Vacheron Constantin's Overseas collection might be about the spirit of travel but from their showing of the Overseas Tourbillon line at Watches and Wonders 2024, they didn't venture too far with the design. Other than the three Patrimony pieces, the Overseas collection had a boost in model numbers. Four sunray green-dial Overseas watches (35mm gem-set version: a 41mm date: a 41mm dual time: a 42.5mm chronograph) were added to the line-up but it's the titanium Overseas Tourbillon that caught our eye.

Made entirely out of the light and robust metal, the titanium Overseas Tourbillon houses a tourbillon (duh) movement that serenely spins within its Maltese cross-inspired cage. The model holds the same characteristics as other Overseas Tourbillons—42.5mm by 10.39mm thick; small seconds display indicated by a coloured screw on the tourbillon; hexagonal bezel; blue dial. The last Overseas Tourbillon variant was impressive, thanks to its skeletonised feature. This titanium version may not have the wow factor but with the knowledge of what its made of, it's worth it.

The grade-five titanium Overseas Tourbillion holds A Calibre 2160 movement that’s only 5.65 mm thick and you can see the entire movement through an open-worked caseback. The Calibre 2160 also has a power reserve of more than three days. You can easily switch the watch among three straps—polished titanium, dark blue leather and dark blue rubber—with a titanium stainless steel folding clasp buckle.

As this is a boutique exclusive, which means if you want to get your hands on the titanium Overseas Tourbillon, head down to the nearest Vacheron Constantin outlet and put your name on a waiting list.

Eleven watches. Patek Philippe introduces 11 watches—the return of old favourites; variants of current models; new innovations. The brand steps onto new terrain with the World Time Ref. 5330G-001 at Watches and Wonders 2024. This timepiece refines world time functionality with an innovative date display that synchronises with local time. Originally launched as a limited-edition in Tokyo for the Patek Philippe “Watch Art” Grand Exhibition, the limited piece is now part of the regular production family.

At the heart of this masterpiece lies the automatic calibre 240 HU C, a marvelous powerhouse that powers the world time and date complications. The patented differential mechanism ensures a seamless transition of the date function, effortlessly adjusting forward or backwards by a day as the wearer traverses different time zones.

Navigating through the world's cities is made effortless with the convenient pusher located at 10 o'clock—a testament to Patek Philippe's dedication to user-friendly functionality. The harmonious arrangement of elements on the blue-grey opaline dial creates a visually stunning aesthetic, with the silvered periphery date display and world time indicator elegantly complementing the central carbon motif.
Encased in a 40mm 18K white gold case, the World Time Ref. 5330G-001 exudes sophistication and refinement. Paired with a blue-grey calfskin strap featuring a distinctive "denim" motif embossing, the watch strikes the perfect balance between style and substance, making it a true statement piece for discerning enthusiasts.

There's a whispering among TUDOR fans about a perennial favourite making an appearance. Since 1985, when TUDOR decided to build upon their first dive watch (the Oyster Prince Submariner), it led to a defining chapter in the brand's history: the Black Bay line. Chief among the range is the iconic Black Bay 58. It had nary a crown guard; the 38mm case sizing; the gold indices and markings—these are the hallmarks of a crowd favourite that felt familiar, timeless even, and, yet, was able to stand on its own. For this year's Watches and Wonders, TUDOR presents to us two Black Bay 58 variants. The first is in 18K gold with a green dial and bezel; this oozes opulence and sophistication. The other—and this is the one that got us into a tizzy—incorporates the Black Bay GMT's dual-time functionality. This is the Black Bay 58 GMT (probably the most on-the-nose appellation) and it's the watch that all TUDOR fans were waiting for.

A mid-size METAS Certified GMT Manufacture Calibre MT5450-U sits inside a 38mm, 12.8mm thick case. On the dial, there's a practical date window and the usual snowflake hands. Hands and hour indices are coated with Super-LumiNova material, guaranteeing visibility even in low-light conditions. Gilt accents adorn a burgundy and black, aluminium, bi-directional bezel. (Might we add that this "Coke" look is a missed opportunity with a certain sister brand but having the Black Bay 58 GMT sport this colour combo is a hit with fans.)

Completing the ensemble, the Black Bay 58 GMT is available with either the timeless rivet-style bracelet or a sporty rubber strap, providing versatility for every occasion.

TUDOR may not have broken new innovation ground with its novelties but the Black Bay 58 GMT is enough to please fans and capture the attention of newcomers.

With hundreds of patents and movements to its name, you'd think that Jaeger-LeCoultre would coast on its past achievements but no. This is Watches and Wonder. This is where you present the best for the year. It's the perfect stage to show your peers why you've earned the title as the "watchmaker's watchmaker". Thus, for this year's Watches and Wonder, JLC flexes its complications muscles with three Duometre models: the Duometre Chronograph Moon; the Duometre Quantieme Lunaire and the Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual. It is the last model that strikes our fancy.

The Duometre model is a marvel in the history of movements. Before its advent, any watch with a secondary function (like a chronograph where you keep time and act as a stopwatch) would draw energy that also powers the drivetrain and that leads to a loss of balance amplitude. In short, it slows the ticks. JLC came up with an elegant solution. One that doubles the barrels and gear trains—one for timekeeping and the other for complications and displays; all linked to a single escapement.

Layering on that excellence with another is the addition of a new tourbillon construction in the Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual. JLC's features a new manual Calibre 388 (in-house, of course) with a tourbillion that rotates on three axes (a first for the brand).

The Triple-Axes Tourbillon

Supported on ceramic ball bearings to minimise friction and consisting of 163 components weighing less than 0.7 grams, the tourbillon is fitted with a cylindrical hairspring. There are three titanium cages. The first is angled at 90 degrees to the balance wheel; the second is set at 90 degrees to the first; and the third cage is perpendicular to the second and makes a full rotation every minute.

Oh, and did we mention that the multi-axes tourbillon also has a perpetual calendar? A grande date display is set at 3 o’clock. And the year indication has a special mechanism that highlights the last digit of every leap year in red.

Inspired by the Savonette pocket watches, the Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual is encased in a gold case. With a pleasing rounded bezel, the timepiece's convex crystal case features an open-worked view of the tourbillon on the left, while on the right, the time display.

Limited to 20 pieces, we suspect that this will be a very expensive investment- *looks at price tag* Yup, USD438,000.00. That sounds about right for a very complicated watch like Jaeger-LeCoultre's Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual.

The thing about magic tricks is that once it happens, you'd want to take another look at the effect... and you're still amaze that it actually occured. That's the feeling we had with Cartier's Santos-Dumont Rewind.

Other than the Santos de Cartier with Dual Time feature—a first, I might add—where you have a second time zone in a sub-dial at 6 o’clock, along with a night/day indicator, the Santos-Dumont features a dial that... well, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's begin at where it all happened; the start of the Santos.

Not only was the Cartier Santos the first pilot's watch (it was created for the aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont) but it was also the first to pioneer the square case and the first to be won on the wrist (back then, pocket watches were the norm). The model is Cartier's oldest line and hasn't deviated much from its original look (exposed screws; square-ish case, etc).

The Santos-Dumont Rewind comes in a 31.5 × 43.5mm platinum case that's 7.3mm thick; the caseback has an engraved Alberto Santos-Dumont's signature. A brown alligator leather strap with platinum ardillon buckle complements the ruby cabochon crown. Watch the apple-shaped hands sweep across the carnelian dial... backwards?

And now we come to the effect. This seemingly-regular Santos-Dumont has Roman numerals that are positioned in reverse. In fact, the timepiece is powered by a reversed 230 MC hand-wound movement, which means the hands move counter-clockwise. But why is it in reverse? Well, why not?

This isn't the first time that Cartier manufactures a timepiece that runs contrariwise. There was a one-of-a-kind timepiece—a platinum Cartier Tonneau that runs in reverse—made for architect and photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto. It's not often that you'd see this irreverent side of Cartier. But when it does happen, it highlights the brand's willingness to go off the beaten path; much like what it did for Alberto Santos-Dumont many years ago.

The Cartier Santos-Dumont Rewind is only limited to 200 pieces. This means that when you see it—poof—it might already be gone.

The perennial watch event returns to Geneva. Here, we'll highlight the biggest watch announcements of the year. So, to kick things off, we begin with the brand that's always on everybody's lips (and wrists): Rolex. More specifically, the Rolex GMT-Master II in Oystersteel in a different colourway.

Rolex returns with a fresh new paint of some of its most iconic models. Like, the GMT-Master II in Oystersteel. If you were expecting the "Coke" version (red and black bezel), you'd be disappointed. But then you'll be elated because the GMT-Master II now arrives in a Cerachrom bezel insert (first introduced last year), either in grey and black ceramic. This colour contrast brings to mind the changing of day and night. Not a bad thing to ruminate, if you're staring at the face of time. There are moulded, recessed graduations and PVD-coated numerals on the insert that makes it easy to read.

The Oystersteel alloy is nothing to sneeze at. This material is highly resistant to corrosion and shocks and even with the onslaught of time, it'll still offers that same lustre as when you first bought it. Opt for either the Oyster bracelet or Jubilee bracelet. Another colour pops out, set against the black lacquer dial, the 24-hour hand displays and the GMT-Master II inscription are in a striking green. According to Rolex, the green is supposed to "highlight our connection to the world.

Similar to other the other timepieces in the line-up, the GMT-Master II has a 40mm case and a Calibre 3285 movement for different timezones.

After Montblanc launched its Iced Sea Collection in 2022 (y'know the ones with the glacier dials), the brand gives us the newest addition: the 0 Oxygen Deep 4810. That is a very specific number, you might say. But "4810" is a mainstay of the brand—that is the height in metres of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps. For this venture, the 0 Oxygen Deep 4810 holds claim to being water-resistant at the depths of 4810 metres. (For context, this is almost half of the depth of the Mariana Trench at 10,909m.)

Given that it's able to withstand the depths, it makes sense that the 0 Oxygen Deep 4810 is housed in a titanium case and shielded screw-down crown.

Like the other Iced Sea timepieces, the dial of the 0 Oxygen Deep 4810 is inspired by the Mer de Glace, a valley glacier. According to the presser, the dial showcases an "interlocking network of crystals that have been frozen in time for millennia". Like the Iced Sea line, the dial's look is brought about via gratté-boisé—a tedious polishing effect that doesn't remove any of the material.

While the dial is a sight to behold, the caseback reveals a 3D-engraving of what you see under a sheet of ice. Created by a laser-generated oxidation that gives the caseback an otherworldly glimpse, a contrast of colour and texture.

If you're attempting to explore the ocean depths, illumination is a must. White Super-LumiNova acts as photoluminescence on the hands, indexes and a dot at 12 o'clock. Montblanc's COSC-certified automatic MB 29.29 movement, ticks away inside; with five days of power reserve. The Iced Sea 0 Oxygen Deep 4810 joins the ranks of Montblanc's “Zero Oxygen” timepieces that are made without any oxygen to ensure a more precise and longer performance; as well as the elimination of fogging.

Rounding up the watch is an interchangeable black rubber strap that's tapered in a V-shape and can be easily adjusted directly on the wrist.

Fifty-five years after the launch of the TAG Heuer Monaco, the brand decided to shake things up. And it lies in the keyword: "rattrapante" (French for "catch up"). It's a chronograph movement that's difficult to manufacture. TAG Heuer's repute is built upon its split-seconds rattrapante function during the early days of motorsports. It is this complication that would lead to some of TAG Heuer's best chronograph mechanisms like its newly announced Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph.

In the early days of motorsports, TAG Heuer was hard at work in mastering the split-seconds. Introduced in 1916, its Mikrograph was the preferred timekeeping device with a recording down to 1/100th of a second. Then came the Microsplit, another rattrapante also accurate to 1/100th of a second. The iconic 11.402 model would arrive later, this time capable of measuring time with 1/10th of a second accuracy.

The 11.402 model was Jean Campiche of Scuderia Ferrari fame and then in 1989, TAG Heuer gave us a quartz split-seconds chronograph wristwatch that was popular among racing legends like Ayrton Senna, Gerhard Berger and Michael Schumacher.

This brings us to the split-seconds chronograph: TAG Heuer's Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph.

The distinctive square-shape dial, the split-seconds innovation... it's a match-up that's a long time coming. Constructed from lightweight grade-5 titanium and sapphire crystal, you can peer through the domed sapphire crystal to see its inner workings. Within the Monaco Split-Seconds Chronograph is the TH81-00 calibre, that's developed with Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier. Not only is this a precision in timekeeping, it's also one of the lightest chronograph movements ever crafted by TAG Heuer. It comes in two colourways: a racing red or classic Monaco-blue.

The price tag for this is (does a spit-take) a whooping USD138,000 but with a complication like a split-seconds movement, it may be worth every coin.

About six months into Vacheron Constantin’s newly forged artistic and cultural alliance with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), the two organisations present the “Masterpiece on your Wrist” project. This is the first of many projects that are dedicated to safeguarding and passing on knowledge and expertise. This one is extra special because now you can wear a literal masterpiece on your wrist.

While the program is a unique offering, wearing a piece of art isn't new to Vacheron Constantin. The brand produced something similar with its partnership with The Louvre in 2019. The bespoke program, “Masterpiece on your Wrist”, revolves around two touch points:

  1. A unique, single-piece edition Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers
  2. The enamel dial must have a reproduction of a masterwork housed in the world’s preeminent museums 

The partnership with The MET brings many iconic and beloved artworks from the famed American museum into the program catalogue. Masterpieces such as "Wheat Field with Cypresses" by Vincent van Gogh; "Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies" by Claude Monet; "Northeaster" by Winslow Homer and even, sculptures such as "Diana" by Augustus Saint-Gaudens were chosen and brought to life by Vacheron Constantin’s revered Métiers d’Art department.

The Process of the Art

Celebrating decorative techniques applied in watchmaking, watches in the Métiers d’Art collection are enhanced by the maison’s master artisans. These experts of the clock, whose technicity and artistry are passed down from generation to generation. Here, a client’s selected artwork is faithfully reproduced in Miniature Enamel Painting or Grisaille Enamel. The former involves meticulously hand-painting intricate artwork onto a base layer of baked enamel. Paint is applied in thin layers of individual colours and fixed through successive firings in a kiln. After completion, the artisan seals the painting with a transparent enamel flux, enhancing its brilliance and depth. Miniature enamel painting stands out for its ability to replicate dramatic details, movement, and vibrant colours. This makes it ideal to imitate brushstrokes and impasto effects of Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Winslow Homer’s paintings.

HOMO FABER 2018 Making Of Email Grisaille Enamel Palais Venitien.

On the flip side, grisaille enamelling is favoured for its unparalleled ability to evoke depth, luminosity, and dimensionality. Thanks to the predominant monochromatic guise and shading, it excels in creating the illusion of sculptural relief. Master artisans begin with a typically dark or black enamel base before translucent layers of Limoges white enamel are overlaid to create a spectrum of grey tones. As the layers build up, a chiaroscuro effect simulating the interplay of light and shadow on three-dimensional forms comes to life. You'll see this effect for Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Diana sculpture.

Commissioning clients will enjoy a private tour of The MET alongside its experts and curators, during which a masterwork of choice will be selected. A trip to Vacheron Constantin’s Plan-les-Ouates headquarters beckons next as clients get to meet master watchmakers and artisans who will craft the project before the experience culminates in the bespoke timepiece.

Beyond selecting the watch’s aesthetics, clients are also given free rein in the calibre selection. Three of Vacheron Constantin’s finest movements are available. They are the Calibre 2755 TMR with a minute repeater, power reserve, tourbillon, hours, minutes and small seconds on tourbillon; calibre 1731 with minute repeater, hours and minutes or the three-handed calibre 2460 SC hours with all bearing the prestigious Poinçon de Genève.

Apart from “Masterpiece on your Wrist”, Vacheron Constantin and The MET will continue a series of joint projects. These are designed to showcase their respective rich heritages and ability to keep cultural legacies alive for future generations.

Originally published on Men's Folio

The next time someone suggests that your interest in watches is boring, or says they all look the same, point them in the direction of Japanese watch brands.

Try Seiko. The company's Power Design Project is an event that began in 2001 and is back this year after a 13-year gap. This is an exercise to encourage Seiko’s "in-house designers to deeply explore the essence of watches in a style different from their regular work and to generate innovative outputs". Which is shorthand for "Gentlemen, go as nuts as you like".

Being Japanese, this is not an invitation taken lightly.

Sukiyaki by Masanori Kawamura

This time the Seiko Power Design Project’s theme is Incredibly Specialized [sic] Watches. This is an exhibition of the results of which runs until 31 March in Harajuku, Tokyo.

The Watches

Billing itself as a show of ‘Watches That 99% Of People Don’t Need’ it includes an array of quirky timepieces. Like the Patternmaker, a watch surrounding by petal-like puffy pink pillows, somewhere to hold your pins while you sew. Or the Sunny Men, a model with a Doctor Who-style telescopic disk that creates a sundial. Others includes the Sukiyaki, a watch whose face contains all the instructions you need to make the traditional hot pot-style Japanese dish (and comes presented on a pleasing beef-themed strap). Or what about the Panda Lovers, a play on the watch world’s love of black and white ‘panda’ dials so literal you can’t believe no one’s thought of it before. And the Masking Tape, a colourful masking tape dispenser with a wristwatch in the middle.

Panda Lovers by Kiyotaka Sakai

“Rather than the ‘watch-like feel’ brought into Japan from Europe, the watches here are bound to give you a ‘Tokyo-like’ feel,” explains project director Naoto Fukasawa. “In Japan, a country whose strong point lies in its attention to detail in the creation of things, the watches here are bound to feel more familiar, somehow… Tokyo-ish.”

Frankly, any of these ideas strike us as entirely more useful. More useful than, say, a moon phase indicator or a split-second chronograph or any number of other haute horlogerie complications many Swiss brands dine out on.

They’re definitely not boring. And nor do they all look the same.

Sadly, there are no plans to put anything from the Power Design Project into production. But we can dream. And please put us down in the 1% of the world that really, really does need them.

Originally published on Esquire UK

The independent watch brand, NORQAIN, has been making waves with its presence and its watches. To understand what makes NORQAIN tick, we turn to its founder and CEO, Ben Küffer, and its ambassador and animal sanctuary founder, Dean Schneider. During the conversation, we find out about the brand's ethos and what keeps them relevant in a saturated watch market.

NORQAIN's founder and CEO, Ben Küffer

ESQUIRE SINGAPORE: Given the needs and presence of Norman, what’s the strategy when you are up against bigger and much more established brands out there?

BEN KÜFFER: Since the beginning, the strategy of NORQAIN was to be different. We looked at the watch market and there were hardly any independent brands left below 10,000 Swiss francs. And then when we decided to do it, we wanted to be totally different. We can't buy an existing brand. We have to write our own story, be 100 per cent credible and be true to our values in showing customers why Norqain is necessary in the market. That's really the strength. It's our story. One that's independent, family-owned so we don't have pressure from shareholders. We can do whatever we want and the customers felt that.

ESQ: What is this "story" that's different from the other big market players? 

BEN: Looking at the market, there were two things that we saw. One was the evolution of pricing, where prices have increased in the past years so our goal was to go back to our Swiss suppliers to tell them that we want to offer the best quality to attract younger clientele into mechanical watches. But we need to return to a pricing where we were in the past. And of course, with lower quantities. It was a big challenge but we made them understand our mission and what we are in the market. Norqain’s one big differentiation is that we went back to the past. In terms of pricing, in terms of quality; this was really important.

Then, as a new brand, you need innovation. I think innovation, we have that in everything that we do daily. Our motto is "Your life, your way." Every time we make decisions, we ask, ‘Is this different’? With regards to watch designs, in terms of how we build the community. We talked with Dean about NORQAIN's strengths and he said that the brand had a community that was with them from the start. We're doing things that are important to us but these are things that other people would care about. The outdoors; animals; being animal cruelty-free; sustainability... all these are who we are as a brand. You feel close to the brand and that's a big strength.

Dean Schneider, NORQAIN's ambassador

ESQ: How does that translate to your product? How do you associate a watch with a lifestyle?

DEAN SCHNEIDER: It's the values behind it. What Ben said is that the brand is very accessible. The values speak for themselves. We talk about animal cruelty-free products, about sustainably sourced products. We talk about shock resistance and (shows his watch), I literally wear this almost every day of my life. And it still looks and works perfectly. And that was the goal. Two years ago when I joined Norqain, everything I've seen so far, that's just pure innovation, let's be honest. In all the meetings we had, we made sure that we reached a level of innovation which hasn't been seen before.

We spoke about roaming through the malls where you see all those different brands and what's missing are the stories behind the products. What does it stand for? What does it present? Where is the message? You don't see it enough. But walk into any NORQAIN store and you'll see an image or quotes and sentences, which hints at our ethos. I’m all about messaging and stories, about inspiration and education. And so is NORQAIN.

ESQ: I think what's interesting is it inspires loyalty. 

BEN: Yeah, absolutely. True. 

ESQ: And you definitely stand for it. 

BEN: From the beginning, when we put our team together, there weren't many people. There were about three of us, maybe. I met Dean a couple of months later and we instantly clicked because I told him why NORQAIN has an opportunity in the watch market and Dean brought into the brand. It was very clear what type of product we had to produce if it was for Dean. It needed to be ultra-robust, shock-resistant. You can see [Dean] with the lions and I'd imagine that this watch needed to be strong.

So we developed NORTEQ (a special material made especially for the brand). It's super-hard material and well-suited for someone like Dean. NORTEQ helped us as a brand, in terms of how we came up with a product that hasn't been produced yet. There are no books to copy from. We had to start from scratch, to create the Wild ONE watch.

DEAN: Yeah, I think the biggest value in that is the ability to adapt and create something from scratch. Not just copy something, change it slightly and then put it on the market. NORQAIN has proven with this collaboration and we have the Wild ONE range. If you can do it for that, you can do it for anything. Imagine that future, one with different possibilities and platforms.

BEN: It was a bit easier with [Dean] because the story is very clear.

ESQ: What are the challenges for NORQAIN?

BEN: Building a brand from scratch means that you have zero customers. So you'll need to know how to make the public fall in love with what we're doing. We don't have a lot of marketing budget, to begin with. You're starting with a story that you'll have difficulty in spreading.

The game-changing moment was when I realised that the combination of NORQAIN being a hybrid brand is that everybody expected us to be only online. But we started to have our retailer network and that gave us a lot of different methods on how to spread our story. I think we did pretty well with our social media. We had digital marketing but where we excelled was our relationship with retailers. The brand was in 12 countries at the time and we did all we could to activate and reach out to local ambassadors. I realised that there's a formula. I won't reveal what it is but it's something we do whenever we enter a market.

COVID was challenging but it gave us an opportunity to stand out. In the beginning, our tendency was to put NORQAIN as the brand first. I want the brand to talk and I'm here if somebody wants to talk to me. But when COVID happened, I, in my capacity as the founder and CEO of NORQAIN, had to go out and get people to understand our message better. We were like a speedboat in a storm where every time things changed we adapted to it quickly.

NORQAIN Wild ONE All Black timepiece

ESQ: How about challenges in building the community here? The Singapore market might not be that easy as our GDP is based mainly on tourism. 

BEN: Yeah, I heard your national sport is shopping, right? [laughs] We did this across many markets and we feel that communities can share values if they have the same interests. For example in Singapore, we talked to the organisers of the Sundown Marathon; we talked to the people behind Spartan Race. People who like sports, who like to be outdoors, who like to be active, they automatically relate to us; that's how we've built our community; by reaching out to local events sponsors that fit our brand. Once you do that, you can mix the community with the brand. That was the strategy. 

DEAN: NORQAIN is special because the values they stand for are so universal. When you talk about adventure, about freedom... these are universal concepts. If you stay true to your values like NORQAIN does, regardless of the ambassadors, whatever actions they take or the things they support, they will always remind us of the same values over and over again.

BEN: That's a very small example but it's understandable. When I started in Singapore, I was told that there is a national hockey team here. So, we reached out to them. I expected maybe 20 people to be in the team and I was told, that they have 600 members. I said, okay, what are these members doing? They say they have women who play. They have Singaporeans and expats. I said, great. Let's make an event. And we did two events in a row with 50 people each. Great fun.

Here we are talking about a sport that's very niche in Singapore. But everyone gathered because they had the same interests.

Studio Ghibli x Seiko Presage Nausicaä of the Valley of The Wind

It’s no exaggeration to say that Seiko could publish a very large and handsome nature guide book of its home country.

A small selection of the things the celebrated Japanese watchmaker says have inspired the colours and textures of its dials. They are: birch trees; cherry blossom; the autumn moonlight; ‘a refreshing warm breeze’; wisteria; ‘the Ibaraki prefecture’s abundance of natural splendour’; the Mishakaike Pond; a sea of clouds; the Japanese chrysanthemum; winter snow; ‘a plum tree that resembles a dragon lying on the ground’ and the active volcano of Mount Iwate.

Last month it launched two new Grand Seiko designs. One was the ‘Sakura-Kakushi’, 'inspired by snow falling on pink cherry blossoms during Shunbun [the Spring equinox]'. The other is the ‘Sakura-Wakaba’, 'inspired by the fresh young leaves of the season that follows'.

You get the idea. Seiko loves nature.

It's fitting, then. That Seiko collaborated with Studio Ghibli, the animation studio, whose films nature plays a significant and recurring role. From the environmental themes of 1997’s Princess Mononoke to the lush landscapes and enchanting forests of 1988’s My Neighbor Totoro to the entire premise of 2001’s Spirited Away—that spirits and entities control the natural world.

Earlier this month Seiko released its third collaboration with the garlanded animation house, the excellent Studio Ghibli x Seiko Presage Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind—inspired by the 1984 film of the same name, whose subtext was the importance of our harmonious coexistence with the outdoors.

Studio Ghibli x Seiko Presage Nausicaä of the Valley of The Wind

Mr Takuya Matsumoto, Seiko’s designer and the creator of the watch, talked us through the new collab.

Esquire: Is there a particular customer your Studio Ghibli collaborations appeal to?

Mr Takuya Matsumoto: I believe the new creation will excite fans enchanted by Studio Ghibli films as it perfectly captures the worldview of the Nausicaä movie. I also think that watch fans who appreciate the combination of fine mechanical watchmaking and Japanese craftwork, for which the Presage collection is renowned. The pure blue enamel dial has been made possible through the skill of master craftsman Mitsuru Yokosawa, and his team.

ESQ: Seiko is often inspired by Japan's natural environment. That's also a theme of Studio Ghibli. Does this make the two a good match?

MTM: Indeed, the film covers an important theme of how the natural world and humans coexist. However, the Presage collection collaborated with Studio Ghibli because, since the collection's introduction in 2016, it has introduced many watches that combine fine mechanical watchmaking with various forms of Japanese art, such as Shippo enamel and Arita porcelain. Studio Ghibli perfectly represents a contemporary form of Japanese artistry. The studio and its works have been an excellent match for these collaborations. The first, with 1992’s Porco Rosso. And the second, with 1986’s Castle In The Sky.

ESQ: What do you like most about this new design?

MTM: The enamel dial’s blue colour. During discussions with Studio Ghibli, we came up with the idea of capturing Nausicaä's blue outfit. The enamel craftsman worked to develop a new shade of blue just for this watch. Blue is crucial to the film and for Nausicaä, as expressed by the line, ‘Clothed in blue robes, descending onto a golden field'. As the watch's designer, I am delighted that the outfit's colour is reproduced perfectly. Enamel is a material that does not fade easily, so its beauty will be enjoyed for a long time.

Originally published on Esquire UK