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Grand Seiko: A Fixed Drive in Watchmaking | WatchTime

This text is from the WatchTime Archives and was initially revealed in 2022.

Through the previous six many years, Grand Seiko has consistently been pursuing the creation of the world’s most correct wristwatch, pushing the event of quartz, mechanical and Spring Drive actions. Now, the Japanese
big is able to lastly enter the haute horlogerie section.

The T0 is Grand Seiko’s first constant-force tourbillon motion.

In September 2020, Seiko Watch Company revealed the T-zero Fixed-force Tourbillon (abbreviated as “T0”) as an idea creation of Grand Seiko. It’s the world’s first watch motion with a totally built-in constant-force mechanism and a tourbillon on the identical axis, aiming to create a mechanical watch with the very best accuracy (and status) doable. The constant-force mechanism offers an excellent vitality distribution to the escapement, no matter how a lot the mainspring is wound, and the tourbillon goals to remove the error in precision brought on by gravity by incorporating the escapement components and steadiness in a rotating carriage.

The T0 clearly isn’t the primary tourbillon from Seiko —that may be the Credor Fugaku tourbillon from 2016. Neither is it the primary wristwatch to mix a remontoire and a tourbillon (with F.P. Journe more than likely having made the primary), however this undoubtedly is a primary for Grand Seiko, and the model claims that that is the one time a remontoire and a tourbillon have been introduced collectively on the identical axis. Normally, when a constant-force mechanism is added, it’s normally positioned away from the carriage. Right here, nevertheless, the T0 shops torque from a gear co-axially organized with the carriage in a constant-force spring, and the vitality of the unwinding spring is used for rotating the carriage, together with the steadiness in it. Below laboratory situations, the efficiency of the T0 over the length of its 50-hour energy reserve already indicated that the group of Takuma Kawauchiya, the motion’s designer and watchmaker at Seiko Devices Inc., was profitable with this selection of design: the T0 confirmed an unbelievable ±0.5 seconds most deviation in price per day.

Kawauchiya additionally took a special strategy in manufacturing the T0’s gears: to make sure even greater precision than conventional machining, he used a producing course of referred to as Micro Electro Mechanical Techniques (MEMS), a forming method usually used for semiconductors. With this system, metallic movies are layered like plating to materialize an ideal gear-tooth form with precision measuring in microns. The identical course of has already been utilized in Grand Seiko’s pallet fork and escapement wheel, however that is the primary time for the corporate to use MEMS applied sciences to virtually all gears. For the cease wheel, a ceramic gear was chosen to supply each excessive sturdiness and low friction. One other specialty of the motion: Whereas the inside tourbillon carriage (product of blued titanium) is rotating, the outer carriage is stopped by the engagement of the stopper and the cease wheel, leading to a deadbeat movement of the second hand.

The T0 was developed over a five-year interval; hand ending alone took three months. The brand new caliber presents a 50-hour energy reserve utilizing two mainspring barrels, which run in parallel. The T0 measures 36 mm in diameter and eight.22 mm in top (with the tourbillon); the entire components depend is 340 parts. Surprisingly, the motion is definitely based mostly on the Grand Seiko Caliber 9S65, the model’s “most traditional automated motion that typifies the 9S mechanical sequence.” The steadiness wheel due to this fact oscillates at 4 Hz (28,800 vph), which has turn into a normal for contemporary mechanical watches, however not essentially for these with a remontoire and tourbillon. Nonetheless within the idea stage, the T0 is at present not used for a manufacturing mannequin. However with the 220th birthday of the tourbillon developing subsequent 12 months (the mechanism was patented on June 26, 1801 by Abraham-Louis Breguet), it will be shocking to not see a Grand Seiko of some types, sporting a “whirlwind” to extend accuracy, which has at all times been the mechanism’s most important objective.

The SBGR321 is restricted to 2,500 items, priced within the U.S. at $5,200.

A New Daybreak
The 9S65 can be present in one of many model’s newest limited-edition watches, made in celebration of Grand Seiko’s sixtieth anniversary: the Grand Seiko Ref. SBGR321. The discharge of this watch follows the opening of Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi final July, a high-end watch and motion manufacturing web site of Morioka Seiko Devices (positioned within the city of Shizukuishi in Iwate Prefecture), “dedicated to producing Grand Seiko mechanical watches and different high-end timepieces.” Its deep blue dial is impressed by “the good blue sky over Mt. Iwate at daybreak that greets the watchmakers and technicians of the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi.”

The watch has a 40-mm-diameter stainless-steel case and an identical metal hyperlink bracelet with a push-button- launch three-fold clasp. The case is water-proof to 100 meters and magnetic-resistant to 4,800 A/m. The motion, which is seen by means of a sapphire caseback, is assembled, adjusted, and inspected by hand at stated new studio; it’s adjusted to a every day price accuracy from +5 to -3 seconds per day, beats at 28,800 vph, and shops an influence reserve of 72 hours. The SBGR321 is restricted to 2,500 items, priced within the U.S. at $5,200.

The Grand Seiko Caliber 9S65 is seen by means of the caseback.

Technically extra demanding was the event of the brand new Grand Seiko Hello-Beat Caliber 9SA5 earlier this 12 months: the newest evolution of the model’s 9S mechanical caliber (first launched in 1998) combines a 36,000-vph frequency with a prolonged 80-hour energy reserve. Adjusted to a precision price of +5 to -3 seconds per day, the brand new motion advantages from three technical options. The primary is an in-house-developed dual-impulse escapement, during which the wheel transmits energy on to the steadiness for elevated effectivity. Subsequent in line is a newly developed free sprung steadiness that’s extra proof against shock and friction than its predecessor and makes use of an overcoil quite than a flat hairspring to enhance isochronism. Lastly, Caliber 9SA5’s revolutionary, horizontal gear prepare permits the general motion to be 15 % slimmer than present Grand Seiko Hello-Beat calibers.

The brand new motion made its debut in a limited-edition timepiece (100 items) that’s based mostly on the very first Grand Seiko watch of 1960. The 18k yellow-gold case of the Ref. SLGH002 measures 40 mm in diameter and options barely wider lugs. The watch retails for $43,000.

The Ref. SLGH002 in yellow gold, restricted to 100 items

Concurrently, Grand Seiko has additionally been engaged on its Spring Drive calibers (first launched in 1999). The brand new 9RA5 takes the model’s proprietary know-how actually to the subsequent degree: an influence reserve of 5 days (a 60-percent enhance), an excellent greater month-to-month precision price of +/-10 seconds per thirty days, and even a discount in thickness, from 5.8 mm to five mm. This motion first debuted within the Grand Seiko Ref. SLGA001 dive watch. Water-proof to a professional-grade 600 meters, the 46.9-mm case in high-intensity titanium is mounted on a metallic bracelet with a three-fold clasp, together with an interchangeable blue silicone strap. The watch is restricted to 700 items and priced round $11,100. This mannequin has already been nominated within the Diver’s class of the 2020 version of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG).

A Dedication to Accuracy
Whereas a lot of the Swiss high-end manufacturers have centered on mechanical actions prior to now three many years, the inventor of the world’s first quartz watch (launched on Dec. 25, 1969), has by no means stopped pushing quartz know-how additional. Grand Seiko’s sixtieth anniversary is due to this fact additionally celebrated with the introduction of a brand new quartz motion. Caliber 9F85 has a time distinction adjustment perform that enables the hour hand to be adjusted with out stopping the seconds hand and thus preserving its excessive precision. (Within the SBGP007, the motion is adjusted to ±5 seconds per 12 months; within the SBGP015 it’s ±10 — as a comparability, Longines additionally presents an accuracy of ± 5 seconds per 12 months with the Conquest V.H.P.) This new caliber makes its debut in two sixtieth anniversary designs. One among them, the SBGP015 with blue dial and a ceramic bezel of the identical coloration presents a 20-bar water resistance, magnetic resistance of 16,000 A/m and a screw-down crown for enhanced safety. It’s obtainable as a restricted version of two,000 items and priced at $3,800.

Grand Seiko SBGP015 - angle
Grand Seiko Ref. SBGP015 has a blue dial and blue ceramic bezel.

Grand Seiko USA President Brice Le Troadec lately summed it up, saying, “Grand Seiko is now famend for its three classes of calibers: Mechanical (together with Hello-Beat), Spring Drive and Quartz. Within the U.S., our gross sales are evenly shared between 9R Spring Drive-powered watches and 9S mechanical. Spring Drive presents a wonderful different to those that actually take care of a high quality mechanical motion, however need the precision of a quartz watch.”

The 12 months 2020 noticed the opening of the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi (above) and a brand new boutique in Paris.

Maybe one of the fascinating issues about Grand Seiko is that the Japanese watchmaker by no means overlooked what finally has at all times been the primary goal of a watchmaker: accuracy. Evidently, watchmaking is an element science, half artwork, particularly in instances when increasingly folks want to hold a pc on their wrist with twice the processing energy of the Cray-2 (the quickest machine on the earth when it was launched in 1985). However the very essence of watchmaking is and has been about telling the time as precisely as doable. If it simply turns into l’artwork pour l’artwork, the entire trade is vulnerable to dropping its soul and its authentic goal. When Greubel Forsey, for instance, launched its first creation in 2004, the Double Tourbillon 30°, the 2 inventor-watchmakers wished to extend the accuracy of mechanical timepieces. It was not about including two tourbillons for the sake of including two tourbillons. F.P. Journe’s Chronomètre à Résonance is, before everything, a chronometer. With the T0, Grand Seiko has demonstrated as soon as once more that it has by no means overlooked the rules it was based on 60 years in the past, however the model now covers virtually each facet of what is perhaps finest described as significant high-end watchmaking.

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