February 5, 2019
Grand Seiko Elegance Collection Sets a New Course with Urushi Lacquer and New Manual Winding Caliberby Dhiram Shah
Grand Seiko is pleased to announce a new slim design in the Elegance Collection. The combination of a new case, a new manual-winding caliber with a small seconds hand and Urushi lacquer has made possible the creation of a watch that offers a new graceful refinement as well as Grand Seiko’s uniquely Japanese aesthetic.
Caliber 9S63 is a significant addition to the ever growing Grand Seiko family of movements. It has been eight years since the last manual-winding mechanical caliber in Grand Seiko and it has been worth the wait. Caliber 9S63 offers a small seconds hand at the nine o’clock position and a power reserve indicator at three o’clock. While these sub-dials are easy to read, they are also discreetly unobtrusive and allow the eye to enjoy the beauty of the Urushi lacquer of which the dial is made. Caliber 9S63 has a power reserve of 72 hours and delivers an accuracy rate of +5 to -3 seconds a day.
In this new Urushi dialed creation, available in two versions, two traditions of Japanese craftsmanship come together. The cases are polished by a special Zaratsu method created to accentuate the beauty of the curved surfaces. The dials and the sapphire crystals are also curved to give the watches a classic look. The minute and power reserve indicator hands are bent so that they follow exactly the domed contour of the dials. The dials also showcase a second form of Japanese craftsmanship, Urushi lacquer. The amber color dial is made from a transparent and long lasting Urushi that comes from trees grown in and around the town of Joboji that lies under Mt. Iwate, the mountain that dominates the skyline above the Shizukuishi Watch Studio. The black dial uses the same lacquer mixed with iron to give it its distinctive deep jet black color.
On both creations, the hour markers and the “GS” letters are decorated with the traditional Maki-e technique by Urushi master Isshu Tamura in his studio in Kanazawa on the west coast of Japan’s main island. Through the application of layer after layer of lacquer, these markers are given a three dimensional profile and a delicate yet strong presence on the dial. Tamura then applies the powder, either 24k gold or platinum, and polishes them by hand using his own special tools to give Maki-e its delicately shimmering appearance. These processes require great dexterity as it is very challenging to give every marker the same depth, especially on a curved surface.
Initially, this new design series consists of three limited editions. The two Urushi dial executions are in 18k rose gold cases and are editions of just 150 while the third, with its blue Mt. Iwate pattern dial, is in stainless steel and is an edition of 1,500. All three are available from March, 2019. Approximate recommended retail prices in Europe: €31,400 (SBGK002, 004), €7,400 (SBGK005) , €20,700 (SBGK006). A fourth creation, with an 18k yellow gold case, will be added to the permanent Grand Seiko collection in July.