We have not shied away from being excited about Seiko, especially Grand Seiko and Credor. And have always been enthusiastic with the work of their Micro Artist Studio. We were taken by the original Credor Eichi, and have waxed lyrical about the design and finishing. but had wished for a slightly larger watch. Our hopes were answered in 2014, when Seiko introduced the Credor Eichi II.
We have spent considerable hands-on time with the Eichi II. We enjoyed ourselves and loved every moment photographing, examining, and playing with the it. Then we spent even more time thinking, comparing, analyzing the Eichi II. And now we are ready to bring you this review.
The Credor Eichi II
Credor is a luxury dress watch series created by Seiko in 1974 and is predicated on techniques based on Japanese precision and esthetics. The name is based on the French crête d’or which means “crest of gold.”
The Credor Eichi was a monumental watch created by Seiko and their Micro Artist Studio. The Micro Artist Studio is a watchmaking studio established by Seiko-Epson in 2000 to carry on Seiko’s traditions of world-class watchmaking. Among these were the Credor Spring Drive Sonnerie (2006) and the Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater (2011).
The entire planned Eichi production of 25 pieces is completely sold out. And even though it was quite expensive, and a comparably small watch, even in its day, there was a great demand for the level of craftsmanship that Seiko had exhibited in the Eichi.
In 2014, Seiko announced the Eichi II to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Credor line and the 15th anniversary of its Spring Drive technology. It went on sale in Japan from 10 October 2014. This is the new version of the Eichi. It is bigger. And some say leaner and meaner. Born from the same facilities, and guided by the same principles, it was meant as an update, and is limited to 20 pieces a year.
The case, dial and hands
The Eichi had a case of merely 35mm, a throwback to the sizes common in gentlemen watches from an earlier era. The Eichi II is now a more contemporary 39mm diameter. The case is still in platinum, but the shape is slightly different. The Eichi II design is cleaner and features simpler lines. The crown of the Eichi carried a fillet of Noritake porcelain with a hand painted Credor logo, whilst the Eichi II is now a cast platinum crown with the Credor logo in relief. The platinum crown is also interesting, as almost all Swiss made platinum cases use a white gold crown.
Seiko did not take pains to describe the manufacture of the case. In fact the Eichi II documentation is only in Japanese, though on our request, the Seiko PR Department made an English translation for us. Thank you Keiko Naruse. This is in stark contrast to what they did for the Grand Seiko SBGD001 Spring Drive 8 Days Power Reserve which featured a cold forged platinum case made in-house. But we hazard a guess that the case is made in-house, and since the crown is cast platinum, perhaps the case is as well.
The dial has changed too. The Eichi dial was made by Noritake, a Japanese porcelain house which supplies bone china to the Japanese Imperial family. Noritake was responsible for the production of the entire dial. They were responsible for its manufacture to the subtle numerals 2, 4, and 7 painted in matte white enamel on the dial. These numerals are only visible when the dial is under certain lighting angles, and show up as matt shapes against the shiny white finish elsewhere on the dial. The Eichi II’s dial is a very bright white and shiny throughout.
The Eichi also shows a power reserve on the dial with the power reserve indicator arbored at the 10 o’clock marker. The Eichi II also features a power reserve indicator, but it is tucked away on the movement side, so the dial is exceptionally clean, bearing only the hour, minute and seconds hand, and the hour markers.
Seiko communicates that the Eichi II dial is also in porcelain and made by an unmamed manufacturer in Nagano Prefecture. It is not Noritake, as their manufacture is situated in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. The dial is delivered to the Micro Artist Studio as a plain porcelain disc, almost 100% alundum (a white fused aluminium oxide), and yields a striking whiteness when compared to traditional porcelain dials.
The indices are hand painted by one of the watchmakers at the Micro Artist Studio. In typical Japanese fashion, the artisan, a fully qualified watchmaker, took three years of painstaking training from well known ceramics makers in Japan. And only after mastering the art, was allowed to paint the dial on the Eichi II, and due to the strong focus and concentration required, in addition to a high level of technical ability, only one dial can be completed a day.
The handwork is immediately apparent from the clean, Bauhaus styled dial. The paint on the markers has an almost grainy texture against the smooth white surface of the dial. Breathtaking. The indices and the logo are almost perfectly executed, but yet, on very close examination under high magnification, they are ever so slightly irregular. The minuscule details and tell tail signs of a hand worked dial is apparent.
The hands are executed in steel, and flame blued by hand to a color which closely matches the blue of the markings. As is usual for the high end Seikos, the seconds hand is slightly curved towards the dial at the end to reduce parallax error. The crescent shape on the other side provides a visual counterpoint to the straight lines of the other hands. These hands were first seen in the Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater.
The hand glides smoothly and quietly. The characteristic tick-tock is absent, as the movement does not have an anchor escapement, but a contactless electromagnetically braked glide wheel. This characteristic silence and the smooth sweeping motion is typical of the Spring Drive movement. Gazing at the watch face is mesmerizing. The smooth gliding motion calms the soul, and a nice reprieve on a busy day.
The movement Seiko Caliber 7R14
The movement is also new. Although the common thread between the 7R08 used in the Eichi and the 7R14 in the Eichi II is the Spring Drive mechanism. We have discussed the Spring Drive movement in other articles, see here for our discusson on the Spring Drive in our review of the Credor Minute Repeater, and will not delve into details here.
The movement is fully assembled by one watchmaker, atelier style. For the Eichi II, this is Yoshifusa Nakazawa, who has been with Suwa Seikosha (a Seiko company) since 1978. Here we see another parallel to solo artisan style of Philippe Dufour. For an interesting insight into the mind of Nakazawa-san, here is a Seiko produced interview.
The movement layout between the two Eichi is totally different. Instead of three bridges in the Eichi, the Eichi II has only two large bridges.
The brides are also made in a different material. The Eichi uses soft, untreated maillechort. An unusual choice, the only notable movement manufacture using untreated maillechort this is Lange. The Eichi II uses a more traditional rhodium plated maillechort. The result is rather stark. The Eichi exudes a soft glow, and will continue to develop a warm patina over time. And the Eichi II has a bright, whitish complexion, and likely to remain so for a long time.
Movement finish is one of the raison d’être of the Micro Artist Studio series. It is no secret that the team in Shiojiri took guidance from none other than Philippe Dufour, and when we examine the movements, we see the cues which were derivatives from the Simplicity.
Both Eichis feature a brushed finish on the bridges instead of the fausses côtes used in the Dufour. The brushed finish looks simpler at first glance, but on close examination, the uniform brushed finish is very clean, and the lines on the pattern is very even, and beautifully executed. The openings for the jewels and screws are beautifully countersunk, with the countersinks highly polished. The polished countersinks serve to ensure that the light striking the edge is reflected and “focused” to show off the brilliance of the jewel. The screws are hand blued. And the jewels are grown in-house by Seiko, instead of being outsourced like the vast majority of watches.
Of particular note is the anglage. Like the Simplicity, the anglage is not merely a polished flat chamfer surface, but is subtly convex curved edge of perfectly regular width across the entire edge of the bridge. The polished surface on the Eichi II is clean, bright and very even across the entire edge, following the lines and curves perfectly. In the Eichi II, this anglage is particularly wide, Seiko documentation states that it is more than double the width of the Eichi.
Eichi II features several beautifully executed outward angles, but no inward angles. The Eichi’s two bridges feature several outward angles and one magnificent inward angle on each. This departure is interesting, as Seiko has shown that they have the capability, but chose not to include any sharp inward angles on the Eichi II.
Another noteworthy finishing aspect is the cover for the mainspring, which is pierced with the motif of the bell flower, which is a symbol for Shiojiri. The sides of the pieced edges are highly polished, and the mainspring coils can be seen in their reflection in the photograph above. This is unusual, and a delight to see. The numerous outward angles can also be observed in the photograph.
A watch like the Credor Eichi II is hard to compare. On the one hand it has perhaps no peers. On the other, there are several suspects which it may be measured against. It is rather expensive at ¥ 5,700,000. But it is wonderfully made by hand, and in very limited numbers of only 20 pieces a year, for an unspecified period. Availability is also limited to only Credor stores.
Perhaps it is meaningful to compare it to its own sibling. The Grand Seiko SBGD001 Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve (¥ 6,000,000 before taxes. Also a Limited Edition of 20 pieces a year). A magnificent watch, also in platinum, 43mm case diameter. Also made by the exacting masters at the Micro Artist Studio. Instead of a smooth porcelain dial on the Eichi II, the SBGD001’s dial is finished in what Seiko calls diamond dust, and has a beautiful textured look. It also bears a movement with Spring Drive technology, but it features a different execution of the movement, the 9R01. As its name suggests, it has an 8 day power reserve, with the indicator on the movement side. The movement bridge (yes there is only one large bridge due to the precision required for the triple barrels) is also rhodium plated maillechort and is similarly finished with a brushed finished and magnificent anglage. If pressed, we have a very slight preference for the SBGD001 dial side, but for the Eichi II movement side, but will be happy with either.
We also covered several other watches in the Competitve Landscape section on the SBGD001. Notably against the Dufour Simplicity. Please read the entire review to have a fuller appreciation of both the Eichi II and the SGBD001.
In conclusion, the Credor Eichi II is not a watch for every one. It will only appeal to the very traditional classical collector. The design is elegant, simple, and supremely beautiful. It will only interest those who know and understand the finer points of fine watchmaking. The finishing is among the best in the world, and better than most haute horogerie watches made in Switzerland or Germany. It will only excite those who are able to appreciate that at this level, value is beyond money. But extends to the realm of art merging with watchmaking, with a dose of fine engineering thrown in for good measure. It is an incredible product. And although it has a heart which electronically controlled, it has soul. There is a subtle, yet inexplicable feeling that this is a product of master craftsmen who not only poured their savoir faire into its creation, but also an incredible amount of passion and love.
Credor Signo “Eichi II” Caliber 7R14 Specifications
Reference no. GBLT999
Suggested retail price in Japan: 5.7 million yen (before-tax)
Case material Platinum 950
Glass material Dual-curved sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating)
Case size Diameter: 39 mm; thickness: 10.3 mm
Water resistance 3 bar
Magnetic resistance Antimagnetic watch (JIS Type 1 antimagnetic watch)
Band Crocodile (navy) Platinum fold-over push button clasp (partly 18 K gold)
After-sales service 2-year warranty
Production About 20 pieces per year
Sales outlets Stores carrying the Credor brand, from October 10, 2014
Spring Drive movement caliber 7R14
Accuracy +/- 15 seconds per month
Power reserve when fully wound Approximately 60 hours
No. of components 252
Power reserve indicator on the back
Diameter: 32 mm; thickness: 3.5 mm