Grand Seiko was formed in 1960 as Japanese brands of all kinds attempted to outdo the world’s leaders in every industry from motorcycles to watches. By the late ’60s, Seiko’s mechanical movements were winning top prizes in Geneva, and by the end of the 1970s, the brand had set out to create a mainspring-powered watch accurate to one second per day. After 600 prototypes, the Spring Drive was born in 1999.
Unlike traditional mechanical movements, Spring Drive uses a quartz crystal powered by a mainspring to achieve its superior accuracy, making it an unusual quartz–mechanical hybrid. Much like the Ferrari-beating Japanese supercars of the 1990s, it represents a unique solution that remains divisive.
By every measure, however, the 20th Anniversary edition of Spring Drive is a triumph. Its dial and platinum case are both hand-engraved in a delicate “Snowflake” pattern, with hands and hour markers made from 14 karat white gold. The latest manual-wind Spring Drive movement is now accurate to about 15 seconds per month. Limited to just 30 pieces hand-finished in Shiojiri, Japan, the 20th Anniversary edition of Spring Drive is a spectacular example of Grand Seiko’s attention to detail, inside and out.