The Exact Fantastic thing about Grand Seiko


Grand Seiko
Picture courtesy of Grand Seiko

There are manufacturers which are well-loved by collectors, journalists and other people usually passionate about shopping for watches. We are going to all have completely different opinions of what these manufacturers are, however maybe we are able to agree on one title: Grand Seiko. The Japanese imprint solely emerged as a fully-fledged model from the shadow of Seiko comparatively not too long ago, in 2017. Nonetheless, everybody had been conscious of Seiko’s intentions to spin-off Grand Seiko as its personal full model since an announcement at BaselWorld someday after the road grew to become accessible internationally. Technically although, it helps to think about that Grand Seiko is known as a deeply rooted a part of Seiko’s grand historical past, and it earned its proper to face by itself deserves. These deserves wanted to be well-established for Seiko to decide to an unbiased future for it. One method to perceive all that is to go to Grand Seiko’s manufacturing amenities in Japan, which is clearly what we did.

Uniquely amongst our manufacture excursions on this Legacy annual, now we have very not too long ago printed a narrative on Grand Seiko’s industrial and artisanal bases. Regardless of the superb story that WOW Thailand shared with us, we felt there was extra so as to add; the story within the Summer season difficulty this 12 months solely focusses on the brand new Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi (GSSS) whereas additionally establishing the Seiko connection by way of Seiko Home. That story will function the launchpad for this one, although you needn’t have learn it to take pleasure in this newest chapter. That is primarily as a result of, for this go to, we obtained to see and expertise the Atelier Ginza in Seiko Home Ginza, the place the Kodo is put collectively, in addition to the operations in Nagano, at Seiko Epson. Actually, we may have crafted this entire story on what the earlier story didn’t cowl, which means simply the brand new websites, however now we have chosen to do issues somewhat in a different way.

Simply as a watch is greater than the sum of its components, Grand Seiko is way over simply an amalgamation of a number of manufacturing websites. To start with, it is very important take into account that Grand Seiko watches are made completely in Japan and that the appreciable sources of Seiko must be considered. As matter of sensible details, it’s merely not possible to keep away from GSSS as a result of it’s the purpose this tour happened in any respect. On the similar time, we all know that our readers and collectors usually are hungry for details about GSSS and we should oblige. Earlier than we transfer on although, we’ll reiterate that Grand Seiko, and Seiko for that matter, don’t simply have one or two and even three manufacturing websites. For instance, whereas we noticed motion meeting and casing up at GSSS, the elements manufacturing facility was in one other adjoining constructing.

Grand Seiko
Picture courtesy of Grand Seiko

Delectable Items

Actually, the very best place to find this reality is at Seiko Home Ginza, the place the Atelier Ginza opened simply final 12 months. A small workshop, there’s area for fewer than half a dozen watchmakers right here, and just one was current after we visited (Time + Tide stories that there’s no less than one different watchmaker working right here). At current, we’re knowledgeable that the watchmakers right here solely work on the 9ST1 motion, which after all belongs the magnificent Kodo SLGT003. The watchmaker we met was none apart from Takuma Kawauchiya himself, the person who developed the motion and who has gained over legions of watch lovers and journalists. He confirmed the prototype of the motion and defined that Atelier Ginza is the place Grand Seiko will work on mechanical watches of the best order.

Its location, within the coronary heart of Ginza, isn’t any accident with Grand Seiko CEO Akio Naito (see our interview with him on this difficulty) confirming that Atelier Ginza is supposed to be a kind of working showcase of the model’s capabilities. It’s a refined train in model communication, and permits collectors to simply see how one thing just like the Kodo will get lovingly assembled. Whereas the placement, on the seventh ground of the constructing, is just accessible by appointment, it’s made for guests. Reinforcing this reality are the big see-through panels separating the lobby from the workspace. In a approach, this mirrors the set-up at GSSS, and has just about the identical impact. Additionally deeply attractive right here is an outsized chocolate sculpture of the Kodo, which seems each bit as delectable because the watch; we marvel how usually Grand Seiko has to have it changed.

Again For Seconds

On condition that Grand Seiko has a lot of disparate areas for its manufacturing actions, we’ll return to this topic in the direction of the tip. For now, we word for the file that we aren’t presenting info right here in chronological order. Since Atelier Ginza is spiritually linked with GSSS, we’ll transfer straight into that location now. Technically, the Seiko amenities in Morioka (the biggest metropolis in Iwate Prefecture, the place GSSS is positioned) contains a lot of manufacturing websites, together with Morioka Seiko Devices Inc, alongside the close-to 2,000sqm Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi. There’s a lot to say concerning the GSSS, which was accomplished in 2020 simply in time for the sixtieth anniversary of Grand Seiko (the primary watch within the household of watches, which was then below Seiko).

On that word, there’s an attention-grabbing show of historical past right here, which is rather more area of interest than the museum at Seiko Home Ginza. Not solely is the primary Grand Seiko piece from 1960 included, so is the primary Seiko watch, all the way in which again from 1913. This was the Laurel, which was additionally Japan’s first wristwatch; it’s accompanied in somewhat show by the Marvel (1956) and the Crown (1959). This unassuming showcase illustrates that Grand Seiko’s legacy itself is way longer than its 60 years implies. Whereas this word does take up a little bit of area in our already constrained pages, a problem known as Legacy can’t ignore one thing like this.

Maybe the obvious factor to notice about GSSS will not be an important although, and that’s its comparatively compact measurement and standing as a Kengo Kuma-design. In case you go to, and the GSSS does settle for guests, the constructing itself will imprint itself onto your creativeness and you’ll not quickly overlook it. As now we have written within the aforementioned story in difficulty #69, every little thing within the GSSS is organized on two ranges, of which the bottom degree (seen right here, reverse) is most distinguished as a result of that is the place watchmaking work occurs. Once more, keep in mind that top problems such because the Kodo aren’t assembled right here; then again, the Tentagraph SLGC001 motion was assembled and completed right here, as was the 9AS5 high-beat calibre. Casing up and testing additionally occurs proper right here.

Springing Ahead

Grand Seiko
Picture courtesy of Grand Seiko

Regardless of having rather more to say about this, we should transfer on to our ultimate cease earlier than we run out of area and have to finish abruptly. This final cease, on the Nagano amenities that produce the Spring Drive watches, seems to be probably the most sophisticated. To start with, the Seiko Epson manufacturing facility will not be a part of the Seiko Group or the Seiko Watch Company. Because the title states, that is successfully a three way partnership between Seiko and Epson. For collectors and lovers, the important thing factor to bear in mind right here is that Seiko Epson is all about Spring Drive, and quartz too. That signifies that it’s also about one other Seiko imprint, Credor, as properly a model that has nothing to do with Seiko, and every little thing to do with Epson: Orient.

Now, having stated that, work on Grand Seiko watches occurs in devoted areas that aren’t used for something apart from Grand Seiko. Helpfully, for an article like this one, there’s a single title for this space: the Shinshu Watch Studio. With Credor and Grand Seiko, there are overlaps simply as one may discover at Ulysse Nardin and Girard- Perregaux (see elsewhere on this part). That is most evident within the Micro-Artist Studio, the place particular dials (the Credor Eichi II) and issues such because the Credor chiming mannequin come to life.

The Shinshu Watch Studio is probably the most manufacture- like set-up that now we have seen on this go to, with ending and meeting occurring in separate areas. It’s also the kind of area that showcases the commercial strategy to creating and ending components. Manufacturing of palms and indices are an incredible instance right here, with metal palms getting that signature blue color by means of warmth remedies which are standardized (an open oven, successfully, that permits many units of palms to be blued on the similar time). The sharpening of indices is a revelation, for anybody who has ever ogled the little appliques on the dial and puzzled if these are all individually polished. Effectively, they’re and they aren’t; a batch of those, that are all equal in any case, are loaded into somewhat housing implement that permits a machine to shine all of the related surfaces. Which means that batches should be tracked and subjected to a number of rounds of sharpening, one in every of which you’ll be able to see right here (reverse web page, backside).

Grand Seiko
Picture courtesy of Grand Seiko

The above description has taken a superb little bit of area, and the explanation for that’s that it may be utilized to just about every little thing that occurs at Seiko Epson for Grand Seiko. This contains every little thing from motion meeting and ending (reverse web page, prime), to the making of instances and dials (together with the Snowflake and naturally Lake Suwa), and particular touches corresponding to Zaratsu sharpening (creating the famed distortion-free reflection on the case surfaces, seen under). It’s all conventional, however all accomplished with the rigour and precision of latest machining strategies and expertise. Actions made right here embody calibres 9F and 9RA5, and we predict it solely becoming that Spring Drive actions are nonetheless made within the facility (again when it was known as Suwa Seikosha) that developed it greater than 20 years in the past.

If nothing else, the ultimate part of this story concurrently reveals how sophisticated Grand Seiko’s manufacturing regime is. Then again, that is a part of a sample, with the Kodo calibre not produced in Shizukuishi however Ginza; this has resulted in unlucky however comprehensible publication errors (the place pictures of SLGT003 have been used for instance tales on GSSS). Certainly, we’re extra cautious of unforced errors on this story than anyplace else, however we’re sure the extra educated amongst you’ll not hesitate to level these out! Because the closing story on this part on manufacturing websites, the narrative right here must have satisfied you that no manufacture is actually the identical as one other as a result of there are sometimes sturdy variances even throughout the similar model. In case you are not satisfied but, properly come again subsequent 12 months and we’ll strive once more…

This text first appeared on WOW’s Legacy 2024 difficulty

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