The Credor Spring Drive Eichi II 18k Rose gold GBLT998
by Daniel Yong
Before unpacking the wonder that is the Credor Eichi II in 18k rose gold, it’s important to explore its parent company Seiko. Seiko is a brand adored worldwide with loyal fans possessing serious emotional attachment. The beautiful thing about the Japanese brand is that they have watches for basically every market. From the Seiko 5 range, to the serious Prospex line for those who need a “real” tool watch for different terrains and environments, and of course, the Presage line for those looking for traditional mechanical technology. Seiko has it all, and only recently, released their top of the range sports collection referred to as the ‘LX line’. So where does Grand Seiko fit into the picture?
Grand Seiko as the name might suggest, was founded in 1960 by Seiko, to be the premium brand that was to compete against the very best watches from the European market. The concept was that Grand Seiko was to express to the world, what Japanese watchmaking could offer. Their iconic models were so successful that the DNA of the early Grand Seiko models from the 60s can still be found in modern references. For instance, the king of the Taro Tanaka ‘Grammar of Design’ concept, the 44GS, is still obvious in models such as the SBGJ001. To sum it up for you, Grand Seiko watches are designed to be beautiful, reliable timepieces, intended to be worn daily. As you start to build your appreciation of Grand Seiko, you might now be wondering, where to next? How come the brand doesn’t create pieces on the ultra-luxury end of the spectrum? The answer is they do. Grand Seiko have watches made in precious metal, and have recently released a model that features only the very best, think platinum case, diamond dust dials and carefully placed gems to mimic Japan’s natural environment. But wait, there’s another level!
Beyond Grand Seiko, sits the ultimate expression of what the company can offer collectors. One where only the elite watchmakers from Seiko work. The micro-artist studio, a small facility where the brand Credor is housed. Within these walls, you have specialist watchmakers who create pieces that are both art and engineering marvels, that demand its lucky owners or fortunate admirers to stare with their jaws hanging. Seriously, I’m talking about the Credor Minute Repeater, the Fugaku Limited Edition Tourbillon and of course, the Eichi II. It really makes you wonder, what can’t they do? So with that in mind, let’s explore why the Credor Eichi II is just so damn amazing.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Leonardo Da Vinci once expressed that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication and, in this case, it’s true. When you strip back a watch to its original ancestral DNA, and by that I mean, showing only the time and nothing else, it leaves the entire design open to be critiqued and inspected by the wearer. Nothing is hidden. Going back to why the Eichi II in Rose Gold is pure sophistication, we need to understand how it was made.
At first glance, the 18k rose gold beauty may appear like an ordinary watch, but there was so much thought and emotion that went into both the design and craftmanship of this piece. One where you have to be in the know, to understand what you are wearing. And that’s the beauty of Credor (and Grand Seiko), they are understated timepieces worn by true watch aficionados who understand what both horology and art means. To help you fathom the Credor Eichi II, I will attempt to explain in some detail, the work that went into both the dial and 7R14 Spring Drive movement.
As mentioned earlier, the dial is what draws you to the piece at first glance. Ironically, to the uninformed, the dial may appear to be an average looking dial until you take a second look, and a third… get it? So that beautiful white dial is actually made of porcelain that is fired and painted at the Micro Artist Studio. It is important to note, that the porcelain dials on the Eichi II appear whiter than other porcelain dials, due to the chemical compound ‘alundum’ (also known as aluminium oxide) being used instead of porcelain enamel like other traditional dials.
Once completed, the next process is hand painting the long elegant indices and Credor logo. And yes, you read that correctly, these are all hand painted by the Micro Artist Studio’s resident painter, not by some robot. To put it into further perspective, if said painter makes an error, there is no way to fix it and so therefore, the dial will need to be thrown away and the process begins all over again. Ouch! However, I doubt that there would be many mistakes as this master is said by Grand Seiko to have spent three years with the best ceramic makers throughout Japan, undertaking intense training. Now you might be thinking, great, he or she must get through quite a few dials. On the contrary, the artist only gets through one dial a day. To ensure that the dials come out acceptable, the painter needs to take time to mix the colours, select the appropriate brushes, and prepare the mind to be purely focused on the task at hand.
The 7R14 Spring Drive Movement.
I won’t even go into detail on how Spring Drive works, because I’m sure there are other articles and videos that already explain this. But for those of you new to this Grand Seiko (and a few Seiko) exclusive movement, the short description is that it’s a fully developed in-house movement, that works like a mechanical watch but with quartz accuracy. And with that note, what I do want to get into, is the aesthetics of the 7R14 Spring Drive movement.
One of the most iconic Grand Seiko references that brought the Spring Drive movement to the watch world’s attention, is reference SBGA011/SBGA211 (the Snowflake). What you will notice on these models, is that on the dial, there’s a power reserve indicator which can be quite controversial for some. Some people think it looks out of place, I happen to love them. However, the 7R14 movement is a hand-winding version which is normally reserved for higher end references such as the model you’re reading about. Going back to the aesthetics of this particular movement, you will notice that the power reserve indicator has now moved from the dial, to the actual movement in order to keep the dial clear from any distractions.
The 7R14 also demonstrates Japan’s romantic relationship with its natural environment. More specifically, the movements from the Micro Artist Studio always reference the environment found in Shiojiri, a city in the Nagano prefecture, Japan. One look at the movement, and you will notice straight away the bellflower found on the barrel. This is a tip of the hat to the official flower of Nagano. Move your eyes along and you will find a pattern formed where the two bridges meet, this is supposed to reference the river. Fitting when you think about it, the flowing river is almost a metaphor to the flowing movement of the Spring Drive.
(Photo credit: Peter Tung for Horbiter®)
Daniel Yong @Horbiter®