Grand Seiko has undoubtedly become the pinnacle of Seiko’s watchmaking achievements. The manufacturers of immense in-house capability and masters of every imaginable watch component, are considered one of the most recognisable watch brands for producing the best timepieces the world has ever experienced. Grand Seiko can make this statement simply because it is true! There is no denying that their technologies are world-leading, that their precision-perfecting determination is unshakable and grows in strength and confidence with each new ground breaking discovery, or that their values for quality and loyalty are eternal. Grand Seiko have been nourishing their knowledge and enriching their experience in “true manufacturing” for 55 years with their refined skills becoming most memorably recognised by their 2014 award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve after producing the Grand Seiko Hi-beat GMT. But their passion for raising the pure essentials in mechanical engineering to the level of art has been evolving within their two Shizuku-ishi Watch Studios in Japan for a number of years before this milestone was achieved.
Fostering the concept behind Grand Seiko’s success, the watch maker’s philosophy begins and ends with “simplicity” and as with all of the brand’s innovations, the Spring Drive was born as a representation of this ethos. The development of the Spring Drive was fuelled by the inspiration taken from nature itself. The belief that time should mimic the crossing over of the planets within the heavens– effortless, elegant and with a continual silence. Cultivated by one genius engineer, Yoshikazu Akahane, the masterpiece took over twenty years to invent, albeit worth the wait! The Grand Seiko Spring Drive took over 600 prototypes before the finalised design succeeded in technological excellence, supreme precision and advanced capability. In 1999 the Grand Seiko Spring Drive was born and expressed through the idea that it was and still remains, the only watch in the world to tell the time as nature itself intends. Adopting these essential characteristics allowed for Grand Seiko to embrace the opportunity to provide global watch lovers with a luxury chronograph via a completely new platform. With the Spring Drive, elapsed time is recorded precisely rather than to the nearest fraction, resulting in a highly-refined time keeping tool that delivers an accuracy of one second-per-day. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive features a column wheel for precision operation, vertical clutch for optimum accuracy and a 12 hour elapsed time measurement. Even when the world’s greatest chronograph is in use, the weapon still ensures 72 hours of power reserve. The hand arrangement consisting of 50 jewels, 140 oil points and five individually differing lubricants, consists of 416 separate parts with hands that move in a perfect gliding motion. The 1977 elusive dream of the “everlasting watch” became instant reality, which not only embodied traditional craftsmanship but also allowed for watch lovers around the world to appreciate a work of art that had been nurtured from conception, to its finalised box presentation.
The Spring Drive still remains the most reliable work of brilliance to be powered by mainspring to this day. The precious responsibility shared by the talented watch makers at the Grand Seiko head quarters lives on, shaping the way for the future of these unprecedented mechanical tools of time. The year of 1960 will always mark the birth of the first ever Grand Seiko watch, yet it is the years ahead which hold the secrets of the Spring Drive’s horological advancements.
More information on Grand Seiko’s entire Spring Drive collection can be found here.