Few watch aficionados realize that the Japanese brand Seiko has a history as old as many of its Swiss rivals. Founded in the 1880s, the company began manufacturing wristwatches after World War I and quickly became an innovative leader, developing one of the world's first automatic chronographs. But perhaps Seiko's greatest achievement came about in its race with the American brand Bulova to harness new technology, leading to the quartz watch, which revolutionized the industry and nearly drove the Swiss out of business.
More innovations followed, including the first computer wristwatch, in 1984, and the first nonbattery quartz watch. To this list we can now add another groundbreaker: the Seiko Spring Drive mechanical movement, which is accurate to one second per day, making it approximately three times more precise than the average mechanical watch. The Spring Drive also provides an enduring seventy-two hours of power reserve (most watches offer about forty) and winds 30 percent faster than a conventional movement.
According to Seiko, twenty-eight years of work went into developing this movement, and only five of the company's hundreds of watchmakers possess the requisite skills to assemble it. Regardless of its technological history, the Seiko Spring Drive is a skillfully designed watch, with graceful hands and interesting use of off-center dials.