Shinji Hattori, chairman and CEO of Seiko and Grand Seiko, used his address to an online summit to kick off 2021 with reflections on the influence that the company’s founder Kintaro Hattori has had over the watchmakers operations over the 140 years since it was founded.
Mr Kintaro ran Seiko from 1881 until his death in 1934 and guided the company through good times and bad to become the leading watch company in Japan.
Kintaro’s spirit lives on in the fully vertically integrated manufacturer that Seiko and Grand Seiko have become today, according to Mr Hattori, and two of his founding principles also survive to the present day: that Seiko should be “Always one step ahead of the rest” and in the lesson he repeated to his colleagues as they went about their duties: “Don’t run but always keep going”.
Those internal philosophies have been built on by Seiko and Grand Seiko with a mission to infuse their watches with inspiration from their surroundings in Japan including urban scenes, nature and culture.
Japan’s ever-changing scenery is transformed by what the country considers 24 seasons in every year, rather than the four we recognize in the West. Watch collections launched in 2020, Grand Seiko’s 60th anniversary year, adopted these themes and the brand is at it again in 2021 with the introduction of a series of Grand Seiko GMT watches that celebrate the constantly changing weather and climate in the country.
Japan gets to 24 seasons by dividing spring, summer, autumn and winter into six phases that all have their own characteristics.
Each of these four seasons, translated to Shunbun, Shōsho, Kanro, and Tōji, are represented in the new GMT family.
Spring and summer Grand Seiko Elegance editions — Shunbun and Shōsho — use the Hi-Beat 36000 GMT caliber 9S86 while the Spring Drive GMT caliber 9R66 powers the autumn and winter — Kanro and Tōji — references.
The Hi-Beat models come in a 39.5mm case while the Spring Drive pieces are slightly larger with 40.2mm steel cases, both have integrated steel bracelets.
Shunbun – SBGJ251
Shunbun accompanies the spring equinox when Japan’s famous cherry trees start to blossom and the country emerges from winter into a verdant green that is represented by a textured green dial with rose gold accents.
It will go on sale for $6,800.
Shōsho – SBGJ249
Japanese know the summer is on the way as rain gives way to warm winds in the Shōsho season that ripple the waters of the country’s thousands of lakes and ponds.
The effect is mirrored in the dial of the SBGJ249 with Hi-Beat automatic movement, which has its second time zone hand and 24 hour markers picked out in blue.
It is also priced at $6,800.
Kanro – SBGE271
The first of the Spring Drive models arrives with Kanro, or autumn, when the days get shorter and the Japanese wake to a chill in the morning air.
Grand Seiko has given its Kanro SBGE271 Elegance GMT ($6,000) a mottled dark dial designed to look like a slightly moody night sky, with a golden gliding seconds hand moving across it like a harvest moon.
Tōji – SBGE269
Finally, the shortest days of the year around the winter solstice, or Tōji, are seen in the crisp white dial of the SBGE269, which Grand Seiko describes as having the texture and color of a winter landscape as the sun sinks lower in the sky.
The $6,000 Spring Drive watch is ice-cool, but with an accent of gold from the GMT hand and lettering.