Grand Seiko’s jewelry masterpieces are produced in Shiojiri, where the skilled craftsmen and women of the Micro Artist Studio have been making Spring Drive masterpieces since 2000, combining the best of horological innovation and traditional hand craftsmanship. Today at Watches and Wonders, Grand Seiko announces reference SBGD209, the newest entry to the Masterpiece Collection, this time inspired by the majestic white lion.
The lion has long been emblematic of Grand Seiko. The king of the jungle made its debut on the case back of the first-ever Grand Seiko timepiece in 1960, and it has remained the enduring symbol of the brand. The choice of the lion as the brand’s icon reflected the ambition of the Grand Seiko team to make the best timepieces of which they were capable—what they would describe as the “king of watches.”
Rendered in Platinum 950, the “Tokyo Lion” case of SBGD209 features a strong, angular design with numerous facets throughout. It measures 44.5mm in diameter and 14.4mm in thickness. Despite the size and angularity of the design, the case features a gentle curve along its underside that allows for a comfortable fit on the wrist. Its sharply defined edges and prominent ridges are made possible by first cold forging the alloy and then implementing a unique adaptation of Zaratsu polishing technique developed specifically for Platinum 950.
While the mid-case shape speaks to the lion’s power, it is the elegant application of the fine stones that attract the eye. One hundred twelve diamonds are fixed to the outer surfaces of the case, and an additional 60 baguette diamonds are applied to the bezel. The diamonds on the bezel are set by hand with a precision that allows the light on the surface to flow evenly as if the bezel were a single surface. The same high level of craft is applied to the lugs, where the diamonds are set so precisely that they also appear to create a single flat surface. A brilliant-cut diamond is set into the crown.
The dial bears a pattern representing the mane of the lion, and here it is rendered in white. Carefully selected black spinels and baguette diamonds are tapered and serve as minute and hour markers. These gems are meticulously set by hand between a very thin pair of 18k white gold rails by the most skilled craftspeople from the Shinshu Watch Studio’s jewelry studio. Contrasting against the dial base for a highly legible display are bold hands, and the seconds hand is tempered to a perfect grey color to match the overall tone of the dial.
Powering the watch is caliber 9R01. This Spring Drive movement, produced by a dedicated team at the Micro Artist Studio, offers an accuracy of 10 seconds per month and an eight-day power reserve. The architecture and finishing of the movement are inspired by the scenery as seen from the Takabochi Highlands, near the Micro Artist Studio: the bridge traces the contours of Mt. Fuji, the glide wheel evokes the rising sun, the rubies and tempered blued screws recall the lights of Suwa City at night, and the power reserve indicator marks the shape of Lake Suwa. The caliber features convex beveling along the bridge’s edges, and the top surface has a fine hairline finish—both details executed entirely by hand.
SBGD209 will be offered in a limited edition of just five and will be presented at selected Grand Seiko Boutiques in May 2022 for $250,000.