Baselworld is only six weeks away and Grand Seiko has some exciting news to tide us over until the big show. The Japanese brand has revealed four new watches in the Elegance Collection that feature a new manual-winding caliber, a slimmed-down case profile, and a variety of attractive dials.
The big news here for fans of Grand Seiko has to do with the introduction of Caliber 9S63, the first new manually winding movement for the brand in eight years. It beats at 28,880 vph, features a power reserve of 72 hours, and offers up a small seconds at 9 o’clock and a power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock. Grand Seiko states that the movement has been specced to an accuracy rating of between +5 and -3 seconds per day.
Protecting Caliber 9S63 is a new case design that measures in at a nicely attenuated 39 mm by 11.6 mm. The cases — available in either rose gold, yellow gold, or stainless steel — are polished using Grand Seiko’s prized Zaratsu method and both the dials and sapphire crystals are slightly curved, adding extra depth to the watch’s appearance. The elongated minute hand, as well as the power reserve indicator, is slightly bent to follow along with the domed structure.
The dials of two of the four new models feature urushi lacquer, a centuries-old Japanese technique that involves collecting sap from the poisonous Japanese lacquer tree and then applying it layer-by-layer onto the dial. One of the models features an amber tint (SBGK002) that is inspired by Mt. Iwate, the peak that resides outside of Grand Seiko’s Shizukuishi Watch Studio. A black dialed model (SBGK004) uses the same lacquer technique, but is mixed with iron to give it a unique, blacked-out appearance.
It’s not just the dials that stand out here as the numerals, hour indexes, and “GS” logo also feature an impressive level of craftsmanship. Countless layers of lacquer are applied to build up a three-dimensional profile before a final coating of powder, either 24k gold or platinum, is placed on top. The markers are then polished by hand using a variety of special tools to achieve the eye-catching final product. This process is referred to as maki-e and is handled for Grand Seiko by a master craftsman named Isshu Tamura in his studio on the west coast of Japan’s main island.
Starting in March, three of these models will be available in a series of limited edition runs. The two urushi-enhanced watches are completed in 18k rose gold cases and are limited to 150 total pieces. Both are priced at $29,000. A third model in stainless steel with a blue dial inspired by Mt. Iwate (SBGK005) is limited to 1,500 pieces and is priced at $7,400. Finally, a fourth model with a white dial and an 18k yellow gold case (SBGK006) will be added as an unlimited release in July of this year for the price of $19,000.
A Grand Seiko will be the final addition to my modest collection. These new models are very compelling. The company appears to be moving forward while staying true to their founding principles of design. The steel cased version comes in at a very good price.
I have lusted and dreamed of this watch forever. What a wonderful piece of art. Wish I could do it. I think Seiko should sponsor a regular guy like me to be a spokesperson for the watch for my service to the needy for 40 years. It would be an honor. And a good will gesture…peace and coexist…Richard