A new design idea that takes Grand Seiko
forward to a new era.
In 2020, Grand Seiko introduced a new design philosophy called the Evolution 9 Style. It was based, of course, on the Grand Seiko Style which has always defined the design of all Grand Seiko watches and continues to do so. The Evolution 9 Style preserves the fundamentals of the Grand Seiko Style but adapts them for a new generation by setting new standards of legibility, ease of use and beauty.
Ever since its creation in 1960, Grand Seiko has evolved continuously as new technologies, materials and ideas have opened up new design possibilities and the Evolution 9 Style is another step forward on this never-ending road. It was developed to further refine the aesthetics that have been at the heart of Grand Seiko from the start and to renew them for the years to come.
While in the West, light and shadow have been treated as contrasting elements, in the East beauty has been found in their co-existence. The Japanese have an especially keen sensibility towards the beauty of light and shadow and have always used this in design, delicately weaving them into countless gradations in art, in architecture and in product design. The Grand Seiko Style has this idea at its heart and the Evolution 9 Style takes this unique Japanese aesthetic to a new level, in which the contrast of light and shadow and the many stages between them are celebrated in every detail.
This aesthetic has been nurtured by Japan’s natural environment and climate, as well as by its people and their way of life. As Japan is blessed by nature with rich forests, its architecture has always made full use of wood and, throughout the land, many large buildings, including important shrines and temples, have been constructed from wood, using technologies that have been refined and developed over the centuries. Japan has hot, humid summers and frequent earthquakes, so wooden buildings, with their exceptional ability to adjust to changes in humidity and their seismic resistance, provide the best solution to these challenges. This led to wood becoming the most common building material for homes as well as for civic and religious buildings.
Traditional Japanese homes do not have rigidly separate indoor and outdoor spaces. Instead, there is typically a hall, or engawa, that leads to the internal rooms and such buildings have an open structure which leads seamlessly from outside to inside. The engawa between rooms and the outside is an ingenious design concept developed long ago that softens the heat of summer and the cold of winter. The engawa allows the breeze to pass through rooms in summer, reducing the heat, while in winter, it blocks cold air while letting in the warming sunlight. These distinctive Japanese homes, designed for comfort, are also soothing spaces that allow people to enjoy the charms of the four seasons with all of their senses, making it easy to gaze at flowers in the gardens in summer and snowflakes as they gently drift down in winter.
In addition, extended eaves and shoji screens are used to block direct sunlight while allowing a soft light to diffuse through every room. The result is a blend of subtle brightness, melting into light, and subtle darkness, gently enveloping the shadows. The use of these features produces rich gradations of light and dark, shifting in shape and depth with time. Sensitivity to these delicate changes, and the appreciation felt for them, is characteristically Japanese, cultivated through the way people live and shaped through the centuries by Japan’s climate and natural resources.
This Japanese passion for the interplay of light and dark has always been at the heart of the Grand Seiko Style and is now taken to a new level of sophistication in the Evolution 9 Collection.
Three new design principles are at the core of the Evolution 9 Style.
The first is “an evolution in aesthetics.” The direction of this evolution is to provide further visual emphasis on the Japanese sense of beauty and nature that lies at the heart of the Grand Seiko Style. Its aim is designs that clearly express the rich beauty of the balance between light and shadow, and the soft and subtle gradations between them. This is achieved by using shapes composed of planes and flat surfaces arranged three-dimensionally and by minimizing the use of curved surfaces. The flat, polished mirror surfaces give distortion-free reflections and allow deep blacks and bright whites to emerge while the frequent use of a hairline finish brings out the many subtle shades of light and dark between these two extremes.
The second is “an evolution in legibility.” The hands and indexes have evolved to become even more distinctive, with their inspiration coming from the first Grand Seiko created in 1960. The hands are bold and multi-faceted and the indexes are powerfully three-dimensional. The result is enhanced legibility.
The third is “an evolution in wearing comfort.” The case’s center of gravity is low and the lugs are wide so that the watch sits firmly and comfortably on the wrist, with minimal horizontal movement.
These three principles are firmly grounded in the Grand Seiko Style set in the 1960s with their focus on the fundamentals of watchmaking, beauty, legibility and comfort. At the same time, the evolutionary steps taken by the design team take Grand Seiko forward with a new energy and a new direction.
The idea is to further bring out the Japanese sense of beauty and nature that lies at the heart of the Grand Seiko Style.
The hands and indexes are now even more distinctive, improving the ease with which they can be identified.
The case’s center of gravity is lower, and the bracelet widened to ensure that the watch sits easily and securely on the wrist. The case fits the wrist firmly but comfortably, producing a stable feel when worn.
The Evolution 9 Style has nine design elements that arise from these three design principles.
The case has delicate hairline finished surfaces on its top and side faces, enveloping the mirror-finished surfaces. The bezel, too, combines both finishes. Light is caught by the delicate grooves of the flat, hairline-finished surfaces, highlighting their shape and producing subtle shifts in light and dark tones depending on the angle and strength of the light. These elements combine to make the beauty of the mirror-finished faces stand out even more. Zaratsu polishing is used to create these distortion-free surfaces and produce deep, bold shadows and sharp reflections.
To further improve legibility, the hour hand is clearly distinguished from the minute hand, which reaches all the way to the minute track. The three-dimensional, multi-faceted indexes all have deep grooves at their centers to catch any light that strikes them, making it possible to read the time with an even greater degree of accuracy. To further improve wearing comfort, the glass attachment position has been lowered and the case side has been given greater volume to lower the watch’s center of gravity. The bracelet is 50 to 55% the diameter of the watch case and has a weight and depth that give it a stable feel on the wrist.