As Seiko celebrates multiple milestones, it has released two very expensive limited edition watches. It has also opened an environmentally conscious wooden studio in a Japanese village, surrounded by 1,000 trees and offering views of Mount Iwate.
Only a Japanese brand can simultaneously symbolise extravagance and a Zen approach. Grand Seiko, the premium sub-brand of Seiko watches, recently launched two limited edition watches costing Rs 77 lakh and Rs 21.5 lakh approximately.
In July, the same brand opened an environmentally aware wooden studio in the village of Shizukuishi, nestling amidst 1000 trees and offering views of Mount Iwate. It was designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, who has conceptualised some of the most famous buildings in Japan, including the National Stadium in Tokyo, the main venue of the forthcoming Olympics.
Seiko is doing all this for a reason. 2020 is a milestone year for the company. It’s the 160th birth anniversary of its founder Kintaro Hattori. It is the 140th anniversary of Seiko, the brand. And it is the 60th birthday of Grand Seiko.
The two new watches released are the Grand Seiko Kintaro Hattori 160th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGZ005, with a limited edition of 50 pieces and priced at $103,500 (Rs 77 lakh, approx). The other is the Grand Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition SBGW 260 with a limited edition of 350 pieces and a price of $29,000 (Rs 21.6 lakh, approx).
In true Japanese fashion, the watches are subtle and leather strapped. They are not chunky and diamond-studded and are unlikely to be worn by rappers.
The same sensibility of quiet grace and power reflects in the wooden studio. Kuma has used traditional materials and methods that last long and look better with age. Sustainability was a priority for him, and it is also something the brand believes in.
“As long as you do the upkeep, our watches will be good for 100 years or more,” Yoshiaki Hayashi, president, Morioka Seiko Instruments, told Monocle.Kuma, on his part, said, “When I design, I find it essential to think of how it will look several decades later. Lasting values are fundamental to architecture. The wood we used for the construction will look and feel nicer as the years go by.”