the legibility of the time, making this watch true to the Grand Seiko aesthetic, while the whole watch has the soft, gently angular profile that is part of the Elegance Collection’s signature.
This unique timepiece is offered in a limited edition of 20 and will be available in July 2020 at the Grand Seiko Boutiques.
The natural beauty of Shizukuishi inspires a second manual-winding creation, also with an engraved dial.
This second Shizukuishi-inspired watch features the same 9S64 manual-winding calibre but the case is in 18k rose gold and the dial has an intricate yet sharp pattern that only very precise machine engraving can achieve.
The dial pattern takes the imagination to the forest of white birch trees near the studio where the watch is made. As the viewing angle changes, the dial shimmers in green and white, just as do the trees when summer sunlight catches the leaves and the white bark of their trunks and dapples the forest floor. The soft, natural feel of the watch is completed by the slim profile of the case and the curved dial whose contours are followed exactly by the hands that are shaped by hand.
The watch is offered as a limited edition of 120 and will be available in July 2020 at the Grand Seiko Boutiques and Grand Seiko Salons worldwide.