Grand Seiko watches have existed since the 60s, and while they are the best Japanese watches ever made, they remained an “open secret” to a few cult collectors – available only through re-sellers or visits to Japan, Grand Seiko’s pre-emminence became wider noted till the powers-that-be decided that it was time to give the sub-brand an official launch in 2010. Now, 7 years later at Baselworld 2017 Grand Seiko is going to stop being a sub-brand but its own independent brand – what was once a sub-brand signature at 6 o’clock will take a place of eminence and prominence – the “Grand Seiko” name supplanted the Seiko logo.
“Grand Seiko has always been distinct in its design, character, presentation, and more recently, its calibers. In order to further reinforce its unique appeal and reach out to a wider audience, we are today taking one step further and presenting Grand Seiko as an entirely separate brand. On all the creations we are presenting here at Baselworld, the Grand Seiko logo is at the 12 o’clock position and this will also be true for all Grand Seiko watches from now onwards.” – Seiko President and CEO Shinji Hattori
Grand Seiko’s launch as a full brand was something that watch aficionados have been expecting for years given the odd combination of positive demand from knowledgeable watch collectors and understandable confusion from newbies wondering why a “Seiko” could cost north of mid 4 figures.
Baselworld 2017 Grand Seiko declares Independence
Since its launch in 1960, Grand Seiko has been distinctive in design and presentation – the signature Grand Seiko cursive font at 12 o’clock from back in the day was a symbol of superior quality and indeed Japanese haute horlogerie. For Baselworld 2017 Grand Seiko solidifies its heritage with its present independence by launching a new collection based on the original Grand Seiko watches which became synonymous with fine Japanese watchmaking.
Offering both faithful re-creations and a modern re-interpretation, the new Baselworld 2017 Grand Seiko collection features three limited edition watches in steel, gold, and platinum; and while the original models were 36mm, the Baselworld 2017 Grand Seiko Limited Editions will enjoy contemporary 38mm proportions.
While the historical Grand Seiko models were produced in 80 micron gold-filled cases, some were also made in platinum. The new Baselworld 2017 Grand Seiko collections are created in platinum, gold and stainless steel and while case proportions have changed to reflect contemporary demands, the dual-curved sapphire crystal is loyal to the original shape, replicating the gentle profile of the original to great nostalgia.
The new platinum Grand Seiko uses Platinum 999 and beyond its precious metal exterior, enjoys a plethora of subtle details which make the platinum model extra special – the base of the dial is gold, which allows the Grand Seiko signature to be remarkable sharp and detailed.
Regardless of case material, all versions use the 9S64 manufacture manual winding calibre but the platinum model enjoys tighter regulation, adjusted to -1/+5 seconds a day. While the other models enjoy -3/+5 seconds a day.
The steel model is limited to 1960 pieces (the birth year of Grand Seiko) and will retail for US$5,700. The gold model is limited to 353 and will retail US$17,200. The platinum model is limited to 136 pieces – one for each of Seiko’s birthdays and will retail for Us$30,600.
Each limited edition model comes with its own “Inspection Certificate” and are available from March 2017.
Grand Seiko’s Modern Re-Interpretation
The modern re-interpretation of the 1960 Grand Seiko is true to the pioneering spirit of the original Grand Seiko and it’s driven by the new automatic 9S68 caliber with larger than usual date display, a departure from current Grand Seiko models. The case of the new Grand Seiko re-interpretation comes in Brilliant Hard Titanium, an exclusive proprietary material which is as light as titanium but harder by two factors than steel – a necessary improvement given how certain grades of titanium are prone to scratching.
The hands of the Brilliant Hard Titanium Grand Seiko are highly finished in the Grand Seiko style while the mid case and bezel are treated to signature Zaratsu style polishing which makes the many surfaces of the exclusive titanium case uniquely sharp and bright. In a departure from typical Grand Seiko practice of a gold medallion lion in the caseback, the modern Grand Seiko features an exhibition caseback where the highly finished 9S68 calibre can be enjoyed, allowing more fans and onlookers to inspect and enjoy the fine traditions which make Grand Seiko one of the finest mass-consumer watches in the world. The Grand Seiko modern re-interpretation will be available from July 2017.