DESIGN POLICY From the purely practical to
an aesthetic of elegance

The first Grand Seiko, made in 1960, was designed with precision and practicality in mind. The team that created it wanted, most of all, to make a watch that would rank among the world’s finest in terms of its performance as a timepiece. Their achievement bears powerful witness to their skills but, right from the start, their sights were set higher still. As well as being a watch that was as durable and accurate as any other, they wanted Grand Seiko to have a lasting and unique beauty. The Grand Seiko team wanted to achieve excellence in every aspect of watchmaking so that their creations would bring their owners lasting aesthetic pleasure as well as enduring performance. The way forward lay, of course, in the rich culture of Japan. Seeking to bring a uniquely Japanese aesthetic to their designs, the team focussed on the way in which Japanese art and architecture revels in the interplay of light and shadow. From time immemorial, the Japanese have seen beauty not only in light but also in the elegance of the shadow that is born from light. Consider, for instance, the Japanese folding screen. Although the screen is nothing more than a simple structure of straight, interlocking surfaces, it has a mesmerizing beauty because of the way that the shadows that are formed on the screen lend a graceful depth to the space. This particular aspect of the beauty of light is a unique part of the Japanese aesthetic sensibility and sets Japan apart.

Using this insight, the creator of the Grand Seiko Style developed a design concept based on the structural aesthetics of sharply defined ridges in which a number of flat surfaces form both the case and the dial. This design idea inspired every aspect, including the hour markers, which were sharp and rectangular and made to stand proud of the dial. A beautiful play of light and shadow was born through the multifaceted cutting of these markers. Every angle of the markers is diamond cut at a precise angle so that they reflect even the smallest amount of light. The Grand Seiko design was gradually taking shape.

The first Grand Seiko, made in 1960, was designed with precision and practicality in mind. The team that created it wanted, most of all, to make a watch that would rank among the world’s finest in terms of its performance as a timepiece. Their achievement bears powerful witness to their skills but, right from the start, their sights were set higher still. As well as being a watch that was as durable and accurate as any other, they wanted Grand Seiko to have a lasting and unique beauty. The Grand Seiko team wanted to achieve excellence in every aspect of watchmaking so that their creations would bring their owners lasting aesthetic pleasure as well as enduring performance.

The way forward lay, of course, in the rich culture of Japan. Seeking to bring a uniquely Japanese aesthetic to their designs, the team focussed on the way in which Japanese art and architecture revels in the interplay of light and shadow. From time immemorial, the Japanese have seen beauty not only in light but also in the elegance of the shadow that is born from light. Consider, for instance, the Japanese folding screen. Although the screen is nothing more than a simple structure of straight, interlocking surfaces, it has a mesmerizing beauty because of the way that the shadows that are formed on the screen lend a graceful depth to the space. This particular aspect of the beauty of light is a unique part of the Japanese aesthetic sensibility and sets Japan apart.

Using this insight, the creator of the Grand Seiko Style developed a design concept based on the structural aesthetics of sharply defined ridges in which a number of flat surfaces form both the case and the dial. This design idea inspired every aspect, including the hour markers, which were sharp and rectangular and made to stand proud of the dial. A beautiful play of light and shadow was born through the multifaceted cutting of these markers. Every angle of the markers is diamond cut at a precise angle so that they reflect even the smallest amount of light. The Grand Seiko design was gradually taking shape.

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A design based on the use of flat surfaces and sharp edges

The shadows on Japanese folding screens, which are used as wind blockers or partitions, give depth to the space
The brilliant sparkle of a diamond comes from its many angled surfaces.
The multifaceted and polished index creates light and shadow on the dial.
Excellent, 1899
Excellent, 1899
Excellent, 1899

Production of the pocket watch, Excellent, began in 1899 and it continued to be sold well into the 20th century. From 1907 it also received designation as an Imperial Award Watch.

Marvel, 1956
Marvel, 1956
Marvel, 1956

Incorporating new design ideas and manufacturing techniques, the Marvel was the best Seiko watch yet. Only the 12 o’clock position used an Arabic numeral, with the others using rectangular index hour markers with a cut finish. The use of rectangular markers was an approach often taken by the smaller diameter women’s watches, but was unusual in a man’s watch at the time.

Lord Marvel, 1958
Lord Marvel, 1958
Lord Marvel, 1958

The Lord Marvel, which achieved an even higher level precision with a movable stud and a new shock-resistance system, was a masterpiece that had a large influence on the development of Grand Seiko two years later. Rectangular index hour markers were used, with a wider marker at the twelve o’clock position.

*Some of the photos of watches on this page have different specifications than at the time of release.