Baselworld 2019 Grand Seiko Adds Hand-Wound Spring Drive to its Recent Elegance Collection

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Spring Drive with great hand-wound models.
calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Brice Goulard | ic_query_builder_black_24px 6 minute read |

In 1999, after over two decades of development and multiple prototypes, Spring Drive was launched at Baselworld. Recognized as an important development in the recent history of luxury watchmaking, Spring Drive technology combines a mechanical chain of energy to an ultra-precise quartz oscillator. To mark the 20th anniversary, Grand Seiko unveils at Baselworld 2019 two new hand-wound Spring Drive movements and a total of four different watches in the recently introduced Elegance Collection. Meet the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGZ001, SBGZ003, SBGY002 and SBGY003.

Spring Drive

As a reminder, Spring Drive is a unique take on watchmaking. Not entirely mechanical, not entirely quartz either, it is a hybrid technology that relies on the beauty of mechanical elements, an automatic winding and the proven precision of quartz. The four watches are powered by this proprietary technology, in lieu of the hand-wound mechanical movements found in the rest of the Elegance collection.

The basic principle of Spring Drive is to switch the regulating organ, all the rest (80% of the components) remain identical to a mechanical watch. Energy is stored in a mainspring barrel, powered by the motion of a rotor, and delivered to the regulating organ by the means of a gear train. The regulating organ is rather complex. A Spring Drive movement utilizes an exclusive speed control mechanism, incorporating an IC, an electronic brake and a quartz crystal. As a result, a Spring Drive movement has a power reserve of usually over 3 days and an impressive precision, with an average monthly rate of ±15 seconds (or ±1 second per day on average). The other advantage is having a seconds hand with an extremely fluid motion. Very technical, very rational, highly precise, almost entirely mechanical.

The High-End Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGZ001 – SBGZ003

Taking advantage of the recently introduced Elegance collection, with its slim profile thanks to the incorporation of hand-wound movements, Grand Seiko presents two ultra-luxurious, hand-assembled and finished models, the SBGZ001 and SBGZ003. These two watches are crafted by the Micro Artist Studio, which made its first contribution to Grand Seiko with an 8-Day Power Reserve Spring Drive watch that was presented at Baselworld 2016.

The cases of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGZ001 and SBGZ003 are made of 950 platinum and shaped accordingly to the new design launched on the Elegance Collection – smaller diameter of 38.5mm, thin profile of 9.8mm and less angular shapes. Altogether, we’re in front of Grand Seiko’s vision of a dress watch. The main difference between the two references, besides the fact that one is a limited edition of 30 pieces only, is the decoration of both the case and the dial.

The SBGZ003 is classically polished and features a silvered dial with a grained surface. The SBGZ001 (the limited version) is much more daring, with its case and dial entirely hand-engraved with a Snowflake pattern. No need to say that this is extremely exclusive and that every watch will have its own personality. On both watches, the hands and indexes – sharp and superbly executed as usual – are made in 14k white gold.

Powering these Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGZ001 and SBGZ003 is a newly developed hand-wound movement, calibre 9R02. This new movement, conceived by the Micro Artist Studio, has two mainsprings set in parallel within a single barrel and uses the unique Torque Return System* to deliver a power reserve of 84 hours. The movement is hand-finished and hand-assembled in the best way possible way – in fact, it is made in the same way as Credor movements, with highly polished bevels and straight grained surfaces, as well as featuring the signature barrel with bellflower. Accuracy is of ± 1 second per day.

* Torque Return System – When the mainspring has been fully wound and the torque output is at its highest, approximately 30% of the available power is not needed to maintain the precision of the watch and is in effect wasted in a normal movement. The Torque Return System uses this energy to rewind the mainspring, resulting in an increase in the power reserve. In Caliber 9R02, this system is activated for 48 hours after the mainspring has been fully wound.

Each of these platinum watches is worn on a crocodile strap with a platinum three-fold clasp with push-button release. Prices will be EUR 78,000 (SBGZ001, limited to 30 pieces) and EUR 58,500 (SBGZ003).

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGY002 – SBGY003

Based on the same overall design and concept, Grand Seiko also has two other watches in this hand-wound Spring Drive collection, with the references SBGY002 and SBGY003, yet with more reasonable prices and more rational execution – nonetheless high-end.

These two watches have the elegant, thin and more refined case of the Elegance collection, with a diameter of 38.5mm and thickness of 10.2mm (due to a different movement). The cases are, this time, only available with a non-engraved, polished surface and in both 18k yellow gold (SBGY002) or stainless steel (SBGY003). Both models come on crocodile straps with three-fold clasps with push-button release.

Dial-wise, Grand Seiko has opted for controlled eccentricity. The yellow gold SBGY002 has the refined and appraised silvery-white Snowflake engraved on its surface, while the stainless steel SBGY003 relies on an elegant sunray pattern with a silver colour. Hands and indexes are treated in the usual sharp and ultra-precise Grand Seiko way.

Powering the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGY002 and SBGY003 is a new hand-wound, Spring Drive movement, calibre 9R31. This in-house movement is crafted at the Shinshu Watch Studio (next to the Micro Artist Studio) where all other Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches are made. This highly precise movement delivers a power reserve of 72 hours, thanks to the Dual-Spring Barrel technology. Its accuracy is of ± 1 second per day (one of the greatest advantages of Spring Drive).

Prices for the Yellow Gold Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGY002 will be EUR 27,000. The stainless steel Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGY003 will be priced at EUR 8,200, however, limited to 700 pieces worldwide.

More details at www.grand-seiko.com.


Technical Specifications SBGZ001 – SBGZ003

  • Case: diameter 38.5mm x thickness 9.8mm – 950 platinum, hand-engraved (SBGZ002) or polished (SBGZ003) – high definition dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating – see-through screw case back – 30m water-resistant
  • Dial: silvered, with or without snowflake pattern – hands and hour markers in 14k white gold
  • Movement: calibre 9R02, in-house – hand-wound with Spring Drive technology – 84h power reserve – accuracy of ± 1 second per day (± 15 seconds per month) – Dual-Spring Barrel and Torque Return System – 39 jewels – assembled at the Micro Artist Studio by hand – hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve (back)
  • Strap: crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push-button release
  • References: SBGZ001 (engraved), limited edition of 30 – SBGZ003 (polished), not limited
  • Price: EUR 78,000 (SBGZ001) – EUR 58,500 (SBGZ003)

Technical Specifications SBGY002 – SBGY003

  • Case: diameter 38.5mm x thickness 10.2mm – 18k yellow gold (SBGY002), stainless steel (SBGY003) – high definition dual-curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating – see-through screw case back – 30m water-resistant
  • Dial: silvered – snowflake pattern (SBGY002) – sunray pattern (SBGY003)
  • Movement: calibre 9R31, in-house – hand-wound with Spring Drive technology – 72h power reserve – accuracy of ± 1 second per day (± 15 seconds per month) – Dual-Spring Barrel – 30 jewels – hours, minutes, seconds, power reserve (back)
  • Strap: crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push-button release
  • References: SBGY002 (gold) – SBGY003 (steel), limited to 700 pieces
  • Price: EUR 27,000 (SBGY002) – EUR 8,200 (SBGY003)

4 responses

  1. Really like the steel version. Would appreciate a slightly ’calmer’ dial though, to get a really nice sixties vibe.

  2. Agree with Rollefc but with something a little special but subtle like the dial of the 8 day power reserve. That watch is beautiful but too big (for me).

  3. I’m waiting for the 9R02 with a rose gold case(dreaming it with a steel case isn’t reasonable).

    It’s a pity Seiko decides to cover all the components of the 9R31(esp. the glided wheel), which I highly suspect will result in a boring movement to stare at.

  4. I know that Grand Seiko make quality watches, but from EUR 20,000, I consider buying a Patek Philippe, not a Grand Seiko.

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