Japan’s leading luxury watchmaker Grand Seiko turned 60 years old in 2020 and celebrated accordingly, with an all-new movement, new international boutiques, and an impressive roster of commemorative timepieces. Parent company Seiko marks its own milestone this year — 140 years since its founding by the legendary Kintaro Hattori in 1881 — and thus, the festivities for the brand’s collectors continue more or less uninterrupted. Among the 2021 Grand Seiko models unveiled earlier this week, one of the most noteworthy is the limited-edition timepiece we cover today, which adds yet another organically inspired design to the elegant Heritage Collection.
The dial of the Heritage Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition, according to Grand Seiko, is designed to evoke “the natural beauty of tree rings,” with “a series of delicate and organic lines [that] echo the intricate rings that denote each year’s growth.” A visual representation of Grand Seiko’s “Nature of Time” motto and of the growth over the years of both Seiko and Grand Seiko, the dial’s multi-textured, almost tactile appearance features subtle but visible variations in the depths of the wood grain effect.
Executed in the new Series 9 style that promises to be a hallmark of Grand Seiko models going forward (and also used in the watchmaker’s most recent nature-inspired special edition, the “White Birch” model), the watch has a 40-mm curved case with wide lugs and a combination of distortion-free mirror-polished and delicate hairline-brushed finishes on its various facets. The case material here is also notable: 950 platinum, a precious metal used only seldom by the Japanese maison for its most exclusive pieces. Also indicative of the Series 9 style are the grooved, prominent hour markers and the wide-volume hands that align meticulously with them. The markers, the “GS” applied logo at 12 o’clock, the frame for the date at 3 o’clock, and the three-fold push-button clasp on the robust crocodile leather strap are all made of solid white gold, as subtly symbolized by the applied star at 6 o’clock on the dial.
Grand Seiko has equipped this exclusive timepiece with its newest and most praiseworthy mechanical movement, the Hi-Beat Caliber 9SA5, introduced to great fanfare last year. Beating behind a sapphire caseback, it combines a 36,000-vph frequency with a lengthy 80-hour power reserve, and a precision rate of +5 to -3 seconds per day. Among the innovations in this self-winding caliber are in-house-developed dual-impulse escapement that transmits power directly to the balance for increased efficiency; a newly developed free sprung balance that is more resistant to shock and friction than its predecessor and uses an overcoil rather than a flat hairspring to improve isochronism; and a new horizontal gear train that enables the overall movement to be 15 percent slimmer than previous Hi-Beat calibers.
Like the dial’s organic motif, the movement’s high-end finishing takes inspiration from the natural beauty of Japan. The movement’s bridge has a a gently curving outline inspired “by the shapes of Mt. Iwate and a bend in the Shizukuishi River,” which runs near the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi, the watchmaking atelier where the caliber is made. The watch, limited to only 140 pieces, will be priced at $59,000 and available worldwide at select Grand Seiko retailers in July 2021.