When Seiko killed off Grand Seiko in 1975, few mourned its passing. As the last unloved mechanical Grand Seikos left the workbench, almost everyone was gathered around shiny quartz things that went “beep” and showed the time in either bright-red LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) or those newfangled black and grey LCDs (Liquid Crystal Displays). The world was nuts for quartz. Mech, schmech.
Back then, if you’d suggested to anyone that you were thinking of making a career in mechanical watchmaking, they’d have laughed at you. No one wanted those old steam-powered things anymore. It was all about new, super-accurate, battery-powered quartz.
In the last forty years a lot has changed. Mech is back—big time. And quartz—once Watchworld’s darling—is regarded by some as a bit nylon-trousered and passé; the sort of watch you’d wear if you think character ties are acceptable at a board meeting. Actually, scrub that—the sort of watch you’d wear if you think they’re acceptable at all.
But, typically, Seiko are ahead of the rest of us; they started the rehabilitation of quartz years ago—in 1988, in fact, with the relaunch of the Grand Seiko 95GS. Powered by the quartz cal. 9581, the 95GS did the typical GS thing of being an exceptional watch that only a proper, nailed-on watch nerd would spot.