It’s no secret that Grand Seiko is the higher-end sibling of Japanese holding company and tech giant Seiko. Founded in 1960, Grand Seiko was a way for the company to get in league with the big boys of watchmaking — they believed that their attention to detail and commitment to precision could rival the best, and, in truth, they absolutely do. Now, after years of releasing mechanical watches with amazing precision and special dial treatments, Grand Seiko is enlarging their available collections with limited editions, effectively enhancing the exclusivity of the luxury timepieces they offer. The latest additions include four models from their Elegance collection, three of which are limited editions while the fourth joins the permanent collection. For a week that was, in my opinion, much too short, I had the chance to test the waters with the stainless steel model with a blue “Mt. Iwate” dial, limited to 1,500 pieces.
The particularity about Grand Seiko’s Elegance collection is how stripped back the design is while still displaying (in most of the models) special dial treatments that are different from any other on the market. The stainless steel model sports Grand Seiko’s signature “Mt. Iwate” engraving on the dial — the pattern is inspired from the idyllic snowcapped Mt. Iwate (one of Japan’s 100 Most Beautiful Mountains), which dominates the landscape visible from the brand’s Shizukuishi Watch Studio in Iwate, Japan. It’s not exactly a guilloché or a sunray pattern like we’ve come to see in a lot of pieces on the market — it’s entirely different and uniquely Grand Seiko.
This new Elegance model fits comfortably, as the redesigned case design has the lugs tapered slightly to sit perfectly on the wrist, and at 11.6mm thick, the watch is lightweight and inconspicuous. The curved sapphire glass does the intricate dial pattern complete justice — each slight ridge of the Mt. Iwate pattern catches the light, so it never looks flat no matter from what angle you’re looking at the dial.
The watch also has a sapphire caseback stamped with the familiar blue Grand Seiko lion, showcasing the first new manually wound movement from Grand Seiko in eight years: the Caliber 9S63. Built from the basic architecture of the existing 9S64 movement, the new 9S63 adds a small seconds subdial at nine o’clock and a power reserve indicator at three o’clock. The placement of these two indicators gives the dial a pleasing symmetry — a simple design that carries a certain nobility to it.
Another major plus for me was that the design is decidedly unisex, a trend that I welcome with vigor in this industry, and doesn’t alienate anybody. It’s stripped back, elegant, and made me feel as though spending CHF7,400 for it is more than worth it.
Manual-wind 9S63; 72 hours power reserve; regulated to -3/+5 seconds per day
39mm stainless steel; 11.6mm thick; dual-curved sapphire crystal; display caseback