Seiko has been making watches for a long time. However, when the Japanese watchmaker introduced their first kinetic watch in the 1980’s they changed the game. Let’s first see if Seiko still makes these watches!
Does Seiko still make kinetic watches? Yes, Seiko does still make kinetic watches. A few of it’s best known kinetic models are the Direct Drive, Kinetic Perpetual and the Kinetic GMT. Millions of these watches have been sold throughout the years.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way it’s time to see if these kinetic watches are any good. After that, let’s look at the different models that are still commercially available today.
What Is A Kinetic Watch?
Kinetic watches were first introduced by Seiko at the 1986 Basel Watch Fair. The watches were, and still are, quite revolutionary compared to the quartz and automatic watches that were made at the time.
Reason being that the downfalls of quartz and automatic watches don’t apply to kinetic watches. Quartz watches eventually run out of battery which means they will have to be taken to a specialist who can service it.
Automatic watches need less maintenance but the main spring that is used to wind the watch will eventually wear out. Once again this means taking it to a specialist who can service it for you.
Seiko Kinetic watches aren’t like this. In essence they work the same as automatic watches. The energy that is needed to power the watch is generated by the rotor which spins on an axis. However, the difference between automatic an kinetic watches is that a kinetic watch does not use a mainspring.
Instead the electric energy that is created by this kinetic movement is stored in a capacitor inside the watch. This energy is then transfered to a step motor which in turn powers the hands and movements of the watch.
Over time this mechanism has evolved and Seiko has introduced numerous models that try to use the kinetic movement more effectively. We will have a look at these models and the differences between them in a minute.
When Did Seiko Introducte The First Kinetic Watch?
As said Seiko introduced the first kinetic watch in 1986 at the Basel Watch Fair. Since Japanese watchmakers were giving Swiss watchmakers a run for their money the Swiss decided to invite the Japanese to their own event. They hoped to keep up with the Japanese competition.
Instead Seiko introduced there first kinetic model which was more durable than the automatic Swiss watches. In 1988 these watches were eventually sold for the first time ever. Early series are called Auto-Quartz or AGS (Automatic Generating System).
These early watches had a monthly rate of around 15 seconds and provided 75 hours of continous operation when fully charged. To this day kinetic watches are considered quite heavy and weigh in at around 1/3 pound (or around 150 grams) which means they are almost always men’s watches.
Are Seiko Kinetic Watches Good?
The early kinetic models received mixed reviews when they first became commercialy available. Even though the watches were revolutionary they didn’t come without faults.
One of the main complaints was the fact that the early models (such as the 5M2x and the 5M4x) required 800 full rotations in order to fully charge. This would only happen if the watch was in motion which meant that you had to wear the watch all day, otherwise it would run out of charge.
Furthermore the capacitors within the first models where prone to failure and leakage. This meant that they eventually had to be replaced. Seiko decided to replace them with a rechargeable titanium lithium ion cell. This particular cell was far more durable and held more power than the original cells.
These cells are now called Kinetic ESU and they are still used within Seiko’s Kinetic models to this day. Depending on the model these cells can hold a charge for one month all the way up to four years.
Since modern models use these particular cells kinetic watches are considered very reliable and durable. Since it’s introduction Seiko has sold millions of these watches all over the world making them a very reliable purchase.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the Kinetic watches that Seiko still sells to this day. Furthermore we will also discuss what makes these watches unique or special compared to other watches.
Kinetic Direct Drive
The Kinetic Direct Drive is considered an evolvement of the original kinetic watches that Seiko made. Reason being that this watch doesn’t solely rely on kinetic movement and, instead, has a ”direct drive” option.
Direct drive means that you’re actually able to charge this watch with manual winding. Seiko calls this ”emotional technology” since you’re actually able to feel the watch charge.
Furthermore this watch displays in great detail how much power is still left. When fully charged the watch has up to one month of charge. This is displayed via a charge indicator in the watch.
At the top of the indicator there is an “M” which stands for month. Next up is a “W” which stands for week followed by a “D” for day. Lastly the indicator has a ”0” which indicates the watch is empty.
When you manually wind the watch the power indicator takes on another form. The hand on the gauge moves to show you how much power you’re actually generating with each turn.
When you’re done winding the hand then moves to show how much energy you just generated in total. Eventually it will turn back to indicate the overall charge that is still left.
Kinetic Perpetual Calendar
The Seiko Kinetic Perpetual Calendar series is best know for the fact that it displays not only time but also the correct date and day. Furthermore the watch is build to run correctly until the 28th of February 2100. Therefore it also automatically accounts for leap years.
This watch also makes use of Seiko’s “Auto-Relay” system. This system means that the watch can essentially go into sleep-mode. The hands of the watch will actually stop ticking (which preserves) energy. However, the watch will still ”remember” the right time. Once you pick it up and shake it the hands of the watch will automatically go to the correct time.
This advantage of this system is that the Kinetic Perpetual Calendar is able to hold a charge for up to 4 (!) years.
The Seiko Kinetic GMT combines the beauty of a kinetic watch with the functionality of a GMT watch. The combination of these two functionalities make this watch ideal for travelers.
For those of you who are not yet familiar with a GMT watch, let me explain that briefly. Basically it means that the watch indicates two time zones: the one that you live in and the general GMT time.
Let’s say you travel through the night a lot. Sometimes things can get confusing and it’s hard to indicate whether or not it’s 5 A.M. or 5 P.M. A GMT-watch displays the GMT-time on a 24 hour clock. This means that you will be easily be able to tell if it’s 5 in the morning (05:00) or 5 in the afternoon (17:00).
Furthermore these watches can go up to 6 months on a full charge. Finally, they also have a power reserve indication which you can activate at a press of the button.