Top Calibres: Japanese Watches With Hidden Superpower
Seiko’s Spring Drive
What: This caliber boasts a unique combination of mechanical and quartz parts – think of it as a mechanical watch with electronic precision. It has a mainspring that transfers energy to a tri-synchro regulator that converts it into electrical pulses, resulting in a superlative precision of +/- one second per day.
What’s new: With the Spring Drive celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Seiko has upgraded the movement into the manual-winding Caliber 9R02 with a power reserve of 84 hours, an increase from the regular 72 hours.
This is made possible with two mainsprings, placed parallel to each other in a barrel, and a Torque Return System that translates 30% of unused energy to rewind the mainsprings.
The barrel, which is visible on the caseback, is shaped like a bellflower, the symbol of Shiojiri, the city where Seiko’s Micro Artist Studio that makes Caliber 9R02 is located. The power reserve indicator can be found next to it.
The watch: Caliber 9R02 powers two new Grand Seiko Elegance watches featuring a slim platinum case. One of them is a limited edition of 30 pieces featuring a beautifully hand-carved case and a dial adorned with snowflake pattern.
Citizen’s Caliber 0100
What: Boasting an accuracy of +/- one second per year, Caliber 0100 is the most accurate movement, quartz or mechanical. That’s because it employs an AT-cut quartz crystal that vibrates 250 times higher than the traditional tuning fork-shaped crystal.
In order to overcome the big issue of battery life – the higher the frequency, the more energy it consumes – Citizen has chosen to incorporate Caliber 0100 into the solar-powered Eco-Drive model. This allows the movement to run reliably for up to six months on a single charge even without a light source – eight months if it’s on power saving mode.
The watch: The look of the watch is classic minimalist and there are three versions to choose from – a white gold case with an ivory dial (limited to 100 pieces) and two titanium models, one with a metallic black dial (limited to 500 pieces) and the other a mother-of-pearl dial (200 pieces).