Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake SBGA211

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For some reason, Spring Drive Snowflake is a major fan of Seiko.

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA011 is well-known by fans of Seiko, referred to as “Snowflake” for short, it may be the most iconic model of the Grand Seiko Spring Drive, first launched in 2010 (unbelievable). In the seven years since it came out, it has become a fan favorite, and it has also been favored by critics. Its unique dial has been praised, as has Seiko’s general assembly and finish. Interestingly, Grand Seiko has never provided this dial with any movement other than Spring Drive. In fact, for traditional automatic movements or traditional self-winding movements, the characteristics of the Spring Drive movement are important to the watch as a whole. The overall impact is crucial. Quartz movement, this may be a very different wrist experience, maybe a little subtle but correct.

The Snowflake story actually has two parts: one is the overall aesthetics, and the other is the Spring Drive movement. Snowflake is a very calming watch-the subtle light on the dial is similar to the newly fallen, slightly drifting snow field, and the silent, smooth sliding of the blue steel second hand, combined together, can be made The feeling of becoming time flows uninterruptedly, but not hurriedly or slowly. It seems to look at time almost from an eternal perspective, because people should be immersed in meditation. In contrast, a mechanical watch presents time as a series of oscillations-the frequency of the balance wheel can be seen in the forward movement of the second hand’s yaw. As the escape wheel is unlocked, the balance jumps forward once every time it swings.

Quartz replica watches work differently. Quartz vibrates 32,768 times per second; this is done because quartz is a piezoelectric material, which means that when you pass through quartz, quartz deforms mechanically. Piezoelectric materials also generate electrical current when they are mechanically deformed, which means you can easily count the number of times the crystal vibrates per second (you only need to count the number of electrical pulses it generates). The reason for choosing the frequency is simple: 32,768 is 2 to the 15th power. By dividing the pulse repetition from the crystal by 2, you can easily get the 1-second interval. The dividing integrated circuit then sends a signal to the stepper motor to advance the second hand by one increment. This jumping second is a feature of the long-outdated double escapement, a variation of this escapement that was widely used in 19th century Chinese watches. George Daniels said in the watch industry: “This system was once highly valued by the Chinese, who despised the second hand crawling on the watch.”

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This is just to point out that the movement of the second hand will naturally become an important part of our perception of the passage of time and the characteristics of the watch. There are so many cases that dead femtoseconds (the so-called deathless femtosecond complication) are often despised by mechanical watch enthusiasts, who find it too much like a quartz watch (even if the name Rolex is not enough to make this This kind of watch) complications are commercially successful, witnessing the obscurity of Rolex Tru-Beat. High-frequency quartz watches, like high-beat mechanical watches, can give people a sense of smooth and continuous movement, but Spring Drive is the only watch technology that has a true continuous forward movement function.

The evolution of spring transmission
As with any basic advancement in timing technology, Spring Drive’s pregnancy is long and sometimes painful. The original idea was put forward by Yoshikazu Akahane, an engineer from Seiko Epson in Shioji City, Nagano Prefecture (now known as Shinshu Watch Studio), to reflect his views on Grand Seiko Spring Drive and Grand Seiko quartz watches. Focus; it is also the location of Micro Artist Studio, such as Eichi II and Credor’s high-end Spring Drive timepieces, their watchmaking complexity is very high. Akabane began to try this in the late 1970s (the date usually given is around 1977) An idea, and the first patent for the concept was granted in 1982. However, it was not until 20 years later that Seiko showed the movement publicly in 2002. In 1997, the Baselworld (Baselworld). 1998, the first batch Spring Drive watch is released.

There are several reasons why it took so long. The spring-driven movement contains a quartz oscillator, but the similarities with traditional quartz watches are over here. The quartz watch has a battery. In addition, Spring Drive does not or does not have a quartz watch-as HODINKEE large code editor Joe Thompson pointed out, many of the first commercially successful quartz watches are digital, not analog-and in Spring Drive, the pointer is a must Indispensable (it is impossible to build the digital display of the Spring Drive watch). In addition, Spring Drive watches are driven by a clockwork; the quartz watch industry is unparalleled. The closest relatives may be Seiko’s Kinetic and Swiss Autoquartz movements, but they are standard quartz watches with rotor-driven micro-generators that can charge rechargeable batteries. In fact, the Spring Drive watch is technically no different from any other mechanical watch, directing to the position of the escape wheel in the standard movement.

The escape wheel, lever and balance wheel will appear in traditional watches, we can find what Seiko said as the Tri-Synchro regulator. “Tri” refers to the three types of energy present in the regulating system: the magnetic field energy generated by the sliding wheel; mechanical; from clockwork and electricity, from quartz crystal. The last gear in motion turns the so-called skid wheel, which has a permanent magnet on its hub. It rotates between two electromagnets located at one end of a pair of winding coils according to a pair of Faraday’s laws. The whole object is used as a generator (the pulley acts as a rotor). The law assumes that the conductor moving in a magnetic field will generate current.

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The generated current flows to the integrated circuit and the quartz crystal. As the current flows through the crystal and the crystal, the crystal vibrates, and the IC counts the oscillations. However, the IC does not divide by 2 until it counts to an interval of one second, and then sends the signal to the stepper motor, but instead transfers energy back to the electromagnet surrounding the sliding wheel. The electrical energy becomes magnetic here, which exerts braking energy on the sliding wheels. The feedback electric energy is precisely controlled, so that the sliding wheel rotates exactly eight times per second. Therefore, the sliding wheel ensures that the balance spring unwinds in a controlled manner in the same way as the escape wheel, pallet fork and balance spring (and balance spring) of a traditional watch control the release speed of the balance spring.

Therefore, in essence, the spring-driven movement is mechanical, but has an electromagnetic escapement adjusted by a quartz oscillator. One of the reasons why Spring Drive development took a long time is because it generates very little energy. In order to be used in commercial watches, it is necessary to develop a special low energy consumption integrated circuit, and the coil must be wound with very thin copper wire to ensure the maximum number of turns of the winding. The coil itself. To this end, a special hexagonal cross-section wire has been developed, so that the coil can be wound with no gaps (or even microscopic gaps) between the turns, which means that the total volume in a given volume The length is greater. In fact, you can see with the naked eye the difference between the coil used in the Seiko Kinetic watch (the battery is charged by the mechanical rotor) and the Spring Drive coil; in our recent salt oji tour, we were able to photograph two coils side by side.

Very little electricity is produced. One way of visualization is to imagine everyone on the planet wearing a Spring Drive watch. If this is the case, the electricity generated is only enough to light a 100-watt light bulb. In order to have an acceptable power reserve, the entire system must work very efficiently, which is why it is necessary to develop new coil systems and efficient integrated circuits. In order to reduce friction loss to the absolute lowest level, mechanical wheels must also be manufactured and assembled with high precision (this is easy to miss for Spring Drive, but to make them work, high-precision mechanical best swiss watches and advanced Technology platform).