The original Japanese wristwatch has been upgraded for modern wear.
Launched in 1913, the Seiko Laurel watch took the horology industry by storm as it stood out from the pocket watches that dominated the scene at the time. This watch 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 version of the model to celebrate its 110th anniversary.
Called the Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Limited Edition, the refurbished watch has a striking vintage profile, housed in a 38mm case that, in line with advances in material technology, is made of brilliant hard titanium, making it resistant to corrosion and scratches. A closer look reveals its curved, urushi lacquered dial topped with gold maki-e hour markers. The minute and second hands are also manually curved downwards towards the dial to improve readability.
Urushi lacquer is synonymous with traditional Japanese craftsmanship and can be traced back to Japan's Jomon period (13,100 BC-400 BC). The lacquer used for the watch is exclusively sourced in Japan, which is rare: most urushi is produced overseas. To achieve the black colour of the dial for the 110th Anniversary model, Grand Seiko added iron to the lacquer which was further enhanced with a special treatment to prevent the colour from changing over time.
In the meantime, the maki-e watch marks were revived by the urushi master Isshu Tamura. His process involved stacking layers of lacquer to create both markers and the Grand Seiko brand mark at the 12 o'clock position to create a 3D look. These elements were then coated with 24-carat gold powder and polished with special tools.
Apart from its good looks, the limited edition 110th Anniversary watch also contains a valuable movement. Equipped with the hand-wound calibre 9S64, the timepiece maintains an accuracy equivalent to +5 to -3 seconds per day. It also has a frequency of 28,880 vph and a power reserve of 72 hours. You can get an insight into the operation of the mechanism through the open back of the model case.
If you ever want to, you will be able to change the look of the entire watch by changing the straps that come with the watch. The first involves a traditional Japanese weaving technique called yoroiori that was used to make samurai armour. Another option is made of leather, which is used for its softness, texture and comfort.
Limited to just 500 pieces, the Seiko Watchmaking 110th Anniversary Limited Edition watch will be available for purchase starting next month for $13,000. Visit the Grand Seiko website for more details.