Seiko Ananta Diver 130th Anniversary Limited Edition SRQ013

To commemorate Seiko’s 130th Anniversary, Seiko brought two of Japan’s oldest forms of artistry to the Ananta series, applying them to one very special limited edition… SRQ013.

Zaratsu or “blade” polishing is something found the rest of the Ananta brand as well as Grand Seiko. For those not familiar, the Zaratsu technique is the beautiful, yet labor intensive, polishing you will generally find in high quality katana blades. This over 800 year old craft is done by hand and leaves the blade (or watch) with a true mirror finish. For the blades, this is used to help defensively to show reflections around corners and offensively to reflect sunlight and blind enemies.

You will notice the pushers are different in this image. They are now ready to use the chronograph.

What truly separates this piece from most others in the Ananta series (exception being SPS009), is that Seiko uses an in house, black hard coating process similar to PVD coating. This gives the case and bracelet a beautiful black matte finish. The Zaratsu polishing on this black coating gives the piece an unusual, polished lacquer type finish in certain areas of the watch. It creates tremendous detail and also helps lead me into the next artistic attribute of the piece, the dial.

The dial of the SRQ013 is done by Mr. Isshu Tamura, who is highly renowned for his traditional Kaga Maki-E lacquer & Yamanaka Maki-E lacquer ware. The Kaga Maki-E lacquering process dates back as far as the 1620’s and is still used prevalently today. More commonly used in dinner ware, the black lacquer is hand painted on, layer after layer, and then polished out completely hand. As you would guess, it is very time consuming and takes true dedication. Overall, it gives a deep, jet black and glossy finish to the product. Mr. Tamura has individually applied this process to all 700 dials in this limited edition.

Traditionally, you will see most Kaga Make-I lacquer items with gold or silver powder decorations, even mother of pearl. Mr. Tamura has an extensive background with many different items, but his work with Sailor pens of Japan, which started in 1992, is some of the most amazing I’ve seen. On the right hand side of the image above, you will see his “Sessho Fuji” Winter limited edition of 50 from 1997. There were 4 variations (each to represent one season) and were near $5,000 per pen.

This Seiko is not Mr. Tamura’s 1st dial creation in the watch world. His work, generally more elaborate, can be seen in some high-end Swiss manufactures, such as BOVET. For Seiko, however, there was intention behind the pure black dial in the Ananta. The black lacquer gives the piece much clarity and legibility, which would be lost if there were gold decorations applied. The dial truly does have tremendous depth. It allows the lumed indexes and hands to really jump out of the dial. One of my most favored attributes of the dial is that if you look very close, under bright light and with an eye loupe, you can see light brush strokes in the dial. This, to me, gives the dial the true “hand made” feel and makes each dial unique to itself.

Mr. Tamura is certified as a Traditional Craft Artist by the Minister of International Trade and Industry, a member of the Kanazawa Lacquer Art Association, and a Trustee of the Kanazawa Lacquer ware Trade Association. His studio is in Kanazawa, one of the most renowned regions for this traditional craft.

The SRQ013 is the housing behind a new and spectacular movement labeled the 8R39. Seiko basically took a Grand Seiko escapement and put it to use in the highly regarded 8R28 (an in-house manufactured self-winding chronograph), creating the 8R39. Consisting of SPRON 610 for the balance wheel and MEMS generated escapement gear and pallet fork, the piece is built to sustain the extreme conditions of diving. It is highly shock resistant and anti-magnetic. The SPRON 610 alloy (developed in-house by Seiko) is one of the leading quality balance springs on the market. The MEMS technology provides for smoother, stronger constructed parts, helping prevent maintenance in the future.

Another unique quality to the movement is how it is fixed to the case. This model uses 3 clamps to secure the movement which helps add to the shock resistance. Most other chronographs only use 2.

This is another under-rated Seiko Ananta movement. While Seiko rates this piece to +25 to -15 sec a day, I have found the performance to be between 1-2 sec a day, even with the chronograph being used. I was very impressed to say the least.

There are many beautiful time pieces in our store I would love to own. This year, I chose this model to add to my personal collection. I cannot explain how much I enjoy this piece already. While sporty, the black gives an elegance to the piece that makes it perfect to wear at any time. The bracelet is done very well and is extremely comfortable. It does taper down to only 18mm, which generally I wouldn’t care for, but for some reason, it really works with this piece. It’s hefty (210g missing 2 links) and has a very smooth functioning bezel. The lume is incredible and the legibility is outstanding. One thing that really makes the watch stand out is the rose gold plated accents on piece. In an all black watch, the rose gold compliments it tremendously. It gives the watch just enough subtle character to really grab peoples attention. I personally like that they use rose gold hands for the minute and hour counter, while the actual seconds remain white and lumed like the rest of the hands. I receive compliments on it more so than any other piece in my collection. It also now holds great sentimental value to me, because I received it during one of our greatest events ever, the Grand Seiko Roadshow.

This 44mm model is Limited Edition to 700 pieces with only 35 in the US and nearly sold out. US Retail is $4,700.

I hope you all enjoyed the read!

Thanks again!

Grand Seiko Hi-Beat SBGH001 and SBGH005

A mechanical watch can have hundreds of parts, all obviously being very important. One of the most vital parts in a movement would be the escapement/balance wheel. These components regulate the accuracy of the timepiece. The escapement propels motion to the balance wheel and the balance wheel swings back and forth, acting as a pendulum, to regulate the movement of the second hand. The swinging of the balance wheel is often referred to as the “heart beat” of the watch, and with each beat, it allows the second hand to advance an allotted amount. Older watch movements had 5 beats per second (18,000 bph), advancing the second hand 5 “ticks” per second. Today, most movements have a rate of 8 beats per second (28,800 bph) or 8 advancements, that can measure up to 1/8 of a second. Starting in the late 60’s, about 12 manufactures (one being Seiko) have made 10 beat per second movements (36000 bph) that seem to be extremely difficult to find from most manufacturers today.

GSSBGH001-1 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

GSSBGH001-2 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

The overall goal of the “Hi-Beat” is accuracy. By having a higher heart rate, the second hand will progress 10 times a second (as opposed to 8) not only making the second hand appear smoother, but also giving the piece higher accuracy. One down side was that wear on the movement occurred faster due to the accelerated pace.

GSSBGH001-4 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

GSSBGH001-5 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

Seiko was the 1st in Japan to introduce a 36,000 bph movement, labeling it the 61GS. The movement 1st appeared in Grand Seiko in 1968, a year after Longines Ultra-Chron movement and a year before Zenith’s El Primero. There weren’t tons of GS’s made with Hi-Beats, but Seiko did utilize the 36000bph movement in other lines such as King Seiko, Lord Marvel, and some of their divers. Many of which are now collectors items.

GSSBGH001-6 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

GSSBGH005-4 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

Unfortunately, hi-beat watches became nearly extinct after the “Quartz Crisis” of the 1970’s-80’s. While Seiko lead the way of the “Quartz Revolution”, they did not completely forget about their mechanical timepieces, but it was certainly not their main focus. Unfortunately, Grand Seiko was a brand that suffered due to the quartz movements and production came to an end in 1975. Due to high demand, Grand Seiko reappeared in 1988 in an all Quartz format. In 1998 Grand Seiko re-introduced its 1st mechanical movements to the 2nd generation brand, but it wasn’t until 2009 when the 1st Hi-Beat Caliber came back to GS. It was 41 years since the last GS Hi-Beat was available and Seiko had developed the perfect tools to put inside this new introduction.

GSSBGH005-2 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

GSSBGH005-7 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

The SBGH001 & 005 are the 1st to contain the new and improved Hi-Beat 9S85 movement. Over the years, Seiko’s technology has come a long way and it truly reflects in these pieces. The balance wheel/hairspring (which generally sustains the most damage in a Hi-Beat) is made from Seiko’s in-house developed SPRON 610 alloy. The SPRON 610 has twice the strength, durability and shock resistance compared to previous alloys. It’s also 3 times more anti-magnetic. It seems as if the alloy was developed specifically for the intense motions found in the Hi-Beat.

GSSBGH005-8 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

GSSBGH005-9 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

Another major contributing factor is the way the parts are manufactured (mainly the escapement gear and pallet fork). Seiko utilizes MEMS technology (which Seiko Instruments Inc. has been developing for decades) for the manufacturing of the escapement gear. Micro Electrical Mechanical Systems allow Seiko to make smoother, lighter and harder precision parts. Another benefit is that, because of MEMS, the gear can store and distribute lubricants over a longer course of time, preventing the quick deterioration generally caused by 10 beat movements.

GSSBGH005-1 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

The SPRON alloy is not only used for the balance wheel, but a variation SPRON 530, is used for the mainspring to give the watch a 55 hour power reserve on only one barrel. The 530 alloy makes the mainspring more durable, shock resistant, anti-magnetic and can also withstand the extra torque needed to make the rate 36000 bph.

GSSBGH005-3 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

As you know, a key element to Grand Seiko is accuracy. To ensure these pieces have the highest accuracy, Seiko developed the Grand Seiko Standard back in 1960 (when the 1st Grand Seiko was developed). The standard used today was established in 1998 and still involves more tests in more positions and at more temperatures than today’s Chronometer standards. Six positions, rather than 5. 3 temperatures, rather than 2. 17 days rather than 15, and they are also rated to +5/-3 sec a day as opposed to +6/-4. Each GS Mechanical comes with a certificate stating the watch has passed all testing required for the GS Standard.

GSSBGH001-7 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

While there is beautiful decoration to the movement, the exterior of these pieces are finished immaculately as well. Seiko has 5 master craftsmen working in their factory in Suwa, Nagano Japan to execute this unique finish. Zaratsu polishing is the same technique used on Katana blades and produces a mirror finish. It is truly incredible. As in other Grand Seiko’s, the hands and index markers are brought to razor sharp edges with Zaratsu polishing to create a radiance almost like a diamond. This allows the smallest amount of light (a good example being moonlight) to be picked up and reflected, making the watch more legible at night. This is one of the reasons you do not see too much lume in Grand Seiko.

GSSBGH001-3 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

The SBGH001 has a silver type dial, similar to the champagne in texture, but much more white. In most lighting, the dial appears to be a matte white color, but if you angle it the right way and look close enough, there is a sunburst silver pattern that is quite stunning. The blue second hand also adds tons of character to an already gorgeous piece.

GSSBGH005-6 by JoeAZFT, on Flickr

The SBGH005 is very subtle, but very unique. As the 001, the dial appears to be a flat matte finish (except black instead of white), but in reality is incredibly detailed. In direct sunlight, or any bright light shining directly on the face, you will notice a texture. It almost seems to be similar to a wood grain. It takes a very close look to notice, but is well worth it. I personally think it is one of the most unique dials in the GS series. The black has incredible contrast with the stainless steel hands, making it incredibly legible. Legibility is another one of the key elements to all Grand Seiko pieces.

GSHoligram by JoeAZFT, on Flickr
If you look closely, you can see a portion of the illusive GS logo hologram found in the sapphire crystal case-back.

Please feel free to check out the YouTube video I posted to see these mechanical masterpieces in motion. It is one of the smoothest actions I’ve seen in a mechanical.


The Hi-Beat movement is truly something special. It’s pure mechanical at its finest and has an incredible history. Spring Drive is one of my favorite movements, but the quality of these Hi-Beats really shine through. If you’re into accuracy and aren’t into Spring Drive (or more likely already own some and want something different), this is an amazing piece to add to your collection.

Wishing everybody a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2012! Thank you for all your support!

Joe @ AZ Fine Time