by Seiko watch design

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Vol.7 The Kinetic Chronograph which presented the world with a new Independent Multi-Dial Style. Vol.7 The Kinetic Chronograph which presented the world with a new Independent Multi-Dial Style.

HomeDesign MuseumVol.7 The Kinetic Chronograph which presented the world with a new Independent Multi-Dial Style.

The New-Style Chronograph created
by defying conventional styles.

The retail price of this watch was about JPY 200,000 (USD 1,853.00), which was an outrageous price for a Seiko watch back then. Yet the most outrageous aspect of this chronograph was its design. The designer in charge of this bold new watch was Shinji Sato. Generally chronographs have small sub-dials within the main dial to fulfill the chronograph function, but Sato employed a convention-defying Independent Multi-Dial design, which completely separated the dials for time display and chronograph function.

The surface of the dial and the surfaces of the sides where the buttons are located were differentiated by applying hairline finishing and mirror finishing respectively. This differentiation of finishing is one example of the great care and attention given to the design.
The two buttons use heart-shaped cams for the hands’ fly-back mechanism. Because the buttons require a firm push, they were designed for ease of pushing.

Japanese style is the very thing that leads to true globalization.

The Kinetic System automatically generates and stores electrical energy to power a quartz watch, utilizing the movement of the watch itself. When Sato embarked on developing a chronograph with this mechanism, he visited the U.S. and Europe to do market research. After this research, he reached the conclusion that he should compete on uniquely Japanese values, rather than try to follow Swiss values. He anticipated that such a design is what would attract people around the world. Non-Japanese people don’t expect Japanese watches to be like Swiss watches. What is needed is Japanese originality and a sense of high technology. With this determination guiding him, he proceeded with the design.

While pursuing a sense of Japanese style, Sato also aimed to create a watch with the look of a highly accurate instrument. He used an aircraft’s cockpit instruments as a reference for the design.
A design sketch drawn in the product development phase. Notes regarding materials and other imagined elements for a case and bracelet are written alongside the design.
One of the design proposals considered. Even with the fundamental premise of the Independent Multi-Dial system, the design potential was unlimited, and various types of design were proposed and considered.

Cooperation with other departments and trial and error.
Developing the movement from scratch.

Yet, there were varied opinions within the company regarding whether or not we really should proceed with this drastic Independent Multi-Dial design. Together with members from other departments, including planning and engineering, the designer persuaded the people involved and it was eventually determined that the mission of this product was to show a new Independent Multi-Dial concept to the world. The next major hurdle they had to overcome was the development of an unprecedented movement for the Independent Multi-Dial design. Through the engineering team’s persistent research and repeated trial and error, this watch was finally released to the world in 1999 as a limited edition of 1,000 watches.

The movement created by the diligent efforts of our engineers. Through the uncompromising pursuit of both design and technology, Seiko was able to release this unparalleled watch to the world.
The design work progressed with the top priorities of clarifying the functions of each hand and creating a layout for enhanced legibility.
Pursuing functional beauty by eliminating superfluous ornamentation, Sato committed to a high level of perfection in all details of the product.

Establishment as a new style and its evolution. A unique value.

As the limited edition of 1,000 watches sold out immediately, Seiko launched other models of Independent Multi-Dial Chronograph successively. Although there was naturally a range of design variations, the original philosophy of presenting a uniquely Japanese watch remained throughout. Now, more than 20 years after the launch of the Kinetic Chronograph, Japanese watches priced over JPY 200,000 are no longer unusual. In that sense, this product embodied Seiko’s first step toward entering an era of captivating people with high-value-added products.

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