Seiko Kinetic: A Perfect Fusion of Automatic and Quartz

Nov 03, 2020
Seiko Kinetic: A Perfect Fusion of Automatic and Quartz

Seiko is widely known not just for their innovations but also for their commitment to sustainability. To this day, they continue to find ways to lessen the use of watch batteries as these can cause a lot of environmental harm. Case in point: the Seiko Astron and the Seiko Kinetic watches, which do not require changing batteries at all, are among the brand’s iconic models. In this article, we will shine the spotlight on Seiko Kinetic Watches.

History of Seiko Kinetic

The Seiko Kinetic might sound new to you since it’s one of the less popular Seiko models. But did you know that the first-ever Seiko Kinetic timepiece was released way back in 1988? Prior to the release, the Japanese brand unveiled its prototype during the BaselWorld Fair in 1986. During that time, it was still called the ‘AGM’ as its trial name. It was then renamed ‘AGS’ until it was finally rebranded as the Seiko Kinetic in 1991.


It was a milestone for Seiko as the Kinetic movement was one of a kind. Simply put, the watch takes the best parts of the automatic and quartz movements and combines them together. It uses an electrical charge to power the watch like a quartz watch. But unlike the latter, the electrical charge should come from the movement of the wearer, which is very similar to an automatic watch. This is why it is called an ‘Automatic Quartz Watch’.

inside Seiko Kinetic watches
Photo from Watch U Seek

How does the Seiko Kinetic Watch work?

This is where the tricky part comes. The Seiko Kinetic gets power from the movement of the wearer. So, what makes it different from an automatic watch? One major difference is how the movement powers the watch. 


To expound, the wearer’s movement in automatic watches causes a rotor to spin. This then turns into energy that winds the spring. But in the case of the Seiko Kinetic, the movement charges a capacitor or a quartz crystal.


One minor downside is that this capacitor has to be replaced every few years. The consolation is that it should give you almost a decade of use before you need to replace it.

Different Seiko Kinetic Models

The Seiko Kinetic range has expanded ever since its introduction in the ’80s. Here are the different types of Seiko Kinetic models and their characteristics.

Kinetic Direct Drive

Kinetic movements generally cannot be hand-wound. However, the Kinetic Direct Drive makes this possible. In fact, it is this movement’s special feature. The downside is that it has much less power reserve compared to the other Kinetic models. While others can provide up to six months of juice, the Kinetic Direct Drive can only provide one month. But comparing it to automatic watches, a one-month power reserve is plenty enough.

Ultimate Kinetic Chronograph

Like the Kinetic Direct Drive, the Ultimate Kinetic Chronograph movement only has a power reserve of up to one month. However, it provides a chronograph complication that is useful for sports and other activities.

Kinetic Chronograph

The naming convention is confusing, but you should know that the Kinetic Chronograph is an improved version of the Ultimate Kinetic Chronograph. Instead of just a one-month power reserve, this one can power the watch for up to five months.

Kinetic Perpetual

After the Kinetic Chronograph was released, Seiko introduced the Kinetic Perpetual, which they use for models with a perpetual calendar. It has six months of power reserve and can preserve time for four years if you put it on sleep mode.

Kinetic GMT

As its name suggests, the Kinetic GMT movement powers models that need the GMT complication. It can also provide up to six months of charge and can preserve time for four years if it’s on sleep mode.

Best Seiko Kinetic Watches Worth Checking Out

If you want to venture out of automatic and quartz watches, the Seiko Kinetic line is a good place to start. Here are a few models that you should keep an eye on.

1. Seiko Kinetic SRN051P1

front view of Seiko Kinetic Ref. SRN051P1 watch

Seiko Kinetic SRN051P1 specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 42mm
  • Power reserve: 6 months
  • Water resistance: 100m

Why Is It Good?

Let’s start the list with one of the most elegant watches in the lineup. The Seiko Kinetic SRN051P1 is a very affordable way to get into Seiko’s own Kinetic movement. The watch looks luxurious and expensive despite its low price tag — this is thanks to its timeless and sophisticated design.


The dial is clean and other than the time, it only contains a small date window and a gauge for the day. Its hour markers come in a silver easy-to-read font that contrasts well against the black background. When you zoom in, you’ll see an inner circle on the dial that features a horizontal pattern. This texture is a welcome addition that gives the whole face an interesting variety.


If you’re after the beauty of the Kinetic movement, you’ll be delighted to hear that this watch boasts an exhibition glass at the back. The exterior of the movement looks simple, although it is nicely done. Lastly, a black leather strap ties the look together. This choice of the strap is perfect as it blends well with the sophistication of the dial.


The Seiko Kinetic SRN051P1 is a breath of fresh air if you want to spice up your collection. Its Seiko Kinetic movement makes it unique, and its affordable price tag makes it easier for you to lean towards this model.

2. Seiko Kinetic Titanium SKA765P1

front view of Seiko Kinetic Titanium Ref. SKA765P1 watch

Seiko Kinetic Titanium SKA765P1 specs:

  • Case material: Titanium
  • Case dimension: 41mm
  • Power reserve: 6 months
  • Water resistance: 100m

Why Is It Good?

Next up is a diversion from the usual stainless steel watches. If you want something more lightweight, then the Seiko Kinetic Titanium SKA765P1 is for you. Its case, along with its hour markers, are reminiscent of the IWC Ingenieur. So if you’re into that style, this is an affordable alternative.


Speaking of its titanium material, this watch is stronger and more lightweight compared to its stainless steel counterparts. This makes it very comfortable to wear for long periods. Apart from that, it uses a Hardlex glass on the dial so you can expect it to handle scratches.


Its colour scheme may also be of interest to you. As seen above, it tries to stand out by using gold hour markers against a dark grey dial. To add, it has a few gold accents at the side of the case. Particularly, the crown and the pusher are both plated with gilt. Although this look is not for everyone, it certainly appeals to a certain group of people who like a milder version of the two-tone look.


With its price tag, the Seiko Kinetic Titanium SKA765P1 is certainly a winner. It can also be an alternative for those who want the looks of the IWC Ingenieur but don’t have the budget for it.

3. Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moon Phase

front view of Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moon Phase watch

Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moon Phase specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 40mm
  • Power reserve: 1 month
  • Water resistance: 100m

Why Is It Good?

This one is for the moon lovers. As seen from the photo above, the Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive Moon Phase combines an in-demand complication with their Kinetic movement. Indeed, this model is elegant enough for you to wear under a dress shirt cuff.


The dial is handsome and well-suited for a more formal setting. It comes with a white background with Roman numeral hour markers that will remind you of Cartier. And although the face is cluttered with numerous sub-dials, the watch is still very pleasant to look at. At the 12 o’clock position is the moon phase indicator while the date is at 3 o’clock. Furthermore, a synchronized 24-hour hand is at the bottom.


Luckily, this model is not all bark as its durability packs a punch. For a dress watch, it has a high water resistance rating — 100m to be specific. Apart from that, it also has a sapphire crystal and crown guard to protect it from bumps and shocks. The dimension of the case is also at the sweet spot of 40mm.


To conclude, this watch is great for those who appreciate Seiko’s Direct Drive movement but want to stay away from the sporty models.

4. Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT 100M SUN049P2

front view of Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT 100M Ref. SUN049P2 watch

Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT 100M SUN049P2 specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 42mm
  • Power reserve: 6 months
  • Water resistance: 100m

Why Is It Good?

If badass is what you’re looking for, then look no further than the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT 100M SUN049P2. Based on its looks, this solid chunk of metal was made for the daring explorers who are always looking for an adrenaline rush.


Staying true to the explorer vibe, the dial looks like a compass on your wrist. While it does not have a true compass function, the NEWS markings on the bezel can still help you determine your direction. A lot of hikers may find this feature useful or even life-saving. Next up is the GMT function which is indicated with a red hand. If you’re often travelling overseas, this feature will surely come in handy.


Along with its jam-packed features is a heavy-duty exterior. Its stainless steel case comes with a black hard coating. Meanwhile, its dial is covered with Hardlex crystal, and the screw-down crown helps it achieve the 100m water resistance rating. This means you can use it for a quick swim without any problem.


The Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT 100m SUN049P2 can meet any adventurer’s demands, be it hiking along the forest or a quick swim in the lake. Furthermore, its Kinetic movement can also last you for months or even a year without recharging.

5. Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT “PADI” SUN065

front view of Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT “PADI” Ref. SUN065 watch

Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT “PADI” SUN065 specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 47mm
  • Power reserve: 6 months
  • Water resistance: 200m

Why Is It Good?

Seiko always excels when it comes to dive watches. In fact, it is what they’re generally known for. That’s why it is not surprising to find the Seiko Prospex Kinetic GMT “PADI” SUN065. Simply put, this model is perfect for the dive watch lovers who want to get their hands on the Kinetic tech.


As you would expect from a dive watch, it has a thick bezel and is extremely large. To be specific, it measures 47mm in diameter. While it looks humongous on the specs sheet, it wears smaller due to the angled shroud. This also protects the diving bezel. Of course, as a true diver’s watch, the SUN065 model has a water resistance rating of 200m, which meets the ISO standards.


Another bonus is that it’s not just a dive watch. It’s easy to miss due to the busy dial, but there’s a fourth hand in there. That means you can also consider it as a GMT watch. A good mix if you’re a diver who loves exploring different diving spots around the world.


Considering all of the features that this watch provides, it’s obvious that it offers a lot of bang for your buck.

6. Seiko Kinetic Velatura Perpetual

front view of Seiko Kinetic Velatura Perpetual watch

Seiko Kinetic Velatura Perpetual specs:

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 47mm
  • Power reserve: 6 months
  • Water resistance: 100m

Why Is It Good?

The Seiko Kinetic Velatura Perpetual balances sportiness and elegance. Just one look at it and you’ll know you can go on adventures with it as well as bring it to formal dinners. Indeed, its classic black and silver colourway is versatile enough to match various outfits for different occasions.


As its name suggests, it has a perpetual calendar and a leap year indicator. This means that you wouldn’t have to adjust your date every few months as it can detect when to skip the 31st date. In fact, you wouldn’t have to adjust the date of your watch up to the year 2100. 


Speaking of more features, the Seiko Kinetic Velatura Perpetual has a ‘time relay system’. The watch automatically adjusts to the correct time after being reactivated from the energy-saving mode. In fact, activating it is easy as you only have to swing your hand a bit.


Although the perpetual calendar is an underrated watch complication, there is no denying its usefulness. If you’re in the market for an eco-friendly watch that you hope to wear both at work or during weekend getaways, then the Seiko Kinetic Velatura Perpetual should be on your list.

Final Notes

Are Seiko Kinetic watches considered automatic or quartz? The answer is both. It takes the best characteristics of each one and combines them into one sweet package. Whether you want an eco-friendly daily diver or a wildcard to add to your watch collection, the Seiko Kinetic is a solid choice.


Interested in more underrated watches? Check out our review of the Rolex Explorer II.

Photo credit: Featured photo from official Seiko website 

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