Setting the record straight - I hope

Jan 06, 2008,16:36 PM

As the author of "A Journey in Time: The Remarkable Story of Seiko" which was one of the references used by SJX, it seems appropriate to post here Seiko's official description of the Spring Drive mechanism, as quoted in the press release issued at the time of its launch. Given the interest this is generating, I have also included some facts and figures from the same press release. The words below are from Seiko. Here goes:
1.    The Mainspring.  While SEIKO has made its own mainsprings in-house since 1959, none of the existing springs were considered strong enough to deliver the industry-leading performance dreamed of by the engineering team.  An entirely new spring was created using a new high-elasticity material called Spron 510* to create more power.  The result is a mainspring that delivers more power, more smoothly and for longer.  Spring Drive has a power reserve of 72 hours.
2.    The ‘Magic Lever’.  The new ‘Magic Lever’ system allows for more efficient transmission of the rotor’s power to the mainspring.  It is fitted directly to the shaft of the rotor and thus creates more efficient winding of the spring.  This new system is 30% more efficient than traditional winding systems.
3.    Tri-synchro regulator.  This new device replaces the escapement and thus eliminates the weakest and most vulnerable part of the traditional watch mechanism.  It regulates the three kinds of energy used in the Spring Drive mechanism, the mechanical power of the mainspring, the electrical energy, created from this mechanical power which activates a crystal oscillator, and the electro-magnetic energy that turns the glide wheel precisely 8 times per second.
Spring Drive is unique because, while it has nearly all the characteristics of a classical mechanical watch, it does not require an escapement.  The escapement uses the back and forth motion of a balance wheel to regulate the speed at which the spring drives the hands and it is this high-friction motion that makes the traditional mechanical watch vulnerable to inaccuracy and damage.  The genius of Spring Drive is that all the motion in the movement is in one direction, so that the friction is all but eliminated.  It is also this one-way motion that allows the hands to move with the unique glide-motion that reflects the real nature of time.  Spring Drive is a natural revolution in timekeeping.
The mainspring power supply, the gear train, the power reserve system and the Magic Lever are classical, mechanical watch components. Of the 276 components in each Spring Drive watch, 80% are those incorporated in mechanical watches.  Like the highest grade mechanical watches, Spring Drive has 30 jewels to ensure low friction and high accuracy, and each watch is assembled by hand by SEIKO’s most skilled craftsmen and women.
The electronic components of Spring Drive are state-of-the-art.  While other companies have attempted to develop a mechanical watch with an electronic time regulation system, only SEIKO has succeeded in realizing this dream.  It required new advances in electro-magnetics to develop the braking system within the regulator and new advances in power generation and IC to convert part of the mainspring’s mechanical power to an electrical signal; just 25 nanowatts are all that is required to power the circuit and the crystal oscillator.  This is 50% of the power needed in any conventional watch circuit.
•    0.025 mm.  The thickness of each layer of alloy in the coil block.
•    1 second a day accuracy, 10 times better than the chronometer mechanical standard.
•    3 types of energy are controlled by the Tri-synchro regulator: mechanical, electrical and electro-magnetic.
•    8 times per second. The precise speed at which the glide wheel turns within the electro-magnetic braking system.
•    13 generations of prototype were built in the development phases.
•    15 microns. The width of the wire in the Tri-synchro regulator’s coil.
•    18 layers of amorphous alloy in the coil block.
•    25 nanowatts. The minute amount of power needed to activate the regulator, less than half that needed in all other watch circuits.
•    28 years of research and development invested in the project.
•    30 percent improvement in winding efficiency achieved through the improved Magic Lever system.
•    30 jewels in the movement. 32 in the small second hand version.
•    72 hours of power reserve.
•    124 years of Seiko's expertise in time keeping.
•    230 patents have been applied for in Japan, USA and the EU.
•    276 components in the movement.  280 in the small second hand version.
•    600 actual prototypes were built between 1997 and 2004.
•    25,000. The number of times the coil is wound, for maximum energy efficiency.
•    28,800. The number of times the glide wheel turns per hour.

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A Short History of the Grand Seiko

 By: SJX : January 4th, 2008-07:06
There is hardly any English language information available for Grand Seiko so I decided to put one together. I actually wrote a few words on this some years back, but never completed or published it. Since there has been substantial interest on the forum ...  

Great reading for GS fans... and for those who are not familiar with ...

 By: Horolographer : January 4th, 2008-08:50
the watches or have not seen a GS before. Thanks JX for a wonderful article. Cheers Harry

Wonderful summary, thank you

 By: Harry Bishop : January 4th, 2008-19:28

Fantastic read!! Thank you!!

 By: ks : January 4th, 2008-22:47
Do you happen to know if there is any dive watch series in Grand Seiko? Cheers! rgds ks

Thanks for the informative post about the GS.

 By: vlim : January 4th, 2008-23:18
I really have to take a closer look at their timepieces when the opportunity arises.

Thanks, SJX,

 By: masterspiece : January 5th, 2008-00:36

In two minds........

 By: MTF : January 5th, 2008-05:08

great read, but one particularly controversial passage

 By: ei8htohms : January 5th, 2008-07:41
Hi SJX, This is a great read and will likely serve to educate many Grand Seiko newbies for years to come. Thanks! I wantred to mention though that the often repeated bit about Seiko's success at the Observatory Competitions in Geneva and Neuchatel being r... 

Some thoughts on the controversy...

 By: SJX : January 5th, 2008-08:08
Hi ei8htohms, Thanks for the input. That's a good point and I do agree with it; that the discontinuation of the observatory trials due to the success of the Japanese can never be proven with any certainty, whatever is said is conjecture and personal opini... 

Great read, JiaXian, ....

 By: SuitbertW : January 5th, 2008-09:42
and a worthy subject as well. Re. the observatory chronometer competitions - I don't share your view on this, and I'd be curious to see the data you seem to have found. In 1968 - to my knowledge the Geneva chronometer competitions were already gone - i.e.... 

some info

 By: ei8htohms : January 5th, 2008-10:41

Like I wrote earlier Suibert...

 By: SJX : January 5th, 2008-19:20
I appreciate your comments; I look forward to your posts because they are always very informative. Like I wrote earlier, in agreement with John, whether the demise of the observatory trials is due to the quartz revolution or Japanese watches or anything e... 

Hi JiaXian, ....

 By: SuitbertW : January 6th, 2008-03:57
...don't take me wrong, I'm not going to convince you or attempting to change your opinion. But I found the facts on which you obviously based this opinion a bit puzzling. As John pointed out the reference to J. Goodall's - I'm going to see where the data... 

A reply

 By: SJX : January 6th, 2008-04:31

The source I have read which somewhat addresses this

 By: SteveG : January 5th, 2008-10:30
question, more in an informational rather than rhetorical fashion, is K. Seiya: At this page: .html#chrono ) "Chronometer appeal In the middle of 1960's, European Chronometer Official Association appealed that Seiko shouldn't use the name ... 

More info. added (GS with "Chronometer" and GS Astronomical Observatory Chronometer

 By: JoeT : January 5th, 2008-18:32
Hi Steve, I would like to add some pieces of info. here in accordance with some Japanese documents I have. 1) There were only 2 GS models having the word "Chronometer" on them; namely a) the GS3180 released in 1960 (widely known as the GS first model) by ...  

Thanks JoeT

 By: SJX : January 5th, 2008-19:22

Wow, great post, thanks! nt

 By: Chris Meisenzahl : January 5th, 2008-17:33

Thanks for a good read.

 By: yw wong : January 6th, 2008-08:40

Setting the record straight - I hope

 By: ticktock : January 6th, 2008-16:36
As the author of "A Journey in Time: The Remarkable Story of Seiko" which was one of the references used by SJX, it seems appropriate to post here Seiko's official description of the Spring Drive mechanism, as quoted in the press release issued at the tim... 

Thanks for the post.

 By: SJX : January 6th, 2008-18:16

Great stuff!

 By: masterspiece : January 7th, 2008-10:02

excellent report!!! [nt]

 By: The Curious Observer : January 10th, 2008-20:25