Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire’s weekly column that brings you watchmaking events and the most important news from the watchmaking world since March 2020.
The increase in popularity of the Grand Seiko in America continues to accelerate with the launch last week of the USA GS9 Club, a community created by the brand for owners of Grand Seiko watches – meaning you cannot join unless you have already purchased one from a Seiko Grand Boutique or authorized Grand Seiko dealer. With the debut of the US component of the community, originally launched as a physical meeting place for Japanese owners, the US GS9 will function online for now as an effectively private e-commerce site for Grand Seiko collectors – albeit even non-members purchase some of the GS9 Store offers.
Once you have your first Grand Seiko and register, members will receive exclusive access to events (currently virtual, but after the pandemic, they will be in person), launches and limited editions. The site also functions as an archive of all things Grand Seiko. The good news is that it is dated 2017, so if you already own a Grand Seiko purchased on or after March 23, 2017, you can apply online with a photo of your watch and a copy of the sales receipt.
To accompany the launch of the GS9 club in the USA, Grand Seiko also announced a new sports watch, now available for order: the brown dial Grand Seiko Eagle GMT Limited Edition (the brown being inspired by an eagle’s plumage) Although the exterior is fresh, the interior is absolutely fascinating. That’s because it contains the company’s ingenious Spring Drive movement.
This is relatively mind-boggling even for watching nerds, so bear with me. The movement is mechanical, triggered like all the latest generation watches by a rotor that carries a mainspring. OK, so there is no battery. The spring It’s the battery. It is when your strength is released to the power train that things get weird. The release of this pent-up energy in fully mechanical watches is done through the exhaust (the ticking part), which is also a mechanical issue. Not on Spring Drive. There, the mechanical energy of the mainspring generates electrical energy generated through a tiny rotor connected to the gear train. This tiny charge is passed through a quartz oscillator that vibrates at 32,768 Hz, a precise frequency that is then converted into mechanical energy to propel the second hand more accurately than any mechanical watch. Still with me?
The advantage of this hybrid, in addition to greater precision, is that a mechanical movement also generates greater torque than a quartz movement, making the hands larger and longer. Only when you dig deeper into the clocks do you realize that even the microscopic weight of a second hand must be taken into account.
Basically, the Spring Drive is a mechanical watch with a quartz-regulated exhaust, but that hardly does it justice, so read more here. It is precisely this level of boffinry, combined with very high standards of finish, that makes Grand Seiko something like a unicorn in the world of watches – and the new Eagle GMT Limited Edition is such an exciting launch.
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