The limited-edition Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon: SLGT003
The limited-edition Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon: SLGT003
Image: Supplied

Grand Seiko was a welcome newcomer at Watches & Wonders (W&W) this year, literally setting the perfect beat with its captivating Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon, the brand’s first mechanical high complication and “a first for horology”.

With its quiet confidence and grace, it was as though Grand Seiko had always been part of the fair. Yet, inside its elegantly modern shrine-like booth that reserve was barely able to mask a tangible fervour. And excited they all should be, for the Kodo is remarkable.

During W&W, I met Junichi Kamata, Grand Seiko’s senior manager of design for the new Atelier Ginza in Tokyo. We were joined by the delightful Robert Wilson, executive marketing consultant and my go-to living encyclopaedia on all things Seiko and Grand Seiko. It took Kamata’s team of designers, engineers, and craftspeople 10 years to develop the T0 Constant-force Tourbillon, a concept movement revealed in 2020, and then bring this to life in a finished watch this year.

Part of this team was movement designer Takuma Kawauchiya, who created the T0, which he and his collaborators evolved into the smaller and even more accurate Caliber 9ST1. A professional musician before joining Grand Seiko, Kawauchiya expresses his passion for music through the unique beat of the Kodo. The name Kodo, meaning “heartbeat” in Japanese, was inspired by the unique sound made by the motion of the coaxial tourbillon and constant-force mechanisms.

“The sound of the escapement [vibrating at eight beats per second] and the once-per-second impulse of [the constant-force [mechanism] create a precise rhythm that playin musical terminology resembles a 16th-note feel or semiquaver,” he said during a presentation at W&W.

“Do” — from the martial art of judo or the tea ceremony sado — is “the way” and “a fundamental aspect of Japanese culture that... reflects a determination to achieve perfection”, Seiko Watch Corporation president Akio Naito said during his keynote address.

Kamata reminds me that Grand Seiko timepieces are exemplary of this philosophy. With its characteristic pared-back “Grand Seiko Style” design codes and focus on quality and precision, this is a brand that resonates with a world seeking to restore balance. Kami (the gods) are truly in every detail.

In design, “light and shadow are equally appreciated, as is the harmony between the two”, says Kamata. These values are evident in the way each Grand Seiko watch reflects the delicate balance of light and shadow across all elements of a timepiece, he adds. In the Kodo, this is highlighted in the subtle shade gradations, facets, and textured finishes.

The 43.8mm case is 12.9mm thick and constructed from Platinum 950 and Grand Seiko’s Brilliant Hard Titanium elements. The Grand Seiko Kodo Constant-force Tourbillon has an accuracy of +5 to -3 seconds per day (when static for 48 hours). It also has a 70-hour power reserve and is water-resistant to 100m.

Limited edition of 20, around R6-million each, grand-seiko.com or Treger Group 011 089 6000.

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