The Grand Seiko Vision of the Beauty of Time

Vol.1The Japanese aesthetic 
that charmed Milan

The approach of up-and-coming creators
focusing on the theme of time

Shingo Abe is a CG director who also directs television commercials, CI design, music videos and more. Here he created the CG imagery, “movement.”

The amazement felt
at Shiojiri, Nagano,
the birthplace of Grand Seiko
Spring Drive models

Before we+ set to work on FLUX, the team visited Shiojiri city in Nagano Prefecture to actually see where the Spring Drive movement was born.

“We wanted to first understand the philosophy. Grand Seiko is an extremely refined watch, but it also places high value on handwork. It pushes the envelope of craftsmanship. By seeing where the product is born, we were able to understand that this is a timepiece that achieves an amazing balance between technology and sensibilities. The astonishment we felt in Shiojiri inspired the idea for this installation. The technology is, of course, staggering, but what we wanted to do was to convey the wonder over how much goes into its creation,” says Toshiya Hayashi.

we+ is a contemporary design studio established in 2013 by Toshiya Hayashi (right) and Hokuto Ando (left). They exhibit works both within and outside Japan.

To give form
to the flow of time

But that road was not an easy one.
“So many brands participate in Milan Design Week. What should we do to assert our presence? We found that answer in the use of phosphorescent powder. The light of the powder dissipates with the passage of time. In other words, it was a material that included the axis of time. We turned this material into a liquid and filled the platform with it, moving it a little by little. The ring of phosphorescent light gradually grows darker and loses its shape. This was how we expressed the flow of time. Visitors would remark that this was ‘artistic expression that was very Japanese.’ Narrowing down the elements and precisely capturing the scenes probably made it appear Japanese,” says Hokuto Ando.

Many stopped to feel the flow of time at this quiet installation, where they found themselves at a loss of words, mesmerized by the sight.

This year’s venue was a
house-museum that exhibits to the public the paintings and art works collected by the Poldi Pezzoli family. The museum opened in 1881, the same year Seiko was founded.

Expressing value that
appeals to emotions
and sensibilities

Expressing value that appeals
to emotions and sensibilities

Although this was an installation of a watch brand, only one watch was displayed. There was a reason for this as well.

According to Toshiya Hayashi, “All you need is a spec sheet to communicate functionable value. And this can be conveyed with no problem if you provide it in multiple languages. But expressing emotional value needs no words. That is why the watch was used in a symbolic manner. Instead of showing the features of the watch, we needed to communicate the world view of Grand Seiko and Spring Drive.”

Value that appeals to emotions and sensibilities cannot be conveyed through lists of data. Rather than explaining things that can be seen, the designers expressed something that cannot be seen. This may perhaps be the most natural approach to explaining the essence of Grand Seiko, which expresses the invisible concept of time in the form of beautiful timepieces.