Seikos grand seiko sub-brand devotes itself to making top-quality mechanical watches that for decades were mostly sold to asian buyers only. but since 2009 grand seiko has been available throughout the west and has consistently challenged traditional swiss manufacturers with its high levels of finish, well-considered design and exceptional attention to detail.
Grand seiko movements are also renowned for their accuracy, especially in the case of the hybrid spring drive system that was unveiled in 2005. this was a remarkable 36 years after the japanese company started work on the project following the launch of the worlds first quartz watch, the seiko astron.
Seiko says spring drive combines the best of mechanical and quartz technologies while doing away with the negatives of each it replaces the weakest component of a traditional mechanical movement (the escapement) and the one part of a quartz watch that wears out (the battery).
Crucial to the mechanism was the creation of a new type of mainspring using a high-elasticity material called spron 510, which delivers more power to the movement for longer.
As the watch unwinds it powers a rotor that produces enough electricity (a meagre 25 nanowatts) to cause the quartz crystal to give out a reference signal to an integrated circuit seiko calls a tri-synchro regulator.
The tri-synchro regulator replaces the escapement and regulates the three kinds of energy used by spring drive the mechanical power of the mainspring, the resulting electrical energy that activates the quartz crystal resonator, and the electromagnetic energy that turns the glide wheel (which drives the hands) precisely eight times per second.
Although 80 of the 276 components that make up a basic spring drive watch are the same as those incorporated in traditional mechanical watches, there is a key difference in that all the movement is in one direction, as opposed to the back-and-forth oscillation of a traditional balance wheel.
This allows the hands of a spring drive watch to move in a smooth, sweeping action, rather than in a series of ratchet-like steps. this makes it, according to seiko, the only watch in the world to represent the true motion of time.
The example shown here is called the snowflake not because it is aimed at easily offended millennials but because of its bright white, textured dial which is reminiscent of snow (although it also looks similar to a piece of handmade paper).
The case and bracelet are made from brightman polished titanium (which means the watch is light, hypoallergenic and corrosion-resistant) and the calibre 9r65 spring drive movement has a 72-hour power reserve that can be monitored on the discreet indicator near the eight oclock position.
The maker says the watch is accurate to plus or minus one second per day, and it costs 5,400.