Seiko Grand Seiko High-end Movement Showdown Spring Drive VS Hi Beat
When Grand Seiko is questioned, there is no doubt that the movements of every watch released under the brand are outstanding because they follow the requirement that all Grand Seiko watches be a work of art, a so-called GS standard. But not all Grand Seiko movements are created equal, our goal is to discuss some of the movement types on the mechanical side, the Spring Drive is a movement that mixes mechanical, electrical and electromagnetic energy. Let's understand them first so that we can compare them.
First, we will give you more information about the performance of the Hi-Beat mechanical movements under the Grand Seiko brand. The rapid ticking of Hi-Beat represents the conversion of high-frequency rotation into high precision, which is most evident in chronographs. For the same reason, chronographs, for example, are mainly used by people who rely heavily on time: astronauts, pilots, racers and doctors to name a few...
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat (mechanical high-frequency version)
Like many other movements, the Hi-Beat movement was born out of the watchmaker's pursuit of the highest precision. In the 60s, when the Hi-beat movement was born, the frequency was 18,000 bph (beats per hour). Just for comparison, the average frequency today is 28,800 bph. However, it was not SEIKO that pioneered the Hi-Beat movement, but Girard-Perregaux, the Swiss luxury watchmaker, in 1966.
The first SEIKO Seiko Hi-Beat movement was the 5740C, a hand-wound movement that powered the famous Lord Marvel. Launched in 1967, Lord Marvel was the first Seiko Hi-Beat watch to vibrate at 36,000 bph. Just a year later, Grand Seiko has its Hi-beat representative: the famous 61GS, powered by the 6145 automatic Hi-beat movement, equipped with 25 jewels and beating at 36,000 bph. The production of the 61GS includes a symbolic 36,000 watches. Now, you can imagine how the 61GS raised the precision standard at Seiko at the time.
The Hi-Beat movement made its way into other Seiko collections, such as King Seiko. Perhaps the best indicator of the value of Hi-Beat movements is that they are still highly appreciated by serious collectors. Hi-beat movements in Seiko are also called 10beat movements because they beat 10 times per second.
It's important to be clear that all Hi-Beat movements are mechanical, and their modern versions are even better than the originals. Speaking of Grand Seiko, there is the 9S8X group of movements, probably the most famous of which is the 9S85, which vibrates at 36,000 bph.
Before we get into the details of the 9S8X group action, it's important to note that not all Hi-Beats are self-winding styles. Automatic watches are self-winding mechanical watches powered by the kinetic energy of the movement of the watch wearer. They can, but are not required, as there are also options for manual winding. When it comes to Grand Seiko, you don't even have to make a choice, so we opted for Caliber 9S85, an automatic movement with a manual winding option.
Caliber: 9S85 is a mechanical Hi-Beat movement with a frequency of 36,000 bph, 35 jewels and a power reserve of 55 hours. It has an accuracy rating of -5 to +3 seconds per day and is achieved through the use of Seiko-designed Spron alloys and MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) technology and the virtuosity of its watchmakers. The most famous 9S85 watches are: Grand Seiko Hi-beat SBGH001 (white dial), SBGH005 (black dial) and SBGH035 (white dial), rated Special and offering greater precision than the standard 9S85 movement.
Another timepiece worth mentioning here is the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Professional 600m Diver's Style. Packing all the benefits of Caliber 9S85 in a Zaratsu polished case with rotating bezel, iron dial with 16,000 Gauss reluctance, and titanium bracelet with sliding extensions to fix pressure changes, it basically provides the professional diver's watch experience. Functionality and wonderful aesthetics integrated into Grand Seiko. In short, a masterpiece of watch style.
The Grand Seiko 9S86 is a self-winding Hi-Beat movement with GMT function. It's basically a 9S85 with a GMT function. It offers an accuracy of -5 to -3 seconds per day, has 37 jewels, and a power reserve of 55 hours, the same as its sibling, the 9S85. Like all GMT watches, the GMT manual adjuster is used to show international travelers the time in their home time zone. The best representatives are the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat SBGJ001, SBGJ003 and SBGJ005 (limited edition). Caliber 9S86 also appears in special ultra-precise watches: SBGJ007, SBGJ008 and SBGJ010.
Aside from Grand Seiko, the best representation of a Seiko Hi-Beat watch is the Seiko Prospex Ocean Master 1000m Hi-Beat 135th Anniversary Edition SBEX005. This is a JDM model (Japanese domestic market) with a built-in 8L55 caliber encased in a titanium case with a diamond shield on top. It has 37 jewels, provides +15 to -10 seconds of accuracy per day, and has a 55-hour power reserve.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive (Three Energy Arranger Style)
This brings us to the famous Spring Drive. The beauty of it is that it combines the work of an automatic mechanical movement and a quartz watch, propelling it to the top of the charts in terms of accuracy. Therefore, Grand Seiko timepieces with built-in Spring Drive are at the high end of the brand's pricing.
One of the most famous Grand Seiko watches is of course the one with Spring Drive, of course the Snowflake (SBGA011), with its attractive white dial reminiscent of fluffy snow and the 9R65 movement with a 72-hour power reserve. Snowflake has an accuracy of 15 seconds per month, as well as other watches with the same movement model, such as the Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA001, SBGA003, SBGA083 and SBGA085.
Other Spring Drive-powered Grand Seiko watches are usually limited editions, such as the Grand Seiko SBGA103, SBGA105, and SBGA107 (all with a 9R15 movement, rated at 10 seconds per month). Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches also include GMT watches (SBGE001, SBGE 005 and SBGE011), dive watches (SBGA029, SBGA031) and chronographs (SBGC001, SBGC003 and SBGC005) with 9R66 inside.
Besides the Grand Seiko, the Seiko Prospex Ocean Master 600m Spring Drive SBDB009 is another example of a fine watch with a built-in Spring Drive. The so-called Spring Drive tuna can, the SBDB009 has a protective titanium case and the Spring Drive 5R65 movement, basically the entry-level version of the 9R65 movement, which means it offers less than 15 seconds of accuracy and 82 hours per month power reserve.
Comparing the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat to the Grand Seiko Spring Drive watch is probably ungrateful, as both collections contain top-of-the-line timepieces, making it difficult to pinpoint one as the better one. Both of these panels offer exceptional accuracy and will do their job impeccably, whether it's timekeeping, making you look great or making other collectors jealous. But if we had to choose, we'd probably lean more towards the Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches, at least in terms of their power reserve. The Grand Seiko Hi-beat watch usually has a power reserve of 55 hours, while the Grand Seiko Spring Drive watch has a power reserve of 72 hours, with the exception of the watch with the 9R01 movement, which has a power reserve of up to 192 hours. The best examples are SBDG201 and SBDG202 from GS 9R Spring Drive 8Days.