When Grand Seiko announced not only the brands first tourbillon, but a constant force tourbillon, there was a ton of excitement since it marked such an abrupt turn for the legendary Japanese brand. Many people were disappointed to learn, however, that not only would the T0 never be sold, it would never even be in a watch, so I decided that I would create a T0 watch based on the general trends of the watch industry, the specific trends of Grand Seiko, and, of course, the unique styling of the T0 movement itself.
To be clear, this is not an upcoming Timeless limited edition. This is not an official promotional image provided by Grand Seiko. It exists entirely in my mind, with the exception of these renders. It will never be produced.
Naturally, our first source of inspiration must begin with the T0 itself, and it’s quite revealing. For one thing, we see an interesting, and unusual (for Grand Seiko) emphasis on a dark, industrial feel. The T0 feels almost ominous with its dark, vertically brushed bridges and bold, six-arm (sorta) blued tourbillon cage, in addition to a balance wheel that resembles the mitsudomoe, or the Japanese triskelion, which is associated with the Shinto god of war and archery. Contrast this with the beautiful movement from the Credor Sonnerie, for instance, which is, relatively speaking, almost flowery. The T0, conversely, is all-business. The case and “dial” for such a movement must likewise convey a sense of seriousness.
Despite the austere seriousness of most of the movement, Grand Seiko gives us touches of levity in the form of curvaceous, and in one case, skeletonized, blued hands, highly atypical of the brand. Further, we see a theme beginning of blued elements surrounded by gold one, a trend that I followed in designing the hour markers.
Perhaps most importantly, the very fact that the T0 was “released” without a case or dial at all demonstrates that Grand Seiko wants to emphasize their horological accomplishment beyond what the brand is typically known for, like dial and case finishing. Thus, the finished watch must not obscure the movement any more than necessary.
Inspiration for the case comes from the SLGH002, a bold new direction for the brand itself. It recently debuted Grand Seiko’s most high-end mechanical movement ever, at least that will be produced, the 9SA5, a movement that was designed in parallel with the T0. Because of this, I decided that this watch’s case and hour markers would be a good starting place for inspiration in the T0 concept. It’s a trend we’ve seen not only in many other recent Grand Seikos, from the large hands of the SBGA405 to the vertically brushed bezel of the SBGV245. I opted not to use the highly angular cases, like that found on the SBGA405, because I felt a slightly more traditional lug shape felt more in line with the T0’s haute horology aim, promoting a more extravagant than utilitarian look.
So this is what I imagine that a T0 watch might have looked like in the alternate universe in which it was a production model. For the case, I’ve used a similar design to the SLGH002, except now it’s made from a dark titanium, better matching the bridges of the movement. The vertically brushed wide bezel gives the watch a more utilitarian look, but the relatively conventional and curvaceous lugs keep it from entering tool watch territory. A dark blue strap is fitted for similar reasons.
Because I didn’t want to cover any more of the T0 movement than I had to, instead of a conventional dial or an open heart design, I used a clear sapphire disk to create a subdial around the hands near 12:00, necessary to create space to place applied markers. These markers are also derived from the SLGH002, but are much shorter for space reasons. Following a theme in the existing T0 movement’s design, where blued elements are surrounded by gold ones, I allowed the markers to remain gold, creating visual symmetry with the tourbillon below. Similarly, a gold GS emblem rests just below the T0 Constant Force logo. The clear disk and small markers keep movement occlusion to a minimum.
Space management was a real obstacle in this design. I’m not quite satisfied with the placement of the markers relative to the length of the minute hand, but that’s about all the space I had to work with without unnecessarily encroaching on the tourbillon’s area, an unacceptable compromise. As a result, the sapphire disk ends at the heat-blued steel chapter ring where material is removed to create space for the 11:00, 12:00, and 1:00 markers to be placed, but it does at least contribute to the avant garde look of the watch.
Ultimately, I didn’t add much to the T0 that wasn’t already there, but that’s kind of the point in a haute horology piece like this. The case, the hour markers, the dial, even the hands, are all in service of emphasizing the movement, so they must take a backseat on a design level. So this is how I imagine a production T0 watch would have turned out. Was I right? Who can say, as we’re in totally new territory with GS here, but for better or worse, this may be as close as we ever come to seeing a production T0 piece.