On December 18, 1960, Japanese watchmaking giant Seiko released its “King of Watches,” the first Grand Seiko timepiece, which became legendary for reaching new heights of precision, durability, legibility, and ease of use. This year, the Grand Seiko brand — once Japan’s best-kept horological secret, now a worldwide phenomenon — celebrates 60 years with a host of new models and calibers. We’ve already seen four new limited editions with signature blue dials, unveiled earlier this year. Today, we take a look at a trio of commemorative editions that pay very faithful homage to the very first Grand Seiko.
All three models of the 60th Anniversary Grand Seiko Re-Creation are faithful to the original in their distinctive, slim-profiled case, their curved dials and hands, and their use of a manual-winding movement, Seiko’s Caliber 9S64. The case diameter of each has been enlarged slightly for contemporary tastes — 38 mm, up from the 1960 model’s 35 mm — and each features an exhibition caseback made of sapphire, another modern embellishment not found on the vintage piece. The first Grand Seiko had a 14k gold filled case; these modern descendants are available in three different materials — Platinum 950, 18k yellow gold, and Seiko’s exclusive Brilliant Hard Titanium, an alloy as light as pure titanium but twice as hard as stainless steel and even more uncommonly scratch-resistant.
The platinum watch, whose dial is enhanced with a star symbol at 6 o’clock signifying its use of 18k gold for its hour markers, is further distinguished by its dial, also made of 18k gold, with a sharply delineated Grand Seiko logo engraving at 12 o’clock. The model in 18k yellow gold uses that same precious metal for its hour markers. The Brilliant Hard Titanium model boasts a deep blue dial, while the case’s unusual (for titanium) brightness helps the Zaratsu polishing that Grand Seiko applies to all its watches’ surfaces stand out even more prominently. All the dial elements that defined the first Grand Seiko, and many of its descendants are also present, including the double-bar hour markers, “razor”-style hour and minute hands, and sharply faceted case lugs.
Inside each case, all of which are a svelte 10.9 mm in thickness, is the manual-winding Caliber 9S64, whose attributes include an accuracy rate of +5 to -3 seconds per day, a brisk frequency of 28,800 vph (eight beats per second), and a lengthy power reserve of 72 hours (three days) when fully wound. The first Grand Seiko 1960 Re-Creation models were all limited editions; as of this year’s crop, the retro-look piece joins Grand Seiko’s regular collection. All the watches come on alligator leather straps, with a three-fold clasp that matches the case material, and will be available at retail in June. As per Grand Seiko, approximate pricing will range from $8,000 (titanium) to $26,000 (yellow gold) to $38,000 (platinum).
Seiko was the first watch I bought myself when I graduated from college in 1990. It’s always been my favorite.
I just love everything that Grand Seiko produces… They really have advanced watch manufacturing and turned it into an art form…
From Gerry Dimatos in Melbourne.