Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire’s weekly column that gives you horological events and the most important news from the watch world since March 2020.
Grand Seiko’s rise in popularity in America continues rapidly with the launch last week of the USA GS9 Club, a community created by the brand for owners of Grand Seiko watches – which means you can not enter unless you have already purchased one from a Grand Seiko Store or Authorized Grand Seiko Dealer. With the debut of the US component of society, originally launched as a physical meeting place for Japanese owners, the US GS9 continues to operate online as an effective private e-commerce site for Grand Seiko collectors – though non-members can purchase some of the deals GS9 Shop.
Once you have your first Grand Seiko and are registered, members will have exclusive access to events (currently virtual, but after the pandemic these will be personal), launches and limited editions. The site also serves as an archive of all things Grand Seiko. The good news is that it’s dated back to 2017, so if you already own a Grand Seiko purchased on March 23, 2017 or later, you can sign up online with a photo of your watch and a copy of the sales receipt.
At the time of the launch of the GS9 club in the US, Grand Seiko also announced a new sports watch now available for pre-order: the brown dial Grand Seiko Eagle GMT Limited Edition (the brown one is inspired by the plumage of an eagle). Although the outside is cool, the inside is downright fascinating. That’s because it incorporates the company’s ingenious Spring Drive movement.
This is relatively mind-bending even to see nerds, so carry on with me. The movement is mechanical, driven like all high-end clocks by a rotor that charges a main spring. OK, so there is no battery. Spring is the battery. It is when its power is released to power the train that things become strange. The release of the lifted force in fully mechanical clocks takes place via the escape (the ticking part), which is also a mechanical affair. Not in Spring Drive. Mechanical force from the main spring generates electrical force, which is generated via a small rotor connected to the gear lever. The small charge is passed through a quartz oscillator that vibrates at 32,768 Hz, a precise frequency that is then converted into mechanical energy to drive the second hand forward with greater accuracy than any mechanical clock. Still with me?
The advantage of this hybrid, apart from the greater accuracy, is that a mechanical movement also generates greater torque than a quartz movement, which means that the hands can be larger and longer. It is only when you go deep into watches that you realize that even the microscopic weight of a user’s hand needs to be taken into account.
Basically, the Spring Drive is a mechanical watch with a quartz-regulated escape, but that hardly does it justice, so read more here. It is precisely this level of boffinry combined with very high standards of finishing that makes Grand Seiko something of a unicorn in the primeval world – and the new Eagle GMT Limited Edition such an exciting release.
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