A deep dive into Grand Seiko’s exquisite dial finishes
For years, Grand Seiko has been renowned for its one-of-a-kind watchmaking. For instance, the Spring Drive movement is a completely unique take on horology that delivers unbeatable accuracy. Another area where Grand Seiko excels is in the finishing of its dials. From hand-painted enamel to intricate guilloché patterns, no detail is overlooked in the creation of a Grand Seiko dial. Here, we take a deeper look at some of the brand’s most iconic and interesting dial finishes.
One can’t talk about Grand Seiko’s impressive array of dial finishes without mentioning the fan-favourite Snowflake. Released in 2005, the timepiece is inspired by the beautiful Hotaka mountains that are coated in snow multiple times a year. The snow-white dial emulates the moment when snow falls, and the wind leads it in different directions, giving rise to delicate and awe-inspiring patterns. These patterns are not painted onto the dial; instead, the texture is achieved using a special silver plating process. Encased in high-intensity titanium, the essence of lightness associated with this watch is elevated. What’s even more interesting is that the Maison didn’t give it the name Snowflake, the fans did!
Serene is a word fitting of this timepiece’s exquisite dial. Evocative of Japan’s transition to Spring, the watch, dubbed “Shunbun”, is inspired by the vernal equinox. It is a part of the Maison’s Heritage collection with dials embodying the 24 sekki of Japanese seasonal calendar. This watch’s dial recreates Hana-Ikada, a spectacle where cherry blossom petals float along the river. It accurately captures the subtle pink hue of the sakura complementing it with silver undertones and dauphine hands. Boasting brush stroke-like patterns, the dial also has a date display and a power reserve display in the form of a fan. Rest assured, the timepiece succeeds in transporting you to a moment in Japan.
White Birch SLGA009
In 2021, the Grand Seiko White Birch timepiece won the Men’s Watch of the Year at Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. This year, it has been reimagined to focus on the essence of the atmosphere. Inspired by the Shirakaba (White Birch) trees in Shizukuishi, the watch’s dial features prominent yet understated patterns that transport you to winter in the forest. With thick, groove markers and a frosty finish, this dial is all about bringing a piece of Japan to its wearer.
Mt. Iwate SBGJ201
Featuring an eponymous pattern, the timepiece’s dial is inspired by the ridged contours of the mountain. Mt. Iwate is visible through the home of Maison’s mechanical watches. With a polished finish, this mechanical hi-beat GMT watch boasts a date display and the brand’s characteristic baton-like hands. The watch is as imposing as the mountains, boasting a diameter of 40 mm with 14 mm thickness. Not only do you have a window to Mt Iwate on your wrist, but you can also enjoy its sturdy essence.
Celebrating 140 years since Kintaro Hattori founded Seiko, this watch captures the calm and quiet of Lake Siwa. Shallow waves, ripples and gentle movements are encapsulated in the blue patterned dial. While the silver hands and hour markers add a dose of contrast, the gold seconds hand and Grand Seiko lettering represent the morning sunrise that meets the lake. The textured dial sparkles when it comes in contact with light at different angles, breathing life into the timepiece.
Another ode to Japan’s expressive waters, this 200 m diver’s watch was launched at Watches & Wonders 2022. Part of the Evolution 9 collection, the dial is inspired by Japan’s black stream, or Kuroshio Current as it is locally known, which flows towards the North Pacific. At certain times or during vicious tides, the ocean takes on a deep black hue—the patterned dial captures that. This sturdy titanium watch is powered by calibre 9RA5, promising an adventurous experience fitting of the dial.
Grand Seiko Heritage SBGP001
Most Grand Seiko dials are all about transporting you to Japan, and they do so overtly. This timepiece does the same but is all about the subtlety. Featuring a sunray-patterned dial and a silky sheen, its interactions with light and shadow paint a picture of threads of Japanese silk. This is made possible thanks to the soft silver coating on the dial. The dial’s radiance and warmth is elevated by the blue steel seconds hand that offers a striking contrast.
Rooted in Japanese art, nature and culture, Grand Seiko’s meticulously crafted dials are a visual feast. A brief look at the Maison’s catalogue of watches over the years will tell you its roster of ideas is inexhaustible…and we are here for it.