Review: Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve
Seiko’s high watchmaking department finally makes its first Grand Seiko timepiece, the Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve (Ref. SBGD001)
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve is the first Grand Seiko watch to be produced by the manufacture’s Micro Artist Studio, located in Shiojiri within central Japan’s Nagano prefecture. Although “Micro Artist Studio” isn’t a misnomer per se, the name is an understatement through and through – the team of specialists there represents the absolute best from Seiko, and are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the best from Europe, whether in terms of movement assembly/finishing or metiers d’art techniques.
The Micro Artist Studio’s creations run the gamut from the three-hand, time-only Credor Eichi II to the ultra-complicated Credor Spring Drive Minute Repeater. What’s common to these timepieces has always been their impeccable quality both inside and outside, and the new Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day Power Reserve is no different. From the front, one immediately notices the mirror polish on the platinum case, which was achieved using an adapted zaratsu technique originally used in polishing Japanese blades.
In contrast with it, the dial sports a fine speckled texture that sparkles like freshly fallen snow, a finishing that Seiko calls diamond dust. The usual hallmarks of a Grand Seiko timepiece have been preserved here, from the facetted hour and minute hands, to the seconds hand that is shaped like a tapered lance.
Flip the watch over, and the new 9R01 Spring Drive calibre presents itself, with the power reserve indicator at three o’clock. At 37mm, the movement is rather large, and fills the case properly without the need for spacer rings. Calibre 9R01 uses three barrels connected in parallel to achieve a power reserve of eight days and, as a hybrid Spring Drive movement, is capable of being accurate to +/- 10 seconds a month.
In the 9R01, Seiko has opted to use a single large plate in lieu of individual bridges and cocks. This makes assembling the movement far more challenging, as all the components underneath the plate must fit perfectly. A single plate, however, provides a rigid platform that’s almost like a second mainplate – all the movement parts are thus sandwiched more securely with no play between them.
Although the plate blocks the view into the movement, much can still be seen. Note, for instance, how the outline of the plate from nine to one o’clock has been shaped to resemble Mt. Fuji. Jewel bearings and blued screws aside, the movement plate also has holes that expose the wheels underneath it, all to evoke the lights of the city of Suwa, which is near the Artist Micro Studio’s home.
Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, power reserve indicator (caseback)
Power Reserve: 8 Days
Movement: Manual-winding Seiko 9R01 Spring Drive
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black alligator with platinium deployant buckle
This article was first published in WOW.