Since its foundation, Seiko has pursued precision in order to bring accurate time to as many people as possible.
In the 1960s, Seiko challenged the highest watchmaking standards of the time with Japanese innovation and craftsmanship in mechanical watchmaking.
Seiko released the world’s first quartz wristwatch in 1969, miniaturizing a quartz mechanism that was originally the size of a filing cabinet and achieving a degree of accuracy totally unattainable with mechanical technology. In fact, Seiko’s relentless pursuit of highly precise timepieces accelerated the commercialization of quartz watches throughout the industry.
Thanks to Seiko’s mastery of both mechanical and electronic watchmaking, Seiko was able to continue its search for the ultimate practical watch, and, in 2004, Spring Drive was born. Combining a traditional mainspring with an electronic regulator, Spring Drive offered the best of both worlds; a watch powered by the wearer’s motion but a level of accuracy many times higher than that achievable with any mechanical technology.
To meet the high standards of Grand Seiko, Spring Drive needed to offer more than precision, and an extended power reserve was the goal the development team chose. They set the target at 72 hours so that the watch would still be precise even after a weekend away from the wrist. The challenge was to develop a more efficient automatic winding system. Only then could Seiko claim to have produced the ultimate in practical watches.
Through an extensive process of R & D lasting 28 years, Seiko was able to realize this dream, which required advances in both mechanical and electronic watchmaking that were only possible because Seiko was, and still is, one of the very few manufactures that produces, assembles and adjusts parts for both mechanical and quartz movements—a true and deep integration of technology and craftsmanship.
Why Spring Drive was adopted for Grand Seiko
Grand Seiko’s history is a story of uncompromising effort and evolution in pursuit of higher quality practical watches.
By the end of the 1960’s, Seiko had reached the pinnacle of accuracy in mechanical watchmaking and Grand Seiko offered the very best of Seiko in this arena. In 1993, Grand Seiko reached new heights in accuracy with the quartz caliber 9F. A new mechanical caliber 9S was introduced in 1998, integrating traditional craftsmanship with the latest in technology.
Grand Seiko has a passion to produce the very best practical watches—to produce remarkable timepieces that customers will cherish for years to come. To achieve this, Grand Seiko breaks through the barriers of ordinary thinking into new territories, redefining the boundaries of what is possible.
This is the story of Grand Seiko—a watch that embodies this pioneering, challenging spirit.
Spring Drive is a meeting of craftsmanship and technology that symbolizes the philosophy of Grand Seiko.
The Challenge: An efficient automatic winding system for modern life
The biggest hurdle to overcome in developing the Spring Drive for Grand Seiko was creating an efficient automatic winding system with a power reserve of 72 hours. In overcoming this challenge, Grand Seiko created a watch that is truly aligned with modern lifestyles.
The automatic winding mechanism is based on Seiko’s Magic Lever innovation, originally developed in 1959. This extremely reliable system provided superior winding efficiency, manufacturability, durability and ease of maintenance. Its winding efficiency is now so high that it needs only half the amount of movement the average person makes in a day.
A close connection to the wearer
The development of Spring Drive was a task that called for the readdressing of a fundamental question: what is the pinnacle of practical watches?
Grand Seiko believes that there are no limits to what can be achieved if the goal of making the best practical watch in the world is pursued with passion. Seiko’s advanced technologies hold the key to the future, but tradition and the technical achievements of the past are also crucial guides to the needs and expectations of watch lovers. Spring Drive fuses both of these ideas.
With the accuracy of the very best in electronic watches and the charm, durability and convenience of a mechanical watch, Spring Drive caliber 9R innovatively combines the advantages of both of the leading watch technologies, marking the steady passage of time in harmony with the steps of our lives.
The genius of Seiko, one of the world’s leading manufactures
Seiko is one of the world’s leading manufactures, meaning that the entire watchmaking process, from the manufacture of components through to assembly and adjustment is completed by Seiko’s own engineers and watchmakers in Seiko’s own facilities. This in-house approach has been a key element in the development of Grand Seiko’s unique identity. From the earliest stages of planning, our staff come together to share ideas. All are experts in their respective fields, and all are united in the goal of creating a better, more practical watch. Rather than relying on a single team leader, all development staff share their concepts and ideas and collaborate to create a single watch.
The unique Spring Drive mechanism could only have been made a reality through the craftsmanship of a manufacture working with both electronic and mechanical movements.