March 24, 2019
Under the sign of the lion
Seiko celebrates no fewer than three major anniversaries in 2019: the 50th anniversary of the debuts of the first automatic chronograph movement and the first Seiko Quartz Astron in 1969 and the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive technology, which has been setting standards for precise timekeeping since 1999. All of the limited- edition models presented at Baselworld this year are dedicated to the lion, which has been Grand Seiko’s symbol since 1960, and all of them are based on two especially finely adjusted calibres: Spring Drive R96 (with chronograph and GMT display) and Spring Drive 9R15 (with 72-hour power reserve and an accuracy of +/-0.5 second per day).
Although these three timepieces bring a fresh breeze into the sporty collection, each is instantly identifiable as a Grand Seiko. This recognisability is ensured by the brand’s characteristic Zaratsu polish on the case, which remains water-resistant to 200 metres and is protected against magnetic fields. The same distinctive polishing has also been lavished on the diamond-cut edges of the hands and on the hour markings. This creates the special interplay of light and shadow that typifies Grand Seiko and sparks enthusiasm among its aficion- ados. One of these two chronographs shines in a red gold case; the cases of the second chronograph and the three-handed versions are manufactured from high-intensity titanium. Wearing comfort is further enhanced by curved strap lugs and a lowered centre of gravity for the case.
The brand shows subtle watch design at its best with the ‘Spring Drive thin dress series’, a new line of slim hand-wound models in the Grand Seiko Elegance collection. In terms of craftsmanship, the most sophisticated model here is Reference SBGZ001 with a platinum case that rises only 9.8 mm above the wrist and boasts elaborate manual engravings. The popular ‘Snowflake’ pattern adorns its silver dial, behind which ticks new Calibre 9R092. This movement features two mainsprings set in parallel within a single barrel and relies on the brand’s Torque Return System to provide an 84-hour power reserve.