As readers are well aware, this year has been something of a coming-out party for Grand Seiko, which is now its own independent brand, rather than existing as a collection under the overall Seiko limited edition fake watches umbrella. The most visible manifestation of this shift is of course the removal of the Seiko logo from the dials of Grand Seiko watches, which now carry only the Grand Seiko logo.
Grand Seiko replica watches are as much an approach as it is a family of watches, and Seiko has applied this approach to both quartz and mechanical watches, with offerings ranging from the high-accuracy 9F quartz movements, to in-house mechanical movements which include 36,000 vph high frequency calibers as well. One technology unique to Seiko, however, is Spring Drive. Seiko uses it not only in Grand Seiko watches, but also in the Prospex line as well as the Credor Eichi line of watches; it is the only type of movement that Seiko uses for its Credor chiming complications as well (the Spring Drive Sonnerie, and Spring Drive Minute Repeater).
Spring Drive can be hard to “get” because it’s really a hybrid technology. There are quartz watches that have a mechanical component, of course – Swiss auto-quartz movements, as well as Seiko’s own Kinetic, use a rotor borrowed from an automatic winding system to generate electrical current; this charges a rechargeable battery in what’s otherwise a standard quartz movement. Spring Drive however is something different.
Spring Drive movement Grand Seiko fake watches have a completely standard mechanical gear train going all the way from the mainspring barrel right down to where you’d ordinarily expect to find an escapement and balance wheel. However instead of either, a Spring Drive watch has a “glide wheel” which contains a small, powerful permanent magnet. This rotates between two electromagnets, generating current to power a quartz timing package which in turn, controls (via the same electromagnets) how fast the glide wheel turns. This controls the speed at which the wheels in the going train turn under the impetus of the mainspring. There’s no battery or capacitor, and visually, the signature of a Spring Drive watch is a seconds hand that doesn’t jump; instead it glides smoothly (and silently) around the dial.