Japan’s original wristwatch has been upgraded for modern wear.
Launched in 1913, Seiko’s Laurel timepiece took the horological industry by storm because it stood out from the pocket watches that dominated the scene at the time. The piece was designed by the company’s founder, Kintaro Hattori, and is considered the first Japanese wristwatch, although its movement was designed for small pocket watches. Grand Seiko is now offering a special-edition version of the model in celebration of its 110th anniversary.
Dubbed the Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Limited Edition, the reimagined watch has a striking vintage profile. The Ref. SBGW295 is set in a 38 mm case that, in a concession to advances in materials technology, is crafted from brilliant hard titanium. (The material results in a lightweight case that’s resistant to corrosion and scratches.) A closer look reveals its curved, urushi-lacquered dial topped with gold maki-e hour markers. The minute and seconds hands are also curved down towards the dial by hand to enhance legibility.
Urushi lacquer is synonymous with traditional Japanese craft and can be traced back to Japan’s Jomon Period (13,100 BCE-400 BCE). The lacquer used for the watch has been exclusively sourced in Japan, which is rare: most urushi is produced abroad. To achieve the 110th Anniversary watch’s jet-black dial color, Grand Seiko added iron to the lacquer which was further enhanced through a special treatment to prevent the color from changing over time.
The maki-e hour markers, meanwhile, were brought to life by urushi master Isshu Tamura. His process included stacking layers of lacquer on top of one to create both the markers and the Grand Seiko brand mark at 12 o’clock to create a 3-D look. Then, 24-karat gold power was then applied on top of those elements and polished with special tools.
Beyond its good looks, the 110th Anniversary Limited Edition watch also houses a hardworking movement. Equipped with the manually wound caliber 9S64, the timepiece maintains an accuracy equivalent to +5 to -3 seconds per day. It also has a frequency of 28,880 vph and achieves a power reserve of 72 hours. You can view the movement through the model’s openwork case back.
You’ll be able to switch up the look by changing the straps that come with the watch. The first incorporates a traditional Japanese weaving technique called yoroiori that was used for making samurai armor. The second option is crafted from leather sourced for its softness, texture and comfort.
Limited to just 500 pieces, the Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Limited Edition watch will be available next month for $13,000. Visit the Grand Seiko website for more details.