We have a pretty dedicated and vocal collection of vintage Grand Seiko fans among the Fratelli. Many of the Fratello team are also Grand Seiko fans. The Japanese brand has a deep and fascinating back catalog with some absolutely stunning models. In 1962, designer Taro Tanaka unveiled his “Grammar of Design”, a set of principles that defined the brand’s approach to watch design for years to come.

It all boiled down to four basic commandments, but there are two that are most important for the purpose of this article: Firstly, all metallic surfaces and angles had to be flat, sharp, and geometrically perfect to reflect light best. Second, no visual distortion was allowed from any angle, and all cases and dial components should be mirror-finished. This design ethos led to some of the most remarkable watch cases ever, in my opinion. The sharp lines and angles are just a visual marvel, as much so today as they were back then.


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The Grammar of Design

Over the following years, many watch designs that benefitted from Tanaka’s “Grammar of Design” made way for newer, modern evolutions. However, Grand Seiko collectors still search high and low for these vintage models. Sadly, the years take their toll on sharp case angles and Zaratsu-polished surfaces. That’s where our good friend and unbelievable talent, Kamil of Lapinist Watch Restoration, comes in. Kamil uses the art of laser welding to completely restore battered vintage watch cases to their former glory. I mean, these things look brand new. Rob interviewed Kamil earlier this year, so I recommend checking that podcast/interview out right here.

vintage grand seiko watch

Vintage Grand Seiko fans rejoice!

I’m not here to wax lyrical about Kamil’s incredible restoration work today. Instead, Kamil recently dropped me an email with information about a new project he’d been working on, which I thought was too good not to share further! If you’re a vintage Grand Seiko fan, you’ll know about the beautiful 18k gold medallions that adorn the case backs. Now, these medallions are too often worn down from wear, so the primary goal of many collectors is to protect the medallions from further wear. In the instance you find one in a rare, unworn condition, there’s even more of a reason to protect it, right? So how do you do that? I mean, surely you want to wear and enjoy the watch?

The obvious answer is a new replacement case back. That much is obvious. Store the valuable gold medallion case back away, and use a different one for wearing. That said, it’s challenging to find a quality “new” case back for a vintage watch. You can buy some third-party case backs from Japan, but they are usually of inferior quality and very expensive. Some are even made of brass and then nickel-plated, while others have no finishing at all. Obviously, this option is unacceptable for such noble watches!

close up of Lapinist case back

The Lapinist has you covered

Thankfully, Kamil thought the same thing. So, he has designed and manufactured high-quality display case backs for a whole range of vintage Grand Seiko models and some King Seiko ones too! As you’d expect from a perfectionist like The Lapinist, he designed each case back specifically for each reference. Kamil makes them in Poland at his studio using marine-grade stainless steel and sapphire crystal. Each case back is then meticulously hand-finished with brushing and zaratsu polishing. Kamil designed the case backs to show off the beautiful vintage Grand Seiko movements, which are usually hidden behind the medallion case backs. So, essentially it’s a win-win situation. You can preserve the collectible value of the watch while wearing it and appreciate the mechanical movement that resides within it.

If you’re interested, Kamil has case backs for 44GS, 45GS/KS, 56GS/KS, 57GS, 61GS, and 62GS, and they’ll be available to purchase from January 2022. All models will be priced at just €100, including worldwide shipping — a bargain in my opinion! For more information, drop him an email at [email protected]. You can see more of The Lapinist’s work on his Facebook and Instagram pages.

Follow me on Instagram: @davesergeant | @fratellowatches