Quartz… A word that you don’t often read on MONOCHROME. I’m not hesitant to say that and openly concede that we are watch upstarts. We love fine mechanics and Haute Horlogerie. Nonetheless, the watch that we’re going to review has a quartz controller, however isn’t battery fueled – and that as of now makes things marginally extraordinary. Furthermore, this watch is made by Grand Seiko – and we’ve as of now seen that it is committed to getting things done in an alternate (better?) way . Also, to wrap things up, this quartz precious stone is important for a half breed development, blending outdated mechanics and advancement. This watch is the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211 and no, we’re not hesitant to review it in this “online magazine devoted to fine watches”.
I review that after his visit to the Seiko produce, our organizer Frank Geelen arrived at the resolution that: “Quartz CAN be high-end”. An idea that will be imperative to this article in light of the fact that, as Frank called attention to in his article, hatred towards quartz has consistently won: “Quartz is abhorrent. Quartz caused the notorious quartz emergency during which numerous Swiss watch brands fell into difficulty, or even failed. Feelings towards quartz are normally lovely negative, and in the Swiss watch industry, the words quartz and very good quality won’t be blended easily.” This is a reality! Also, to exacerbate the situation, quartz generally shows up pair with the word battery – and that’s where we typically quit looking at such watches.
A Quartz watch on MONOCHROME…?
One company concluded that quartz didn’t essentially must be low-end. That it can even be really intriguing regarding watchmaking mastery – as long as you put stock in innovation (something that was an essential for today’s article). In 2004, Grand Seiko presented an innovation named Spring Drive where 80% of the movement’s components are imparted to a mechanical watch, with no battery, and where energy is provided from a mainspring and the movement of the hands results from a stuff train. The solitary distinction is that the directing organ isn’t an exemplary equilibrium/escapement module however an electronic controller combined with a quartz precious stone. The what tops off an already good thing? Grand Seiko produces its quartz gems in-house.
With this presentation, the entryway is currently open for us to examine the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211. For the first time ever, we’ll leave our grandiosity in the storage room and we’ll give Spring Drive innovation a possibility – indeed, truth be told, we’ve been persuaded by it for quite a while now! Taking all things together objectivity, this Snowflake SBGA211 merits some consideration and offers a variety of motivations to overcome the EUR 5K to 10K class. So let’s take a gander at it in detail.
Case and bracelet
For once, I’m going to begin a review with the wristband. Why? I often read (and I even said it myself) that Seiko and Grand Seiko’s metallic arm bands are not comparable to competing watches. The truth is that it was kind of obvious and a portion of the watches can have rather feeble wristbands. In the event that you search for example at Rolex or Omega, their cutting edge arm bands are quite great, whether for their completing, the exactness of the get together, the comfort or the general sturdiness. Realizing that most Grand Seiko watches are in the EUR 5K to 10K class, these are immediate competitors. Showdown is inevitable.
In the instance of the Snowflake SBGA211, we have a full extreme focus titanium wristband combining glossy silk completed surfaces and cleaned highlights. Quality-wise, this is unbiasedly a very first rate wristband. Comfort-wise, the way that titanium is a lot lighter than steel makes this arm band a charming partner consistently – notwithstanding the way that titanium is soft on the skin, and that the connections are very slender. Whether for the nature of the get together, the accuracy of the machining, the execution of the completing or the comfort, the wristband of the SBGA211 is comparable to the remainder of the competitors in this classification. End of discussion? Not quite.
There’s one shortcoming and it includes the change of the arm band. While Rolex and Omega have embraced a development with removable connections associated by screws, Grand Seiko sticks to old style pins, making it no less strong but instead hard for self-change. In a period where internet business is quick growing, such a development implies that, except if you have the necessary devices, you’ll still need to go to a watchmaker to accommodate your arm band. Other than that, no complaints in regards to this titanium wristband fitted on the SBGA211 and its butterfly catch with security pushers.
Moving on to the case, Grand Seiko’s notoriety isn’t questionable. The Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211 has an extreme focus titanium case with glossy silk completed and cleaned surfaces done in the standard thing (heavenly) GS way. All the surfaces are decisively characterized, the division lines are very sharp. The sides of the case and bezel are reflect cleaned with the ordinary Zaratsu procedure (an antiquated technique for hand-cleaning utilized on Japanese battling swords) making a bending free mirror finish. It very well may be a detail that lone prepared eyes will spot… yet magnificence dwells in details.
The state of the case is likewise run of the mill Grand Seiko, with hearty casebands, incorporated drags (persistent line starting with one haul then onto the next) and generally powerful lines. The crown is marginally recessed for insurance and sufficiently huge to be controlled easily. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211 has contemporary extents without being excessively done. With its 41mm width and its 12.5mm stature, it is in accordance with competing watches (think anything steel/sports Rolex or Aqua Terra by Omega). The fundamental preferred position of this piece is its weight – approx. 100 grams, compared to the 150+ grams of a Submariner.
Combine the noteworthy thoughtfulness regarding subtleties with the gentility and scratch-opposition of titanium, and you end up with an intense watch. This SBGA211 isn’t a pompous watch. It gets things done in an attentive manner, with an easygoing, all-rounder look. Nonetheless, when you wear it, you’ll rapidly comprehend that you have a genuine extravagance piece on the wrist.
The “Snowflake” Dial
If there’s one specialized topic where Grand Seiko dominates, it is in the elaboration of dials and hands. What’s more, this Snowflake SBGA211 is no exemption for the rule.
While the quality has never been questionable, dials at GS were often somewhat dreary, all in all too cool, not unique enough. Significantly executed yet at times all in all too calm. Notwithstanding, several years at this point (concurring with the presentation of Grand Seiko as a brand in its own right), things have changed and the brand is more disposed to offer unique, marginally brightened and finished dials.
With the “Snowflake”, we have a show of Grand Seiko’s savoir-faire, with a combination of unadulterated Japanese motivation, magnificent craftsmanship and a look that is both prudent from the start and exceptionally nitty gritty very close. This dial is produced in-house, in the Shiojiri dial workshop.
The dial of the SBGA211 portrays newly fallen day off (the name Snowflake), in view of its white tone as well as due to its surface. This snow-like impact is acquired by stepping the example onto a clear and afterward adding a few layers of marginally clear covering to uncover the surface under. The outcome is “very Japanese” in nature, with a delivering that resembles customary water paintings.
Hands and Indexes
Although we typically cover hands and files in the dial segment, we believe that Grand Seiko’s hands and lists merit a different area. Why? For the basic explanation that they are all that you can discover in the EUR 5K-10K category… and even over that, as a portion of the watches created by the Holy Trinity can’t coordinate this degree of ability. Period!
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211 depends on the standard super sharp blade hands found on most GS watches. Made out of steel, the hands are cut by a hand-controlled precious stone cutting instrument. Their surface is cleaned to a great level – practically dark cleaned – and their edges are featured by enormous, super exact bevels.
The entirely level surface of the hands offers wonderful reflections, going from splendid silver to nearly totally dark. The outline line at the tip of the hands, where the two angles meet, is an expert class in finissage. The hour records are executed with precisely the same degree of subtleties and consummately coordinate the hands.
Besides being a banquet for the eyes, these hands are likewise very simple to peruse. In addition to the fact that they are enormous the various surfaces balance delightfully with the white dial – something that isn’t consistently the case with white dials and steel hands. Here, when the level surface is splendid, the angles show hazier reflections. Furthermore, the inverse is valid: when the level surface is practically dark, the slopes sparkle. That’s where you can see that things are not done distinctly for the magnificence of the motion at Grand Seiko, demonstrating that improvement can likewise result from commonsense reasons. The solitary drawback of this execution is the shortfall of radiant material on all fours – yet I wouldn’t need Super-LumiNova on these hands anyway.
For the rest, the dial of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211 shows a pleasantly executed blued steel seconds hand, a date at 3 o’clock outlined by a carefully completed metallic part, applied GS logo at 12 o’clock and a marginally recessed and finished force save pointer. Writing on the dial is restricted to the essential.
Overall, the dial and hands are basically noteworthy and, combined with the greatly executed case, make a degree of value that couple of brands can coordinate in this value range. So you probably won’t be intrigued by the plan from the start, or not particularly enamored with Spring Drive innovation, however credit where credit is due… Grand Seiko really aces these means of the creation process.
Spring Drive technology
What is “Spring Drive”? The watchmaking business depends primarily on two sorts of advancements to direct a watch and to show the time – and a third that is today’s topic.
- – the traditional way, where the movement of the parts depend exclusively on mechanical powers (no outer wellspring of energy like a battery). Force is given by a mainspring that, as it loosens up, conveys energy to the pinion wheels. Force is moved by a stuff train to a controlling organ (composed of an equilibrium and a hairspring) and an escapement that will direct the speed of the development and in this way demonstrate the time.
- – a battery-fueled development where an electronic oscillator is managed by a quartz gem to keep time. Fundamentally, the battery sends power to a quartz oscillator, whose exact vibrations are distinguished by a coordinated circuit (IC). The IC then pushes the pinion wheels ahead by precisely one second. This additionally works for advanced watches, where time is shown on a little screen instead.
- – a half breed type of innovation that sits among mechanical and quartz. This innovation, property of Seiko, replaces the customary escapement of a mechanical watch with a quartz oscillator. Be that as it may, all the other things is indistinguishable from a mechanical watch – gears, mainspring, the need to occasionally wind the development to store energy (by methods for the crown or because of a swaying weight much the same as a programmed watch).
Putting aside energy and magnificence of the craftsmanship, quartz has a few points of interest. Having less mechanical parts and, mostly, being controlled by a steady quartz precious stone resonator – that in theory will resound at the specific 32,768Hz recurrence – brings about watches that can be undeniably more precise than a mechanical watch. In the event that a mechanical watch with chronometer affirmation is viewed as exact with deviations of not exactly – 4/+6 seconds every day, a top of the line quartz watch can be managed to a comparative deviation each month! Seiko even cases a ±5 seconds of the year deviation on its 9F quartz calibres.
However, returning energy to the condition, quartz watches have significant imperfections. They are outfitted with a battery or sun oriented energy (individual note: prompt major issue), they can’t be seen through a caseback (there’s essentially very little to see) and they have less passionate angles. This is all completely silly however this is the very purpose for gathering mechanical watches (or vintage cars).
That being said, Seiko Corporation dealt with an idea… “In 1977, Yoshukazu Akahane, a youthful watch engineer, chosen to endeavor the apparently inconceivable, the production of an ‘never-ending’ watch. His point was a customary watch, controlled by a mainspring, that would convey the one-second-a-day exactness of which the company’s electronic watches were at that point competent. 28 years and 600 models later, he understood his fantasy and Spring Drive was introduced to the world.”
In 2004, the principal Grand Seiko Spring Drive, a model utilizing Caliber 9R65, was delivered. Combining a customary mainspring with an electronic controller, the thought was to combine the most amazing aspect the two universes. On one side, the unending energy conveyed to the watch, fueled by the wearer’s movement, and the magnificence of a practically mechanical development with wheels, gears, pinions, connects and swaying weight. On the other side, profiting by the most extreme accuracy offered by quartz technology.
The fundamental rule is to switch the controlling part, all the rest (80% of the components) stay indistinguishable from a mechanical watch. Energy is put away in a mainspring barrel, controlled by the movement of a rotor, and conveyed to the directing organ by the methods for a stuff train.
The managing organ is rather complex. A Spring Drive development uses a selective speed control system, fusing an IC, an electronic brake and a quartz gem. Without an instrument to change the speed at which the mainspring gets back to its loosened up state, it would loosen up quickly and the watch would come to an unexpected stop. To understand the objective of exact timekeeping, a component to control the speed at which the spring loosens up is needed.
As its name proposes, the Tri-synchro controller utilizes three sorts of energy to direct the moving parts and build up synchronicity:
- Mechanical power, from the mainspring
- Electrical power, making a reference signal by means of an IC/quartz oscillator
- Electromagnetic power, to apply a brake by means of a rotor/stator
These three powers work in amicability to direct the manner in which the spring loosens up and to empower the exact development of the seconds hand. Therefore, a Spring Drive development has a force save of 72 hours and an amazing exactness, with a normal month to month pace of ±15 seconds (or ±1 second out of each day by and large). The other favorable position is having a seconds hand with a very smooth movement. See the video below:
In short, Spring Drive is great innovation. Positively less inwardly driven than a mechanical development, nonetheless, it offers numerous points of interest. It isn’t a quartz development you may discover in an ordinary EUR 100 design watch. It is cross breed innovation – something very stylish these days – where a three-hand form actually has more than 200 mechanical components and a chronograph over 300.
Movement of the Snowflake SBGA211
Inside the titanium instance of the Snowflake SBGA211 is the type 9R65, a development completely planned and delivered by Seiko – including the local quartz gem. As referenced, it includes a programmed winding instrument and a 72-hour power save. Capacities incorporate hours, minutes, seconds on the focal pivot, a date and a force save pointer. The development additionally includes a stop-seconds and can be physically wound (like all mechanical movements).
Looking through the sapphire caseback, the “non-mechanical” nature of this development is rather hard to spot. There is even such a “regulating” organ obvious (truth be told the driving haggle) non-watch master could without much of a stretch think he/she’s looking at a programmed watch.
As for the completing and embellishment, the development is in accordance with the remainder of the watch and offers significantly more than its sticker price proposes. The extensions are pleasantly enhanced with thick and profound ribbings and embellished with enormous, glossy slants. Gems and screws subsets are additionally profoundly cleaned. Altogether, an enhancement that is really amazing for a watch of this category.
Quality, accuracy, consideration regarding subtleties and flexibility are the words that come to mind when looking at this Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211. We are really intrigued by this watch, by the execution of its case/arm band, the excellence and unobtrusive innovation of its dial, the degree of subtleties of the hands, the comfort it offers as an every day blender and, might I venture to say it, the Spring Drive movement.
Certainly, this watch is more specialized, less passionate, somewhat colder than one of the new hand-wound, vintage-propelled Grand Seiko Elegance pieces . It is very “rational” and in this point of view, it succeeds. For somebody on the chase for a solitary extravagance watch that will give comfort, protection from day by day hostilities (and considerably more than that) and noteworthy exactness, this is certainly a contender to consider. It won’t appeal to the majority like a Submariner or a Seamaster, notwithstanding, on numerous levels, it is comparable to these watches.
In expansion to this, as watch egotists, we can say that Spring Drive innovation is extraordinary. What’s more, it doesn’t hurt me to compose it. Indeed, it has a quartz oscillator however it is likewise profoundly mechanical and exceptionally bright. One needs to move with the times…
The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211 is accessible at chosen retailers and at the official Grand Seiko stores. It is valued at EUR 5,800 or USD 5,800. More subtleties at www.grand-seiko.com .