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Grand Seiko’s Perfect Timing

by multimill
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Grand Seiko

When a brand debuts a complication, even a familiar one such as a chronograph, it is worth celebrating. Collectors definitely take note, and this qualifies as news – a first is a first after all. Grand Seiko demonstrated this recently with the Evolution 9 Collection Tentagraph SLGC001 at Watches and Wonders Geneva – the watch is not only the first traditional mechanical chronograph from the Japanese brand but also the first chronograph to deploy its new dual impulse escapement. Before we move on, you will want a clarification: how did Grand Seiko manage to miss out on the chronograph all this time, especially when Seiko is a chronograph pioneer?

Grand Seiko

Grand Seiko has made chronographs but they were Spring Drive models, not traditional mechanical pieces. The brand focussed on making beautiful watches and the smooth action of Spring Drive was undeniable. Grand Seiko did not disappoint on beauty front, and it did not get involved in the fussy business of complications unless Spring Drive was also involved. That all changed when Grand Seiko became its own entity, and plans were made to emphasise the Grand part of the name. Since we give over parts of a few stories in the issue to the awesomely named Tentagraph, this particular story will be about the lovely touches Grand Seiko is famous for, and how they make themselves felt in this watch.

Grand Seiko

For those familiar with how Grand Seiko does things, the relatively spartan dial will come as a total riposte to the Spring Drive chronographs, as Monochrome has pointed out. While we do not favour one approach over the other, it is notable that Grand Seiko is doing this differently in its traditional mechanical range. We must note for the record that we prefer the date (if absolutely necessary) to be at the 3 o’clock or 6 o’clock. The chronograph module is dial-side so that might have made things more challenging. Maybe 6 o’clock for a future iteration? Nevertheless, having clear differentiation is only to be expected and helps to distinguish Spring Drive variants from others. But in the watch business, such design flourishes should not be taken for granted. If you are a collector of Grand Seiko or perhaps chronographs, it will be immensely helpful to easily distinguish models.

Grand Seiko

In terms of fit, the watch is fairly large (approximately 43mm) and thick (approximately 15mm). The ergonomic styling of the lugs will make things easier for more modest wrists, as we discovered. Given that the Tentagraph is equipped with a bracelet, wearability is not an issue, or can be easily solved with a NATO strap. The case and bracelet are in high intensity titanium, as Seiko and Grand Seiko both refer to the material. Zaratsu polishing is claimed and observed here, which is remarkable considering that titanium does not take well to any kind of polishing. This is not a new feature at Grand Seiko but it should not be taken for granted. These lines of finishing indicate how seriously the manufacture takes the art of finishing. 

Movement Automatic calibre 9SC5 with chronograph and date; 72-hour power reserve
Case 43mm in high intensity titanium; water-resistant to 100m
Strap Bracelet in high intensity titanium
Price $18,800

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