Inside The Making Of A Grand Seiko Timepiece

Lauren Gruber | February 5, 2021 | Style & Beauty Style & Beauty Migration

Grand Seiko’s meticulously decorated watches are steeped in Japanese artisan culture.

Grand Seiko’s Elegance Collection Caliber 9S63 watch with an 18K gold case and a limited-edition urushi dial PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND
Grand Seiko’s Elegance Collection Caliber 9S63 watch with an 18K gold case and a limited-edition urushi dial

Although its timepiece creations are revered around the world for their breathtaking designs and cutting-edge technology, Japanese watch brand Grand Seiko stays true to its artisan roots. Evident in their handcrafted elements and heritage techniques, Grand Seiko’s craftsmen take painstaking care to infuse the timepieces with personal touches steeped in traditional Japanese culture.


The hour markers are decorated with the traditional maki-e technique by urushi master Isshu Tamura in his studio in Kanazawa, Japan PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND
The hour markers are decorated with the traditional maki-e technique by urushi master Isshu Tamura in his studio in Kanazawa, Japan.

A unique feature of Grand Seiko’s watches is the use of urushi, a type of lacquer that has been imperative to Japanese artisanship for the last 9,000 years. Urushi is derived from trees in Joboji, a town beneath Mount Iwate that can be seen from Grand Seiko’s Shizukuishi watch studio. Inspired by Mount Iwate’s rugged beauty, a delicate pattern is visible through the amber suki-urushi lacquer on the dial of Grand Seiko’s Caliber 9S63 watch, a new slim design in the Elegance Collection. For the alternate Caliber 9S63 model, urushi is pigmented with iron to give the dial a jet-black shade. A technique called zaratsu is used to polish the watch’s case, emphasizing its distinctive curves.


Tamura. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAND
Tamura

Grand Seiko’s urushi expert, Isshu Tamura, implements traditional Japanese techniques while crafting Grand Seiko watches in his studio in Kanazawa, a city on the west coast of Japan’s main island. To finish the creation, Tamura carefully handapplies the timepiece’s hour markers and GS insignia using the traditional maki-e technique, building the marks in layers to create dimension. He then applies gold or platinum powder to the maki-e marks and polishes them by hand, giving the features a shining finish. Because each marker is required to have the same depth, great care and nimble fingers are required to give the watches their distinguishing touches. Historic Japanese methods give Grand Seiko’s timepieces stunning designs for the modern wearer.



Tags: watches

Photography by: Photos courtesy of brand