Despite the modest acreage that timepieces demand on our wrists, a great diversity of watchmaking caters to an ever-growing palette of genres and preferences, from the simple to the ultra-complicated, from marvels of quality mass production, to executions of rare artisanal craft that push the timepiece from tool, through luxury item, and well into the realm of art.
Within this microcosm of creation that hums with unceasing creativity and genius, Grand Seiko has shaped a unique niche for itself, that stands distinct from the larger body of luxury watchmaking.
Seiko had its beginnings in a fascination for European watchmaking; Grand Seiko is the company’s resolution to surpass it. This it has long achieved from Grand Seiko’s inception in 1960, yielding no quarter to the best of the Swiss with a string of design and chronometry prizes in its wake.
Of late, Grand Seiko has doublescored its own course by releasing a series of watches with dials inspired by the colours and textures of the natural landscape of its home country, Japan. It’s a stamp of uniqueness on watches that are already as near technical perfection as the best in the business.
Watches in this vein include the SBGH269 that evokes the autumn reds in the forests of Japan; SBGZ003 with the ‘Snowflake’ dial inspired by winter in the Shinshu region; SBGR319 with striated dial inspired by snowswept Mt Iwate. As distinct from miniature painting, the use of nature-inspired dials is painting via imagery that is deeply emotional and unbounded by subject.
Moreover, the deep-seated animism in Japanese culture arguably gives Grand Seiko a finer, more intimate connection to nature when it comes to translating its sublime beauty to ticking masterpieces.
One of the latest in this line of nature-inspired watches, SBGW255, features a stunning green dial inspired by jade. Jadeite has a special place in Asia that is steeped in culture and history; while it occurs in several colours, the rarest and most prized is imperial jade, a heart-stopper in translucent, shimmery green.
This is the very green in tone and texture that elevates the SBGW255 into a complex of simple and spectacular. Nothing extra adorns or is excised from the dial; nothing about the watch is referenced beyond the brand name, and there isn’t even a date window to disturb the serene beauty of the dial.
What it does have are faceted hour indexes and dauphine hands in a state of polish to mark time with striking clarity, and a gold tone seconds hand that complements the green dial beautifully.
Beating with the SBGW255 is the cal 9S64 manual-wind movement. Nothing is purer and more classic than a hand-wind, time-only; even if the movement in question has been manufactured with state-of-the-art Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology for highest precision fabrication of components which are then hand assembled and finished to better-than-chronometer performance and high-power reserve of 72 hours.
The SBGW255 is modestly sized at 37.3mm, and courtesy of its manual-wind movement, cuts a sleeker profile than many in the collection with the exception models fitted with quartz movements.
Stealing the limelight without precious stones and such takes nuance; and once again, Grand Seiko demonstrates its mastery of subtlety, in packing immense technical expertise and emotional content into a minimalist aesthetic; it’s akin to executing a perfect standing double backflip in a sharply tailored suit.
The Grand Seiko SBGW255 is available in a limited edition of 150 pieces, at SGD $6,099 from Seiko Boutique and authorised dealers in Singapore.
Manual-wind 9S64; -3/+5 precision; 72 hours power reserve
37.3mm stainless steel case; box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating; display caseback; water resistant to 3 bar
Crocodile leather strap