2020 is a very special year for Grand Seiko as it is the 60th anniversary of its creation. In addition to its horological importance (Babylonians used a sexagesimal (counting in 60s) system for mathematics and astronomy); 60 remains culturally significant for the Fine Japanese watchmaker; when a person reaches 60, they have gone full circle through the traditional zodiac calendar cycle, arriving back at the beginning: a moment of re-birth. For Grand Seiko 2020, this rebirth is definitely in full swing.
2020 began with Grand Seiko launching a series of four commemorative watches. Further embodying the spirit of renewal and new energy, Grand Seiko also debuted two important new calibers which will take Grand Seiko forward into the future.
18 December 1960 will ever be a day long remembered, a determined Seiko’s Suwa team in central Japan had been working on the creation of a Japanese timepiece that would represent the finest craftmanship the East Asian powerhouse had to offer: precise, durable, comfortable
and importantly, as beautiful as human hands could manage.
The 1960 original Seiko (as “Grand” was a suffix rather than a prefix at the time), was a 14k gold filled timepiece equipped with a slim movement whose precision met the highest international standard of the time. Fact was that their movements rivalled their Swiss counterparts so much so, that new rules were introduced then that only Swiss watchmakers could participate in Swiss chronometry competitions; Such was the level of their achievement that it was decided to call the watch Grand Seiko.
Grand Seiko commemorates 2020 with a re-edition of the original on the 60th anniversary of its creation. Slim, precise and loyal to its heritage, the “Re-creations” of the first Grand Seiko are made possible by the use of the manual-winding caliber 9S64. Though the case diameter has been increased from 35mm to 38mm, arguably in deference to contemporary aesthetics, the case shape and the softly curved dial and hands are proportional and entirely faithful to the 1960 original with one key outstanding difference: a sapphire caseback reveals the beautiful, slavish finish of the movement, unlike its original predecessor. Other quality of life improvements includes a three-fold clasp makes the watch easy to wear.
All three offer a remarkable blend of slimness, efficiency and precision. The Re-creations of the first Grand Seiko are 10.9mm thin, using three different materials, the first of the Grand Seiko re-creations is a particularly delectable Platinum 950 variant and a dial bearing the star mark which hints that its hour markers are in 18k gold. The engraving of the Grand Seiko name on the dial is particularly sharp thanks to the fact that the dial, too, is in 18k gold.
The case of the second Grand Seiko re-creation is rendered in 18k yellow gold, as are the hour markers. The final of the new Grand Seiko re-creations is in a material exclusive to the fine Japanese watchmaker – Brilliant Hard Titanium. As light as pure titanium but twice as hard as stainless steel and therefore highly resistant to scratches unlike other titanium timepieces on the market, its colour is brighter than the other forms of titanium used for Grand Seiko as it allows the Zaratsu polished surfaces to stand out more prominently.
The Re-creations of the first Grand Seiko enjoy 72 hours power reserve and the accuracy rate is +5 to –3 seconds per day, within the Swiss COSC standards. All three versions feature crocodile straps and are available at Grand Seiko Boutiques.
Re-creations of the first Grand Seiko Price & Specs
Movement Manual-winding Calibre 9S64 with 72 hours power reserve
Case Platinum 950 case and clasp (SBGW257) or 18k yellow gold case and clasp (SBGW258) or Brilliant Hard Titanium case and clasp (SBGW259), all with 30 metres water resistance and 4,800 A/m magnetic resistance
Strap Crocodile with three fold deployant clasp
Price €39,000 (SBGW257), €27,000 (SBGW258), €8,300 (SBGW259)