We recently reviewed the Grand Seiko Godzilla 65th Anniversary Limited Edition, a Spring Drive-powered Grand Seiko with an omnipotent red sunray dial meant to represent Godzilla’s all-destroying heat-ray.
Now, in complete contrast, we have another limited-edition red dial watch from Grand Seiko. This time the mood is far gentler and more rustic, with a complex blend of russet reds and subtle browns representing Japan’s lush mountainous woodlands in the fall — where, as is the case in all countries that enjoy an autumn, the leaves gradually turn to a deep red as the season changes. But there is more to this dial than the mere joy of capturing of an autumnal red. There is always an extra dimension to a Grand Seiko concept, and you have to look carefully to see it: observe the dial closely and you will see intricately striated vertical dial patterns. The idea here? To show the way in which these magnificent autumnal reds reflect upon traditional Japanese wooden floors. Within the confines of the 39mm dial, Grand Seiko has created a cherished memory and a welcome seasonal moment.
The general concept behind all Grand Seiko watches is to take a traditional watch design and make it in all aspects to the very best of the Seiko Corporation’s ability. That’s why, among other details, the distortion-free polishing of the lugs create a perfect triangle which is then applied with hairline finishing. This high polished perfection is known as Zaratsu polishing, a name originally derived from the name of the ‘Sallaz Bros’ German polishing machines acquired by Seiko back in the 1950s. Watch designer Taro Tanaka came on board Seiko in 1959 and over the course of a few years introduced what he likes to call “The Grammar of Design” for the Seiko brand, to give the watches a stronger, more radiant presence when compared to their Swiss competitors.
The basic idea behind Zaratsu polishing is to maximize the interaction of the light with the flat surfaces of the case, thereby giving an impression of supreme precision. The closest Swiss equivalent to this is known as black polishing. In a nutshell then, precision, indefatigable perfection and an OCD polished sheen are what Grand Seiko has been about ever since Tanaka worked on the first Grand Seiko 44GS in 1967. It’s not about flashy watch design or clever complications.
Tanaka’s “Grammar of Design” rules sure create a whole lot of additional intricate and skilled work for his team of polishers and craftsmen — and while in Britain they’d be grumbling or working to rule, in Japan they take it on as a sacred mission.
Turn the watch over and the see-through caseback reveals the special edition mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 Caliber 9S85. This movement has a 55-hour power reserve and an accuracy of +5 to –3 seconds a day. With the Hi-Beat movement, the second’s hand jumps ten times per second. There’s also a titanium-made oscillating weight with the Grand Seiko seal; it’s been anodized to a frankly rather jarring bright blue-green color, designed to symbolize the shade of green leaves that have not yet turned to the russet red that marks summer’s disappearance.
Produced as a special edition of just 900 pieces worldwide, ‘Autumn’ is destined to be another hard-to-get collector’s piece with no doubt excellent resale value. The Grand Seiko Heritage Collection SBGH269 Limited Edition is priced at $6,400.
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