Saturday, May 7, 2016

Introducing The Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve, A Rare Example Of Japanese Haute Horology From The Famed Micro Artist Studio

I think every hardcore watch nerd dreams of owning a piece hand-crafted by Seiko's Micro Artist Studio in Shiojiri, located in Japan's central Nagano region. The Micro Artist Studio is a tiny subset of the Seiko manufacture that is the absolute elite unit, responsible for hand-crafting not only the incredible Eichi II, but also the Credor Minute Repeater and Sonnerie. Today, for the first time, we saw a Grand Seiko that was given the Micro Artist treatment, and it did not disappoint.
First, one must understand that the craftsman in the Micro Artist Studio are top, top tier. They are the group that visits no one short of Mr. Philippe Dufour with some regularity, and the group that Mr. Dufour to this day holds in extremely high regard. This is true high-end finishing of the highest order, an until now, this has been reserved for Credor product. I'd always wondered why we never saw an insanely high-end Grand Seiko, and now we have.
Everything about this piece is special, beginning with the diamond-dust-covered dial, meant to make the wearer think of a the fresh snow seen in the Nagano region where the watch is born. The hands are five sided, and longer than traditional Grand Seiko hands. The case is in platinum – 43 mm in diameter (larger, but you'll see why in a second) – and is mirror polished using the famed Zaratsu technique defined by Seiko.
And then you turn it over and the magic grows. This brand new, in-house caliber features an astonishing 198-hour power reserve, or in other words, eight days of power. It does so via three separate barrels that wind and expire linearly. A single expertly finished bridge ensures accurate positioning of each wheel in the gear train so that the transmission of power is most efficient. The rigidity of the single plates also helps against shocks to the watch. The plate is beveled at top to in fact outline Mt. Fuji, and the insanely high polished rubies and blued screws are meant to represent the lights of Suwa, the city just below the Micro Artist Studio.
This new eight-day caliber consists of 307 components, and is regulated to an accuracy of +.5 seconds per day. That is point five seconds, people. Power reserve is indicated on back, and the hour hand is independent adjustable. You have a boxed sapphire crystal on both sides of the Grand Seiko, and a 43 mm case that is 13.2 mm thick. Just eight pieces of the Grand Seiko 8 Day Power Reserve will be made, sold only via Seiko boutiques, and price will be $55,000-ish. More here.

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