5 amazing watches showing at the Grand Seiko “Nature of Time” exhibition in New York City (including the one I’d give an organ for)Zach Blass
Is your feed currently flooded with the Grand Seiko “Nature of Time” Exhibition in New York City? There’s a reason for that. Taking place Downtown in the SoHo area, in partnership with Watches of Switzerland, this event has completely raised the bar for watch pop-ups. As thoughtful in design as the watches themselves, the exhibition provides fans of the brand (both old and new) a completely immersive and spacious display of some of the best – and rarest – models the brand has to offer.
According to Grand Seiko, the unique Nature of Time Experience was inspired by Japan’s spring and the fleeting beauty of the sakura cherry blossoms (which are also the inspiration for the dial of the SBGA413 Spring model, which you can see here). Grand Seiko has also worked to incorporate the ancient Japanese philosophy of mono no aware – appreciate the beauty of ephemeral things – to create one of the best and most beautiful brand experiences I have had the pleasure of visiting.
If I am being totally honest, I really felt like I was in a space that was more than just a point of sale. It was more akin to a museum. The walls and placards are jam-packed with a ton of information regarding the brand’s engineering and design philosophy. Throughout eight stations, visitors are guided through all aspects of Grand Seiko and their master craftsmanship. Horophiles will especially appreciate the stations dedicated to the movements of Grand Seiko, exploring their in-house quartz, mechanical, and Spring Drive engines that are unique to the brand. There is a lot of insightful information that would be novel to even the most die-hard Grand Seiko fans.
Downstairs, in the Takumi Lounge, there is a cosy and comfy space to either privately view watches (as an alternative to the Den of Lions above) or as a space to take a breath, relax, and absorb all the information found upstairs. The warm lighting encourages you to unwind and unpack all of the excitement above. According to Grand Seiko, the room’s aesthetic is intended to give visitors the experience of true Japanese hospitality, having been modelled on the beautiful bars of Ginza, creating an extremely inviting space.
On the walls, there are a host of neat macro shots, including the new dual impulse movement just released by the brand. With a keen eye, and ear, you can also faintly detect a Myochin wind chime, which is fabricated by the same artisan who developed the gongs found in Credor minute repeaters. Upon first hearing the sound, I immediately knew what it was and interrupted my conversation with a Grand Seiko representative just to appreciate the calming pure tone it spread throughout the room.
While the main draw here is the Four Seasons collection, the entire boutique catalogue for Grand Seiko is also on display – including rare pieces typically reserved for the Japanese Market (JDM). The good news for visitors is that all watches showcased at the Nature of Time Experience are available for purchase. Besides the stars of the exhibition, the Four Seasons Collection, here are five watches one would be remiss not to check out at the Nature of Time exhibition.
1. Grand Seiko SBGP015
This 60th anniversary limited edition of 2000 pieces is outfitted with a brand new quartz movement, the Caliber 9F85. One standout feature of this new movement is that it has a time difference adjustment function allowing the wearer to adjust the hour hand without stopping the seconds hand. This means you do not have to resynchronise the watch when you change time zones. With the watch being accurate to +/- 10 seconds per year, it really does not require adjustment to the minutes and seconds once set. In addition to the spectacular blue dial, it features a matching ceramic bezel of the same colour that is almost impervious to scratches. The markers, as well as the hour and minute hands, are coated with LumiBrite so as to increase the legibility of the time even in low light conditions. It has 20 bar water resistance, magnetic resistance of 16,000 A/m and a screw-down crown for enhanced security. If you are looking for a low-maintenance daily beater, that looks sporty yet elegant, the SBGP015 fits the bill. RRP: $3800 USD
2. Grand Seiko SBGM241 “峠 (Tōgè)”
This new take on their GMT model, in partnership with Watches of Switzerland, takes inspiration from both Japanese and English influences. This collaboration with WOS pairs a classic British Racing Green with the fine texture of Grand Seiko’s signature Mount Iwate dial beloved by fans of Grand Seiko. The term 峠 (Tōgè) translates to mountain pass, which explains why Mount Iwate is a source of inspiration for the dial and is paired with a royal gold GMT hand to continue the balance of Japanese and British influence.
The brown leather strap pairs perfectly with the watch, going even so far as having fine green stitching to match its gorgeous dial. The mechanical Caliber 9S66 is tested to the stringent Grand Seiko Standard of -3 to +5 seconds per day and has a 72-hour power reserve. RRP: $5200 USD (exclusively sold through Watches of Switzerland boutiques).
3. Grand Seiko SBGY002
For those who have begged the brand to create a snowflake dial without the calendar and power reserve functions on the dial, the watchmakers at the Shinshu Watch Studio have finally heard your cries. While the elegance, and price, is bumped due to the use of an 18k yellow gold case, this watch also introduces a novel and proprietary Zaratsu finish. This newly developed and patent pending Zaratsu method was created to accentuate the beauty of the curved surfaces. Making the previously impossible possible, the curved satin finish to the lugs has been replaced by their venerated distortion-free high polish that beautifully reflects the light and environment around it.
The sapphire crystals are curved to give the watches a classic look. To create a thin and manual wound offering, the watch is outfitted with the new manual-winding Spring Drive caliber 9R31. This movement has two mainsprings set in parallel within a single barrel, providing a spring drive offering as robust and efficient as its automatic brethren, in a slimmer and slender profile. RRP: $25,000 USD
4. Grand Seiko SBGA364
As a watch journalist, there are times I must remain impartial to provide an appropriate perspective on a watch. With this watch, I simply can’t. This is the kind of watch that makes me wonder how much one of my kidneys is worth on the black market. With its 44GS and bracelet Zaratsu finished in 18k pink gold, this is the ultimate expression of light and shadow through finish as the light plays with the precious pink gold material of the watch. Thankfully, my COVID mask prevented any drool from hitting the timepiece. Equipped with a specially adjusted caliber 9R15, adjusted to +/- 10 seconds per month versus the standard +/- 15 seconds, this watch is a premium offering rare to find outside of Japan. This is one of the JDM models found within the exhibition and is a watch you will not find in any other boutique outside of Japan. Approximate RRP: $37,500 USD
5. Grand Seiko SBGD201
Unlike the SBGA364 above, the SBGD201 is the ultimate stealth wealth offering at the exhibition. With its white dial and silver case tone, only the initiated would realise the case is fabricated in rare and precious platinum ‘950’ (a blend containing 95 per cent platinum). Another newly developed Zaratsu polishing technique has also been used on this model to give the case a sharply defined edge and exquisite finish you will not find on a platinum case from any other brand. According to Grand Seiko, the pure white dial has a glittering diamond-dust effect, reminiscent of a winter morning in the Suwa region, ensuring high visibility as it catches the light.
The first Grand Seiko to be produced by the master craftsmen at the Micro Artist Studio in Seiko’s facility in Shiojiri, the SBGD201 contains the new 9R01 Spring Drive movement. This new rendition of their proprietary technology pushes the limits of manual-wind technology with an extended 8-day power reserve. This is made possible by an innovative approach to the barrel, which preserves power by controlling the mainspring. Through three barrels that are linked together, Grand Seiko has extended the usage time given from each wind by more than 250 per cent. With the power reserve displayed on its movement, rather than with an indicator on the dial, the SBGD201 presents an uninterrupted dial that echoes beauty through simplicity. The movement features the same time-adjustment function described earlier in the SBGP015, allowing the wearer to adjust the hour of their highly accurate watch without stopping or interrupting its timekeeping. RRP: $59,000 USD
Looking to stop by this wonderful pop-up experience? The exhibition is located at 119 Spring Street, SoHo NY, and will be open until the end of September. The Nature of Time Experience is open to walk-in visitors, but Grand Seiko encourages reservations due to limited capacity. As a commitment to caring for the health and well-being of both the employees and visitors, masks and social distancing will be required.
For those outside of New York City, Grand Seiko invites everyone to virtually “visit” the Nature of Time Experience through interactive AR technology and videos of each zone from the comfort of their homes by visiting https://grandseikonatureoftime.com.