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A general question for GS automatic owners, why did you buy yours and why did you choose GS over comparable Swiss brands?

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These are the factors that drew me to Grand Seiko over other brands:

  1. Spring Drive - nobody else has it and to me the concept of the movement is magical. By that I do not mean that I find the idea of the Tri Synchro Regulator magical (though it is brilliant), I mean the idea of a watch movement that progresses perfectly continuously, doesn't operate in fits and starts, and is constantly moving forward with a flawlessly smooth, truly analog sweep (yielding that incomparably smooth seconds hand).
  2. Finishing - you said "why did you choose GS over comparable Swiss brands?" In my opinion, in terms of finishing, to get a "comparable" Swiss brand you have to spend about 5 to 10 times the cost of a Grand Seiko. I don't particularly care for the styling of most Swiss brands in the first place, and those Swiss watches that I do like are not worth 5 to 10 times the cost of a Grand Seiko (to me). This is wholly subjective and may not be accurate or even fair to the Swiss brands.
  3. Style - for whatever reason lots of Seiko and Grand Seiko watches seem to resonate with me. I like their style. If I go through the Grand Seiko catalog I like most of the watches. There are a handful that I don't particularly care for but I think those tend to be the Limited Edition models where they push the boundaries of their "grammar of style" a bit. With many of the Swiss brands on the other hand I go through their catalogs and am hard pressed to find something that makes me say "ooooh, I want that". This is especially true in the 4-figure priced watches. As you move into the 5-figure priced Swiss watches it is more likely that I will find things I like, but now we're back to the question of "do you like it that much more than the Grand Seiko to justify the additional expense?" and the answer is generally "no".
 

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Same as user above.

1. Spring Drive.

I would echo the user above: to date this is the one watch movement that comes as close as it gets to representing the true nature of time, as GS puts it, and this has great appeal to me. I consider it the only real innovation in this industry since Seiko introduced Quartz in 1969.

It may not be as accurate in its measurement of time as a HAQ, but that was never the point of it (also why I find comparisons to HAQs and most other quartz watches silly), the point is to represent the "flow" of time accurately. There are other movements that get away with a visibly smooth operation of the hand; a Spring Drive movement is not necessary to achieve smoothness of the second hand because the degree of smoothness needed to satisfy our visual acuity is not very high (sort of like Apple's Retina display, beyond a certain PPI the difference is visually imperceptible without powerful magnification).

Other movements achieve this effect by an inelegant (brute force) means, like Bulova's Precisionist, where the movement is ticking discretely at a high frequency and is battery powered. In Spring Drive, the mechanism of the movement is elegant: all the motion in the movement is "gliding" in one direction - just like time - and this is what culminates in the truly smooth seconds hand.

Spring Drive contrarians will make the reasonable counter argument however that the quartz crystal is oscillating just like the balance in a mechanical escapement, the oscillations are just too small to see! Spring Drive also gets a bad rap from the same crowd who think it's a Rube Goldberg machine. As an engineer, I can think of no significantly simpler ways to achieve a mechanically-powered continuous movement operation with superb accuracy than the way Seiko has done it.

Also, a Spring Drive movement is basically a tiny power station (potential energy --> kinetic --> induced electricity (30 nanowatts)). If you're like me, it's damn cool to have a power station on your wrist. Like a power station, there is even that brief 4-5 seconds of unsteady state operation when the movement is first wound from an unwound state, where the power generated is not yet sufficient to self sustain the full movement train including IC and quartz, and the second hands glides along faster than it should before everything kicks in. It's just really cool.

2. Finishing.

User above said it best. Have to go to Lange and above to get similar dial finishing to GS, there is little else like it.

3. Style.

GS has a lot of areas to work on to be honest, but what appeals me to the most is the emphasis on simplicity. To me, the overarching design aesthetic asks the question - what happens when you remove everything except the essential and dedicate yourself to perfecting what is left? I place high value in this approach to design.
 

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Other movements achieve this effect by an inelegant (brute force) means, like Bulova's Precisionist, where the movement is ticking discretely at a high frequency and is battery powered. In Spring Drive, the mechanism of the movement is elegant: all the motion in the movement is "gliding" in one direction - just like time - and this is what culminates in the truly smooth seconds hand.

Spring Drive contrarians will make the reasonable counter argument however that the quartz crystal is oscillating just like the balance in a mechanical escapement, the oscillations are just too small to see!
Speaking of the contrarians that might make that argument, the fact that the quartz crystal in a Spring Drive is oscillating is irrelevant. Unlike any other production wristwatch, nothing in the moving parts of the Spring Drive oscillates. The movement is continuously spinning in one direction only. Nothing stops, starts, changes direction, etc.

The "oscillator" in the TSR only establishes a reference frequency that TSR compares to the frequency of the alternating current generated by the glide wheel. If the frequency of the glide wheel output is too high an electrical load is applied that causes an electromagnetic (friction free) braking effect on the glide wheel until it matches the frequency of the reference signal. This validation is done 8 times per second. But again, NO moving part oscillates. At the risk of being repetitive, nothing in the moving parts stops, starts, changes direction, etc.

Though the original Bulova Accutron (not the comparatively clunky Accutron II or Precisionist), and the Zenith Defy, move the seconds hand along at such a high frequency that the steps are imperceptible, the fact is their moving parts oscillate. They move. They stop. They change direction. They move again. They stop again. Their "sweep" is an illusion. It is not actually smooth and it is not actually continuous.

Only the Spring Drive is.
 
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GS, there is no substitute! Once you get to expierence them first hand you'll soon realize they are offering quality and finish that is at the highest level of watch making. Not 'for the money', no, for 'any money'. I do not mean the art of decorating a movement ad Infinitum but the parts you actuality get to see when a watch is on the wrist.

Ad then of course you have SD. A technology that marries mechanical precision with electrical control. I have said it elsewhere but it reminds me of how we as humans work in a similar way.
 

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Speaking of the contrarians that might make that argument, the fact that the quartz crystal in a Spring Drive is oscillating is irrelevant. Unlike any other production wristwatch, nothing in the moving parts of the Spring Drive oscillates. The movement is continuously spinning in one direction only. Nothing stops, starts, changes direction, etc.

The "oscillator" in the TSR only establishes a reference frequency that TSR compares to the frequency of the alternating current generated by the glide wheel. If the frequency of the glide wheel output is too high an electrical load is applied that causes an electromagnetic (friction free) braking effect on the glide wheel until it matches the frequency of the reference signal. This validation is done 8 times per second. But again, NO moving part oscillates. At the risk of being repetitive, nothing in the moving parts stops, starts, changes direction, etc.

Though the original Bulova Accutron (not the comparatively clunky Accutron II or Precisionist), and the Zenith Defy, move the seconds hand along at such a high frequency that the steps are imperceptible, the fact is their moving parts oscillate. They move. They stop. They change direction. They move again. They stop again. Their "sweep" is an illusion. It is not actually smooth and it is not actually continuous.

Only the Spring Drive is.
I understand how the movement operates and I do not disagree.

I said what I said with humour (I should have added an emoji next to the word "reasonable" :)). The crystal oscillation argument is one that was made to me some time ago by a fellow WIS. In his mind the crystal was a moving part because it must oscillate to provide the reference frequency. What is relevant in this comparison is the amplitude of individual vibrations, which are of the order of nanometers in Quartz (> a million times smaller than a traditional escapement). One must compare motion on equal scales in assessing what is a moving part and what isn't, so the comparison is null and void.
 

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I understand how the movement operates and I do not disagree.
Sorry, wasn't intending to lecture you, I was lecturing the hypothetical critic. :)

I said what I said with humour (I should have added an emoji next to the word "reasonable" :)). The crystal oscillation argument is one that was made to me some time ago by a fellow WIS. In his mind the crystal was a moving part because it must oscillate to provide the reference frequency. What is relevant in this comparison is the amplitude of individual vibrations, which are of the order of nanometers in Quartz (> a million times smaller than a traditional escapement). One must compare motion on equal scales in assessing what is a moving part and what isn't, so the comparison is null and void.
Even if you consider the quartz oscillator in the Spring Drive to be a "moving part", I don't really care about any moving parts that don't move the hands, since the end result of the perfectly continuous, truly smooth sweeping seconds hand is the part I am enamored with.

In the original Bulova Accutron the actual legs of the quartz crystal were attached to pawls that actually advanced the stepper gear to move the seconds hand (and everything else attached to the gear train) forward. In that movement the quartz oscillator matters. It's part of the geartrain.

[Edited to add: what I said above about the Accutron is wrong. A transistorized oscillator causes the legs of a metal tuning fork to vibrate, and those legs were attached to pawls, and so on.]

In a traditional "dumb quartz" watch, the quartz oscillator isn't part of the geartrain. Instead a frequency divider circuit counts the cycles and every 32,768 cycles the divider produces one pulse to the solenoid to advance the movement by one second. While nothing in a "dumb quartz" movement "oscillates" per se (there is no "to and fro"), it is a punctuated, interrupted movement. The watch is stopped more than it is moving. Assuming it is in perfect sync with actual time, the time it displays is still wrong the vast majority of the time (while it is at rest but time is still moving).

Eh, I'm rambling. We're both on the same page. I'm just saying the things I'd say to someone who actually disagreed with me. :)
 
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Ah, Spring Drive, and those of us who love it.

For those not comfortable with 'love', substitute 'technically fascinated with'.
 

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Sorry, wasn't intending to lecture you, I was lecturing the hypothetical critic. :)



Even if you consider the quartz oscillator in the Spring Drive to be a "moving part", I don't really care about any moving parts that don't move the hands, since the end result of the perfectly continuous, truly smooth sweeping seconds hand is the part I am enamored with.

In the original Bulova Accutron the actual legs of the quartz crystal were attached to pawls that actually advanced the stepper gear to move the seconds hand (and everything else attached to the gear train) forward. In that movement the quartz oscillator matters. It's part of the geartrain.

In a traditional "dumb quartz" watch, the quartz oscillator isn't part of the geartrain. Instead a frequency divider circuit counts the cycles and every 32,768 cycles the divider produces one pulse to the solenoid to advance the movement by one second. While nothing in a "dumb quartz" movement "oscillates" per se (there is no "to and fro"), it is a punctuated, interrupted movement. The watch is stopped more than it is moving. Assuming it is in perfect sync with actual time, the time it displays is still wrong the vast majority of the time (while it is at rest but time is still moving).

Eh, I'm rambling. We're both on the same page. I'm just saying the things I'd say to someone who actually disagreed with me. :)
No, it's fine. I did not intend for my post to come across in a stark tone at all and I understood that yours was not either. Although I hesitate in driving this thread off-topic into the minefield of Spring Drive vs. Mechanical (even just saying that could get another WIS to write a few paragraphs about my choice of terminology).

That is interesting re. the Accutron, I did not know the crystal was involved in power transmission - rather confused by that so will have to read up on it. Even if one adopts the strange definition that the quartz crystal, when activated by electricity, is a moving part, the crystal is not involved in the transmission of power / wheel train in Spring Drive (or in "dumb quartz") - only in regulating the timekeeping as you say. Whereas in a normal mechanical watch, the balance is part of both the power transmission and timekeeping regulation. If a WIS was so inclined, they could make the additional distinction that moving parts should belong to the wheel train, and by that definition they could exclude the crystal as a moving part in Spring Drive :).
 

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That is interesting re. the Accutron, I did not know the crystal was involved in power transmission - rather confused by that so will have to read up on it.
My post was in error. The tuning fork of the original Accutron did not use a quartz oscillator, it used a transistorized oscillator. I had a whole bunch of things wrong in my head when I wrote that. My apologies for the confusion.
 
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Bought my Snowflake purely for the look of the dial, just loved it, completely unique.

When I got it I was also blown away by spring drive accuracy, just phenomenal!! And the quality of the finishing is top notch.

It’s not instead of other makes though, it was as well as, and if I had to have just one watch then the Snowflake wouldn’t be that watch.
 

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No, it's fine. I did not intend for my post to come across in a stark tone at all and I understood that yours was not either. Although I hesitate in driving this thread off-topic into the minefield of Spring Drive vs. Mechanical (even just saying that could get another WIS to write a few paragraphs about my choice of terminology).

That is interesting re. the Accutron, I did not know the crystal was involved in power transmission - rather confused by that so will have to read up on it. Even if one adopts the strange definition that the quartz crystal, when activated by electricity, is a moving part, the crystal is not involved in the transmission of power / wheel train in Spring Drive (or in "dumb quartz") - only in regulating the timekeeping as you say. Whereas in a normal mechanical watch, the balance is part of both the power transmission and timekeeping regulation. If a WIS was so inclined, they could make the additional distinction that moving parts should belong to the wheel train, and by that definition they could exclude the crystal as a moving part in Spring Drive :).
Interesting read guys!
Can you recommend any books to learn watchmaking from scratch? Not necessarily even MAKING but i am interested to learn how the watch works. I know parts and bits but i need the whole puzzle.

I dont own a GS but am fascinated about the smooth second sweep of spring drive as well...



instagr.am/lifeofmiquel
 

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Hi

For me they are just all round nicer than comparable watches from other brands at similar prices.

When the Japanese do something really well it has a quality and rightness that is hard to define. It’s a purity of design and execution that is unbeatable at the price.

Berni


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I bought my GS auto (SBGJ001) because it looks nothing like any Swiss watch, has superior finishing, and (at the time) was rare. I also liked the 'stealth' aspect of the Seiko branding. Old photo, previously used, below.

Actually, my gateway to that watch was my GS handwinding SBGW035.

As for Spring Drive, which I agree is amazing, mine is one of the other Seiko brands.

BrianBinFL may dispute this, but I would argue the Spring Drive glide wheel, at micro level, does not move smoothly. Yes, it does not start and stop as does a second hand controlled by a lever escapement, but if one were to look closely and in a slowed manner they would see the SD second hand speed up once the magnetic braking force ceases and then slow down when the braking force is again applied, this happening 8 times a second. Speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down.... I think none of that is visible to us because the ratio of the gearing between the glide wheel and second hand attenuates those fluctuations so much that they are impossible to see in real time. So, for all intents and purposes, I do agree the SD second hand moves continuously.
 

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I bought my GS auto (SBGJ001) because it looks nothing like any Swiss watch, has superior finishing, and (at the time) was rare. I also liked the 'stealth' aspect of the Seiko branding. Old photo, previously used, below.

Actually, my gateway to that watch was my GS handwinding SBGW035.

As for Spring Drive, which I agree is amazing, mine is one of the other Seiko brands.

BrianBinFL may dispute this, but I would argue the Spring Drive glide wheel, at micro level, does not move smoothly. Yes, it does not start and stop as does a second hand controlled by a lever escapement, but if one were to look closely and in a slowed manner they would see the SD second hand speed up once the magnetic braking force ceases and then slow down when the braking force is again applied, this happening 8 times a second. Speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down.... I think none of that is visible to us because the ratio of the gearing between the glide wheel and second hand makes those fluctuations so miniscule they are impossible to see. So, for all intents and purposes, I do agree the SD second hand moves continuously.

Is this just the difference between continuous movement, potentially at differing speeds, and constant speed movement.

Like the old adage that one cannot step in a moving river twice. From that definition of a moving river, one would not be able to step in it once. Kind of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Theorem definition of a river, and of a Spring Drive watch movement.
 

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I bought mine SBGR287 especially for the small size (37mm) the design, the fit and finish. I wanted a white textured dial with a blued second hand at a smaller size, and it was the only one.

GS batterie.jpg

Movement wise, I have to say that I'am a little bit disapointed by the performance of my watch. It's been a year and half, and the accuracy was great at the beginning at less than +2sec/day, but it felt progressively down at -10sec/day now. I'm considering to send it to GS after service. The movement is also very sensitive to electromagnetism.
Having also a 9F quartz, I'm definitely prefering this movement over the 9S, and will prioritize 9F quartz for an eventually next GS purchase.
 

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BrianBinFL may dispute this, but I would argue the Spring Drive glide wheel, at micro level, does not move smoothly. Yes, it does not start and stop as does a second hand controlled by a lever escapement, but if one were to look closely and in a slowed manner they would see the SD second hand speed up once the magnetic braking force ceases and then slow down when the braking force is again applied, this happening 8 times a second. Speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down.... I think none of that is visible to us because the ratio of the gearing between the glide wheel and second hand makes those fluctuations so miniscule they are impossible to see. So, for all intents and purposes, I do agree the SD second hand moves continuously.
I don't know enough to agree or dispute on that one, but I do have a theory to assert. First a recap for those not familiar, starting with a dead watch that has wound down:

  1. Mainspring fully unwound. Hands at rest (not moving). TSR non-operational.
  2. Human winds the watch, tensioning the mainspring, mainspring drives the geartrain which spins the hands and the glidewheel, and begins to generate electricity to operate the TSR.
  3. Movement briefly advances at unrestrained speed as the TSR is not yet fired up to restrain it.
  4. Sufficient electricity has been generated to fire up the TSR.
  5. TSR compares the frequency of the AC current generated by the glidewheel to the frequency of the reference oscillator and notices the glidewheel is spinning too fast.
  6. TSR applies a load to the current generated by the glidewheel which has a frictionless electromagnetic braking effect.
  7. TSR applies more and more of a load to the circuit until the frequency of the glide wheel exactly matches the frequency of the reference oscillator.
It seems to me that once you have arrived at the level of braking that allows the glide wheel to spin at exactly the right speed, you would stay there until something happened that caused that amount of braking to no longer be correct. It seems it would be a silly negative impact to accuracy to brake and then release and then brake again and release. I do not believe that is what happens.

I believe that what happens is the TSR finds the magic braking amount, and holds that braking amount until some inertial or positional event occurs that causes a new frequency mismatch between the glide current and oscillator. Such a mismatch probably doesn't occur really often unless you're playing tennis or something, but the TSR checks 8 times a second to ensure the frequency match is still good. On the rare occasion that a mismatch has crept in the TSR fine tunes the current-load, thereby fine tuning the braking effect.

I think the glide wheel is probably more immune to inertial disturbances than a balance wheel is because it is spinning in a single direction and never at rest (making it harder to disturb). I expect that once the TSR has found its happy speed the number of changes it has to make is small, and the size of those changes is likely minuscule.

I believe that a good part of the 0.2 seconds per day of "error" observed by almost all SD owners with the proper technique to measure it properly is likely due to the fact that the reference oscillator is not thermocompensated - given that the monthly error for Spring Drive is similar to the monthly error for non-thermocompensated "dumb quartz" watches. Since the Spring Drive has the same non-thermocompensated handicap as those "dumb quartz" watches, the fact that it is as accurate, or better, would seem to indicate that the accumulated error from glide wheel deviation is likely infinitesimally small. [Yes I acknowledge that the oscillator in a 9R movement is probably better than the one in your average non-thermocompensated "dumb quartz" watch as well.]

But it is absolutely correct to say it's not perfectly smooth because no machine is "perfectly" anything. No matter what the sampling rate was there would always be some discrete amount of time when the speed was ever so slightly wrong, even if it was only for a billionth of a second. Even the rate that the Earth spins at is not perfectly smooth, varying in speed by around 3% at different parts of the year. When looked at that way the Spring Drive is actually more consistent than the Earth is. :)

So I guess I would say that at the moment the Spring Drive is as flawlessly smooth as mankind is capable of making - at least in something the size of a wristwatch. :)

Now the Zenith Defy is more accurate than the Spring Drive is, but I don't think we can say it is smooth at all because the whole movement absolutely oscillates and the seconds hand is moving in steps no matter how small those steps are.

But I digress. Again. Lol.
 
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