The Grand Seiko Spring Drive is a quartz watch. Pause. No. OK. It’s a battery-worked watch. No once more. It’s fairly a crossover. No proprietor of a Grand Seiko Spring Drive will at any point change batteries. There are none.
While it doesn’t have the precision of an unadulterated quartz watch, it’s among the most accurate mechanical watches in the sub-$10,000 market (+/ – 1 second out of each day or less; my experience was less).
That’s what intrigued me about the Grand Seiko Spring Drive. GS is known for its craftsmanship, putting together its micro-mechanical plans with respect to tolerances down to 100th of a millimeter (think not exactly the width of a human hair). The last changes and refinement of the components are totally completed by hand.
Grand Seiko keeps up that no machine can match the expertise of its craftspeople; their ability gives Spring Drive its extraordinary precision. In the wake of investing some quality energy with it, I agree.
With this introduction, I needed to become familiar with somewhat more about the Spring Drive. Specifically, one model that caught my eye: the Blue Snowflake . Some call it the Skyflake, since blue snow is difficult to come by.
So we rang up Grand Seiko and inquired as to whether they may loan us a watch to attempt. No. Sorry. Apparently, the Blue Snowflake is too well known to even consider shipping off the media. But we can send you a non-working example. No, thanks.
I strolled into the Beverly Hills Grand Seiko store and chatted up the director Alexander Friedman and his associate, Xavier Sanchez. They were really nice. Also, indeed, they just so ended up having a Blue Snowflake – it had shown up two hours past and, lo and see, wasn’t yet represented. Lucky me.
After seven days on my wrist, here are my impressions of this watch. Reasonable admonition: I experienced passionate feelings for it on a few levels. Indeed, there are a few things I’d change, which I’ll get to. Nonetheless, these are minor compared to what this piece has to bring to the table especially at a price purpose of $5,800.
That is in no way, shape or form reasonable. Nonetheless, sub-$6,000 scarcely scrapes the section level for some manufacturers.
Grand Seiko Blue Snowflake: dial
The dial is manufactured in-house, in the company’s Shiojiri dial workshop. The snow-like effect comes from stepping the example onto a dial clear and afterward adding a few layers of somewhat translucent coating to uncover the surface beneath.
The technique is like the way the Japanese make customary water canvases. The outcome is the harsh appearance of a cold field you see on the dial.
There are the individuals who prefer no force hold indicator here. For perfectionists, its presence simply blows the entire Zen effect. A few, then again, may hesitantly accept the date window. They may not adore it, yet it is anything but an arrangement executioner either.
I comprehend. Without these two distractions the dial would be absolutely liberated from clutter, and we could appreciate the unobstructed perspective on the second hand skimming across the blue snow field. Wouldn’t that be something?
The power save meter correctly ascends from base to top as the watch slows down. Facing the left dial side, the indication moves in a clockwise direction so that all hands turn in a similar direction. It would have looked odd the alternate way around.
There’s consistently a reason
Several in the business revealed to me that there’s an explanation behind everything Grand Seiko does. Who am I to second speculation the GS designers?
Still, I figure they could have put the force save indication somewhere else or deserted it completely as opposed to clutter the wonderful dial. Repositioning or eliminating such a component of superfluous data sounds good to me given what I found out about the Spring Drive:
- If you keep it on your wrist or in a winder it won’t ever run down, much the same as an automatic watch.
- If you pick up a watch you know has a force hold indicator, you’ll glance at it prior to putting the watch on to check whether you need to wind it. Isn’t that so? Notwithstanding where the indicator is located, you actually get the equivalent information.
- As long as the Spring Drive isn’t at a dead stop, when you put it on it’ll wrap straight up in a matter of seconds and you will not need to try and take a gander at the force indicator for three days.
The hands and hour markers have wide and level surfaces. Their profoundly cleaned, reflected edges catch and reflect even the smallest beams of light. Together, dial and hands combine to create an entirely intelligible dial under most any light conditions.
The second hand ended up being one of my number one highlights. It is blued steel. Contingent upon the light, it transcends from black to an electric blue. Furthermore, it doesn’t hop from second marker to second marker like quartz watches; because of the Spring Drive, it clears in a solitary tenacious, continuous skim across the “snowy” blue dial in a much smoother route than even a high-frequency mechanical watch.
The 11 rectangular markers receive the equivalent inclined mirror cleaning, which permits them to work with the hands to reflect even the smallest measure of light. Really, the capacity to actually peruse the time in exceptionally low-light conditions is remarkable.
So far, the plan vocabulary stays consistent. The date numbers are in a slim black textual style against a white background. I can’t be certain, yet I’d say it utilizes a similar text style as the “Spring Drive” verbiage on the dial.
A nit-picky point here: I can’t help thinking about why the planners chose to utilize a white background for the date window instead of matching the dial’s blue. Indeed, even the force hold indicator utilizes the dial’s blue. Giving a similar treatment to the date window bodes well to me.
The case configuration is unadulterated classical elegance. All surfaces have the brand’s own Zaratsu reflect clean. The drags curve gracefully descending, giving the watch the perfect size appearance for my wrist.
Grand Seiko added a sapphire crystal show case back to flaunt the Spring Drive development. Splendid. Caliber 9R65 Spring Drive is a huge technical achievement that everybody needs to see. The rotor alongside a portion of the development is decorated in what the Internet has taken to begin calling “Tokyo stripes,” however what I couldn’t want anything more than to name “Shinshu waves.”
With its blue crocodile skin lash, this is definitely a dress watch that works for casual as well.
A box-formed sapphire crystal is somewhat convex and transcends the mirror cleaned bezel. Grand Seiko’s decision to utilize the more costly box crystal is declaration that no cost is saved in planning and manufacturing this piece. The crystal likewise has an enemy of reflective coating inside. This works nicely to eliminate outside glare, permitting the dial furniture to sparkle.
Strap and buckle
The lash is blue crocodile with blue stitching. It’s a nice tie – superior grade and very comfortable. Notwithstanding, there are two issues that stay unexplained concerning the lash and deployant buckle designs.
First, the tie closes in a dull curve. Why have such an exhausting finish to this story when the whole plan vocabulary on this watch bespeaks precision punctuated with sharp, pointed hands and perfect mirror wraps up? Indeed, even the markers communicate in this language with their sharp, jewel cut, right-calculated corners. So why put an unpolished end on the tie, one of the solitary parts we handle each day?
Second is the buckle. It’s a nice, serviceable deployant buckle in treated steel. The two-overlap mechanism functions admirably by squeezing two fastens on one or the other side. The buckle equipment carries a similar mirror cleaning as the case and dial furniture.
It’s a nice touch. But there’s a brush-completed steel circle appended to the buckle that the tie end passes through. This metal circle makes changing the tie length by going the end through the circle a pain.
I trust I comprehend why Grand Seiko chose to utilize a steel circle here instead of the more commonly utilized calfskin. It’s to protect the more delicate cleaning of the buckle in a region whose surface is presented to constant wear and abrasion.
The result is that the whole deployant buckle is thicker than need be. Couple that with the long tail of the OEM tie and there’s definitely more consideration attracted to this piece of the watch than needed. You cannot lay your wrist on a level surface without feeling the steel circle’s uncomfortable knock beneath.
Further, the inward wrist side of the watch seems unbalanced with both the long excess tie and the steel circle of the buckle swelling out.
Caliber 9R65 Spring Drive is currently the most norm of Grand Seiko’s 9R Spring Drive developments. Since the Spring Drive’s coming in 1999, the force holds on these have consistently improved. Today, the piece I’m looking into has a 72-hour power save that automatically twists with the barest of wrist movement.
Here’s what I realized of how the Spring Drive functions. To begin with, it has no batteries except for produces its own electrical current. This current comes from the heart loosening up. Consider how the generator for a bicycle light produces current as the wheel turns. Comparable thing here.
Spring Drive consumes the electrical current likeness 1/300,000,000 of that used to control a solitary LED bulb.
A quartz oscillator and an incorporated circuit-controlled rotor utilize the electrical force. The quartz oscillator vibrates at exactly 32,768 Hz, communicating a precise reference sign to the incorporated circuit, which compares the reference signal from the quartz oscillator with the insurgency speed of the skim wheel turning in just a single direction (clockwise, of course) instead of back and forth.
That’s the way the second hand moves with a Zen-like smooth movement over the finished cold dial.
The incorporated circuit applies a magnetic brake when the skim wheel turns excessively quick. This directs development of the hands with a precision not seen before in mechanical watches.
Grand Seiko says this watch is accurate to +/ – 1 second/day and +/ – 15 seconds out of every month. The company additionally says that proprietors frequently experience better rates. That was valid for my experience with the Blue Snowflake. It was accurate to one second ahead during the whole week I had it – on my wrist and in a watch winder.
This watch is no Rolex Submariner. Thus, indeed, it requires more care in its treatment. Of course, it wasn’t intended for the conditions the Sub was.
Grand Seiko recommends not permitting the sun to pummel on the dial for expanded periods and not presenting the watch to temperatures underneath 5°C or above 35°C.
Also, get the watch far from territories of solid attraction and static electricity. Keep it out of dusty conditions. Try not to open it to high stickiness. Lastly, no solid vibrations, please. Of course not. There’s a quartz crystal inside vibrating away at precisely 32,768 Hz.
But it is water impervious to 10 bar and without a screw-down crown.
The Grand Seiko Blue Snowflake is a phenomenal timepiece. It’s lovely. It’s uncommon and uncommon. Its plan seems straightforward yet is uniquely complex.
For me, the Snowflake is a masterpiece created by a portion of the business’ best craftsmans. The couple of issues I discovered are handily helped, and I can live with those that aren’t. Subsequent to appreciating it for some time, I’m starting to think this watch merits a place in my unassuming collection.
For more data, if it’s not too much trouble, visit www.grand-seiko.com/us-en/special/sbga407 .
Special on account of GaryG for the extraordinary photography.
Quick Facts Grand Seiko Blue Snowflake Reference SBGA407
Case: 40.2 x12.8 mm, treated steel
Dial: blue stepped “snowflake” design
Development: Seiko Spring Drive Caliber 9R65, automatic winding, power save 72 hours, 32,768 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, power save
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