Grand Seiko traces its origins back to two specific Seiko watches, the Lord Marvel (1958) and the Crown (1959).
The Calibre 3180 movement that signalled the birth of Grand Seiko in 1960 combined the two innovations in both watches (a movable balance spring stud for the former and the larger balance wheel and mainspring barrel for the latter) and achieved high accuracy in the luxury watch market. The idea behind Grand Seiko watches was to push the limits of precision, durability and legibility with constant innovation at all levels.
The launch of Grand Seiko coincided with the liberalisation of watch imports in Japan in 1961 and the development of high-quality watches under the Grand Seiko brand name equipped the company for international competition.
Grand Seiko is a true, fully-integrated "manufacture" with its own R&D, design and construction capacity. Every component in a Grand Seiko watch is produced in-house, including the mainspring and balance spring and even the crystals for the quartz calibres.
Grand Seiko uses three families of watch movement: mechanical, spring drive and quartz.
The mechanical calibre 9S automatic movement is produced in-house at the Shizukuishi Watch Studio in Iwate Prefecture in the northern part of Japan. Grand Seiko also features high-frequency Hi-Beat movements in its collection, based on the 9S automatic calibre that was first presented in 1998.
The Spring Drive calibre 9R automatic watch movement uses a technology that is unique to Seiko. Although it its powered by a conventional winding rotor that winds a mainspring, a rotor connected to the end of the gear train activates an electronic circuit, a crystal oscillator and an electronic brake that regulates the speed at which the mainspring unwinds. Spring Drive technology delivers a daily variation in rate of just one second per day - a level that no other mechanical watch movement can match.
The Grand Seiko quartz calibre 9F uses aged and individually selected quartz crystals to ensure unparalleled precision. The 9F quartz calibre was first introduced in Grand Seiko watches in 1993 and incorporated a number of advances that were designed to improve the precision of the quartz movement, which is in the order of -5 to +5 seconds per year.
For many years, Grand Seiko watches were limited to the Japanese market. But in 2010 the Grand Seiko collection made its debut on the world watch stage, immediately garnering praise from the global watch community. At Baselworld in 2017 Grand Seiko was spun off from Seiko as an independent brand.