Seiko celebrated the opening of its second United States boutique, in Miami’s burgeoning Design District, last week with an opening event hosted by Seiko Corporation of America Chairman Akio Naito and attended by over 100 guests, with a small media contingent that included WatchTime. After cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at neighboring Michael’s Genuine restaurant, and a traditional Japanese toast with sake, Naito cut the ceremonial ribbon and guests were offered a tour of the new boutique, which is primarily dedicated to Seiko’s most prestigious collections, including Grand Seiko, Astron, Credor, and the recently introduced Presage.
Among the notable timepieces we spotted was this limited-edition Seiko Astron GPS Solar (below), outfitted with the new, enhanced Caliber 8X22 and sporting an eye-catching, dark mother-of-pearl dial. The watch offers a slimmer case than its predecessors in the Astron collection (only 12.4 mm thick, compared to the original’s 13.3 mm), which means the antenna that receives GPS signals is also smaller, though Seiko’s technicians were able to increase the processing power of the circuit in the GPS module so that the sensitivity of the smaller antenna is unchanged and the reception of GPS signals is just as easy. One button push allows the Astron, which is powered by light, to adjust to the local time in every time zone in the world. The new, uncluttered dial design places all the necessary indications, other than local time and date, on one small subdial in the lower left. The dark mother-of-pearl used for the dial is inspired, Seiko says, by the view of the Earth at night as seen from a GPS satellite. The 44-mm case is made of titanium with an ultra-hard black coating and features a bezel made of black ceramic; the bracelet features both hard-coated titanium and ceramic and fastens with a three-fold push-button clasp. Limited to 3,500 pieces, it retails for $2,400.
In the display case dedicated to Seiko’s sporty Prospex collection, our eyes were drawn to the Prospex Marinemaster GPS Solar Dual Time (below), a limited edition of 1,500 pieces and the first watch, other than Astron, to incorporate Seiko’s GPS Solar technology. Conceived as a watch for use in sailing — during which knowing the exact time and time zone at sea is vital for synchronizing communications with a team back home — the new Marinemaster allows its user to adjust the local time to that of any time zone on Earth with the push of a button. Powered by light like the Astron models, the Marinemaster also features a dual-time function (with an AM/PM indication) that allows a sailor to know the time in his or her home port as well as the local time at sea.
The case (48.5 mm) and bracelet of the Prospex Marinemaster GPS Solar Dual-Time are also built with the rigors of ocean racing in mind, made of lightweight, corrosion-resistant titanium with an extra-hard coating and topped off with a two-tone ceramic bezel. The bezel features engraved city name abbreviations that allow for a reading of the time in 40 different world time zones. The crown and caseback are both screwed down, aiding in the case’s seaworthy water resistance of 200 meters. The sapphire crystal has glare-resistant coating on both sides, and the large hands and prow-shaped hour markers are coated with Seiko’s own “Lumibrite” luminescent coating for nighttime legibility. The bracelet closes securely with a push-button-release three-fold clasp. The watch retails for $3,000.
Also on display were several of the all-new Grand Seiko Black Ceramic limited editions, including the coveted “green dial” version (Ref. SBGC017) of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT. Its five-part case construction includes an inner case made from high-intensity titanium and an outer shell and bezel made from zirconia ceramic — a material that Seiko says is stronger and tougher than any other fine ceramic. The case — measuring 46.4 mm in diameter and water-resistant to 100 meters — is also 25 percent lighter than stainless steel despite being seven times harder than that material on the Vickers scale, and is highly resistant to scratches.
The dark green dial on this model is enhanced with a “fir tree” motif that symbolizes Japan’s Onbashira festival, an event held every six years in the Japanese town of Suwa, in Nagano Prefecture, near the Seiko atelier where the watch is produced. The centerpiece of the festival — a tradition believed to have continued uninterrupted for 1,200 years — is the carrying of huge fir trees down a mountainside to a shrine, where they are erected at the four corners to symbolize the shrine’s renewal.
The Spring Drive movement powering the watch is Seiko’s 9R96, which holds a power reserve of 72 hours and delivers a high level of timekeeping accuracy (+/- 0.5 seconds per day and +/- 10 seconds per month). The movement is visible through a screwed, see-through sapphire caseback. The Ref. SBGC017 is limited to just 600 pieces, priced at $13,000.
For the evening of the opening night event, the boutique was also showing the extremely limited Credor Fugaku Tourbillon (more info and photos here), the Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater, and one of the very first Presage models (info and photos here) to make it to the U.S. market. Seiko says that the boutique will unveil collections never before seen in the U.S., as well as offer boutique-exclusive pieces, in the future. On November 10, Seiko and its Design District boutique will take part in the first WatchTime Miami collectors’ event, along with several other luxury brands. Click here for a list of brands and to register for the event.