AbonnéWatches & Jewellery

With Grand Seiko, Japan Envisions Quiet Luxury of Watchmaking

Aymeric Mantoux

By Aymeric Mantoux14 novembre 2023

Japan, often celebrated for its precision and craftsmanship, is a notable contender in the world of luxury timepieces. A prime example of this mastery is Grand Seiko, an esteemed institution that rhymes with precision. Take an exclusive tour with us through the Grand Seiko Studio in Shizukuishi, which has remained secluded since its inauguration in 2020.

Seiko's spin-off, Grand Seiko is born after more than five years of development at Suwa Seiko-sha (in Nagano) (Grand Seiko)

My goal was to transcend the primary essence of time, inspiring a sense of mysterious connection to the aspects of nature and time.

Kengo Kuma, architect and designer of the Grand Seiko Studio in Shizukuishi

Our journey takes us northward to Morioka Station. In the town of Shizukuishi, just over two hours away by Shinkansen in Iwate Prefecture, one finds both the Morioka Seiko movement factory and the Grand Seiko Studio, dedicated to crafting GS mechanical components and the highest-grade watches. Designed by the renowned architect Kengo Kuma and completed in 2020, the studio's layout and every detail of its arrangement reflect meticulous consideration, much like the intricate pieces of a watch movement. Kuma stated, "My goal was to transcend the primary essence of time, inspiring a sense of mysterious connection to the aspects of nature and time. I aimed to make this awareness more tangible through my architecture." Thus, the studio's decor draws inspiration from traditional Japanese temples and dwellings. After the impact of the pandemic and two years of closure, only a select few have had the privilege of visiting this legendary establishment.

The Quest for Perfection

Model from Grand Seiko's Evolution 9 collection (DR)

Since the 1970s, Seiko has maintained a presence in Shizukuishi, a name poetically translating to "the gentle sound of a water droplet on stone." This location was chosen due to its deep-rooted artisanal traditions dating back centuries. Upon arriving at a magnificent, elongated building of glass and wood, discreetly bearing the inscription "Grand Seiko Shizukuishi" in silver lettering, we are warmly greeted by two staff members in embroidered blue lab coats. Upon entering the expansive hall resembling a contemporary cathedral, the scent of Japanese pine fills the air, originating from the nearby forests. Through the large glass windows, the rugged contours of Mount Iwate stand out. Grand Seiko paid homage to this mountain in 2014 with a dark green dial featuring a delicate radial pattern. In the spacious white room where the watchmakers work, all Grand Seiko mechanical watches (the exact quantity remains confidential) are meticulously crafted and assembled by hand. The craftsmen and women, including three master watchmakers, have undergone extensive in-house training.

In the vast clean room that houses the watchmakers, all Grand Seiko mechanical watches (the number is confidential) are produced and assembled by hand by watchmakers who have all undergone extensive in-house training, including three master watchmakers (Grand Seiko)

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