50 years back wearing a wrist watch was a privileged that only the wealthiest in society enjoyed. Mechanical engineers thrived on taking part in the arms race that was going between watcher makers around the world who were all fighting to develop the most accurate mechanical watch. All the excitement came to an end when the battery powered quartz watch was born in the late 1960s and achieved accuracy, dependency and reliability that not even the finest mechanical watch can rival.
Given the existence of hyper accurate quartz watches, no words have the supremacy to successfully rationalise the purchase of a £15 000 Breguet as a £9 Mickey Mouse watch from Toy’s R Us will a better job preventing lateness. A top of the line Breguet is a grand monument of science and beauty. Engineered by some of the greatest thinkers alive, wearing one is the equivalent of having the Millau Viaduct Bridge on your wrist. Rolex and Breitling are predominantly “I have made it”-symbols for career hungry city men. The status of those watch makers and the dominance of Switzerland in the world of watch making have cast a dark shadow of invisibility for watch makers based in other country that face the eye of prejudice by time instrument enthusiasts.
Japan has long been forwarding thinking nation pushing for ground breaking inventions in the field of science. Seiko introduced the first quartz wrist watch in the late 1960s and secretly have a ‘Grand Seiko’ series of consisting of mechanical watches. Besides the absence of a quartz crystal the watches are hand made using materials and precision on a par with an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The eyes shed no tears of dismay as the design has the elegance of Prince Charles of Wales with a royal crème coloured face serving as a background for the golden dials and laser blue hands. Exclusivity is where the ‘Grand Seiko’ stand taller than comparable watches in the £4 000 – 7 000. While a Rolex submariner will be on wrist of ever Jaguar sales executive driving a green Range Rover with blazer hung on a hook in the back seat, every Grand Seiko is made in limited number and is a rare sight in all corners of the world. In spite of the missing “Swiss made”-print, this watch possess all the qualities of an admirable time keeping instrument.
If the appearance of the watch trigger flash backs it’s because the design philosophy is parallel with the one of a famous watch maker, IWC. Seiko flexing their watch making skills by crafting watches comparable with the most admirable watch on the market is not adequate enough to deter people from acquiring their Swiss made dream watch. Likewise with some of Japanese luxury cars that are imitations of the Mercedes S-class, there is very little originality in this watch as it carries resembles of the IWC Portugese. There is very little originality in the design of the Seiko watch and it highlights the dieses Japanese is suffering from which is extraordinary innovation with little passion for design. With such a great history and rich culture one would expect Japan to be more aggressive and creative in reflecting their creativeness in their commercial products rather than taking inspiration for Western Europe. Until then Grand Seiko watches will remain as mistresses for watch lovers, great for a little alternative fun but will never be loved as much as the wife.