Grand Seiko – The recreation of the first Grand Seiko
Seiko releases yet another stunning collection, but this time with a profound change. The latest recreations at Baselworld 2017 come complete with the same inscription on the first Grand Seiko dial. It bears only Grand Seiko, without the brand name Seiko on the dial. Prior to this, Grand Seiko watches had both the Grand Seiko marking and Seiko branding on the dial with the exception of the very first Grand Seiko released in 1960.
The Grand Seiko recreation is built as a faithful recreation of the original Grand Seiko. From start to finish, the case, hands, dial and design are identical apart from upgrades in material and an increase in case dimensions. This collection is highly significant as it represents the Grand Seiko story coming full circle, with a new start for the brand name, which will now be independently represented on its watches; without the Seiko inscription.
The case, dial and hands
The recreation of the first Grand Seiko is available in three different metals. Similar to the models that were first released in 1960, the collection is available in 18K yellow gold, Platinum and Stainless Steel.
The case is virtually identical to the original, but its diameter has been increased to 38mm. It has a slim profile, but not the thinnest, given its raised dome crystal. With the same movement as the SBGW031, the 9S64 manual winding, the watch measures approximately 11mm. The gold and platinum models are 10.7mm thick, while the steel model is 11.2mm thick.
The crystal used on the watch, frequently referred to as a raised dome, is in fact a dual-curved sapphire crystal. It stays loyal to the original shape and curvature of the 1960 Grand Seiko and gives the recreation the same retro-esque look.
The dauphine hands and faceted hour markers were key characteristics of the first Grand Seiko and the same feature is observed in the recreation. The dial is the archetype of the time only watch genre, beautiful hands and markers on an empty dial was all that was needed.
The hour markers on the yellow gold model is also in 18k gold. For those who are wondering, the star mark at the six o’clock position indicates that this model uses gold for the hour markers. Dial print logos are fascinating and distinctive of discreet luxury. Similar in fashion to QF on L.U.C. Chopard, Q1 on vintage Glashütte dials.
The case back is set to make the Grand Seiko emblem above the 3 o’clock position, which is also faithful to the original model.
The dials of the early Grand Seiko models all carried the name, of course, but there were three very different treatments. The Grand Seiko logo variations were printed in black or engraved with nickel plating, or embossed with a gold finish.
The Grand Seiko Recreation in Platinum uses 999 Platinum which has a higher purity than the 950 that is normally used for watches. The dial base uses gold, which allows the Grand Seiko logo to be particularly sharp in its outline and detail. The hour markers are also in 18k gold, which is indicated by the star on the dial.
All three watches use the hand-wound caliber 9S64, which is also used on other regular production models. The 72 hour power reserve movement beats at 28,800 vph with a -3/+4 seconds maximum deviation in daily rate. The platinum model however, is adjusted to -1/+5 maximum daily rate deviation.
All these three watches are offered as limited editions, each with its own special ‘Inspection Certificate’, whose design also echoes that of the 1960 original.
The Grand Seiko Recreation are lovely watches. A great size, with historical significance and quality to boot. That said, the prices are thoroughly on the high side. Perhaps due to the collectability of the timepieces, and the relative rarity. But at $17,200 for the yellow gold model, and $30,600 for Platinum, we are talking about some serious competition, from the likes of Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionelle, A. Lange & Söhne 1815 or Saxonia. The latter two have well-acknowledged superior movement finishing, possibly superior to Grand Seiko machine finished movements. And lest we forget some real value for money options from L.U.C. Chopard for time-only watches. Perhaps the steel model makes sense, but one should perhaps begin to look at the world beyond Seiko.
Grand Seiko recreation model specs
SBGW 253 US$5700 Stainless Steel, limited to 1960 pieces
SBGW 252 US$17,200 Yellow gold, limited to 353 pieces
SBGW 251 US$30,600 Platinum, limited to 136 pieces
All cases 3 bar/30 meters water resistant, with domed sapphire “high definition” crystals with antireflective coating.
In platinum and gold, 38mm x 10.7mm; in steel, 38mm x 11.2mm.
Antimagnetic to 4,800 A/m (amperes per meter).
Movement, hand-wound caliber 9S64, 28,800 vph, running in 24 jewels. -3/+4 seconds maximum deviation in daily rate; SBGW251 adjusted to -1/+5 maximum daily rate deviation.