There’s a sure charming story about Grand Seiko that stored springing into my head on my current whirlwind tour of the model’s manufacturing websites throughout Japan. After all, I invite you to learn that story too, and maybe upfront of this interview with Grand Seiko CEO Akio Naito. In any case, this anecdote didn’t make it into the watchmaking story so I’ll embody it right here. The in need of it’s this: Grand Seiko shows are legendary for being packed to overflowing with data – maybe so dense that one may pretty name the proceedings dry. It doesn’t matter what although, one won’t ever really feel one’s eyelids getting heavier as a result of the watches are so invigorating. As with all such obtained knowledge and jokes, there is perhaps one thing to it, though Grand Seiko is hardly alone in organising inflexible (dare we are saying mechanical even) press briefings.
So how does an interview with the highest brass at Grand Seiko go? Nicely, that is our second full encounter with Naito, and he stays charmingly candid about his model and his function. In just a few phrases, it leaned closely into data overload with out ever making us really feel the decision of the Sandman. After all, Naito’s workplace was nothing if not meticulous, having gotten our questions upfront, they received the solutions typed out, and Naito handed it to us on the interview itself, which was in particular person, on the Seiko Home in Ginza. This was a shocking transfer as press places of work sometimes simply have a look at the questions and maybe veto a few of them, which isn’t an enormous deal as a result of we are able to ask no matter we wish in particular person anyway. There was no vetoing of any questions right here, and every little thing was answered correctly and totally. You is perhaps much more shocked, pricey reader, to study that Naito nonetheless availed himself to us for the complete size of the promised in-person assembly. Fortunately, we did have questions that we had not submitted to the press workplace…
If you understand something in any respect about Grand Seiko, it’s prone to be in regards to the second a part of its identify, and the beneficial comparisons the model’s watches have earned, versus among the most well-known names in Swiss watchmaking. Having simply witnessed the making of Grand Seiko watches at Suwa and Morioka, in addition to proper right here at Ginza Home, it was apparent that these little bits of knowledge have been however mere morsels. One factor that was not a morsel is Grand Seiko’s steadfaast – assiduous even – have to appropriate the report when the press will get a bit of carried away with these beneficial comparisons. When, in passing, we requested about Grand Seiko’s considerably distinctive place, with exceptionally completed instances which are additionally very strong, Naito went out of his method to set us straight there. He famous, fairly rightly, that there are a selection of manufacturers doing one thing comparable, and maybe the deeper level right here is that such comparisons are pointless. For extra on this, and the connection between Seiko and Grand Seiko, in addition to Seiko Epson, see the aforementioned manufacture story in Time Stamps. For now, it’s time to hear straight from Naito.
Congratulations on the Tentagraph SLGC001! We surprise why Grand Seiko waited so lengthy to create purely mechanical issues?
I’m conscious that followers have been ready for a Grand Seiko mechanical chronograph (for a very long time) however ever since its delivery, Grand Seiko has pursued creating the last word watch with its core values being accuracy, legibility, magnificence, and ease of use.
In 2009, we launched Caliber 9S85, which was the primary (high-beat) motion in virtually 40 years. Since then, there have been fixed requests for a high-beat Grand Seiko mechanical chronograph, however in creating it we needed to attain an ordinary of precision required of Grand Seiko, and on the similar time, (an influence reserve of) three days.
In 2020, Caliber 9SA5 was efficiently produced, and the efficiency of a (high-beat) motion with 80 hours (of) energy reserve was achieved. The situations of manufacturing a Grand Seiko high-beat chronograph have been now set. With a growth interval of two years, we have been capable of create the Tentagraph.
With the Tentagraph, we set a brand new Grand Seiko customary for chronographs. Like all Grand Seiko mechanical actions, the Tentagraph is assessed in six positions and three temperatures over 17 days, however with a further three days of testing through which its accuracy is assessed in three positions whereas the chronograph is in operation. With this new customary, we have been capable of introduce the (high-beat) chronograph with the longest energy reserve within the trade in the present day, nonetheless conserving the precision that Grand Seiko is famend for.
Following up on this, ought to we anticipate to see extra issues from Grand Seiko? Since accuracy is of paramount concern for Grand Seiko, is that one thing you’ll convey to any new watch?
Whereas it’s not our intention to deal with issues sooner or later, we purpose to create distinctive watches that transcend our creativeness. We’ll contemplate different issues so long as it’s in step with Grand Seiko’s core values of excessive accuracy, magnificence, sturdiness and ease of use. For Kodo, we didn’t create the look ahead to the sake of making a patented complication; (as an alternative) it was a results of pursuing high-precision watchmaking.
Final yr, we established the Atelier Ginza (positioned at Ginza Home). The brand new studio goals to create really distinctive and modern timepieces of the very best order. At Atelier Ginza, among the most interesting designers, craftsmen, and watchmakers work collectively to create, assemble, and modify timepieces that spotlight their creativity and experience, all of which is underpinned by conventional Japanese aesthetics.
We’ll rigorously contemplate future developments based mostly on our core values. Please sit up for it.
Whereas editors and journalists could obsess about issues, what do you discover your prospects asking for in a watch, that you haven’t but made?
All of our watches are designed and produced rigorously by way of the collaborative efforts of our highest designers, planners, watchmakers and producers in pursuit of upper ranges of accuracy, legibility, magnificence, sturdiness and ease of use. On the similar time, our prospects’ voices are additionally essential to Grand Seiko. (For instance) I hear extra calls for for slimmer watches. We do have slim watches in our line-up that obtain the sturdiness and reliability which are required for Grand Seiko, such because the manual-winding Spring Drive creations.
We’ve additionally launched Grand Seiko creations that don’t (adhere) to the standard “males’s” or “girl’s” watch sizes. For instance, we launched a number of creations from Grand Seiko with a 34mm case dimension, together with a watch with the celebrated snowflake sample in blue.
We provide a large assortment from our Masterpiece, Evolution 9, Class, Heritage, and Sport assortment. Every watch has a novel story, and if we talk them successfully, I’m assured that watch followers from all over the world will discover a watch that resonates with them.
Transferring on to model positioning and aesthetics, we are sometimes confronted by collectors on the query of remarkable dials at Grand Seiko and at Seiko, within the Presage assortment. Please clarify how Grand Seiko dials are totally different?
Grand Seiko dials are totally different in two methods. First, the dials are designed and based mostly on Grand Seiko Model. Grand Seiko established its grammar of design, the Grand Seiko Model in 1967 with the 44GS. Since then, this design precept has guided the design of each Grand Seiko creation, not solely in case design however dial design as nicely. Grand Seiko’s dials catch even the slightest gentle from each angle to boost legibility and create the glint of high quality that Grand Seiko is famend for.
Second, Grand Seiko dials are impressed by (the pure environment of) Grand Seiko studios. The dial patterns and colors embody the model philosophy: “The Nature of Time.”
For one thing distinctive such because the SBGZ009, it’s straightforward to see and really feel the Grand Seiko distinction. How vital is that this textural method, the place the dial ornament is matched by one thing the wearer can really feel?
The watch is exclusive in that it totally expresses the model philosophy in each element, not solely on the dial but additionally on the case engraving. This particular creation is impressed by the white birch forest in (the deepest) winter, and expresses delicate Japanese sensibility and craftsmanship by way of engraving by a grasp craftsman. We’ll proceed to take an analogous method to seize our model philosophy by way of particular creations like SBGZ009.
Transferring to Watches and Wonders Geneva, how did you discover the expertise this yr, now that extra folks can go to? Has your notion of the truthful developed or modified in any respect?
I used to be completely satisfied to fulfill many journalists and followers from Asia. Particularly this yr, we felt persons are coming again to affix actual occasions, which is a good signal, as I really feel strongly in regards to the significance of holding actual occasions and assembly folks face- to-face.
With the newly established Public days (the Geneva truthful has a number of days which are open to most people – Ed), extra folks have been capable of go to. We had the chance to speak straight with customers and followers, and have them perceive our model extra. We felt the necessity to enchantment to a wider viewers and the truthful inspired us to take action.
Whereas the truthful continues to evolve, my view of the truthful continues to be a optimistic one. (It’s the) ultimate showcase to introduce our novelties along with lots of the prestigious manufacturers from the trade. (It’s a) distinguished platform the place members of the trade can get collectively. By collaborating within the truthful, our recognition has additional elevated as a real luxurious watch model with distinctive qualities, which I consider advantages the posh watch trade.
We spoke beforehand in regards to the unimaginable stage of recognition of Grand Seiko outdoors Japan. How is the model now dealing with this demand, and the way do you handle expectations by way of collectors who could not have the ability to get the watch they need?
Grand Seiko is experiencing important development in demand worldwide. The steadiness of responding to excessive demand whereas persistently providing high-quality merchandise is a problem for any watchmaker, however we are going to by no means make any compromise within the high quality of our watches and do our greatest to reply to the calls for.
In 2020, we inaugurated the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi (GSSS) in Iwate Prefecture which you simply visited, devoted to creating Grand Seiko’s mechanical watches. It’s the place we additionally prepare and develop the subsequent technology watchmakers. We’ve additionally put in new (elements) manufacturing gear to extend manufacturing.
This text first appeared on WOW’s Legacy 2024 concern.
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