Discovering Time With Grand Seiko At Watches Of Switzerland

SoHo Meets Japan - The Exclusive Grand Seikos Available At Watches Of Switzerland SoHo

A stylized look at the special Grand Seiko pieces on display at Watches Of Switzerland.

By Josh Shanks

From now until March 1st, Grand Seiko is exhibiting some of their rarest handcrafts at Watches Of Switzerland’s newly opened SoHo boutique. For collectors, this is a rare opportunity to go hands-on with some of the world’s most exclusive Grand Seiko models.

The pieces you can see at Watches Of Switzerland

Outside of Japan, there very few opportunities to see the novelties now on display at Watches Of Switzerland. While Grand Seiko has a variety of retail outlets in the United States, JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) product very rarely arrives stateside. The epitome of Grand Seiko's craftsmanship would have to be the Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve. This stunning, hand-finished masterpiece is produced at Grand Seiko's micro artist studio located in the small town of Shiojiri just outside of central Japan. Said to be inspired by Philippe Dufour himself, the 8 Day collection does not pull any punches.

Watchonista recently had the opportunity to visit Grand Seiko's pop-up at Watches Of Switzerland and spend quality time with some of our favorite novelties. We've previously covered the Watches Of Switzerland Exclusive Grand Seiko SBGA259 ‘Snowflake’ (HERE) but there are simply too many good things on display for one article to cover. 

Many ask what makes Grand Seiko so special? What makes this now independent brand stand out from their parent company Seiko? Put simply, craftsmanship, craftsmanship, craftsmanship. From concept to execution, Grand Seiko pays meticulous detail to every aspect of a watch's creation. It starts with the hand-finished cases, made from 44GS steel and polished with Grand Seiko's proprietary Zaratsu method. From the cases, we go to the dials, and this is where Grand Seiko really sets themselves apart. Unique in-house techniques allow Grand Seiko to produce sublime mirrored dials and of course, the now iconic 'Snowflake' dials.

Last, but certainly not least, are the movements. The Grand Seiko collection is comprised of three different movement types, the Spring Drive (more on that later), 9S mechanical, and 9F quartz. These aren't just any movements watches either. All Grand Seiko movements are designed, engineered, and produced entirely in-house at Grand Seiko's two factories in Japan.

Grand Seiko produces the bulk of their movements at two locations in Japan. The Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio produces all mechanical Grand Seiko movements, while the Shinshu Watch Studio produces a wide range of Spring Drive movements and is home to the micro-artist studio. I had the opportunity to visit both factories recently and I was astonished by how much of the movement making is done by hand. 

At Watches Of Switzerland, we were able to see an exclusive ref. SBGJ207 “Special” Hi-Beat GMT. A 39.5mm steel model which features a stunning brushed dial with a matte quality which allows the Zaratsu polished hands to contrast the dial perfectly. The perfect compliment to a leisurely stroll through the cobblestone streets of SoHo.

U.S. Exclusive Limited Edition Spring Drives

Visiting Grand Seiko's Watches Of Switzerland pop-up is also a great opportunity go experience the U.S. Exclusive Limited Edition Spring Drives. Released earlier this year in three models, this line entirely features 'Snowflake' dials and comes available in three different metals – Rose Gold, Platinum, and Stainless Steel. 

“For Grand Seiko as a brand, it was especially important for us to design and unveil a collection of watches solely for the United States, as it’s one of our highest priority markets,” said Akio Naito, Chairman & CEO, Grand Seiko Corporation of America. Watches Of Switzerland and SoHo, in particular, are indeed a "high priority market" for the brand.

All U.S. Exclusive Grand Seiko Spring Drivers feature the propriety 9R Spring Drive movement. To explain, Spring Drive movements are still mechanical watches which draw their energy via an oscillating weight (i.e. Automatic), yet the way this energy is dispersed is what makes Sring Drive unlike any other movement.  But using mechanical, electric, and electromagnetic regulation, Spring Drive obtains optimal precision. If you're a novice or experienced collector, Spring Drive is worth studying and there's no better place to learn than the brand's Pop-Up at Watches Of Switzerland.

The limited U.S. Edition Spring Drive models are available in a limited edition of 20 pieces in platinum with a silver 'Snowflake' dial, an 18k Rose Gold edition with rose gold 'Snowflake dial in 50 pieces, and finally a 558 piece stainless-steel edition with light blue 'Snowflake' dial. This collection is certainly worthy of a second look.

The Grand Seiko Pop-Up At Watches Of Switzerland

Grand Seiko's pop-up at Watches Of Switzerland is home to the rarest and most desirable Grand Seiko creations. Open during normal business hours and located at the lower level of Watches Of Switzerland's SoHo boutique. From Grand Seiko 8 Day Spring Drives to exclusive editions only available at the pop-up, Grand Seiko has a wide variety of novelties on display. 

Grand Seiko's Pop-Up is located at Watches Of Switzerland's SoHo boutique, located at 60 Greene Street in New York, New York. The pop-up is open until March 1, 2019. For visiting information, see below!

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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