Since the first Grand Seiko watch was released in 1960, the premium Japanese brand has continued to delight with their exceptionally sharp lines and clean designs. Today there are more Grand Seiko fans than ever before thanks to concerted efforts to make it a truly global brand.

What is Zaratsu polishing? Its origins are less Japanese than you think

Zaratsu polishing

Seiko and its Grand sibling are well known for their technical skill in case finishing. This style of highly reflective polishing was first introduced into the Seiko family by watch designer Taro Tanaka, who came into the Japanese company to produce a holistic design language that was called "The Grammar of Design". One of the main tenants of this design language was for all of the flat surfaces of the watch case and hands to be polished to a mirror finish using a method called Zaratsu polishing. By maximising the interaction of the light with the flat surfaces of the case, the case gave an impression of extreme precision, with super-crisp case lines, a reflection you could see yourself in. This same method of polishing has been used by Citizen in their higher-end watches, suggesting a fondness for this method of polishing in Japanese watch firms. In fact, watch companies around the world use broadly similar techniques to achieve this level of polish, with many Swiss watch manufacturers using the term black polishing for a technique they typically use to finish parts of their movements. While not an identical technique between black and zaratsu polishing — with black polishing typically done by… Read More

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MY 6 MONTHS WITH: The Grand Seiko SBGN007

Grand Seiko SBGN007

When most watch collectors hear the word quartz they think cheap, mass-produced and soulless. If a watch isn't mechanical, it isn't worth talking about, thinking about, and definitely not buying, which are sentiments I broadly agree with. As I wrote here, mechanical watches have a combination of nostalgic charm and independent reliability that I love alongside thousands of watch enthusiasts around the world. So why then did I buy a quartz watch that costs the same as some mechanical Swiss watches? Let me explain why I bought the Grand Seiko SBGN007, and how I feel about the purchase six months later. I'll start by explaining that when I started collecting watches, I collected vintage Seiko. This is a great way to get started in the hobby, as you don't have to spend a lot of money to experience a bunch of different watches. For someone starting their collection, this is the perfect scenario. I think starting out this way also stops you from getting any notions that the only good watches are made in a landlocked country in Europe and cost $10,000. It makes you appreciate watches that aren't necessarily luxury, and how different brands approach watchmaking in a way… Read More

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Timelessness of Grand Seiko design language

Editor's note: Being first is important. It awards you the privilege of being looked back on as the original, the source of all that follows you, and an example of the maverick intent that got things started. For Grand Seiko, their prototypical watch was released in 1960, an expression of cleanly refined classicism that established the foundation of the brand as we know it today. Unpretentious, accurate, and a level of finishing that approaches perfection. In 2017 Grand Seiko decided to pay tribute to that first example made in the Suwa Seikosha factory, and produced a steadfast reissue that is as attractive as its ancestor. Produced in steel, yellow gold and platinum, these watches offer an interesting point of comparison to their modern watches, showing just how the Grand Seiko design language has evolved over the last half century.  Grand Seiko reissue their first ever watch, plus a completely new re-interpretation Watch brands love nothing more than an anniversary. You might even be forgiven for thinking that marketing departments devote a substantial amount of energy to finding ever more obscure historical events, products or personages to commemorate with a new limited edition: 56 years since the release of our mildly popular… Read More

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What is Zaratsu polishing? Its origins are less Japanese than you think

Zaratsu polishing

Seiko and its Grand sibling are well known for their technical skill in case finishing. This style of highly reflective polishing was first introduced into the Seiko family by watch designer Taro Tanaka, who came into the Japanese company to produce a holistic design language that was called "The Grammar of Design". One of the main tenants of this design language was for all of the flat surfaces of the watch case and hands to be polished to a mirror finish using a method called Zaratsu polishing. By maximising the interaction of the light with the flat surfaces of the case, the case gave an impression of extreme precision, with super-crisp case lines, a reflection you could see yourself in. This same method of polishing has been used by Citizen in their higher-end watches, suggesting a fondness for this method of polishing in Japanese watch firms. In fact, watch companies around the world use broadly similar techniques to achieve this level of polish, with many Swiss watch manufacturers using the term black polishing for a technique they typically use to finish parts of their movements. While not an identical technique between black and zaratsu polishing — with black polishing typically done by… Read More

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LIST: 4 Grand Seiko Snowflakes – one for every season

For many, Grand Seiko is synonymous with Snowflake, and for years there was only one Grand Seiko Snowflake to choose. Now, as the prestigious Japanese brand becomes better known in the world, that landscape is changing, with more of those delicate, gorgeous dials making their way across the world. And, in the manner of Vivaldi's most famous work, we're breaking it down, four seasons-style. Grand Seiko Snowflake SBGA259   Spring is brought to us courtesy of the SBGA259, which doesn't deviate too much from the original, but adds a few blossoming buds of colour in the form of gold-tone hands and dial markers. In a contrast that only seems to make the white of the dial even crisper in comparison. $8400 Grand Seiko Snowflake SBGY002  One of the latest additions to the Snowflake family is the one offering a glimpse of golden sunshine — SBGY002. While the allusion to summery warmth is clear in the precious metal case, this slim, manually wound Spring Drive offers a novel new take on the much-loved look. $35,200 Grand Seiko Snowflake SBGA211  In this seasonal breakdown, the original, titanium-cased Snowflake takes the position of autumn. That's not to say that this watch isn't a great year-round option, but its… Read More

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VIDEO: 4 new watches that herald Grand Seiko's dressy revolution

One of the strongest themes in Grand Seiko's Basel 2019 showing was the pivot to dressy, slightly thinner pieces. We saw two new movements (both mechanical and Spring Drive) cased in a range of (typically gorgeous) new models. And while Grand Seiko's design hallmarks are there — namely in the exceptional dials and the quality of finish — there were a few elements that set a significant new tone for the brand, particularly the thinner, more ergonomic case profiles, and manually wound movements. It's a strong start, and it's also just that — a start. We're going to see lots more of these watches in the future … Grand Seiko SBGK002 Gold case, red urushi lacquer dial with a stunning Mt. Iwate finish. What's not to like? Grand Seiko SBGK005 Well, if gold is a little rich for your blood, keep things more sedate with steel. Still stunning with a blue Mt. Iwate dial.  Grand Seiko SBGY002 The snowflake has never looked so stunning, thanks to the thinner, smaller case in yellow gold.  Grand Seiko  SBGY003 Steel case, radial guilloché dial and slender profile. Only possible complaint — limited issue. 

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HANDS-ON: Grand Seiko's SBGY002, a hot new hand-wound take on the Snowflake

It's been an excellent crop of new releases for Grand Seiko, and hiding amidst a healthy assortment of models came this gem — the yellow gold SBGY002. Using a new hand-winding 9R31 Spring Drive movement with a power reserve of 72 hours, the new piece mates a variation of the brand's iconic Snowflake dial with a more traditional and slender dress watch casing. Coming in north of $25K, it's obviously a different beast to the classic Snowflake model; however, the new piece is yet another example of how Grand Seiko just isn't pulling any punches when it comes to delivering impeccable design, finishing, and attention to detail when compared to any of their Swiss competition. This piece is one of four new models in the same vein; it is flanked by a pair of platinum-cased models at the upper register, and a more restrained steel model at the other end of the spectrum. All four models were launched as part of Grand Seiko's celebration of the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive. While our topic at hand (as well as the steel model) are manufactured in the Shinshu Watch Studio, where all other Spring Drive watches are made, the platinum models are… Read More

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