Guided by its philosophy, the Nature of Time, Grand Seiko produces timepieces celebrated for their beautiful dial designs that often reflect the beauty of the natural world that surrounds the brand’s studios in Japan. Most fans of Grand Seiko are aware of the iconic Snowflake dial, introduced in ref. SBGA011 (now SBGA211), but Grand Seiko has since developed numerous dial textures and finishes that are exemplary of the Japanese firm’s excellent dial work. Below, we take a closer look at eight of these distinct dials.
The surface texture of SBGJ201 is inspired by the numerous ridged contours on the face of Mt. Iwate, which overlooks the Shizukuishi Watch Studio, where all Grand Seiko mechanical watches are made. Specifically, this unique pattern is meant to mimic the view of the mountain from above, with the centre of the dial representing the peak and the pattern radiating from it.
Japanese culture admires the delicate nuances created by the harmony of light and shadow and the infinite gradations between the two, which is why light and shadow play such an important role in traditional arts like Sado, the tea ceremony, and Kado, the art of flower arrangement. Grand Seiko is suffused with this time-honoured aesthetic, and the dial of SBGH279, with its vertical striations, is designed to reflect light and to create subtle shadows that give the dial its dynamic nature.
Celebrating the colours of autumn, the vibrant red hue of the dial on SBGH269 is inspired by the trees of Japan’s mountainous regions, where the leaves age from a lush green in the summer to a deep red in the fall. Colour aside, the texture borrows from the surface of traditional lacquered wooden floors found in Japanese homes, mimicking the wood grain and overlapping planks.
SBGJ249 represents high summer when the rainy season ends, or shōsho. One of the 24 sekki (seasonal phases), during shōsho, the warm winds blow across the thousands of Japanese lakes and ponds, creating delicate ripples along the top of the water that shimmer under the early summer sun. This effect is captured by the dial of SBGJ249, with its horizontal ripple pattern finished in a light blue hue.
SBGJ251 expresses shunbun, one of the 24 sekki, by evoking the verdant bloom of the spring equinox with a lush and vibrant green dial. The delicate dial pattern across the top surface of the dual is inspired by the winds blowing across the green mountains during this time of the year.
Studio Shizukuishi is surrounded by woodland areas boasting nearly 1,000 wild-grown White Birch trees. These forested areas are maintained and preserved by the people of Shizukuishi, with the manufacturer itself also taking part in the region’s sustainability. The dial of SLGH005 features a linear and granular texture that is expressive of the white birch trees surrounding the birthplace of Grand Seiko’s mechanical timepieces. The white of the bark is represented by the silvery-white colour of the dial, which, depending on the light, can look matte white or metallic silver.
The dark, textured dial of SLGH007 is designed to replicate the age rings of a tree, giving it a notable organic feel that brings to life Grand Seiko’s concept of the Nature of Time. An almost tactile effect is achieved by the way the light captures the multi-dimensional texture of the dial, and the small variations in the dial’s depth reveal the subtlety of the dark and light tones of the wood grain.
STGK007 features a champagne silver dial with a subtle pattern inspired by the weave of linen, a natural fabric traditionally made from the fibres of a flax plant. The pattern is achieved through a cross-hatch of vertical and horizontal striations.