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Innovation in watches: Seiko Spring Drive

The movement that “wound up” replacing the Kinetic but not by building upon the same design. Spring Drive is an automatic watch that has quartz accuracy, but that’s the only way it is similar to an automatic quartz. For Spring Drive to improve on Kinetic they had to forget everything that made Kinetic work and start from scratch.

With the Kinetic the purpose was to have a quartz watch that could power itself with motion of the wearer’s wrist and hold energy in a capacitor. It was getting a quartz watch to borrow elements of an automatic mechanical watch.

Spring Drive is the opposite; it is an automatic mechanical watch that has borrowed elements of a quartz watch.

For the most part the Spring Drive movements are the same as an automatic mechanical movement. The rotor winds the mainspring and the mainspring pushes on intermediate gears connected to the hands. But on the other end of this train of gears is a very key difference. Where a mechanical watch will have a balance with a delicately tuned hairspring to regulate the rate of escapement, Spring Drive has something much more exciting.

The last gears in the train are connected to a small dynamo that creates enough energy to power a quartz circuit and electromagnet. This creates an electromagnetic brake to slow and control the rate of escapement.

The result is a watch with quartz accuracy and one perpetually driven by the motion of the wearer’s wrist; Kinetic 2.0



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