Most of us don’t even think about celebrating “Mountain Day”, or even know one such holiday exists. But each year on August 11th, Japan celebrates Mountain Day, or Yam no Hi in Japanese. This is the country’s newest public holiday which was just enacted in 2014. This reflects the Japanese people’s reverence and homage to the highest peaks of the land. The decision for the date was chosen because in kanji, the number 8 is written in this form an “八” character which looks like a mountain and chose the number 11 because it looks like a couple of trees.
This doesn’t come as a surprise since about three quarters of Japan is mountainous and its highest peak, Mt. Fuji, stands at 3,775 meters high and is one of the most famous landmarks in Japan. Natural landscapes like mountains are revered and considered sacred by Japanese culture, where the practice of Zen and devotion to Shinto religion has a strong relationship with nature. The Japanese spend time reconnecting with nature and exploring the mountains by hiking, walking or climbing on this day, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city districts.
There are only two other so-called Mountain Days celebrated elsewhere. The International Mountain Day which is held every December 11th that was created by the UN to advocate sustainability in mountainous regions and another student-led celebration in the US when lessons are cancelled for the day and they head to the mountains.
It was the Japanese Alpine Club and other hiking and skiing groups that pushed for this holiday which was enacted into law in 2014 and enforced in 2016. Among the famous peaks are the three mountains known as the Sanreizan, or the three Holy Mountains – Mt. Fuji, Mt. Haku and Mt. Tate.
In hiking or mountain trekking, the Japanese have a saying “Just one more step”, that’s their mantra. Despite fatigue and exhaustion, conquering new peaks allows one to take a step back to appreciate the natural landscape is a form of release and discipline. Then in just a few paces, the treeline finally parts, the blue the sky opens up wide and the horizon stretches out to the edge of the earth. The beauty of God’s nature is beyond words and you know it was all worth it.
We in Calibre, also want to do a little celebration ourselves, in form of manmade mechanical marvels that pay homage to some of Japan’s summits. Grand Seiko, a brand that continues to conquer the pinnacle of watchmaking by climbing new heights in horology pays tribute to some of Japan’s mountains and today, we picked this gorgeous timepiece to highlight this day.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT “Mt. Hotaka Peaks” SBGE295
This watch is an overture to the vast Hotaka mountain range which stands against the Shinshu skyline in Nagano prefecture. A product by the artisans and watchmakers of Grand Seiko’s Shinshu Watch Studio, the home of the Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive production. This was the inspiration behind the Ref. SBGE295, its newest Spring Drive GMT in the Sport Collection.
In the highlands of Hotaka, it only has a small window for summer. This was where the dial of the SBGE295 borrows its verdant tones and dynamic textures, evoking the summertime vegetation that blankets the mountain’s peaks. Its familiar dial texture can also be seen on references SBGA413, SBGA415, and 2022’s SBGE277, which also drew inspiration from the Hotaka mountains.
The watch has a 44mm diameter stainless steel case x 14.7mm thick and 50.8mm length and crafted with Grand Seiko’s signature Zaratsu finish, with alternating mirror-polished and hairline surfaces along different parts of the case. The lugs are downturned that gives a short and shaped to wrap around the wrist nicely, as it is designed for comfort. The watch is rated to 20 bar and has a magnetic resistance of 4,800 A/m.
The rotating bezel of this GMT is a bi-directional one that has a durable synthetic sapphire overlay finished with Lumibrite compound, that glows under dark conditions for its white colored fonts. The watche’s second largest real estate is covered with a dynamic, green dial that has notably large indexes and hands with Lumibrite as well. A 24-hour chapter ring frames the dial and can be used together with the GMT hand and the 24-hour bezel track to follow a total of three time zones.
The SBGE295 uses Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive Caliber 9R66 with a 72-hour power reserve and comes with a power reserve indicator next to the eight o’clock index on the dial. It is a true GMT, so the hour hand is independently adjustable while the GMT hand remains fixed to home time.
Oh, by the way, GMT also stands for Go Mountain Trekking.