Ninety percent of the time, you can count on Grand Seiko to opt for restraint and subtlety over flashy, gem-encrusted dial, fine watchmaking over expensive materials. The other ten percent of the time, you get pieces like this: the breath-taking Grand Seiko Masterpiece 140th Anniversary Limited Edition. If ever Grand Seiko were going to pull out all the stops it would be for an anniversary like this.
As ever – especially for this year’s impressive slate of releases – nature is at the core of Grand Seiko’s design ethos, it’s subject this time being the iridescent green waters of Shinshu, the region in which the watchmaker’s Micro Artist Studio resides. It’s basically the most artisan of their studios, offering classical, artistic expertise that has been leveraged aplenty for this limited edition.
The centre of the dial is made entirely from green mother-of-pearl, whose lustre and variations in colour are meant to reflect the fittingly reflective Mishaka Pond, near the studio in Shiojiri. In high summer the pond takes on the same colours as the forest which in an abstract way are referenced by the green stones that make up the hour markers of the Masterpiece.
The markers are picked out in both baguette-cut garnets (with 12 o’clock slightly larger for legibility) and brilliant-cut versions on the outer edge, with matching diamonds in-between. In total there are 24 green stones with 96 diamonds which, combined with the pearl dial, makes for one of the most stunning jewellery pieces from Grand Seiko to date.
The case, not to be outdone, is made from platinum using a specially developed form of Zaratsu polishing to give it the same incredibly faceted look of Grand Seiko’s less ornate pieces. It’s not the first time we’ve seen it, but every time it’s a sight to behold. As is the movement.
The limited edition is powered by the Calibre 9R01 Spring Drive movement, with its superlative ±10 seconds a month accuracy and 192-hour power reserve. What you might not realise looking at it is that the one-piece bridge is designed to look like Mt. Fuji. It’s definitely a more subtle allusion than the dial, but it’s there.
As I said, the highlights of Grand Seiko’s collection this year are once again their steel pieces with nary a diamond in sight, like the downright lovely Elegance collection. But every now and then it’s great to see them let their Micro Artist Studio let loose, especially if the result is anything like this.
The price for something this special? £176,120, and a limit of just 15 pieces.
Price & Specs:
Model: Grand Seiko Masterpiece Spring Drive 8 Day Jewelry Watch 140th Anniversary Limited Edition
Case/Dial: 43mm diameter x 13.5mm thickness, mirror Zaratsu polished platinum 950, 18k white gold and green mother-of-pearl dial, 97 diamonds, 24 green garnets
Water Resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: In-house calibre 9R01, manual-winding, 56 jewels, accuracy: +/-0.5 second per day (+/-10 seconds per month)
Power Reserve: 8 days (192h)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve indicator
Strap: Green crocodile leather with three-fold platinum clasp
Price/Availability: £176,120, limited edition of 15 pieces, available May 2021 at Grand Seiko boutiques
More details at Seiko Watches.