Since its introduction, Grand Seiko’s lion has long been emblematic of the brand, with a gold medallion featuring a lion gracing the case back of the first Grand Seiko timepiece from 1960. More than a symbol, however, the lion has been a source of inspiration in recent years, stirring Grand Seiko’s designers and watchmakers to produce watches that evoke the king of the jungle’s powerful and imposing form.
Last year at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2022, Grand Seiko unveiled the SBGD209, one such creation from the master craftsmen and women of the Micro Artist Studio. This year, debuting at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2023, Grand Seiko presents the follow-up to that absorbing timepiece. The SBGD213 is another Spring Drive masterpiece bringing together high artistry and craft to evoke the majestic white lion, this time with blue sapphires and mother-of-pearl in honor of Grand Seiko’s signature color.
Grand Seiko’s jewelry masterpieces are produced in the Shiojiri facility of Seiko Epson in Nagano Prefecture, bringing together the combined skills of the jewelry craftsmen and women of the Shinshu Watch Studio and the unmatched watchmakers of the acclaimed Micro Artist Studio.
The dynamic case, made of Platinum 950, measures 44.5mm in diameter and 14.4mm in thickness, and its strong and angular design speaks to the lion’s power. To achieve the case’s sharply defined edges and prominent ridges, the alloy is cold forged and finished with a unique application of Zaratsu polishing developed specifically for use with platinum.
Set so precisely that they seem to create a single, flat surface, 112 diamonds are embedded in the upper surfaces of the case, and another 60 baguette-cut diamonds adorn the bezel. On the dial, set by hand between very thin 18k white gold rails, blue sapphires, and baguette diamonds serve as hour and minute markers. They taper toward the dial center, made of mother-of-pearl and finished in Grand Seiko’s signature blue. Forty-eight additional diamonds and 12 blue sapphires are individually set around the markers to further enhance the piercing depth and beauty of the dial. A single brilliant-cut blue sapphire is set into the crown. Altogether, the case and dial have 5.62 carats of diamonds and 1.25 carats of blue sapphires, all set by hand.
Contrasting against the dial base for a highly legible display are bold, multi-faceted hands that immediately capture one’s eye, even when set against a sea of mesmerizing gemstones. The seconds hand is tempered to a perfect grey color to match the cool tone of the dial.
Powering the watch is the Caliber 9R01, a technically impressive movement that fully embraces the potential of Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive technology. It features a precision rate of 10 seconds per month paired with an 8-day power reserve made possible by a system of three barrels arranged in sequence. To ensure its stability, the movement features a single solid bridge to secure any wheels from becoming displaced in case of shock. The bridge edges feature an intricate convex beveling, while the top surface is done in a precise hairline finish – all executed by hand.
Visually, the Caliber 9R01 is inspired by the scenery of Lake Suwa. The bridge traces the contours of Mt. Fuji, the glide wheel represents the setting sun, the rubies and tempered blued screws evoke the lights of Suwa City at night, and the power reserve indicator evokes Lake Suwa.
The SBGD213 is offered in a limited edition of just eight pieces and will be available through select Grand Seiko Boutiques in June 2023.