THE NATURE OF TIME

The Grand Seiko Vision of the Beauty of Time

Vol.6Elegant beauty of form
that has similarities
with
the lacquer work of
Jihei Murase

All creations start
from painstaking handwork

The mark of handwork evident
in the form and lacquer

The beautiful “Sake bottle, Negoro style” with a soft form was created by Jihei Murase III. Its lovely shape, informed by ancient culture and backed by sophisticated traditional skills, is charming.

The world of lacquer work was originally one in which the work was divided, with a craftsman making the wooden base and a lacquer painter applying the lacquer on the work to finish it. But the first generation Jihei Murase, born in a family in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, which had been woodworkers since the Edo period, came to believe that there were limits to this division of labor through his relationships with dilettantes of that time and noted artist Rosanjin Kitaoji.

He called over a craftsman from Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, to learn how to produce lacquerware, and raised his skills by restoring and repairing old works of the traditional Negoro style, a lacquer style that is said to have originated at the Negoro Temple of Wakayama Prefecture. Coats of black lacquer are first applied and then finished with vermillion lacquer, which over time, wears away to let the black lacquer below appear, giving character to the item. This tradition is carried on by the current head of this family, Jihei Murase III. He makes the drawing, scrutinizes the material, forms the wooden base, and applies the lacquer. This is a manufacturing process that is done completely by hand.

A graceful appearance packed
with aesthetic value

Grand Seiko Elegance Collection SBGK007 adopts a manual winding mechanical movement to achieve a thin profile. The small seconds hand and power reserve indicator are captivating.

Just as for beautiful crafts, only human hands can give birth to high-end watches. Carefully polishing the smallest of parts, creating the gentle shape of the case and its beautifully polished surface—all are accomplished through the artisan’s sensation of touch. There is no mistake that the reason why Grand Seiko can pursue such beauty to the finest details is because it is a manufacture that makes everything at its own facilities, from movement to case.

The value of high-end watches as a luxury item has increased even more, especially since entering this age where mobile phones and smartphones are all you need to know the time. Owners seek a value that appeals to their sensibilities and makes them feel elated by wearing the watch. This SBGK007 is an elegant dress watch that meets the needs of such an age. The graceful expression born from handwork will no doubt make the flow of time something exceptional.

The taut curves give
birth to beauty

The “Sake bottle, Negoro style” goes through over 100 processes until its completion. It used to be a vessel for offering sacred sake to the gods but today many around the world enjoy it as a flower vase or object of art to decorate their den or living room.

The wooden base for lacquerware is made by paring off layers of wood using a woodworking plane called a kanna while rotating the wood fixed on a lathe. The craftsman proceeds to do this while considering how much to shave off in layers as thin as one-hundredth of a millimeter. The item is then removed from the lathe and closely examined. If it clicks with what he had in mind, he proceeds to the next stage. As the tools used have not changed since the Edo period, which ended in the mid-1800s, one’s own skills have to be enhanced to achieve that ideal form.

Always facing craftsmanship with a heightened sense of alertness will sharpen your eyes, raise precision, and allow new forms to be discovered. Negoro style lacquerware was originally used in rituals at a temple with huge pillars. In order to use it in life today, it had to become more compact and change its form as well. It is crucial to keep in pace with the times and pursue an aesthetic that appeals to the sensibilities.