Seiko’s design grammar: the art of impermanence

Correctly understanding Grand Seiko’s design grammar can help us appreciate its timepiece: art.

Grand Seiko will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year, and with it comes increasing attention to the history of the brand. The center of history is Seiko’s design grammar, which was designed by the famous Taro Tanaka in 1962.

Although often compared with Swiss designer Gerald Genta, understanding Tanaka as a designer does not fully reflect his contribution to the development of watchmaking and precision engineering. To this end, not only must Tanaka and its design grammar be understood as part of Seiko’s history, but also as a contribution to the Japanese art form.

Embrace impermanence
According to the Japanese philosopher Keiji Nishitani, art has two forms. The traditional Western form pursues permanence: the cathedral was built for thousands of years, and royal portraits were commissioned to show off their wealth and power to future generations. At the same time, the Japanese style embraces the passage of time. Western art tried to deny its inherent temporaryity, but eventually felt suspicious: the cathedral collapsed and the portrait disappeared. These artworks only prove that it is impossible to achieve permanence. But Japanese art does not embrace time, but embraces time and encourages time to move forward.

Nishitani observed this dichotomous writing about the bifurcation, which is a simple and delicate Japanese flower arrangement art, and contrasts it with the typical Western bouquet, which is full of bright and often conflicting colors. However, please use your imagination, you may see how it is applied to best replica watches uk.

Nishitani discovered this in Japanese art appreciation of temporary workers, but he also observed its existence in other cultures, especially after the industrialization period. For example, after World War II, the pursuit of persistence seemed particularly futile. Explosions around the world have shown that human beings can destroy anything at any time and replace it with some existentialism: the beat generation, the minimalist art movement, the desire to discover the essence of things, and the desolation after desolation. . war. This led to a global negative Japanese aesthetic-a temporary appreciation of the sudden appearance.

It is against this background that Seiko released its first real luxury product “Grand Seiko First” in 1960. Just a year ago, Seiko introduced Taro Tanaka as the company’s first trained designer and led its new design department to reimagine what. The company believes that the design is boring and unable to compete with Swiss watches in the Western market. Although Tanaka’s influence can already be seen in Grand Seiko First (reference number 3180), it was not until 1962 that Tanaka’s design grammar was first defined until today.

In Part 1 of our old Grand Seiko history, we conclude with an introduction to design grammar. Tanaka said he wanted Seiko’s luxury watches to “glitter” like Swiss watches. Tanaka has defined a design language called Seiko’s “design grammar” that will continue to define the design of all future Grand Seiko models and still affect modern Seiko and Grand Seiko products.

Indeed, the marketing of Hyundai Grand Seiko has done a lot of work in promoting the historical impact of design grammar on its products. The tip of the iceberg is the modern reissue of 44GS and 62GS-a few of the first models that fully realize all the elements of Tanaka. The principles of design grammar now run through the brand’s DNA.

This design grammar compares the design of the back cover with its core elements and purposes, and clarifies nine elements, including: (1) flat surfaces and angles to best reflect light; (2) flat, faceted and polished Bezel; (3) Mirror finish (Zaratsu polished) all case and dial components, (4) Unique case shape (no longer required for general circular design). These specific elements are aimed at keeping the geometry of the watch clean, clear and clear.

After listing some elements of design grammar, people began to see how Tanaka had an internal understanding of the Japanese form of art expressed by the philosopher Nishitani. These elements do not rely on materials or jewelry to create “glittering” luxury items, but on shapes, lines and Zaratsu polishing. Just like ikebana relied on putting a few flowers in a hand-made ceramic vase and then placing the vase in the empty space of tokonoma to properly compose the artist’s work, Grand Seiko’s products can only be fully understood by narrowing the scope of capture. The space where they exist. Only here is art alone, which constantly defines itself while interacting with its surroundings.

The design grammar absorbs the Japanese’s respect for bad aesthetics and translates it into a set of principles that can be used to make real luxury goods. If, by now, Seiko is understood as a manufacturing company, it has more in common with Toyota, Mitsubishi or Japan than Swiss watchmakers, and much less than other luxury companies, then Tanaka’s principle can be Change this.

Seiko’s design grammar is not just a set of restrictive instructions on how to design products. Tanaka has created a brand new watch design method, the core of which is Japanese characteristics. He developed a set of principles that defined the Japanese watch industry as an art discipline, and also developed some other Japanese customs that have been recognized as worth pursuing. Japanese watches are no longer the top priority of design and craftsmanship. These attributes became the core of their identity, and design and artisan expression first became part of their creation.

Taking the 44GS series as an example, this is the first work that fully realizes all the elements of Tanaka’s design grammar. Its elegant simplicity not only embodies Tanaka’s philosophy, but also applies to artistic methods other than Japanese watchmaking. The bezel is kept to a minimum, just a polished surface. From there, the polyhedral shell forms a flat surface, and the lugs taper. All of these aspects have been mirror polished to maximize interaction with light. The dial has a similar reflective effect, and the simple silver sunburst dial is below the polished dial and sharp fish-shaped hands. Viewed as a whole, the design is mainly known for its interaction with the surrounding environment-that is,

As the world turns to Japan’s mastery of negative aesthetics and appreciation of the transient characteristics of objects in the post-war era, it follows that it will once again recognize these in the modern era defined by digital consumerism, unpredictable lunatics The importance of virtue. The way with nuclear codes and other touchstones reminds us that the world is almost chaotic, and we just want to know this earth.

If the watch is to be properly understood as art, it is worth stacking and admiring on the paintings, sculptures or objects provided by the adjacent auction house department, it must be interpreted as part of the cultural background that created the watch.

Although the replica watches collection community often discusses Tanaka’s design grammar, it is also important to understand the larger historical background of its development. Through this understanding, Seiko’s clocks can be correctly understood as works of art consistent with other forms of art and craft in Japan’s long history.