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Video Shows Peek At Grand Seiko 9S Movement Manufacturing

Here’s another fun video from Seiko, this time bringing us a rare, if brusque, peek at Grand Seiko watches being manufactured from start to finish, specifically with a focus on the 9S movement family. We recently also brought you a video (and making-of video) where Seiko micro-engineers applied their talents to creating a horologically themed and sized Rube Goldberg machine. These short videos help bring a much needed sense of personality and connection to the brand for enthusiasts who can sometimes see Seiko’s exquisite work as pristinely cold.

For Seiko, 9S basically refers to Grand Seiko’s current range of mechanical movements, alongside 9F quartz and 9R Spring Drive movements. The 9S movements are found in a range of watches and include basic hand-wound and automatic three-hand movements with date, all the way to Hi-Beat (5Hz) and Hi-Beat GMT movements. Seiko seems to grasp the idea that using media like this to show exactly how its products are made and why they have value can create excitement and desire among the population that would be interested in buying Grand Seiko watches.

Video Shows Peek At Grand Seiko 9S Movement Manufacturing Inside the Manufacture

The video shows a lot, but some of the labels used throughout might benefit from explanation. What, for example, is “Spron” (1:05) or “Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems” (1:52)? Spron is a cobalt-nickel alloy created by Seiko, and they claim it has “superior elasticity, great strength, and high heat and corrosion resistance,” resulting in hairsprings that are more resilient to shock and magnetism with greater stability and accuracy over time. Seiko is one of the very few watch brands that can claim to be “fully integrated,” producing every part of the watch in-house, including their own escapements and even hairsprings – something most Swiss companies outsource to specialists. ETA, for instance, gets hairsprings from Swatch sister company Nivarex.

Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (or MEMS) comes from a semiconductor manufacturing technology that allows, according to Seiko, extreme precision for producing very small components in the 9S movements. MEMS is used to make the escape wheel and pallet in the 9S65 movement that is found in the Grand Seiko SBGR077 & SBGR079 watches (hands-on here), for instance. At 2:14 in the video, “Rh” stands for rhodium, and we can see movement plates on a rack emerging from their electrochemical bath, which will provide them resistance to corrosion along with the spectacular polished sheen visible through the casebacks of many Grand Seiko watches.

Video Shows Peek At Grand Seiko 9S Movement Manufacturing Inside the Manufacture

Moving on from the high-tech and industrial component manufacturing, the video takes us to Seiko’s Shizuku-ishi Watch Studio in snowy northeastern Japan, in Morioka. This is where Grand Seiko 9S movements are hand-assembled, tested, and individually inspected. The Grand Seiko Standard is an in-house testing process that seems designed to best Switzerland’s COSC chronometer certification at almost every metric – perhaps worth exploring in greater depth in another article. Finally, we see a fully completed Grand Seiko Hi-Beat watch placed on the customer’s wrist… The video is cute and not overly slick, seeming to emphasize the substance of the product over some kind of lifestyle positioning – a sign they are perhaps embracing their status as a watchnerd’s brand. seiko.co.jp

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  • ??????

    Wow. That’s one cool manufacture! Now I want GS even more madly than before. Specifically liked that little attention to details brought to the max: even the inner side of main plate (which nobody can see!) is accurately engraved with GS symbol. Why? There is no common sense to do it. But I do like it!

    • It’s like the very high end Swiss brands that finish all surfaces of parts, even the sides you can’t see unless you do a complete tear down of the movement. Two reasons I suspect. First, it’s a prestige thing that every surface of every part is treated like a jewel of the watchmaker’s art. Second is a historical reason – beveling (on wheels) was done to reduce friction and to remove burrs. Geneva stripes were meant to catch any dust and keep it away from the going train. And anglage on plates and other surface treatments were intended to remove burrs (that might later fall into the gears or escapement) and also to reduce oxidation down the road. Or so they say…

      • Raymond Wilkie

        You learn something new every day……………..

      • ??????

        I heard about initial (practical) meaning of beveling, anglage, Geneva stripes; but it is hard to imagine that today manufactures are spending so much resources and time to gather dust or to reduce the oxidation. I believe it is >99% for simple beaty and traditions and <1% for something else – since we have so many novel materials to coat the metal to prevent the oxidation and technologies to capsulate watches with extreme cleanliness and no dust. But we still love this traditional approach, it makes watches very special and warm.

        • Concur – its about tradition and perceived quality these days (not real function reasons). Cheers.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    It’s nice to know my GS production technically, is no more impressive than producing a loaf of bread..

    • Berndt Norten

      ??

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I just can see anything special in it, with all its machine cut pats and rows and rows off busy wee workers putting them all together. You wonder about how much they paid a commercial agency to come up with ” Moving ahead, touching hearts “. And to put the word grand on anything, i think a little presumptuous. Would i wear it it, sure , its a lovely looking watch, but keep it real.

        • Berndt Norten

          I see your points. somehow the Swiss get away with marketing hype to a greater extent

        • Nateb123

          You get that this is what all manufactures are like, if not less impressive, right?

          Most major Swiss brands’ videos would be receiving a shipment of parts from outsourced suppliers with the brand’s name stamped on them, then assembling, testing and that’s it

          Go to those suppliers’ operations and they’re just pumping out as much as they can, much of the work being done through casting parts or CNC machining plates. No one is hand polishing and very little inspection is done. This is a serious cut above.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            I get it all..

          • Nateb123

            To know and to understand. The difference has never been more clear.

    • Yeah, wonderfully made boring watches. The irony, as you pointed out, it that there is modern industrial production married with rows of human in bunny suits doing inspection and assembly – yet Japan is a nation that prizes the individual craftsman (which is not shown in this video). If they had instead highlighted the GS master watchmakers the video might do better with the home market. But with English titles, I guess this video is intended for foreign markets.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I have no issue about the assembly of any timepiece be it $50 or %500,000, i know what am buying into and sure, if i had the money i would be sucked into it all getting all sorts just because i could.Man made, machine made…….it’s all about style for me.

  • JimBob

    “electromagnetic chemical bath”
    lol!

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Exactly

  • Horlogère Addict

    When is the giveaway? I’ll fly to Japan to pick mine up if I need to.

  • laup nomis

    I’ve seen this video before, probably you-tube. I remember it and the music.
    Seiko have a really strong design language. Whether its a GS, 5, diver, whatever, you can always tell its a Seiko from the way it looks. The basic GS look hasn’t changed for decades, I think for a lot of people that makes it boring, as its such a well known/ubiquitous look.
    I’m totally biased, I grew up wearing a succession of Seiko’s. So for me Seiko just means ‘watch’.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Me to. 2nd to timex .

  • John William Salevurakis

    Cool video and made cooler when you think that GS produces so few watches per year. I have a theory that they actually lose money on GS as they lack the economies of scale but let the rest of the Seiko world subsidize GS production.

  • BNABOD

    I truly do love my GS GMT. The finish is spectacular the movement is very nice to look at while not spectacular, the accuracy is pretty incredible and the size is comfortable. it is however the only GS I really like the others are bland to me and while GS at its core is “understated elegance” I tend to be into more sporty looks.

  • Ulysses31

    It’s nice seeing these being made. They look more enticing somehow in this setting. Cultural perceptions and stereotypes hold the brand back; it has very little to do with their skill and dedication. What annoys me is that Seiko has experimented heavily over the decades with new mechanical watch designs. There’s an interesting video floating around somewhere that features all Seiko prototype watches in order of increasing beats-per-second. Some of them are crazy fast. Yet Tag can put out watches like that and Seiko can’t be bothered, preferring to play it safe all the time. I love Seiko but there comes a point where you have to leave people with no doubt that you are superior to, or at least equal to, most of the competition. Until they do this, people will continue to doubt the brand.

  • Steve Kosovich

    At least it’s worth watching the beautiful Japanese young ladies and their sexy eyes!!?

  • bullo

    Why do you reupload the video instead of linking to the original?

    • whatwhat??

      exactly. They wouldn’t like it if others copy and reupload their videos without full citation and link to the original source.

      worse yet, a red ‘watch’ watermark logo is place at bottom right hand corner. that’s passing off as though they have the rights to the video.