Grand Seiko have spent many years refining the level of accuracy within their world-class timepieces. Recognised as producers of one of the most accurate watch movements on the globe, the brand’s philosophy is heavily supported through three of their finest, cutting-edge innovations; the 9F Quartz, the 9R Spring Drive and the 9S Mechanical. Here we take an in-depth journey into these three Grand Seiko masterpieces to understand more about what makes these elite and expertly skilled watch makers a cut above the rest.
The 9F generates an exceptionally high torque considered that it is in fact a quartz. As with all quartz movements, their performances offer excellent precision, yet only thin hands with considerably lower legibility can normally be installed and rotated due to a weaker torque. The engineers at Grand Seiko increased the frequency of pulse signals which are reached by the rotor to almost double what a standard quartz movement can offer, so that their thicker, heavy and highly legible hands can be distributed around the dial with ease. The temperature control system built with Grand Seiko quartz watches have been produced so that they use minimal battery drain and if that isn’t enough, the crystal set inside the quartz oscillator is in-house produced and therefore the finest in purity. All of Grand Seiko Quartz crystals are selected after a process of “aging” where only the strongest are selected after a voltage is applied for a period of time at a set temperature and humidity. One of the main disadvantages of standard quartz movements is that the watches are designed so that the second hand does not point directly to the centre of each second index. With the Grand Seiko quartz models, the seconds hand achieves this effortlessly. The Grand Seiko Quartz Watch SBGX063J is the perfect example of the brand’s remarkable precision with an ultra high-speed date changing mechanism which flicks from one date to the next in 1/2000 of a second. The 9F quartz movement takes electronic and mechanical technique to a new level of perfection!
It has always been considered impossible to create a mechanical watch which performs with the same precision as a quartz movement – that was, until Grand Seiko mastered it with the 9R Spring Drive! In contrast to the 9F Quartz movement, many mechanical watches can generate high torque however, find themselves extremely vulnerable to external factors. The performance of the Spring Drive is achieved through the implementation of a quartz oscillator. It takes the best of both worlds – precision and mechanical mastery. Balanced by a spring drive regulator, ideals are kept constant so that the electromagnetic break applies just the correct amount of pressure to allow the gear wheel train to transmit the rotational motion of the mainspring to the generating rotor. This in turn reciprocates the back and forth motion of the balance wheel and for a highly complex mechanism, effectively drives the same weight of the hands found in a mechanical watch whilst the quartz oscillator keeps its precision – genius! To allow for these processes to operate on as little power as possible yet still retain additional energy for sophisticated control, various components have been coated in silicone which reduces power consumption. Strong electromagnetic brakes also decelerate rotor rotation when gravitational acceleration is detected – Grand Seiko’s in-house shock absorbing feature! Although taking 25 years to achieve, the Grand Seiko 9R Spring Drive is undoubtedly the pinnacle of 21st Century, Japanese-manufacturing advanced technology.
Whilst the 9F Quartz and 9R Spring Drive are produced by Seiko Epson, the 9S Mechanical is created by Seiko Instruments. The company adopted the same approach to refining their products to a level of ultimate excellence in the same way as was achieved with the 9F Quartz and 9R Spring Drive. Grand Seiko discovered that the escapement parts were too heavy to allow for the exceptional performance that the brand had envisaged, therefore they decided to lighten the weight of constituents such as the pallet and escape wheel. Increasing the overall efficiency of the watch via precision and improving the power reserve meant that the capability of the drive movement suddenly blossomed into limitless possibilities! Whilst many rival watch brands began to copy previous Grand Seiko ideas such as the silicone components for the lightness in weight, the company held back on a silicone escapement for the 9S Mechanical watches and this is simply because, for Grand Seiko, the standards were just not good enough! Grand Seiko were already looking ahead for new innovations and had by this time, discovered that nickel can improve not only the precision and power reserve, but also the antimagnetic qualities of the watch.
Among the many discoveries and successes claimed by the remarkable forward-thinking Japanese company, Grand Seiko still remain loyal to their promise in providing watches of ultimate beauty and sophisticated elegance. This can only be made possible by their unique selection of high grade materials and supreme finishes which make Grand Seiko watches the cream of the crop when it comes to masters of timekeeping instruments.
More information on all of the Grand Seiko’s models can be found here.