Grand Seiko Roadshow at AZ Fine Time – Highlights

Mountains in Suwa near Shinshu Watch Studio in 9R65

Ahhh, the wonders of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive.  We have here the 9R65 caliber, produced at Shinshu watch studio in Japan.  This movement, and its variants, are truly special in many ways.  Not only the worlds most accurate movement driven by a mainspring, but completely in-house manufactured and assembled by hand at Shinshu in Suwa, a part of the Nagano prefecture.  The Japanese alps surrounding the studio are expressed in the top plate of the movement, which is one of many subtle attributes to Grand Seiko that collectors admire.  Last Friday, Dec 13th 2013, Arizona Fine Time was fortunate enough to share the tremendous skill it takes to build a Grand Seiko Spring Drive movement during our 4th annual Grand Seiko Roadshow featuring Master Watchmaker Junya Kamijo!

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Mr. Kamijo assembled the 9R86 Spring Drive Chronograph movement here in our retail store, which consists of 416 parts and 50 jewels.  Customers watched in amazement as Mr. Kamijo built the 9R86 right in front of their eyes, making it appear easy.  As one of only 3 watchmakers actually assembling the chronograph GMT movement, you could imagine his qualifications are far above standard.

9R86 Spring Drive Chronograph GMT movement assembly watchmaking

9R86 Spring Drive Chronograph GMT movement assembly watchmaking

9R86 Spring Drive Chronograph GMT movement assembly watchmaking

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Grand Seiko movement assembly

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

9R86 Spring Drive Chronograph GMT movement assembly watchmaking

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT SBGC001 Dial

9R86 Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT movement

9R86 Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT movement column wheel

9R86 Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT movement

The party was a tremendous success with customers visiting from all over the country just to see the “behind the scenes” magic that is Grand Seiko.  We couldn’t have asked for a better turn out and sincerely appreciate everyone who attended the event.

Grand Seiko Roadshow 2013 at AZ Fine Time

Grand Seiko Roadshow 2013 at AZ Fine Time

Grand Seiko Roadshow 2013 at AZ Fine Time

Grand Seiko Roadshow 2013 at AZ Fine Time

Grand Seiko Roadshow 2013 at AZ Fine Time

Grand Seiko Roadshow 2013 at AZ Fine Time

Grand Seiko Roadshow 2013 at AZ Fine Time

Customers who made purchases during the event received autographs from Mr. Kamijo.  I have to say… He gave out a lot of autographs that evening!

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo

Grand Seiko Watchmaker Junya Kamijo autograph for customer

Another great aspect of the night was the presentation table, where you get to see Grand Seiko’s parts, literally under a microscope.  Here’s a shot of the integrated circuit that is used to translate the frequency of the quartz oscillator to the electro-magnetic brake, which regulates the glide wheel, providing the supreme accuracy and smooth gliding motion of Spring Drive.  A lot of technology in a tiny little piece.

Integrated Circuit  for Grand Seiko

And a slightly less close up of the IC.

Integrated Circuit  for Grand Seiko Spring Drive The quartz oscillator itself.

Grand Seiko OscillatorBelow is theglassy metal core of the coil which is 18 layers of 25 micron thick amorphous.  The coil wound around the core is perfectly aligned wound around the coil block an amazing 25,00o times.  This along with the difficult to manufacture amorphous core is what makes Spring Drive so efficient when it comes to electrical energy.

25 micron thick amorphous core and coil block

The 9R65’s mainspring is made of an in-house developed alloy called Spring 510, giving it an impressive 72 hour power reserve off of only one barrel.

Spron 510 mainspring for 9R65 movment

Barrel for Spron 510 mainspring for 9R65 movment

Spron 510 mainspring for 9R65 movment

The shots below are of the 9R65 caliber, from many different angles, giving you a slightly better idea on placement of parts as well as quality of finish.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R65 Movement

Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R65 Movement

Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R65 Movement Glide Wheel

Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R65 Movement

Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R65 Movement

Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R65 Movement

Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9R65 Movement

A close up shot of the 9F62 high accuracy quartz movement.  This rarely seen movement boasts a +/- 10 second a year accuracy rating due to thermo-compensation of the quartz crystal (which it checks and corrects 540 times a day), 50 year service life internally due to its “super sealed cabin”, increased toque to drive heavy metal hands and still maintain a 3 year battery life due to its twin pulse motor, has a backlash auto-adjust to ensure the hand stops exactly on the marker with no vibration, and even a “pacing switch” to manually adjust accuracy.  This movement is also made at Shinshu.

Grand Seiko 9F62 HAQ Quartz Movement

Next we get into the insides of the 9S mechanical movements made at Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio in Morioka Japan. First is the 9S65 Mechanical Automatic with a rate of 28,800 bph.

9S85 Grand Seiko Mechanical Hi-Beat Automatic movement

The mainspring utilized is the same Spring 510 alloy used in Spring Drive.  This ultra resilient alloy also allows for a 72 hour power reserve on the 9S65.

Spron 510 mainspring for 9S65 mechanical movment

The hairspring used is also labeled as Spron, but the 610 instead of 510.  The alloy is so durable, we actually saw it stretched to its limits at last years Roadshow and it recoiled perfectly flat, where as other hairsprings become completely uncoiled and deformed.

Spron 610 Hairspring Balance Wheel

Here is the 9S85 Hi-Beat caliber.  This 36,000 bph movement brings the highest accuracy in a purely mechanical watch, while still maintaing its durability.

9S65 Grand Seiko Mechanical Automatic

The hairspring on this model is the same Spring 610 utilized in the 9S65, but swings much faster.

Spron 610 Hairspring Balance Wheel - MEMS Pallet Fork Escapement Gear

The escapement system all by its lonesome.  Truly incredible technology has allowed for the immaculate construction of the pallet fork and escapement wheel.  The use of MEMS (Micro Electrical Mechanical Systems) allows the manufacturing of parts that are 10 times the durability of traditionally machined parts.
Spron 610 Hairspring Balance Wheel - MEMS Pallet Fork Escapement Gear

The mainspring used is the Spron 530 alloy.  This material provides a 55 hour power reserve on the higher torque, higher frequency movement.

Spron 530 mainspring for 9S85 mechanical Hi-Beat movmentBelow you will see the case assembly for the SBGH001 9S85 Hi-Beat.  The mirror finished polish is thanks to the very few craftsmen who spend an abundance of time polishing by hand.

Case for SBGH001

The bezel is also finished in the katana blade hand polishing technique called “Zaratsu”.

Bezel of SBGH001

Seiko also manufactures the sapphire crystal in-house.  A good majority of this ultra clear, distortion free crystal is thanks to Seiko’s optics division Seiko Optical Products Co. LTD.

Seiko in-house Sapphire Crystal

Seiko in-house Sapphire Crystal

Seiko in-house Sapphire Crystal

Seiko in-house Sapphire Crystal

The case back of the SBGH001 (as well as many others) use sapphire crystal with a very subtle hologram of the Grand Seiko lion logo.

SBGH001 Case Back with Grand Seiko Hologram

The hands of Grand Seiko’s are also polished by hand and brought to the mirror Zaratsu finish.  The 5 facet diamond cut hands provide greater legibility at night, catching the slightest bit of light, and making it glimmer like a diamond.

Diamond Cut hands for Grand Seiko

a close up of the dial of the SBGH0o1, which uses the same multi-faceted, Zaratsu finish technique to add to legibility on the indexes.  The dial process itself is incredibly elaborate, with 12 steps to complete its unique silvery radial sunburst finish.

Dial for SBGH001

Towards the end of the night, Seiko gathered a group of people in the room and Regional Vice President Rick Rowlands started to make a speech.  Much to my surprise, the boys from Seiko awarded me with the new Seiko Astron GPS Kintaro Hattori Limited Edition for “outstanding support”.   The watch was presented to me by Mr. Shunji Tanaka, who from what I understand is in charge of global sale of Astron.  All I can say is that I am still surprised, incredibly honored, and truly grateful!  From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU SEIKO for this wonderful gift!

Seiko Astron GPS Kintaro Hattori at AZ Fine Time

Seiko Astron GPS Kintaro Hattori at AZ Fine Time

The picture below is with Mr. Tanaka, Mr. Yosh Kawada (President of Seiko USA), myself, and Mitchel Hirsh (owner of AZ Fine Time).  If you can’t tell, I’m incredibly excited with that huge goofy grin on my face!

Seiko Astron GPS Kintaro Hattori at AZ Fine TimeWe’d sincerely like to thank all of Seiko for putting on such an amazing event.  A very special thank you to all the great guys from Seiko who attended the event (from left to right) Mr. Keith “Don Kiki” Oda, Mr. Rick Rowlands, Mr. Yosh Kawada, Mr. Junya Kamijo, Mr. Shunji Tanaka, Mr. Shu Yoshino, and Mr. Kinya Iwami.  All of your hard work is truly appreciated!

Staff from Seiko USA and Seiko Japan

We’d also like to thank our friends Jessica from TimeZone.com and Paul Hubbard from ABlogtoWatch.com for attending the event.  Always a pleasure!

Most importantly… I would sincerely like to thank all of our customers who attended the event, participated in the event online, and who have supported us over the years… Your support and friendship means the world to us!!!

Staying “ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE REST”!!

Staff from Seiko USA, Seiko Japan, and AZ Fine Time

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!

Please check out our video below of Junya Kamijo working on the 9R86 movement…

Highlights from the Grand Seiko Roadshow 2012

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I have to say, there is nothing like seeing one of the finest Grand Seiko watchmakers put together a 9S85 Hi-Beat movement right in front of you.  The focus and attention it requires is much more than one can expect.  Especially, when there are crowds of people around you taking pictures and talking to you.  Even in these conditions, Mr. Ito from Shizuku-Ishi Watch Studio, kept a calm and steady hand when assembling this spectacular movement and even managed to crack jokes and explain the steps of what he was doing.  If you have never attended one of the Grand Seiko Roadshows, start planning your trips to AZ Fine Time for next year!

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The start of the day here was hectic.  Cleaning and organizing for this event can be a bear, but was well worth it.  The staff from Seiko USA and Seiko Japan came early to start setting up.  We met with our friends from Seiko USA and were introduced to Mr. Tsutomu Ito from Shizuku-Ishi and to Mrs. Mari Oshikiri, the sales and marketing manager for the Seiko Watch Corporation in Tokyo.  Both were very nice, humble and also seemed very happy to be in the beautiful AZ weather.  Mari was fluent in English and translated for Mr. Ito during the event.

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Once all the displays were set up and everyone was comfortable, people were floating around the store checking out all the exhibits showing off all of the incredible technology that Seiko utilizes to manufacture all the parts and alloys that come together to build a Grand Seiko mechanical.  From the Spron alloys to the MEMS manufactured parts, Seiko not only proves they are one of the only true vertical manufactures in the watch industry, but also create some of the finest parts a mechanical movement can have.

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Once Mr. Ito started building the movement, the jaws started dropping.  I think everyone was impressed not only with how steady his hand was, but how quickly he was able to assemble it.  The highlight to everyone in attendance was when the Spron 610 hairspring was dropped into place and Mr. Ito yelled, “It’s alive!”.  This was a 1st to see at a Grand Seiko Roadshow as every other event, the watchmaker built a Spring Drive, which has a tri-synchro regulator as opposed to a traditional escapement.

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One of my favorite parts of the event was when Mr. Ito demonstrated the resilience of the Spron 610 hairspring used in the escapement of Grand Seiko.   In the pictures and video below, you can see how the Spron 610, retains its original shape after being stretched out, while the common hairspring becomes distorted after the stretch.  Just another proving factor that GS has some of the finest quality hairspring on the market.

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Check out the video below…

One of the other cool highlights of the evening was the accuracy testing machine.  We put a bunch of different watches on the machine, to see how accurate, or in-accurate, other watches were.  Needless to say, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat was the most accurate of the bunch, testing between 0 and 3 seconds a day in different positions.   Most others were in the range of 10+ sec a day.

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We would like to thank everyone who attended in store, participated online with the live feed, and our great customers who purchased for the event.  A big thanks to our friends at Seiko USA for coming out to visit and contributing to another success, and a very special thank you to Mr. Ito and Mrs. Oshikiri,  our guests who traveled all the way from Japan to attend the event.

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See all the pictures below…