Chapter 3

9R Spring Drive features beautiful finishing in every detail

Grand Seiko watches with 9R Spring Drive are distinguished by beauty both inside and out. This applies not only to the innovative movements, but also to the skillfully craft cases, dials, and hands that complete each timepiece. In all of these elements, there is a striking aesthetic quality that stems from a sensitivity and attention to detail that is uniquely Japanese. In the following chapter, we will explore the essential qualities that make 9R Spring Drive beautiful.

Among Grand Seiko’s more recent movements, Calibers 9RA5 and 9RA2 belong to a long lineage of Grand Seiko watchmaking in which performance and beauty do not merely coexist but flourish. Each five-day automatic movement bears the Shinshu Frost Finish, a surface treatment that pays homage to the glorious natural beauty of the region of Japan from which 9R Spring Drive hails. Specifically, the design draws on early winter’s frost-covered trees and the starry sky that penetrates their branches. The edges of the bridges, oscillating weight, and holes for the screws and jewels have a curved, diamond-cut finish as opposed to the flat diamond-cut finish of other movements. Sparkling in a sea of frost, the diamond-cut portions provide a piercing contrast that enhances the beauty of the latest generation of Spring Drive movements. A watch designer, not typically enlisted for movement design, was responsible for the movement surfaces. This more holistic approach to horological design is yet another strength of a vertically integrated watch manufacture.

A characteristic “sparkle with quality” is at the core of the Grand Seiko Style, a design philosophy born with the 44GS in 1967. This design language has as its primary vocabulary the simplicity of straight lines and flat surfaces, which are achieved through a distortion-free mirror polish courtesy of the Zaratsu technique. As a result, the ever-changing interplay of light and shadow leads to visual harmony while conveying endless expressions of Japanese beauty.

The recently introduced Evolution 9 Style represents a further development in the pursuit of ever-heightened legibility, beauty, and wearing comfort. Grand Seiko’s characteristic balance of light and shadow reaches a new level of subtlety and sophistication thanks to myriad gradations. Polished surfaces provide distortion-free reflections and allow bright whites and dark blacks to come and go in changing light while contrasting hairline finishing enhances the many shades of light and dark in between.

The springtime rite of cherry blossoms, a totem of Japan and its culture, is celebrated in Grand Seiko’s Hana-Ikada dial. As seen in the reference SBGA413, the intricate, pale-pink pattern captures the wistful moment, soon after the Vernal equinox, or shunbun, when wind-scattered sakura petals coat the surfaces of lakes and rivers. The Hana-Ikada dial’s fascination arises not only from the beautiful blossom it emulates but also from hinting at the profound pleasure available if one can grasp time’s ephemeral nature. Still, a fleeting sense of beauty is not the only attraction of this watch, for the parts that complete the interface, namely the hands and indexes, are themselves an aesthetic triumph. Multifaceted and diamond-cut, they catch even the slightest hint of light, enhancing legibility and adding to the beauty of this special watch.

With movements, dials, and cases skillfully made within the Shinshu Watch Studio, Grand Seiko’s 9R Spring Drive watches express the beauty of Japan’s intimate – and in many ways unique – relationship with nature.