This is a review quite some time in the making. It started in March of 2021 when I went a little crazy. Well, watch-crazy, to be more accurate. You know that mental state when you get obsessed with a watch and can’t stop looking up information about it, the brand, the movement, comparable watches (to make sure you’re correct in your obsession), etc? Yeah, that. Somehow, somewhere, the idea of Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive got deep in my psyche, and I needed to get one. Not wanted, needed.
Be warned, what follows is a first-hand account of watch-induced madness. A journey from an idea to an obsession to a purchase. This isn’t a typical review but more of a personal recounting of my experiences with a watch I’ve spent a lot of time with (which, I suppose is what I review is, but I digress). If you’re looking for pure stats and objective analysis of design features, this isn’t necessarily going to be for you, though there will be plenty of both… you’ve been warned.
My obsessions don’t usually start with the movement. Like everyone else, I generally see a watch at launch or stumble across it while surfing the ‘ol web, think “that’s for me” and go from there (to be clear, I don’t buy most, but you know the feeling). But in this instance, the unique concept of the Spring Drive suddenly clicked in my mind. Although I had known about it for a while, one day it just made sense. The combination of mechanical and quartz for a hyper-accurate movement with a perfectly smooth sweeping hand became irresistible.
In the last few years, my tastes have matured (or, at least, changed) and I’ve also become increasingly jaded due to a neverending bombardment of new watches (poor me, I know). This has led to seeking new watches for different experiences over pure aesthetics or style, and the Spring Drive seemed to offer something actually new. Sure, it still just told time, but it did so in a way that, behind the scenes (or the display case-back) was different than any other movement. I just needed to try it.
And I did. I reviewed the, Snow Flake which was a great taste, but it didn’t satisfy my hunger. After all, there is a difference between wearing a loaned watch for review, and owning a watch (perhaps we can call this non-sympathetic state the “reviewer’s dilemma”?). When I’ve shelled out my own cash, it’s like everything gets amplified. I pay closer attention to the minutiae. The fit, the feel, the experience. So, I began to pursue curing myself of this obsession through retail therapy and immediately hit a speed bump.
When what you seek is a movement, you end up with a lot of options. I needed direction. As this was to be my first (and at the time, I assumed, only) Grand Seiko, I wanted it to be as Grand Seiko as a Grand Seiko could be. I wanted it all. I wanted a case that screamed Grammar of Design. I wanted Zaratsu polish in full effect. I wanted a dial that showed off their superlative texturing abilities. I wanted that smooth glide of a Spring Drive front and center. And, of course, I needed it to be within budget…