Everyone is really interested in Seiko’s Spring Drive movement, and what Seiko is going to do with it. The Spring Drive watches that have come out thus far are technologically superior to anything out there regulated by a quartz crystal, but the “Spring Drive” line is aesthetically lacking, and not very interesting to look at. The idea behind the Spring Drive movement is simple. Meld the benefits of an automatic watch with the benefits of a quartz watch. The result is an intricate mechanical movement that is as accurate as a quartz. A perfect blend indeed. The precursor to the Spring Drive movement was the Seiko Kinetic movement. This movement used a rotor to charge a battery, and provided a charge reserve indicator that the wearer could activate. While the Kinetic movement was popular, it still suffered from that worst aspect of a quartz movement – the ticking hand.
The Spring Drive solves the “ticking hand dilemma” by allowing for a sweeping seconds hand that is far more desirable. A full explanation of the complex and alluring Seiko Spring Drive movement can be found here. Now, having said that most Seiko Spring Drive watches are boring looking, there is an exception worth noting. The Grand Seiko line of watch from Seiko is sold mainly and Japan, and is considered to be a very high-end Japanese watch. Grand Seiko watches mainly used mechanical movements, but the development of the Spring Drive movement allowed for its obvious inclusion in the Grand Seiko line up. The result is the Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT Ref. SBGE001 that is Japan’s Rolex GMT Master.
The Grand Seiko Drive GMT is a serious watch from Seiko with a price around $5000, but still an excellent value given the quality and like offerings from Switzerland. The closest example is the Rolex GMT Master II which is easily double the price. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT offers a lot. Solid construction using the highest grade steel and a ceramic 24 hour bezel just as the Rolex now uses. This ceramic bezel is very resistant to scratching, and the numbers are actually inside the ceramic with luminant. This means the number will never rub off, and will glow nicely in dark conditions, highly enhancing legibility. At 43.5 it is a comfortably large and attractive size. This is a watch meant to be seen, but not overly obtrusive.
Complication wise you get the extremely innovative Spring Drive movement that contains a power reserve and GMT indicator. The Rolex does not have a power reserve. This is another example of a the sublte power of high-end Japanese watches. To most people, The Grand Seiko GMT is just another nice dive-looking watch. The owner will know the strength of the movement inside, the rarity of the watch, and the sophistication involved in producing it. Seiko actually spent over 20 years trying to make a movement like the Spring Drive and only recently succeeded.
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