From Japan, world standard. Watch called “Grand Seiko”
Switzerland is the home of luxury watches, which is an unwavering fact. In fact, most of the major luxury watch brands such as Rolex, Omega and TAG Heuer are concentrated in Switzerland. Under such circumstances, “Grand Seiko” is the only domestic wristwatch that has the technological and brand power to compete with Europeans. It is the brand that bears the best of the long-established manufacturer “Seiko” that Japan is proud of in the world.
Here in Japan, it is already recognized as a rival to the Swiss luxury watch brand, and with the model development from a global perspective that has continued for several years, its presence in the American luxury watch market is increasing. In 2018, we established a new company of “Grand Seiko” in the United States. Especially among watch lovers, the polite and sophisticated manufacturing that is unique to Japan, which is a bit different from the gorgeousness of Europe, is highly evaluated, and it is a noteworthy brand that will grow more and more worldwide in the future.
A genealogy that lasts for more than half a century. Follow the history of “Grand Seiko”
The brand was born in 1960. Even at that time, Swiss-made mechanical watches dominated. Meanwhile, “Seiko” announced the “first Grand Seiko” with the aim of becoming the world-class domestic highest-end watch. This model was the first domestic watch to comply with the historic Swiss chronometer certification standard. And in the 1960s, “Seiko” began to surpass the Swiss with its technological capabilities. In 1964, the company participated in the Swiss Observatory Competition, where prestigious brands compete for accuracy, for the first time, and in 1967, it dominated the top ranks. According to one theory, it is said that the Swiss group considered the technological capabilities of “Seiko” as a threat, but the competition was not held at the end of 1968.
Since the announcement of the first generation, a number of milestone-like mechanical “Grand Seiko” have been produced, such as the first domestically produced self-winding model and a high-precision model with a monthly difference of ± 1 minute. The turning point was in 1969, the world’s first quartz wristwatch released by Seiko. The quartz type has swept the watch industry, and the mechanical type that surprised the world “Grand Seiko” will also be equipped with quartz in 1998. And in 1993, 9F quartz was praised as quartz that exceeds quartz. This 9F system was an epoch-making one that overcame the weak points of quartz such as weak torque and inability to adjust the time.
The Swiss, who were hit hard by the quartz developed by Seiko, will return to mechanical watches and rebrand them as luxury watches. And “Grand Seiko” also revived the mechanical movement in 1998. On the contrary, we will develop a mechanism that will make a name for itself in the history of watches. That is the “Spring Drive” announced in 1999. “Spring Drive” is a hybrid of mechanical and quartz. It was an amazing mechanism that uses a traditional mainspring as a power source and uses a quartz oscillator that can produce a high degree of accuracy that is incomparably higher than that of a mechanical type. This “Spring Drive” was installed in “Grand Seiko” in 2004 after a development period of four years since its announcement.
And in 2017, the “SEIKO” logo will disappear from the dial, leaving only “Grand Seiko”. It means that we have made a new start as a luxury brand that represents Japan, not as a luxury model of “Seiko”. This is like the luxury car brand “Lexus” by “Toyota”. Like the “Lexus” brand, which is now highly regarded around the world, the value of “Grand Seiko” will continue to grow.
The unwritten rules that form “Grand Seiko”. What is “Seiko Style”?
“Grand Seiko” pursues not only accuracy as a watch, but also beauty and visibility. The “Seiko Style,” which is a design feature of “Grand Seiko,” was established with the “44GS” released in 1967. “Seiko Style” consists of three basic principles and nine design codes based on them.
The contents are finely stipulated, such as the dial is flat, the index at 12 o’clock is twice as wide as other indexes, and the hour and minute hands are multi-faceted and thickened. I understand that. Design consistency is an essential element of luxury brands. “Grand Seiko” has been making watches that meet that requirement.
Another feature is that the usage of light is really Japanese. The design that gives “shadow” the same value as “light” by the curve of the case and the polish applied effectively is the ultimate of MADE IN JAPAN. It has a unique taste that cannot be achieved by Europeans.
An accurate and unrivaled heart. Know the characteristics of the three movements
As you can see from the history, “Grand Seiko” has developed three types of movements. One is mechanical, the second is quartz, and the last is “Spring Drive”, and we still have these three types of movements in our lineup. If you know the characteristics of each movement, you will be able to choose the model you like better.
“9S” mechanical, the movement that forms the basis of “Grand Seiko”
The latest version of the mechanical movement that surprised the world is “9S Mechanical”. A mechanical movement is powered by the force that winds the mainspring and unwinds it. The power is transmitted by gears and moves the needle. The brand that can manufacture this movement in-house is called the Manufacture, but of course “Grand Seiko” is the Manufacture. Manufacture is a testament to its technological prowess, as there are luxury brands outsourced to movement specialists.
By the way, many cutting-edge technologies have been introduced into this “9S Mechanical”. One of them is “MEMS”. This is an abbreviation of “Micro Electro Mechanical System”, which is a processing technology used for semiconductors. The machining accuracy is truly 0.001 mm. Thanks to this technology, the parts of “9S Mechanical” have succeeded in reducing the weight while maintaining the strength.
Also, pay attention to the new GS standard imposed on “9S Mechanical”. The standard is a stricter in-house standard than the Swiss official chronometer (COSC), which is compliant with luxury brands such as “Rolex”. The official Swiss chronometer needs to be within -4 to 6 seconds per day in 5 postures during the 15-day inspection period, while the “new GS standard” is 17 days in 6 postures per day. The difference should be within -3 seconds to +5 seconds. Of course, all “9S mechanicals” shipped are subject to this rigorous certification. “9S Mechanical” is a crystallization of confidence in the unparalleled accuracy of “Grand Seiko”.
“9F Quartz” that goes beyond quartz, overturning the common sense that it is thin and light
As mentioned above, the “9F Quartz” installed in “Grand Seiko” is quartz that exceeds quartz. Let’s take a closer look here. In the first place, this quartz type is the world’s first speed control method realized by “Seiko”. Taking advantage of the property that the crystal oscillator vibrates 32,768 times per second, it keeps accurate time. The annual difference of “9F Quartz” (time deviation of one year) is only ± 10 seconds. The daily difference in the static state of “9S Mechanical” (difference in the time of the day at the time of inspection) is -3 seconds to +5 seconds, and it is said that the mechanical type is extremely accurate, so how amazing the accuracy of quartz is. You will see.
In order to achieve that accuracy, it takes an incredible amount of time and effort to age the crystal unit for three months and match the crystal with the IC. And as mentioned above, quartz had the weakness of weak torque. The “9F Quartz” overcomes this with a unique technology called a twin pulse control motor, and it is now possible to move the thick hour and minute hands and the GMT hand, which cannot be moved by other quartz models. “Grand Seiko” does not compromise on function or design just because it is quartz.
A hybrid engine invented by “Grand Seiko”. “9R” Spring Drive
If you want to get a hybrid move of mechanical and quartz, “Grand Seiko” is the first. The “9R Spring Drive Movement” is a epoch-making movement in the history of watches that can only be experienced by “Grand Seiko” users, which mixes the mechanical warmth and quartz precision introduced so far, and prestige the brand. It is one of the elements that make a brand.
“Spring Drive” uses the mainspring used in mechanical watches as power. It is eco-friendly because it does not require batteries, and you will feel the romance of winding the mainspring. On the other hand, the time is controlled by quartz, and the average monthly difference is ± 10 seconds, which is unthinkable with a mechanical watch. “Spring Drive” is a dream-like movement that has the best of both worlds, “mechanical” and “quartz”. Again, only “Grand Seiko” can get this movement in their own hands. It goes without saying that this one-of-a-kind mechanism is one of the elements that makes “Grand Seiko” a prestige brand.
The ever-evolving “Grand Seiko”. Experience its charm in three collections
“Grand Seiko” is currently categorized into four collections and is on sale. The “Masterpiece Collection” with high-end manufacturing quality and price, the “Heritage Collection” that conquers the royal road of “Seiko Style”, the “Sports Collection” that literally has active features, and the classical atmosphere represented by manual winding. It is an “elegance collection” to wear. Unfortunately, the “Masterpiece Collection” cannot be purchased online, but here we will introduce the features and recommended models of the other three collections.
▼ Collection 1: This is the “Heritage Collection” that embodies “GS”
This “Heritage Collection” is the basic line that strongly inherits the “Grand Seiko” design before 2017, that is, before the brand independence. It can be said that it is a legitimate successor model of “Seiko style” because it has a well-behaved look centered on a simple 3-needle model that does not look strange. There are many royal dress watches that you will never get tired of, and it is ideal for those who want to continue using it until their grandchildren’s generation.
The simple and elegant design with a 40mm case that is familiar to Japanese arms is attractive. High-quality detail work such as chamfered indexes is unique to “Grand Seiko”. Equipped with a mechanical movement “9S65”, the power reserve is 72 hours, which is about 3 days. It is the best standard model for the first “Grand Seiko”.
Quartz model with elegant curved bulges on both sides as a design accent. Of course, the installed model is the “9F82” of the “9F” series. Although unique in the heritage line, the spirit of “Seiko style” is alive and well. The light blue of the dial is refreshing and urban. It is a versatile model that looks great not only in the on-suit style but also in the off-style if it is a beautiful outfit such as a shirt.
Equipped with the ultimate movement “Spring Drive 9R65” that “Grand Seiko” is proud of. Bright titanium, which is about 30% lighter than stainless steel and resistant to scratches and corrosion, is used for the case and bracelet. Titanium is difficult to process, but the beauty of the mirror surface is so great that it can be mistaken for a stainless steel model. “Grand Seiko” has a strong impression that it is a wristwatch that adults can wear, but it is also recommended for fresh 20s because the stripes on the dial bring out youthfulness.
A GMT model with a crown guard and a tough and sharp impression. The movement to be installed is “Spring Drive 9R66”. In addition to the three hands of hours, minutes and seconds, the center is equipped with a red GMT hand that makes one round in 24 hours, and the second time zone can be displayed with one clock. This is a useful function for people who often go abroad for travel or business trips.
The power of “9F Quartz” is that it can move the four hands with a strong presence while being a quartz movement. The red GMT hand that floats in the toned face functions as an accent in the face. The balance of the 24-hour display, which is casually arranged on the outer circumference of the index, is also noteworthy.
▼ Collection 2: A new weapon of the “GS” brand. “Sports Collection”
A tough rotating bezel and a sporty chronograph. “Sports Collection” is the most active line in “Grand Seiko”. A model with an aggressive design that breaks the preconceived notion that watches of the same brand match suits has also appeared, and has succeeded in expanding the frontage of the brand. This is a line that I would like people who seek individuality to avoid “Grand Seiko” because it lacks fun.
Full-scale divers with a waterproof performance of 200m. The movement is Quartz “9F61” with an annual difference of ± 10 seconds. To ensure visibility, the thick bezel has extra-thick indexes and needles, which gives it a tough impression, but it has the smallest diameter of 43.6mm among the divers of “Grand Seiko”. The thickness is also suppressed to 13 mm, and the familiarity with the arm is excellent.
Click here for the blue dial version of the above model. This is recommended for people who have a lot of casual styles because it gives a more youthful impression. The oversized index luminosity has a bright Lumibright, screw-down crown, anti-reverse bezel, and a tough look with all the elements of a diver’s watch, which also functions as a good accent for your outfit.
This is the model released in June 2021. A quartz model with a stylish face equipped with a shining ceramic bezel in a tonneau-shaped edgy case. By dropping blue in various places such as the endpaper and the GMT hand, we are wearing a light mood that seems to be a “sports collection”. Models with the same looks and accent color of red are also on sale at the same time, so you can choose that.
A fearless quartz model with a black dial and a black cordura nylon strap that creates a more fearless image. The characteristic hairline placed vertically on the bezel emphasizes solid masculinity. In addition, the active taste is emphasized by the yellow insert color. Cordura nylon has a tough 1,000 denier and high toughness.
So far, we have only introduced quartz, but of course there are also mechanical and “Spring Drive” equipped models. The ceramic bezel has a crown at 4 o’clock and a sporty element, and the power reserve at 9 o’clock shows it casually. Now the model is also available in black, blue and iron plate colors, but nowadays green is also a powerful choice. It goes well with the yellow GMT hand.
▼ Collection 3: “Elegance Collection” with style and goods in your arms
The “Elegance Collection” is a thin, dressy prestige line with the motif of the natural world of Japan. Precious metal models such as platinum, which “Grand Seiko” has not dealt with so far, are also lined up, and there are models of 5 million yen or more, so it can be said that it is a collection that challenged the battle in the world’s ultra-luxury watch market.
A simple 3-hand watch with an antique-retro taste. The beauty of dome-shaped sapphire glass polishing and mirror processing is exactly the skill of a craftsman that only “Grand Seiko” can do. At first glance, it feels like a watch, but the more you look at it, the more you can smell the “good feeling”. The crocodile belt also gives a fearless and mature impression.
A model equipped with “Spring Drive” that brings out elegance with a classical taste. While adopting traditional design icons such as railway index and blue steel hands, it is wonderful that it has a solid “Grand Seiko” face. It is a GMT model with an hour, minute and second hand and a 24-hour hand in the center, and it is a model that attracts not only design but also functionality.
The hand-wound movement “9S64” is installed as if to correspond to the classical design. The long power reserve that keeps moving for 3 days when this move is rolled up to the maximum is also attractive. The rounded Bombay dial, which is often seen in antique watches, is also worth seeing for its elaborate finish, such as the hands being curved by a craftsman to match it. The five jubilee bracelets are also a very elegant dress watch.
The combination of the ivory-like dial color and the wedge-shaped hands characteristic of “Grand Seiko” is a gem that brings out the depth of taste. Unlike the classical looks, the movement is equipped with the latest mechanical self-winding movement “9S65”, and you can experience a power reserve of up to 72 hours and high accuracy with an average daily difference of +5 seconds to -3 seconds.
In the design code of “Elegance Collection”, the combination with gold is really elegant. The radial notches on the dial are also very classical, and the light is reflected softly on the cream color. Although it is unique to the quartz model, the dial elements focused only on the “GS” logo also enhance the elegance of the collection.