Grand Seiko’s 110th Anniversary Limited Edition Captivates With Its Lacquer Dial

Seiko’s first wristwatch came about in 1913, and to celebrate 110 years since, the brand looks to what might be its most important milestone – at least, as far as contemporary fine watchmaking is concerned. The first Grand Seiko was released in 1960, and the new Grand Seiko Elegance Collection SBGW295 is the latest homage to that progenitor timepiece. Its case profile is matched to the original, though it has been upsized from 35mm to 38mm in diameter, which still makes it small and dressy by today’s standards.

This edition sets itself apart with its dial. It is an inky, captivating black that gleams with depth thanks to its urushi lacquer makeup. Urushi lacquer is an ancient Japanese craft, and these dials ware attended to by one such master of this craft, Isshu Tamura, out of his studio on Japan’s west coast. The markers and Grand Seiko signature are built-up through successive layers of lacquer, and are then coated with gold powder – a technique known as maki-e – to give them a textured gleam that acts as a counterpoint to the meticulously polished gold hands. The curved surface of the dial adds an additional challenge to this process, but results in a level of fine detail that, in customary Grand Seiko fashion, are a joy to admire up-close. The demanding process is no doubt a contributor to this watch’s limitation of 500 pieces worldwide.

The case material is an unusual choice of Brilliant Hard Titanium, Grand Seiko’s proprietary titanium alloy that has a brighter sheen; its hardness and corrosion resistance has apparently not deterred the brand’s trademark ‘Zaratsu’ polishing process. The hand-would calibre 9S64 ticks within, which boasts a 72-hour power reserve and is accurate to within -3/+5 seconds per day. It is one of the Grand Seiko’s slimmer movements, resulting in an overall watch thickness of just under 11mm. It is priced at RM58,000.

One more unusual choice is the strap. It may look like canvas or cloth, but in fact consists of thin strips of leather woven with fabric, and promises to be exceptionally durable. Another traditional technique is found here: yoroiori, which was used to make samurai armour. The watch still comes with a more conventional leather strap for those particularly formal occasions.

Grand Seiko

Previously published on Robb Report.

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