Grand Seiko and BCXSY present The Journey of BirchBy Suan Futt Yeo
Design Miami is a gathering of the world’s top art galleries on the sidelines of the Art Basel fairs in USA and Switzerland, to showcase contemporary furniture, lighting and assorted objets d’art. This year’s event that took place from 1 to 5 December in Miami included an exhibit that would interest watch aficionados, and hopefully make watch lovers of art aficionados: The Journey of Birch art installation presented by Grand Seiko in collaboration with Amsterdam-based interdisciplinary design studio, BCXSY.
With the regularity that first day covers are minted, Grand Seiko has been crafting its own unique identity by taking abstract impressions of the colours and textures of the natural landscape of its home region and incorporating them into some of the most stunning dials to grace a wristwatch. One specimen of this is the SLGH005 which won the Men’s Watch Prize at this year’s Fondation du Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG), featuring a dial inspired by the white birch tree forests near Grand Seiko’s studio in Shizukuishi, where all Grand Seiko mechanical watches are crafted.
The connection between the dial of the SLGH005 and the birch forests of northern Japan, once a private conversation between watch and wearer, is now writ large with The Journey of Birch. Panoramic murals set the scene of a birch forest while framing the centrepiece of the installation: a three-ring clock that spans the height of the installation. Reminiscent of watch hands traversing the dial to tell the time, each ring has its own distinctly finished metal-rod that moves at its own rate, by the hour, minute, and second, marking the time by drawing circles in the sand at the base of the clock.
In capturing the colours and textures of the natural landscape Japan, Grand Seiko watches with nature-inspired dials are a window to the watchmaker’s soul: its roots, aspirations, and defining traits which distinguish it from other watchmakers. The Journey of Birch simply projects this connection beyond the community of watch collectors to like-minded folk with an eye for art.
BCXSY is an Amsterdam-based interdisciplinary cooperative established in early 2007, composed of designers Boaz Cohen and Sayaka Yamamoto. Its other projects can be viewed at www.bcxsy.com.