SYMBOL Dials that express the deep affection felt for the two homes of Grand Seiko.

Grand Seiko watches today are also manufactured at two facilities, separated by 500 km but joined in a common dedication to make the very best watches. Suwa Seikosha is now Seiko Epson and manufactures quartz models and Spring Drive models in the city of Shiojiri, Nagano Prefecture. Seiko Instruments, carrying on the work of Daini Seikosha, manufactures mechanical models in the town of Shizukuishi, Iwate Prefecture. Grand Seiko watches, made in Shiojiri and Shizukuishi, carry movements manufactured in-house that boast high precision and quality and are based on the Grand Seiko Style, whose focus is uniquely on precision, legibility, and beauty. The competition of the past is now a synergy of dedication to Grand Seiko.
Which is not to say that the very different wristwatch cultures built by the two companies, including varying views on the concept of design, product philosophy and technology, are not still very much alive. They are alive and they are both evident and welcomed by all on the Grand Seiko team. These differences have become an enduring source of strength and give Grand Seiko its vitality and multi-layered creativity.

A very clear example is the dials. Many are specially finished with due reverence to where they were born. The Spring Drive model SBGA211 has a dial known as the “Snowflake.” It was designed in the image of the Hotaka mountain range covered with snow, which can be seen from the Shinshu Watch Studio in Shiojiri. The mechanical model SBGJ201 has a "Mount Iwate ridge dial" inspired by the strong ridges of the famed Mount Iwate, which is visible from the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio. Both express their creators’ deep affection for their respective birthplaces.

Why is Grand Seiko so attached to its birthplaces? The watchmaking industry is labor intensive. Each Grand Seiko factory draws its people from its local area, and it is not rare for generations of families to work at the same factory. The manufacture of Grand Seiko has always been a matter of local pride and that is precisely why Grand Seiko shows respect to the local areas' traditions and highly values its birthplaces.

Grand Seiko is an unusual maker brand of wristwatches, in that it includes movements of very different properties, from mechanical through quartz to Spring Drive. This diversity is a vivid demonstration of the power of synergy. The friendly rivalry between the two companies of Daini Seikosha and Suwa Seikosha in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s has matured into a synergy that allies the best of both facilities’ cultures to a common aim, the creation of the very best timepieces. Respect for tradition takes many forms.

A very clear example is the dials. Many are specially finished with due reverence to where they were born. The Spring Drive model SBGA211 has a dial known as the “Snowflake.” It was designed in the image of the Hotaka mountain range covered with snow, which can be seen from the Shinshu Watch Studio in Shiojiri. The mechanical model SBGJ201 has a "Mount Iwate ridge dial" inspired by the strong ridges of the famed Mount Iwate, which is visible from the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio. Both express their creators’ deep affection for their respective birthplaces.

Why is Grand Seiko so attached to its birthplaces? The watchmaking industry is labor intensive. Each Grand Seiko factory draws its people from its local area, and it is not rare for generations of families to work at the same factory. The manufacture of Grand Seiko has always been a matter of local pride and that is precisely why Grand Seiko shows respect to the local areas' traditions and highly values its birthplaces.

Grand Seiko is an unusual maker brand of wristwatches, in that it includes movements of very different properties, from mechanical through quartz to Spring Drive. This diversity is a vivid demonstration of the power of synergy. The friendly rivalry between the two companies of Daini Seikosha and Suwa Seikosha in the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s has matured into a synergy that allies the best of both facilities’ cultures to a common aim, the creation of the very best timepieces. Respect for tradition takes many forms.

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Shinshu region


Photo: Mainichi Shimbun / Aflo

The "Snowflake" was first used in the Spring Drive model SBGA011, released in October 2005. Caliber 9R65 expressed the profile of the Hotaka mountain range in the configuration of the gear train and bridge. Development of the dial of the “Snowflake” started from the designer's zeal to express the beauty of Shinshu on the dial as well. It features a texture like the granular snow resulting from extremely cold temperatures.

Iwate


Photo: Masaaki Tanaka / Aflo

The "Mount Iwate ridge dial" first appeared in the SBGL001 released in 2006, which carried a Caliber 9S67, Grand Seiko's first mechanical movement with a 3-day power reserve. The numerous ridged contours carved on the face of the famed Mount Iwate, which is visible from the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio, were expressed on the dial. Various types are available, including white for winter, brown for fall, and green for early summer.

COLUMN

A hint from a Grand Seiko watch from 1971.

How to depict a pristine, granular snow field on a watch dial? The answer, it turned out, lay in the factory’s own vaults. Scouring the records, the team found a photo of the 56GS made in 1971 which had a similar feel. A new mold for the new dial was made to reproduce the same granular surface as the 1971 model. The unchanging landscape of Suwa was, once again, reflected in Grand Seiko.


Photo: Takashi Komiyama / Aflo