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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
And a slightly less close up of the IC.
The quartz oscillator itself.
Below 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The hairspring on this model is the same Spring 610 utilized in the 9S65, but swings much faster.
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.
The mainspring used is the Spron 530 alloy. This material provides a 55 hour power reserve on the higher torque, higher frequency movement.
Below 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.
The bezel is also finished in the katana blade hand polishing technique called “Zaratsu”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
We’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!
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”!!
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!
Please check out our video below of Junya Kamijo working on the 9R86 movement…