7 Best Grand Seiko Spring Drive Watches ($5k – $18k+)
Denis Loncaric26 July 2022 | 9 min read
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Grand Seiko watches probably have the biggest selection of Spring Drive timepieces. Besides being affordable, these watches have a beautiful history with our latest article: Seiko takes on the World: Japanese Dragon vs Swiss Monopoly covering this in detail.
Back in 1999, Seiko and Credo launched their first Spring Drive watches, both of which are still produced today. Its technology is praised for its unmatched accuracy and smooth motion without stuttering.
However, most people consider the Spring-Drive to be a separate movement from quartz. It’s perfectly reasonable, but Seiko couldn’t have made it if they didn’t master both quartz and mechanical movements! Thus, this is definitely an innovation based on quartz.
In honour of Seiko’s innovative technology, we wanted to make a list of the best Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches and share their most prominent features!
Frequently Asked Questions About Spring Drive technology:
Who invented the Spring Drive Movement?
In 1977, a determined Seiko engineer named Yoshikazu Akahane embarked on a quest to create the “ever-lasting watch” with mainspring winding and one-second-a-day accuracy. After 28 years, numerous setbacks, and over 600 prototypes, he and his team triumphed by inventing innovative technologies in all aspects of watchmaking.
When was the first Spring Drive Released?
Seiko introduced the “Spring Drive” in 1999, marking the world’s inaugural watch that combined mainspring power with quartz control. The development of this unique Spring Drive technology commenced in 1982 and took nearly 20 years to achieve commercial viability. As a fusion of mechanical and electronic components, Spring Drive represents a breakthrough in watch technology, becoming the industry’s “third engine.”
What is the Spring Drive in a Seiko watch?
Spring Drive is a special technology in Seiko watches that mixes the best of mechanical and electronic watches. It has four main features:
- High accuracy: Spring Drive is very precise, being accurate to 1 second per day.
- Glide-motion: The watch hands move smoothly and constantly, showing the flow of time naturally.
- Long power reserve: The watch can work for 72 hours without needing to be wound up, even if using extra features like a stopwatch.
- Fast winding: A clever part called the ‘Magic Lever’ helps the watch wind up more efficiently.
Spring Drive watches use quartz movement, making them more accurate than regular mechanical watches. The smooth movement of the second hand is a result of this special technology.
1. Grand Seiko Heritage Spring Drive SBGA293
Why do we like it? – Very classy, old vintage look with anti-reflective sapphire.
Let’s clear it right away: Spring Drive watches are usually the ones you need to set aside a certain amount of money to buy them. If you wonder why can’t you find a Spring Drive below $5000, it’s because they consist of the most advanced mechanical technology. Besides that, each one of them has an incredible and unique design with great features.
We are starting with the beautiful Grand Seiko Heritage Spring Drive SBGA293. At first glance, this watch appears very modest, elegant, not bulky, yet perfect for everyday wear and elegant occasions. It has a bit of a vintage design thanks to its black crocodile leather strap with a deployment clasp.
With the classical round shape, the wristwatch has a see-through case back crafted from stainless steel material. The glass of the watch consists of sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating. When it comes to its size, it is 40.2 millimetres in case diameter, while the thickness of the case is 12.8 millimetres.
The watch’s movement is, of course, the spring drive, and the watch’s power reserve is around 3 days or 72 hours. When it comes to the hands, they are in Roman numerals; hence, they are very classy, and there is a date calendar located at three o’clock. Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA2933 also has a power reserve indicator and case back with a lion emblem.
And last but not least, the calibre number of this wristwatch is 9R65, and it is water resistant up to 330 feet or around 100 meters. Overall, the watch is fantastic, and it definitely justifies the price!
2. Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGE205
Why do we like it? – Suitable for both sporty and formal occasions. Very minimalistic and all stainless steel grey look.
Another great Seiko Spring Dial watch but this time, totally different from the first we mentioned. This timepiece is crafted from stainless steel, including the case and band material. It looks like one of the classic grey-steel watches, but there is more than meets the eye.
Grand Seiko SBGE205 is a round wristwatch with a see-through case back coated with anti-reflective sapphire. The watch is analogue and has a stainless steel band with a three-fold clasp and a push button. The case diameter is 41 millimetres, while its thickness is 13.8 millimetres.
When it comes to dial colour, it is silver radiant, and appears very beautiful combined with the rest of the design features. That includes a combination of Roman numerals with the second hand and a date window positioned at three o’clock. Aside from beautiful sapphires, the watch has, as expected, a spring drive movement with 30 jewels and a case back with a lion emblem.
This watch might look more sporty than elegant, but it could easily go with a tuxedo! Also, this beautiful timepiece is water resistant up to 100 meters (330 feet).
3. Grand Seiko Spring Drive Power Reserve SBGA203
Why do we like it? – Another classy and simple yet powerful wristwatch with a minimalistic power reserve indicator.
This watch might resemble the previous one since they both have stainless steel and silver bands; however, there are differences. Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA203 might appear a bit darker due to the black dial. But, this gives a great contrast to the overall design. The hands and the hour Roman marks are in shiny silvery colours that go great with a dark background.
When it comes to its size, it’s 41 millimetres in diameter and 12.5 millimetres thick. Of course, this beautiful timepiece is coated with anti-reflective sapphire, making this watch scratch-proof.
Aside from these features, Seiko SBGA203 has a power reserve indicator and a power reserve of up to 72 hours. This will help you know better when your watch is running out of battery life. Overall, this wristwatch is very neat and has a few details to make it stand out, with great features.
4. Grand Seiko Blue Dial Spring Drive SBGE255
Why do we like it? – Looks very powerful. It might appear bulky, but that is the whole point. The great colour combination and the features never fail!
Like each Seiko Spring Drive watch, this one also has magnificent anti-reflective sapphire. The overall look of the watch might leave you with a bulky feeling, but actually, the case diameter is 40.5 millimetres while the thickness is 14.7 millimetres which is pretty standard. The only detail that reduces the diameter visually is moving the crown to four.
When it comes to the bracelet, it is made of stainless steel in silver colour with the same case material but in blue colour. The mix of these colours makes this watch simple, not too minimalist, but just the right balance to keep out the monotony. The watch’s dial is also in blue while the hands are in silver with Lumi Brite, with the second hand being light blue.
Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBG255 also has a rotating bezel in blue colour, making this watch appear sporty. As for the calibre number, it is 9R66, and it has resistance to water up to 200 meters or 650 feet which is pretty incredible.
With the classic and incredible spring drive movement and power reserve display, this wrist timepiece justifies the expectation and its overall value.
5. Grand Seiko White Snowflake Dial Spring Drive SBGA211
Why do we like it? – Neat and classy stainless steel watch with a distinctive pure white style dial.
Staying away from too many features, details, and colours is what makes this Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA211 so neat and classy. At first glance, you can see and feel that this watch exudes purity and simplicity. Still, it does not look cheap and poor, and that’s what makes this watch so powerful.
This beauty has a classic round shape and analogue display. The case of this watch is made of high-intensity titanium with 41 millimetres in diameter and 12.5 millimetres in thickness. When it comes to the bracelet, is in silver colour, and it features a deployment clasp.
As for the dial, it is in beautiful pure white or what-is-called a snowflake colour, in contrast, whit silver Roman numerals and silver hands with the second hand in blue colour. The date calendar is, as usual, located at three o’clock, and the watch also features the classic push/pull mechanism of its crown.
For the specific characteristic, we would single out the 3 days or around 72 hours of power reserve, an exceptional case back with a lion emblem, and of course, an incredible spring drive movement. As usual, this beautiful wristwatch is water resistant up to 100 meters (330 feet), so it can withstand splashes of water easily.
6. Grand Seiko Chronograph 9R Spring Drive SBGC201
Why do we like it? – All silver watch with alloy steel. Compelling but robust design with dual time function.
Unlike some of the previous Seiko Spring Drive watches, this one has a lot of details and features. For starters, this is also an all-stainless steel watch with a silver band and dial; however, the dial window is coated with anti-reflective sapphire.
As for the case, it is made from alloy steel; it is 43.5 millimetres in diameter and 16.1 millimetres thick. These features make this wristwatch pretty big, so it might not be suitable for someone with smaller wrists.
The design is beautiful because this watch has so many features that make it look so powerful. Seiko SBGC201 has a 24-hour display with a dual time function with a 24-hour display, a power reserve display function, and a calendar-based quick correction function for time differences. The calendar is positioned at 3 o’clock, and it also has three crowns on the right side of the watch.
This beauty looks very powerful, and it is powerful thanks to its 9R86 calibre. Besides that, the watch is also water resistant to 100 meters (330feet) which is always a plus.
7. Grand Seiko Watch Spring Drive Mane of The Lion Dial SBGC231
Why do we like it? – Powerful design, powerful watch, amazing design features with dual time display function.
We wanted to save this beauty for the end. However, we are not going to be modest and will say it right away. This watch belongs to the group of high-end powerful Spring Drive wristwatches, which is for a reason. At first glance, you could already see how vigorous this watch is.
Firstly, we have to point out that this watch is pretty big and bulky, so it might not suit someone with a thinner wrist, but it is actually a thing of preference and choice. On first look, you would probably notice a brownish dial colour that goes so well with a high-intensity titanium case and band with a three-fold clasp and a push button. However, the thing that stands out the most is probably the beautiful ceramic bezel!
When it comes to its size, the watch is 44.5 millimetres in diameter and 16.8 millimetres thick. Grand Seiko SBGC231 features, as expected, spring drive movement, a power reserve display, and Lumi Brite on bezel, hands, and indexes. As for the numerals, they are Roman; however, they are pretty specific and stylish, as well as the hands. We might better say that they appear sporty much more than elegant.
This watch is also a limited edition for many reasons. Besides being a high-end watch, this timepiece also has its serial number engraved on the back of the case, 50 jewels, a dual time display function, and a chronograph with 30 minutes and 12 hours. Aside from that, this might sporty watch can withstand water up to 200 meters or around 650 feet; pretty impressive, though.
With such functions, design details, and overall characteristics, we think everyone is pretty clear why this Grand Seiko SBGC231 falls into the high-end watch category.
Grand Seiko is one of those brands that you are not usually instantly in love with as can happen with other brands that invest heavily into branding and celebrity marketing. With GS it is more a question of slowly falling in love with a brand that deeply cares for every small detail in the product, the more you read about them the more you love what they do.
We hope that you have enjoyed learning about a brand that we love and maybe even helped you pulled the trigger on one of our top picks, we hope to see you soon, to carry on reading the rest of the blog you can do so right here.