By Meor Amri Meor Ayob
As a watch company, Seiko built a reputation of quality and expertise for more than a century. I personally believe its greatest assets are its master craftsmen that have been recognized as national treasures.
For Baselworld 2016, Seiko’s Credor line released a special model that features the company’s very first tourbillon movement. Only 8 pieces will be made and it is priced at a whopping YEN50 million or approximately USD450,000 a piece. For this particular model, Seiko assembled three of its master craftsmen all of whom have been recognized as Contemporary Master Craftsmen by the Government of Japan.
The watch is bristling with precious metals and stones. Seiko incorporated platinum 950, 18k white gold, 18k yellow gold and 48 sapphires into the round casing that is 43.1 mm wide and 8.8 mm thick. The dial is made of 18k white gold, 18k yellow gold, Urushi lacquer, mother of pearl, and yakogai (which is the shell of the giant sea-snail). The casing is paired with a blued crocodile strap with a Platinum 950 three-fold clasp with a push button release. The watch is water-rated to 30 meters.
The casing is assembled by Mr. Nobuhiro Kosugi, the first watch designer to be recognized as a Contemporary Master Craftsman, by the Japanese government in 2014. He is currently a Designer at the Design Division in Seiko Instruments Incorporated.
Katsushika Hokusai’s series ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’ is renowned worldwide and is an icon of Japanese culture. Painted in the 19th century in the Edo period, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, brought Hokusai worldwide fame, thanks to its strikingly dynamic composition and use of perspective. This print inspired the style of etchings for this watch.
For this delicate work, Seiko called upon Mr. Kiyoshi Terui, the Master Engraver. Mr. Terui is the most senior Master to work on this watch. He was recognized as a Contemporary Master Craftsman by the Japanese government in 2002. He is currently a Metal Engraver at the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio.
Mr. Terui weaved his magic in engraving to breathe three-dimensional life into the wave depicted on the dial. The 18k yellow and white gold wave is just 1.6 mm at its thickest and 0.5 mm at its thinnest, an extraordinary level of craftsmanship. The reverse side of the watch features the same wave, combining engraving and lacquer finishing. On the balance wheel bridge is the outline shape of Mt. Fuji, which is so central to Hokusai’s work. It is the reason why this watch is called fugaku (is another way in which the Japanese language describes Mt. Fuji).
The surfaces are then all lacquered by Mr. Isshu Tamura, a world-renowned Kaga lacquer artist. The combination of engraving and lacquer creates unique colors with a three-dimensional depth seldom seen before. The lacquer is just 0.1 mm thick. The Credor emblem on the dial is also handcrafted by Mr. Tamura in gold lacquer or Maki-e.
Other interesting aspects of the dial that should be noted is the fine mother-of-pearl work adorns the traditional Japanese Seigaiha (waves in a blue ocean) patterning on the bottom of the dial and the clouds and birds on the top of the dial.
Caliber 6830 is a mechanical movement based on the ultra-thin Caliber 68 family, and is Seiko’s first ever tourbillon movement. Caliber 6830 has a base just 1.98 mm thick. Including the carriage, the whole movement measures just 3.98 mm in depth and the diameter is just 25.6 mm. These dimensions were made possible with the use of a unique pallet fork design and by the integration of the wheel and bridge. Weight, too, has been reduced with the use of titanium in some parts of the carriage. The movement operates at 21,600 VpH and has a power reserve of 37 hours. Seiko claims an accuracy of -10/+15 seconds per day.
This manually wound movement was assembled by Mr. Satoshi Hiraga. Mr. Hiraga was recognized as a Contemporary Master Craftsman by the Japanese government in 2015. He is currently working as Watchmaker in the Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio.
This watch is as much as a piece of art as it is a working watch. The use of a tourbillon movement adds the technological aspect into the piece. I believe this is an attempt by Seiko to ensure that the Credor Fugaku Tourbillon GBCC999 is not seen just as a piece of jewelry. Although the copious amount of precious metals and stones plus the engraving and lacquered work overwhelms the impact technology has on the value to the watch, it is still worth noting that this is Seiko’s first ever tourbillon. This feature alone increases the intrinsic value of the watch to some extent. If the price is not an issue for me I would get this watch for that factor alone.
For more info, please visit seikowatches.com
MEOR AMRI MEOR AYOB – CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Meor Amri is a passionate watch collector from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having bitten by the horology bug in 2010, he has written extensively about the watch scene and has assembled a large collection of watches (excessively!!!) on his own free time. His blogs on the same subject are: Eastern Watch & Western Watch Read his articles here