6 Limited-Edition Watches from Grand Seiko’s 60th Anniversary Collection
ILLUSTRATOR Warren Espejo
Grand Seiko, the premium label of the beloved Japanese watch brand, marks its 60th anniversary in 2020 and would have kicked off year-long celebrations in March. But then the world decided to have a meltdown and so plans for a Tokyo fete were scrapped.
Nevertheless, the company soldiered on, releasing several new watches, all ultimate expressions of what marks Grand Seiko and what makes it different from the more popular Seiko and the rest of the luxury watchmakers around the world.
For the brand, a particular set of parameters comes to mind: that it possesses a quiet elegance, exemplifies horological craftsmanship, and represents distinctly Japanese values. As well, Grand Seiko watches are always described as highly legible, extremely precise, and serenely beautiful.
It’s been the secret of watch aficionados for so long (it’s been around since the ’60s but did you even know that?) and now it continues to open itself up to the world with a new boutique in Place Vendôme in Paris and these ultra-rare watches that prove time doesn’t stop no matter what happens.
Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Hi-Beat 36000 Watch
It’s always a good idea to start with something sure. This automatic watch, one of the first commemorative pieces released for the 60th-anniversary celebrations, is quintessentially Grand Seiko. That’s to say the watch is simple and clean. The Hi-Beat 3600 pays homage to the original 44GS model from 1967, which established the Grand Seiko Style, from the double-width index to the curved sideline of the case. There’s no arguing with honest design—something that you can wear every day and on most occasions.
Grand Seiko Recreation of the 1960 Original Watch
The watch that started it all was born out of the desire to create a timepiece that was “precise, durable, comfortable, and beautiful as humanly possible.” It was a tall order, but Seiko’s team at its Suwa facility pulled it off, delivering a slim, handsome, and precise watch on December 18, 1960. Guess what they called it?
This year, the 1960 original has been recreated with only a few updates: a sapphire case back, a larger case (35mm and 38mm), and an easy-to-wear three-fold clasp. As well, there are three flavors: platinum, yellow gold, and Brilliant Hard Titanium (an exclusive Grand Seiko material). Seen here is our favorite: the Platinum 950 version, which denotes pureness.
Grand Seiko Mechanical Thin Dress Watch
If you require something extra in your quiet and elegant ticker, this platinum dress watch features curious engravings on its hands and dial. The form of the embellishments was derived from the legend of Shizukuishi, which goes something like this: Old man hears a strange sound from underneath a cedar tree. People identify the sound as water drops or “shizuku” falling on rocks or “ishi.” When you string these Japanese words together, you get the name of the place where Grand Seiko’s mechanical watches are made: Shizukuishi.
The poetic connection—a water splash—is brought to life by the careful and precise blade strokes of Grand Seiko’s master engraver and his team. So special (and difficult to create) are these watches that only 20 have been made.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Days Jewelry Watch
And if the day requires a dose of flash, put on this jewelry watch whose dazzle is inspired by winter mornings in the Shinshu region of Japan. The drama is focused at its center: Blue sapphires denote the hours, while white-hot diamonds represent the minutes. Grand Seiko describes the jewel-covered creation as “quietly dazzling,” which sounds like a contradiction, but in the hands of its artisans becomes reality. The sparkle is tempered by how the gems are applied—as a perimeter of thin baguettes on the outer edge.
Elsewhere, a diamond-dust dial, a subtle texture on the white face, and the outline of Mt. Fuji integrated on the case back, add to the soft grandeur. This is a fine case for men wearing diamonds, but only 10 have been produced. Who owns one?
Grand Seiko Professional Diver’s 600 MM Watch
The highlight here is the Spring Drive, the watch engine that provides accuracy and autonomy. For the 60th anniversary of Grand Seiko, the company introduces its new 9RA5 caliber, which makes the Spring Drive technology even better by providing a five-day power reserve, improving the accuracy rate to ±10 seconds per month, and making it even thinner than before.
All that power is put to good use in a high-intensity titanium diver’s watch that can withstand the perils of being 600 meters underwater. Perhaps your pursuits and passions require something more robust? Only 700 pieces of this model have been made.
Grand Seiko Caliber 9SA5 36000 80 Hours Watch
Featured in this handsome devil is another important caliber, the 9SA5. Grand Seiko touts the new hi-beat mechanical movement as its finest creation. Precision, power, and size are perfectly balanced as the 9SA5 delivers an accuracy rate of +5 to -3 seconds a day, a power reserve of 80 hours, and a slimmer profile.
Don’t worry about the inner workings behind the machine (trust us—the system is amazing) and just understand what you can comprehend right now: that it is housed inside a graceful case embellished with yellow gold indexes and robust hand and hour markers. In other words: beautiful. Only 100 have been made.