This article is about two things. First, about the very nice Seiko Ananta Spring Drive watches (yes they are available in the US), and also about "what you need to know about the Seiko Spring Drive movement." In addition to the Spring Drive version of the Ananta watches, there are also versions of the watches with in-house made in Japan, Seiko automatic mechanical movements. Though I am going to save additional discussion of them for another article.
In a nutshell, if you don't already lust for a Spring Drive watch, you should. Let's talk more about the Ananta watches. The watches are important as they represent the first higher-end Seiko watches that have come to America in a long time. In fact, they are world market watches meaning that they are to be sold globally. The watches are based on the look of Japanese katana swords. No doubt you'll see this look all over the watch from the sides of the case to the hands, and the hour markers. Little katana touches are all over the watch, even on the automatic rotor, to remind you of the "sharp" influence. By the way, when I was in Japan visiting Seiko we visited a traditional Japanese sword maker who still makes the awesome "samurai style" swords. As a kid I grew up utterly wanting one of these (and still do). To hold an actual one in my hands (not just some look-alike) was truly awesome. It took a lot of will power for me to hold back, and not find a watermelon to hack up.
In addition to the blade looks, the watch case also features something that Seiko calls blade polishing. The mirror polished surfaces are done in a special technique that gives them a superior shine and polish compared to most of what is out there. I got to see a little side-by-side discussing the differences and I agree that the Seiko blade polish system is easily superior. The polishing is done by hand, and another touch of luxury that is easy to appreciate.
Ananta watches are big, at 46mm wide (and between about 14mm - 16mm thick depending on the model). Still, the watch fits well, and doesn't slide around. Even on smaller Japanese wrists the watches looked good, and will look good on your wrists too. They make a wonderful statement, are and built just as you'd expect from a luxury Seiko watch. The cases are in a few parts, while the case is secured with screws to the bezel part. Thus, there is no real caseback piece. This allows for the back to be very smooth and curved a bit. The case is further 100 meters water resistant. Plus, to remove glare, the sapphire crystal is anti-reflective (AR) coated.
The bracelet on the watches are really well done. Lighter than you'd expect, but done so on purpose to enhance comfort. Still, the links are all solid and very well polished - they are also close together, with the bracelet having mostly no gaps. The links have interesting beveled edges that increase the sense of style. While the watches have a functional feel, they are the antithesis of boring, and this concept carries over to the bracelet. The bracelet has a push-button locking clasp and a great looking "Seiko" logo engraved on the clasp. The watches are also available with an alligator strap - also with a folding clasp.
The watch is really all about the dial - which looks great. First and foremost for Seiko is function. As you can see the Chronograph and GMT models are extremely easy to use and read. For a simpler look you can go with the GMT model. It has the time, date, GMT hand, and a power reserve indicator. Very clean lines, and impressively bold, yet beautiful. The chronograph model adds a 12 hour chronograph to the mix, with the chronograph subdials being stacked for the easiest reading possible (all the chronograph hands are also red). Let me tell you why Seiko high-end chronographs are the best on the market to use (in my humble opinion). First, the chronograph movements utilize a column wheel and vertical clutch (if you don't know what these are, that is OK, but they are things you want in a chronograph movement). In addition to being accurate (and actually increasing the power reserve time on the Spring Drive watches!) they utilize a "ready, set, go" feature. The chronograph pushers have a two-stage operation. Let me explain this simple but important concept. Press the chronograph start/stop pusher down and you feel a gentle springy resistance until it comes to the first stop. You've just gone from "ready" to "set." Then press down a bit more and you start the chronograph. The chronograph starts precisely when you press the pusher down the second time, without any lag time. This way you start the chronograph at just the right time, and it feels so nice! The second you try it, you'll be sold - I was. It might even make you use the chronograph function much more than normal. The chronograph is also used for the tachyemeter scale on the bezel. That is a function no on uses. A limited edition version of the Ananta Spring Drive Chronograph a clean, bare bezel.