Escapement Watch Review: Seiko Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph


In this in-depth review from my online watch magazine, Escapement, I take a look at the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph Caliber 9R86 SBGC001. The watch features a column-wheel chronograph, a Spring Drive movement, a power-reserve indicator and 24 hour GMT display.

The onset of middle-age is a depressing thought. I mourn the loss of my once-flowing locks. The efficacy of my hearing has waned and I now require two pairs of spectacles to perform the most basic of tasks.


Seiko’s Grand Seiko collection now includes a watch that at least redresses the problems of age-related myopia. The Japanese brand has always been masterful at creating highly legible dials and, with this range of Spring Drive Chronographs, it also offers push-pieces that are capable of effortless operation by aging hands.

The dial:

The dial color is interesting: sometimes it appears creamy and warm, whereas on other occasions it evinces an icy, silvery tone. Grand Seiko watches generally have incredible dials and their high quality is apparent on close examination.


Each numeral is crisp and sharp, and legibility is accentuated by the dual-curve sapphire crystal, featuring some of the finest anti-reflective treatment you are ever likely to see. Seiko makes its own sapphire crystals and the company’s mastery at producing these high-definition, lens-like structures is truly exceptional.

The sword-shaped hands are similar to those found on other Grand Seiko models I have previously reviewed. They have a razor-like edge to their profile that courts light and refracts it with highly legible brilliance.


This Grand Seiko has applied, faceted hour markers, brilliantly polished and shining splendidly in ambient light.

A slim, central seconds chronograph hand is presented in blued steel and, as with those on other Spring Drive models, glides around the dial in a smooth, seamless motion. This hand collaborates with the chapter ring, marked with neat black strokes and small Arabic numerals, to allow elapsed seconds to be readily interpreted.

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  1. George Tobler

    Bought my Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chrono 4 months ago. Despite its large size, it wears very comfortably. Most importantly, it is incredibly accurate and well built. Last month, it was off by one single second. It is in a completely different category with its precision from my mostly more expensive Swiss chronometers from Omega, Zenith (otherwise my favorite) and Breguet. Swiss watchmakers beware! Don‘t let anybody fool you: this is not quartz competition. It is a fully mechanical watch with many more parts than any Swiss watch I know of. Good thing (for Swiss watchmakers) that Zenith promised to bring us its Defy. There is hope. Can‘t wait!

  2. DokDoom

    Excellent write up Angus.

    The Grand Seikos are growing on me in a big way to the point that when I buy my next watch I’ll definitely give these a going deal of consideration.

    The sheer quality of the dial/hands/case is what’s really attracting me here.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Grand Seiko are perceived over the next few years as they become more available outside of Japan.

    On an unrelated (sort of) note I’m still kicking myself for not picking up a Seiko Ananta when in Singapore a few years ago. now it looks like Seiko have phased them out :(

  3. Acrowot

    I loved the write up about the Grand Seiko. Would love to be able to spend money on one. I have quite a few Seiko watches and have a Premier Kinetic, which is a fabulous timekeeper. From our winter time to spring time change of the hour (October – March), this watch has gained just 2 seconds. Fabulous timekeeping. Thank you for your piece about the Grand Seiko.

  4. Carl Dreher

    Seiko “Spring Drive” technology always leaves me cold. At its heart, it is still an electronic watch. The time-keeping element is quartz. It is all very clever, yes, but it just seems like a hybrid that neither achieves the engineering honesty of a purely electronic watch nor the artistic purity of a mechanical watch.

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