When people talk about the design of a watch, they often tend to focus on the dial and the case. However, if you pay attention to the design of the strap, you can find infinite care and attention to detail. Moreover, the strap is a part of the watch that strongly embodies the appeal of the brand. In this volume, Makiko Handa and Mai Watanabe talk about the most profound kind of watch strap, the bracelet. (April 27, 2021)
The myriad of Grand Seiko qualities that exist in the bracelet.
Handa: This time, the theme is the design of the bracelet. The design of the bracelet is closely linked to the design of the other parts and the brand’s values. I would like to talk about Grand Seiko and Astron on this theme.
Watanabe: Let’s start with Grand Seiko. I would like to look at how the design of the bracelet and the brand’s values are related.
Handa: Grand Seiko is a brand that embodies the essence of a watch. The bracelet of this model (SBGX263), which is one of the more standard designs, has a three-row structure that is used for many watches. This structure has a sense of simplicity and functionality.
Watanabe: The texture of the hairline finish utilizes the natural characteristics of each metal and the mirror finish provides flawless polished surfaces. The combination of these two types of surface brilliance is one of the Grand Seiko’s great features.
Handa: This model has a high proportion of hairline-finish surfaces throughout. But when you focus on the corners of the bracelet, you can see that instead of right angles there are very narrow mirror-finish surfaces that creates a subtle glamour and are also pleasant to the touch.
Watanabe: It’s also made of a solid material that can be repolished even if its surface becomes scratched, so it can be kept beautiful over a long period of use. This quality of permanence is also something that is tied to the brand’s values.
Handa: Great care has also been taken to give it a comfortable feeling when worn. All the links are fixed with special pins, which allows the central links to move flexibly and the bracelet to wrap smoothly around the wrist. There are no holes on the sides of the outer links, so it does not compromise the aesthetics.
Watanabe: Based on the concept of wanting the wearer to feel the quality of something substantiative with Grand Seiko, the designers have sought out the materials and textures suitable to that end. Although gold and stainless steel are heavy materials, we can say that the sense of weight is also part of the design.
What if the same three-row bracelet is made with the ideas of Astron design?
Handa: If the brand is different, the design will be very different. This is because the design philosophy of the brand is different.
Watanabe: Let’s take a look at this Astron (SSH019). Astron is a collection that exemplifies a spirit of innovation, so the materials and processes used in its bracelets are also in line with that value.
Handa: An obvious place to start is the material of the bracelet. Astron often uses lighter and advanced materials, such as titanium and ceramic, rather than stainless steel. You could say that selecting such lightweight and advanced materials is in line with the direction of the brand.
Watanabe: Seiko’s unique surface processing technology, the super hard coating, is used for the bracelet, giving it resistance to small scratches. This is a different way of thinking from that of Grand Seiko, which is that the bracelet can be polished to restore its beauty even if it becomes scratched.
Handa: If you look at the back of the bracelet, you can see that the links on both sides are actually connected to each other, giving it a solid and stable feel. Also, unlike Grand Seiko, the holes on the sides of the links allow for the development of numerous variations using parts made from a variety of materials.
Watanabe: The clasp is also equipped with the Smart Adjuster Mechanism to facilitate length adjustment, which is another example of Astron’s pursuit of advanced technology.
Handa: Comparing the two brands shows that the design of the bracelet also reflects each brand’s design values.
The design of the bracelet creates the “breadth” of the brand.
Handa: Now I would like to talk about how the finishing touches on the design of the bracelet’s details can give it a breadth of direction within the same brand.
Watanabe: For example, in order to create a more glamorous or dressy impression with the same three-row structure of a Grand Seiko bracelet, the design changes as well.
Handa: This model (SBGA211) features more mirror-finish surfaces than the previous model. In this way, even with the same three-row structure, the contrast between the hairline finish and the mirror finish is emphasized, giving it a dressy look.
Watanabe: In general, the more rows a watch’s bracelet comprises, the more dressy it tends to be. For instance, this model (SBGK009) has a fine nine-row bracelet, which creates a dressy impression. In addition, the contrast between the hairline- and mirror-finish surfaces gives it a neat yet glamorous look.
Handa: There is another way to accentuate the glamour. This model (SBGH252) actually has a three-row bracelet, but it is made to look like it has many rows. Furthermore, the mirror-finish yellow gold in the center enhances the decorative shine.
Watanabe: On the other hand, reducing the use of mirror finish and increasing the area of hairline-finish surfaces creates a sporty or modern look. For example, in the case of this Astron (SSH003), the single thick strip of mirror-finish surface running through the center of the bracelet and the boldly chamfered edges create a powerful design.
Handa: Another way to create breadth of design is to enhance the spirit of innovation. For example, this Astron (SSH009) uses a ceramic part in the center of the bracelet. Combining different materials creates a feel of gadgetry that people with a fascination for tools might appreciate.
Watanabe: As you can see, the bracelet looks simple at first glance, but in fact it has a directionality and particularity of design according to tastes.
Handa: And that’s where the brand’s design value lies. I think that learning about it makes choosing a watch more fun.
Watanabe: Also, as a different watch strap gives a completely different impression of the watch, I would recommend changing the bracelet or strap according to the season or purpose of use.
Handa: It’s fun to coordinate watch straps with clothes and accessories. Why not take this opportunity to have a closer look at your watch straps? There may be something new to discover there.