The Grand Seiko Spring Drive 8 Day isn't designed as an answer to Rolex or Omega. It isn't simply the flagship of the Grand Seiko watch brand. The Grand Seiko SBGD001 (and SBGD201) is Japan's response to luxury watches from haute horlogerie brands including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, F.P. Journe, and A. Lange & Sohne. With a 43mm platinum case, a hand-finished movement, and a "diamond dust" dial, the Spring Drive 8 Day is a no-compromise statement of subject mastery from Japan's largest watchmaker.
The Spring Drive 8 Day launched at Baselworld in 2016. As the first Grand Seiko from the Seiko Micro Artist Studio, the Spring Drive 8 Day was created using resources generally reserved for Seiko's crown jewel, the Credor collection of haut-de-gamme watches. Micro Artist was created in the year 2000 with a collection of roughly a dozen watchmakers and artisans. Although these specialists scoured the globe to observe the best watchmaking techniques available, considerable thought also was dedicated to making the Micro Artist Studio uniquely Japanese. Set among the mountainous midlands of Japan, Shiojiro, Nagano-based Micro Artist fuses the best of Geneva, La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Vallee de Joux, and Glashutte in the heartland of traditional Japanese handcrafts.
The Grand Seiko SBGD001 -- and later SBGD201 -- are designed to maximize their inherent values. Each platinum case is polished using Grand Seiko's "Zaratsu" tin plate polishing method; it's a craft that requires three years to master. The "diamond dust" dial is created via stamping, polishing, and galvanizing. Each dial includes hands, indices, and logos finished by hand using micro-level tools. And because Grand Seiko aspires to lead the industry in dial quality, the gliding blue seconds hand is true fired-steel.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive caliber 9R01 provides precision and endurance to the 8 Day. More than any other factor, the 37mm diameter of this three-barrel movement explains why the watch measures 43mm in diameter. Manual winding of the watch yields 192 hours of power reserve via the three mainspring barrels in series. The caseback power reserve indicator keeps the dial of the watch clean and balanced. Setting the watch while traveling can be performed using a feature that permits independent operation of the hour hand while the others remain unaffected. Hacking seconds is provided. Due to the hybrid mechanical-quartz operation of Spring Drive technology, the physical drive of the watch is 100 percent mechanical by mainsprings, but the regulator is a quartz oscillator capable of assuring accuracy of ten seconds per month.
The 100-meter water resistance of the Spring Drive 8 Day is unexpected in the dress watch class, but it emphasizes the over-engineered status of this Japanese watch.
Finishing of the caliber 9R01 is world-class. Micro Artist personnel emphasize mile-wide bevels on the bridges of all watches produced in the studio. The bridges of the 9R01 are up to three times as thick as those on standard Grand Seiko watches in order to enable such lavishly drawn anglage better support the drivetrain. Screws are blued in a kiln using heat -- not dyed in chemicals to achieve their color. Micro Artist Studio craftsmen (and women) decorate the bridges with simple satin graining across their tops. The upper left corner of the movement depicts the image of a mountain peak often described as Mount Fuji; the lower right corner features an engraving of the Bellflower, a symbol of the Shiojiri area.
Grand Seiko's Spring Drive 8 Day is proof that the humble name "Seiko" graces the dials of the world's best watches.
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