Grand Seiko has announced their latest small collection of US exclusive releases. You’ll recall that last year that Japanese brand debuted a four watch collection with each piece inspired by a different season, with each piece showcasing an intricately patterned dial. This year, Grand Seiko is still thinking about seasons, but with a tighter focus, and the dials are the still the kind that beg to be observed under a loupe. Let’s take a closer look at the new Soko Special Editions.
Grand Seiko Soko Special Editions
- Case Material: Stainless steel
- Dial: Silver, gray
- Dimensions: 39mm
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Water Resistance: 10 bar
- Crown: Screw down
- Movement: 9R65
- Strap/bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet, crocodile leather
- Price: $ 5,000
- Reference Number: SBGA427, SBGA429
- Expected Release: Available now
As we’ve covered extensively here on Worn & Wound, Grand Seiko is a brand that is uniquely obsessed with the natural world, and takes inspiration from nature and Japanese culture in the design of their watches. These stories that link Japanese tradition, nature, and watchmaking are really at the heart of the brand, and understanding the background behind each watch is part of the enjoyment of ownership for collectors. These new watches are a riff on sōkō, one of 24 traditional Japanese micro-seasons. This particular season takes place at the end of autumn, and the new watches are meant to symbolize the first frost in a bamboo forest. Of course, you don’t need to be Japanese to have a sense of what those first chilly mornings on the doorstep of winter feel like. The sounds, smells, and textures of late autumn and early winter are easily called to mind by anyone who has lived in a cold weather climate, and will have an idea of what Grand Seiko is going for here even if they’ve never walked through a bamboo forest.
Two dial colors are available: a silver variant representing “light” and a dark gray representing “shadow.” Both have a subtle vertically oriented texture meant to symbolize stalks of bamboo. While Grand Seiko’s textured dials are always impressive, I think the defining characteristic of these watches is the very prominent green seconds and power reserve hands on each. The silver dialed watch uses a bright and bold green, while the gray is paired with a lighter shade. Green dials have been an emerging trend over the last year, but green hands are less common, and the color combinations here are surprising to say the least. It will be interesting to see these watches in person, and observe how changing light impacts the presentation of these colors. As anyone who has handled a Grand Seiko knows, the polishing and dial treatments can take on dramatically different visual characteristics in different lighting conditions.
The Soko Special Editions run on Spring Drive movements with a 72 hour power reserve and +/- 1 second per day accuracy. It’s notable that these watches measure just 39mm in diameter, which is likely to garner praise from collectors who have been wanting Grand Seiko to trend smaller and thinner. The Soko Special Editions are mounted on stainless steel bracelets, but each also ships with a crocodile leather strap with a three-fold clasp. Carrying a $ 5,000 retail price, I think the Soko editions are priced somewhat aggressively for Grand Seiko. Consider that for that price you’ll be getting one of Grand Seiko’s unique textured, nature inspired dials, the Spring Drive movement, and what is effectively a bonus strap, I think that if you like the look of this somewhat offbeat watch, there’s real value in this package.
The Soko Special Editions are US Exclusives, and like last year’s seasons collection are permanent additions to the catalog, but limited in production (but not a numbered limited edition). Grand Seiko