Seiko Spring Drive: Everything You Need to Know

Mar 12, 2021
Seiko Spring Drive: Everything You Need to Know

One thing to love about Seiko is its initiative to develop accurate watches. A good example is the Seiko Spring Drive movement, which has the qualities of a mechanical calibre but, at the same time, the accuracy of a quartz watch. Find out below what makes this extraordinary movement special.

What is the Seiko Spring Drive?

We want a mechanical watch’s high torque with an electronic watch’s high accuracy. To achieve this perfect combination, Seiko created the Seiko Spring Drive movement — a unique technology conceived by Yoshikazu Akahane in 1977. Seiko even claims that this movement has an accuracy rating of 1 second per day. This movement is used in Seiko’s expensive models like the Credor, Grand Seiko, and Seiko Prospex.

How does the Seiko Spring Drive work?

Seiko Spring Drive
Layout of the Seiko Spring Drive movement |Photo from Seiko

The short answer is that the Seiko Spring Drive gets all the energy from a wound spring. But to expound on that, the mainspring is connected to a gear train that looks a lot like that of a mechanical watch. The difference is that the wheel at the end of the gear train turns continuously in one direction. While in a standard mechanical movement, it turns back and forth. If you’re having a hard time imagining the set-up, the picture above might help.

Tri-Synchro Regulator

Another thing to note is Seiko’s genius innovation called the Tri-Synchro regulator, which can control three types of power. These are the mechanical power (mainspring), electric power (IC, quartz oscillator), and electromagnetic power (rotor, stator). The regulator then coordinates these power sources.

As seen above, the Seiko Spring Drive has a quartz oscillator and an integrated circuit but no battery. You might wonder how both of these parts get powered. The power is generated by the rotor and the coil blocks, like how a bicycle dynamo creates electricity from a rotating wheel.

The electricity that we get from the rotor then activates the IC and the quartz oscillator. In particular, the oscillator produces 32,786 Hertz, while the rotor makes 8 turns per second. This electric power then makes the watch’s hands tick. Overall, you can say that the Seiko Spring Drive is a combination of modern and traditional watchmaking techniques.

What Are the Pros and Cons of the Seiko Spring Drive?

Pros

Accurate and precise. The Spring Drive was made to compete with quartz watches’ accuracy. In particular, it has a rating of +/- 1 second per day, which is twice as accurate as of the most precise superlative chronometer of Rolex. To add, it is significantly more accurate than your average COSC-certified watch.

Long power reserve. Apart from accuracy, the Spring Drive movement also produces a longer power reserve compared to your average mechanical watch. To be specific, it can deliver 72 hours or 3 days of power reserve.

Glide-motion. You might have noticed that the seconds hand of your mechanical watch “jumps” from one second to the next. But the Spring Drive movement makes it glide through the dial. While this doesn’t affect a watch’s timekeeping abilities, it is aesthetically pleasing to many watch enthusiasts.

Cons

Expensive. It is no secret that the Seiko Spring Drive is one of the most advanced watch technology. Thus, it takes a lot of time and money for Seiko to produce one. Of course, these factors would translate to the watch’s price tag.

Best Seiko Spring Drive Watches

1. Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE227

Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE227

Specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 40.2mm
  • Movement: Spring Drive
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

The 9R Spring Drive SBGE227 belongs to the Grand Seiko Elegance Collection. That being said, it is perfect for people who want a reliable watch that they can wear with a suit and tie or a blazer. Its gradient brown dial is a perfect match for the silver indexes and handset. Furthermore, it has a 40.2mm diameter, which is slightly larger than an average dress watch.

Unlike your typical dress watch, this one has more functions on the dial. This is why I think that the small bump in size was necessary. For one, it has a GMT indicator that was incorporated well into the watch’s classic design. In fact, you wouldn’t notice the 24-hour scale on the outer dial unless you look at it carefully. To add, it has a power reserve indicator at the lower left part.

Along with the watch is a black crocodile leather strap. This has a three-fold clasp with a push-button release for comfort while maintaining a formal style. If you’re looking to spice up your dress watch collection, the Grand Seiko 9R Spring Drive SBGE227 should be on top of your list.

2. Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT

Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT

Specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 40.5mm
  • Movement: Spring Drive
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Water resistance: 200m

For a sportier model, take a look at the Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT. While it has the same features and functions as the previous Grand Seiko model, it is very different in terms of looks. Instead of a sleek, classic aesthetic, this one looks bulkier. To demonstrate, it has a thicker 14.7mm exterior, whereas the previous model is only 14mm.

While it has the same GMT function as the SBGE227, this watch executes it differently. It has a ceramic 24-hour scale bezel that is fixed. Meanwhile, the dial comes in a stunning green colour that perfectly matches the bezel. It has a small date window, as well as a power reserve indicator.

Speaking of the date window, you’ll notice that it’s at the 4 o’clock display (or 8 o’clock since it’s a 24-hour display), which looks weird at first. But in real-life situations, you’ll find that this is a more natural position to easily read the date. The crown is also aligned with the date window to make it more comfortable for people to wind the time. In fact, this design is often seen on other Seiko models like the Seiko Prospex SBDN053.

Finally, it comes with a metal strap with a three-fold clasp with a push-button release. While it looks too sporty, it is still comfortable. This makes the watch perfect for travellers who need an accurate yet comfortable timekeeper.

3. Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA293

Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA293

Specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 40.5mm
  • Movement: Spring Drive
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA293 looks a lot like the first model on this list. But the difference is that it has a different colour for the dial. Instead of brown, it sports cream or off-white hue that Grand Seiko is known for. So, if you’re more of a fan of lighter colours on watches, this is a good choice.

Another difference that you might notice is the cleaner look. This is due to the absence of a GMT function. However, this model retains the date window as well as the power reserve indicator. At the back, it has a see-through caseback, so you can view the Seiko Spring Drive 9R65 movement in all its glory.

Like the SBGE227, this also has a black crocodile leather strap for an elegant feel. It also has a three-fold clasp with a push-button release for convenience. Overall, the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA293 is perfect for those who want a no-frills watch that looks elegant and minimalistic.

4. Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph Titanium

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph Titanium

Specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 46.4mm
  • Movement: Spring Drive
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph Titanium. As its name suggests, it is the sportiest model on this list. Despite its sporty stature, Grand Seiko markets itself as a “luxury sports” watch that still looks elegant.

This watch packs a lot of features. For one, it has a chronograph function with two sub-dials. The top right part contains the 30-minute tracker, while the bottom right part has the 12-hour tracker. Furthermore, it has a power reserve indicator, as well as a dual-time function.

Another thing that makes this watch stand out is its bracelet. It is made with a combination of ceramic and high-intensity titanium for an aesthetically-pleasing yet durable material. Grand Seiko claims that the bracelet is scratch-resistant and will maintain its pristine condition for years to come. To add to its durability, it is equipped with a screw-down crown so you don’t have to worry about dipping it into water.

To conclude, the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph Titanium is a great choice for adventurous folks. Its accurate timekeeping abilities along with its durability are the top reasons to get it.

5. Seiko Credor Spring Drive Eichi II

Seiko Credor Spring Drive Eichi II
Photo from Seiko

Specs:

  • Case material: Platinum
  • Case dimension: 39.5mm
  • Movement: Spring Drive
  • Power reserve: 60 hours
  • Water resistance: 30m

If the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA293 is still not simple enough for you, then check out the Seiko Credor Spring Drive Eichi II. To add, one of the main ideas behind making this model was to remove everything that’s not essential. 

With that said, this model takes minimalism to a new level with its no-frills dial. In fact, it only has the bare essentials — the hour markers, a set of hands, and a text saying “Credor”. It also helps that the elements on the watch are extra slim. All of these elements are standing above a porcelain dial that contrasts well against the dark blue hands. Moreover, the watch is made with a platinum case that elevates its elegance.

Inside, it runs on a variant of the Spring Drive movement called 7R14, which is hand-wound. One of its highlights is a “torque return system”, which gets the excess torque and uses it to rewind the mainspring. This contributes to the watch’s long 60-hour power reserve.

For fans of simple watches, the Seiko Credor Spring Drive Eichi II is a fulfilling watch to have. Its well-thought-out design and movement are some things that will make every watch enthusiast drool.

Final Notes

The Seiko Spring Drive is proof of Seiko’s excellence when it comes to technology. This useful and efficient movement showed us that a non-battery-operated watch can be almost as accurate as a quartz watch.

 

If you’re interested in dive watches, take a look at how the Citizen NY0040 compares with the Seiko SKX007.

 

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