by Jason Chien
Jason Chien is a humble fan of Grand Seiko and their watches, a huge fan of Japan, Japanese culture, its food and its people. He says that Spring Drive is a God-like watch movement.
Grand Seiko is known for its three movements: quartz, mechanical, and its unique Spring Drive. (Spring Drive movements are also used in some non-Grand Seiko watches).
|The rare Grand Seiko "Red Flake"|
Each of these three movements are also shining examples of Grand Seiko's technology, dedication and focus to details and accuracy.
Grand Seiko's quartz movement is not your typical, run-of-the-mill quartz movement you find in other brands. Grand Seiko grows, ages and tests its quartz crystals in their own factory in Shiojiri (where they also make Spring Drive movements). Most of Grand Seiko’s quartz watches are accurate to within ten seconds per year, and their enhanced ones are accurate to five seconds per year (these have a * above the six o'clock marker).
Grand Seiko’s mechanical movements (including their 36,000 beats per hour hi-beat movement) are the workhorse of the Grand Seiko brand. They are accurate to +5 or -3 seconds a day and adjusted for temperature and to six positions (while other brands test only five positions). In addition to their stellar engineering, many of the recent beautiful, intricate dials come from the mechanical line. Hi-beat mechanical watches have greater shock resistance than ordinary Seikos; the second hand ticks ten times per second, compared to eight times per second for their regular automatics. Because nothing’s free in physics: Normal automatics have a power reserve of seventy-two hours compared to a hi-beats’ fifty-five hours.
|Spring Drives on display at the Seiko|
museum in Tokyo.
Each movement has its pros and cons, its fans and detractors. Some purists swear by a one hundred percent mechanical movement, and reject quartz and Spring Drive no matter how high end it is. (Spring Drive is not a quartz movement, not at all. It doesn’t have a battery or capacitor; and it does have a mainspring.) Other watch enthusiasts are drawn to that smooth sweeping second hand of a Spring Drive, a tranquil sight not seen in any other mechanical watch. Still others prefer that familiar, perfect tick of second hand and instant date change on a Grand Seiko quartz.
|This hi-beat Grand Seiko is nicknamed|
A version of this article was originally published on the Grand Seiko Owner’s Club.
Bonus photo: A Grand Seiko 9F quartz: As pretty as any Grand Seiko you can buy: