As you might have seen with the other brand of the group, this year, Seiko Corporation is celebrating the 110th anniversary of Japan’s first wristwatch – the so-called Laurel watch. This has been under the Seiko brand with a faithful recreation of this watch, with the Presage SPB359. Even though it came to life decades later, in 1960 to be precise, Grand Seiko is also joining the celebrations with a recreation of its first-ever watch, a model we discovered in 2020, for the brand’s 60th anniversary. Using the same technical base and identical overall design, Grand Seiko introduces the SBGW295, which relies on a cool combination of a modern titanium case paired with a traditional Urushi lacquer dial.
This year marks the 110th anniversary of the Laurel, a milestone celebrated with the release of a series of commemorative timepieces (which aren’t reserved for Seiko), including a new Grand Seiko limited edition that, like all the watches in the series, draws its inspiration from the company’s rich technological and design heritage.
This new Grand Seiko SBGW295, if we’re talking about the large image, is the same watch as the trilogy released for the brand’s 60th anniversary – the SBGW257, SBGW258 and SBGW259. As such, it is designed in the same style as the 1960 watch that started the GS story with more modern proportions. The case is elegant and compact, with a 38mm diameter, a relative thinness of 10.9mm and short lugs. Simple, overall domed and less sharp than later models – the Grammar of Design wasn’t yet defined in 1960 – the case is entirely polished with the Zaratsu (distortion-free) technique. One major difference for this new model, the case is here made of Brilliant Hard Titanium (a special alloy that is brighter and better reacts to polishing and is twice as hard as stainless steel).
The dial of this new Grand Seiko SBGW295 reveals, however, the more traditional side of things. It is made using the classic Urushi technique – which has been seen already within Seiko’s Presage collection and also at Grand Seiko. Urushi lacquer is an ancient Japanese craft that is today used for its ornamentation properties but that was once created for its antiseptic and preservative qualities. The deep black tone of lacquer used by GS is sourced exclusively in Japan, a rarity today. Worth noting; the jet-black colour results from the addition of iron to the material, and it has a special and proprietary treatment that prevents its colour from changing over time.
The black colour and the cold tone of the case are balanced by the warmth and richness of the markers and hands. Using another traditional Japanese craft, maki-e, the hands and markers are brought to life by Urushi master Isshu Tamura. All the golden elements of the dial are built up, layer upon layer, through the application of lacquer, later complemented by a 24k gold powder applied by hand. The golden hands are traditional GS and curved by hand to follow the curvature of the dial and crystal.
Inside the case of the Grand Seiko SBGW295 is the well-known hand-wound calibre 9S64. Produced in-house in the brand’s studio, this slim movement stores 72h of power reserve and is finely regulated to +5 to -3 seconds per day. It is classically decorated and is visible under a see-through caseback. The SBGW295 is delivered with two straps. The first uses yet another Japanese craft, a woven technique known as yoroiori, which was once used for making samurai armour. The second option is a supple black leather strap. The watch is secured to the wrist by a triple-folding Brilliant Hard Titanium clasp with push-button release.
The Grand Seiko Elegance Collection Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Recreation of the first Grand Seiko SBGW295 is a limited edition of 500 pieces, available at Grand Seiko Boutiques and select retail partners worldwide in February 2023. It will be priced at EUR 14,700 or USD 13,800. For more details, please visit www.grand-seiko.com.