Grand Seiko 50th Anniversary Watch Review
Wednesday - 15 February 2012
From the Far East comes an extremely impressive line-up of watches from Japan’s SEIKO. These are the Grand Seiko’s, the finest pieces that the company has to offer. What’s more, Seiko is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary of this line with a number of stunning, limited edition pieces.
The company refers to its Grand Seiko as, “the most beautiful, functional, and simple watch that SEIKO can build.” For its fiftieth year, the Grand Seiko collection will include quartz, mechanical, and Spring Drive watches. These are limited edition pieces; each watch will be inscribed with the words “50th Anniversary 1960-2010” and the individual manufacturing number.
As mentioned, the collection can be broken up into three lines, differentiated by the means of powering each piece. Nothing indicates the quality of these watches more than their accuracy and precision. For example, the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition Spring Drive features a calibre accurate to ten seconds per month. This kind of performances requires individual attention from SEIKO’s master craftsmen. For those looking for a bit more, there’s even a version available in a platinum case. However, this version will be extremely limited; SEIKO is producing just 30 pieces.
Turning to the Quartz line, you’ll be shocked to learn that SEIKO has managed to improve the performance of this line as well. No, it’s not accurate to five seconds per month; it’s accurate to five seconds per year! This has been achieved by carefully selecting individual quartz crystals. SEIKO is so proud of this achievement that they’ve included a pentagram (symbolising the five seconds) right on the dial.
More needs to be said about the outward appearance of the watch, before we consider the mechanical line of Grand Seiko’s. The symbol of a lion is a hallmark for the entire family of Grand Seiko’s, and it appears on the dial of every individual watch. In the Spring Drive and mechanical lines, the lion appears in an eighteen carat gold emblem on the oscillating weight. Additionally, the stylised words “Grand Seiko” appear directly above the six o’clock position.
For the mechanical pieces, SEIKO employs what they refer to as the “Grand Seiko standard” in the manufacture of this special family. They note that “every mechanical Grand Seiko watch ever built has exceeded the internationally accepted chronometer standard.” This standard also refers to the accuracy to which a mechanical watch must keep time over a given period. For the mechanical Grand Seiko’s this year, that’s between -1 and +5 seconds per day. While one might observe that this seems to be considerably less than the Spring Drive and Quartz lines, remember that the physics behind mechanical watches are very different as opposed to the other two. In short, the mechanical Grand Seiko’s represent the pinnacle of mechanical watch engineering to date.
Grand Seiko’s represent a level of quality that exceeds that of many Swiss workshops. Even better, they are priced well below that of their European cousins. The range for the limited edition Grand Seiko’s was between JPY 315,000 and JPY 2,100,000. In U.S. dollars, that’s roughly between $3,000 and $20,000. Only one model was priced above USD $10,000. Amazingly, these are models whose manufacturing runs are in the hundreds, if not less. These collectible pieces will surely appreciate in value as time wears on. All told, Grand Seiko’s represent an unbeatable combination of quality, price, and exclusivity.