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reborn grand seiko

Grand Seiko reborn
#1
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Better response on post Grand Seiko rebornIn 1988 the 9581 was Seiko’s first forage into GS territory after the GS brand was abandoned in the early seventies, as the Grand Quartz was in the late seventies. Seiko dropped the Grand Quartz brand in favour of Grand Seiko, with GS also in the dial. In reviving GS as a quartz collection in 1988, it was imperative that the Japanese Manufacture developed a Voltage Compensated Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator (VCTCXO) module, which features both thermo-compensation and a rate trimmer, that would live up to the GS name and standard. 
The 9581 then is a very well made watch, even if slightly small for todays taste. Its movement is a Seiko Quartz Cal 9581A, with 7 Jewels, 32’768 Hz, Thermal compensation, Anti-magnetic, Accuracy: +/- 10 sec/day, 3-year battery life.
It is one of the very few Seiko watches that uses a 17mm lug. The caliber is very high end and is rated at 10s/year, which would make it one of the worlds most accurate watches even today, 20 years later. It is also one of the cheapest ways to get a GS. 
The outcome was a quartz module that was larger and more robust than previous “thin” Seiko HEQs, encased in practical and legible cases and dial that have been Grand Seiko signatures. The Cal 9581A, later re-designated 9F81, is equipped with a unique Twin Pulse Control high-torque stepper motor which makes each second hand movement in two fluid pulses to reduce energy consumption. Instantaneous Date change occurs over just 0.5 milliseconds, while a backlash auto-adjustment mechanism eliminates stepper error. Furthermore, the movement module is air-tight, ensuring the stepper rotor and lubricants are protected from particles of dust. This last feature maintains optimal performance for an estimated period of 50 years before requiring a service.
One cannot ignore that the GS Quartz is the true carrier of the original ideal of GS, and arguably more so than modern mechanical GS. Owning a GS Quartz is by its very essence, owning the timepiece with the Grand Seiko ideals, the carrier of the original torch of precision. 
In 1992, the last year of 9581 production, the GS line was not only continued by the 9F81 movement but also extended by the caliber 8J.

   

Grand Seiko SBGF and the 8J movement in general was produced from 1997 to 2011 (as far as can be established). It is considered within Seiko to be one of the best quartz movements, much better than the well known 9F and much more stable and accurate. It was expensive to produce and parts of the design made it hard to fit into thinner cases. The more cost effective 9F movement on the other hand is less stable, not so resistant to temperature and magnetic fields and costs about 30 percent less to produce than the 8J. But, importantly, it is thinner, and uses more common parts, therefore the frame can be used for a number of other movements and watches.
However, the 8J is, without a doubt, the most robust high accuracy quartz movement ever made. Even the fact that it had to be thicker works in its advantage resulting in even better thermo compensation performance.
The information coming from internal specs from Seiko in Japanese, on the 8J and 9F movements, is universal, saying the 8J was the last “cost be damned” very robust movement they did. The internal feeling is the 9F is less robust, less accurate, less shielded, and, yes, some of them scoff at the lack of an independent hour hand with which one easily adjusts to other time zones on the 8J.
The very high accuracy +- 5 second twin quartz movements that went before were extremely expensive to produce and were not robust in field use. Their biggest problem was they tended to get fried if worn in hot baths or shower rooms - a real issue here in Japan where the harried salary man has his watch with him in the after work Sauna to benchmark the last train. The 8J was the answer to those concerns.

   

The Grand Seiko SBGF021 harks back to design characteristics of the seventies, for one the shape of the case. It is very reminiscent of Seiko’s crazy days, especially in the way in which the crown side is designed. It is just like some King Seiko Vanacs, but more distinguished. Also, the three dimensional effect of those watches is present here, caused by applying the indexes, the SEIKO and the GS logo to an absolutely stunning effect. The hands are of course baton style, and even the seconds hand is the pencil of old. What I like about that is the match of these design elements, the hands are at their centre about as thick as the hour indices, and where the minute hand meets up with the indices it overlaps just the raised part of it. Just great! And the seconds hand is the same width as the minute indices. The most disturbing and distracting aspect of “modern” Grand Seikos is a mismatch of the aforementioned design choices. The SBGX061, -059 etc. just do not speak to me as for instance the perfect harmony of a Grand Quartz 9940-8000.
 
Ok then, no critique? Well, one other defining feature of the SBGF021, the wide brushed bezel, may be more susceptible to scratches and scuffs than for instance the narrower, highly polished one on the SBGX061. But then again I notice the capped seconds hand, that ads to the luster that many of its 9F family members simply do not have.
[-] The following 6 users say Thank You to Collectionist for this post:
  • Americandad, Bazooka, Harry, Omegaist, paytoplay, SaletCivin
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#2
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Damn. Where do you get these watches? I never come across them on ebay, or other watch sites for that matter.
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#3
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Never knew that about the temperature stuff. The chart is useful, maybe add some other movements?
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#4
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Realizing I don't know anything about quartzes...
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#5
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That's one hell of an article. Wow.
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#6
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(05-24-2017, 01:22 PM)SeikoMan Wrote: That's one hell of an article. Wow.

Thats one hell of a watch - must cost a pretty penny?
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#7
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Fascinating stuff, who knew that the current GS quartz does not have the best caliber?
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#8
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(05-24-2017, 07:53 PM)Harry Wrote:
(05-24-2017, 01:22 PM)SeikoMan Wrote: That's one hell of an article. Wow.

Thats one hell of a watch - must cost a pretty penny?

It would cost you about 1300 euro I would say..
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#9
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(08-02-2017, 10:56 AM)Brawler Wrote:
(05-24-2017, 07:53 PM)Harry Wrote:
(05-24-2017, 01:22 PM)SeikoMan Wrote: That's one hell of an article. Wow.

Thats one hell of a watch - must cost a pretty penny?

It would cost you about 1300 euro I would say..

Not much more than an used 9F, then. Which already are, to this layman's eyes, pretty darn spectacular.
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#10
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Not much more. But I still prefer the 8J over the 9F. Let's not forget that 8J56 has an integrated GMT option. You can just move the minute hand separately when you want to adjust the time for daylight savings or a different time zone. The movement will keep on ticking as if nothing was happening. It is just great.
One can do without of course, but the luxury option is appreciated, like the crown guard and the screw in crown and the drilled lugholes...
Adminishing the #$@ out of it
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#11
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(08-21-2017, 08:45 PM)Collectionist Wrote: Not much more. But I still prefer the 8J over the 9F. Let's not forget that 8J56 has an integrated GMT option. You can just move the minute hand separately when you want to adjust the time for daylight savings or a different time zone. The movement will keep on ticking as if nothing was happening. It is just great.
One can do without of course, but the luxury option is appreciated, like the crown guard and the screw in crown and the drilled lugholes...

The lack of a GMT crown position has always seemed a bit mean to me, considering that high-accuracy quartz is probably the highest expression of Seiko's philosophy and that it was included on 8J56.

Then, a perpetual calendar for the date or even a simple discreet AM/PM indicator (always get it wrong) would round it up. 

I'm not a fan of screw-down crowns, but all my Seiko(s) (9F and 9S) have drilled lugs. Love them (though Patek-style quick changing straps have their beauty as well) !
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#12
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Yes! That last comment about quick changjng straps.... I have one and it is very easy to do.
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#13
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Grand Seiko reborn? Indeed, they have now separated as their own brand division. No longer Seiko on the dial....
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