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Seiko Factory Visit – Trip Report Part 1

Seiko Factory Visit – Trip Report Part 1

June 8, 2017: Sign-up for the Grand Seiko Experience with Fratello Watches .

In July this year, I got a call from Seiko whether I’d be keen on the Seiko Media Experience 2015 visit in Japan. I happily acknowledged this greeting, as I was interested about Seiko and their creation offices just as about Japan itself. Albeit the program of the Seiko Media Experience was completely loaded with visits and going inside Japan, it would likely gave me a little look into this interesting country.

The Seiko Media Experience 2015 visit comprised of:

    a few courses on the Astron, Grand Seiko and Prospex watches;

  1. factory visits (fundamental spotlight on Grand Seiko) and a few musings to share;
  2. interview with Mr Hattori, CEO of Seiko and a historical center visit.

I (tried to) gave it a touch of figured how I can report about my Seiko trip in the most ideal manner, so I chose to do it like this:

  • Part 1 – Visit to the (Grand) Seiko and Credor facilities in Morioka and Shiojiri;
  • Part 2 – Astron GPS and ProsPex assortments;
  • Part 3 – Seiko Museum visit and meeting with Mr Hattori.

You need to realize that Seiko is a complex association with a variety of legitimate elements and actual areas. With regards to watches, you need to remember three diverse entities:

Seiko Instruments Inc (SII, the primary manufacturing plant we have visited in Morioka), Seiko Epson Cooperation (the Shiojiri production line we’ve visited) and Seiko Watch Corporation. The last is liable for deals and advertising of Seiko watches, around the world. So essentially, it is additionally the company that welcomed me on this outing. The two industrial facilities, in Morioka and Shiojiri, are utilized to create and make (Grand) Seiko and Credor watches, however have various fields of core interest. In Morioka, the creation of mechanical Grand Seiko and Credor watches happens while in Shiojiri, the creation of quartz and Spring-Drive Grand Seiko and Credor watches is being finished. To make it somewhat confounding, in Morioka there is additionally a gigantic office where quartz developments are being created, yet these are not implied for Seiko marked watches.

Before we began our excursion to Morioka, we got an introduction on Seiko, the historical backdrop of Seiko and obviously the idea of Grand Seiko. I feel that we covered enough on Seiko during the most recent year that I can avoid some set of experiences exercises in this initial segment. In any case, I will return to some authentic features of Seiko in Part 3, when covering the gallery visit in Tokyo.

One of the GS Spring Drive watches from the current collection

Seiko Instruments Inc – Grand Seiko 9S

On the day of appearance, a Sunday, I had some spare energy and met with my partner of   and  , Thomas Wanka. We went out to see Ginza (part of Tokyo where our inn was found) and had a magnificent burger joint in one of the eateries in the lodging. Additionally, as a result of the 7 hour time contrast and +12 hour flight, it allowed me the chance to attempt to get changed a piece to the new timezone. Which pitiably fizzled, as next morning I woke up at 3.30am. On this day, we left to one of the Seiko workplaces in Tokyo to get acquainted with our making a trip party and to the Seiko holding and the – to us – applicable pieces of the company and will become familiar with the contrast between SII (Morioka) and Epson (Shiojiri).

We utilized the celebrated Japanese shot train to go to our first stop, the Seiko Instruments Inc (SII) plant in Morioka. Because of the absence of rest, I didn’t see much on our way there on the grounds that when the slug train began its smooth rapid excursion, my eyes closed.

In this office, we got a prologue to Grand Seiko and its 9S developments. The 9S developments are the mechanical hearts of Grand Seiko, where the 9F are quartz developments and the 9R allude to the Spring-Drive developments. In Morioka, Seiko has an enormous workshop with profoundly gifted and experienced watchmakers that work on the mechanical Grand Seiko timepieces. These watchmakers are together in a huge room, sitting at their workstations made of wood. Each workbench – or workstations, as Seiko alluded to it – are made to fit the watchmaker impeccably. Here, as residue free as could be expected, watchmakers gather the developments of the mechanical Grand Seiko, Credor and some Prospex (those with type 8L35) watches. All watches are likewise cased and tried in this SII building.

Special ‘made-to-fit’ workstations for the profoundly gifted watchmakers in Morioka

The mechanical Grand Seiko developments, the 9S types, are accessible in various varieties. The base type is 9S65, a wonderful completed work horse development with a 72 hour power save. The 9S85 is additionally a three-hand development, yet as a howdy beat (36,000vph) form. The force hold of the 9S85 is 55 hours. These two developments additionally have a GMT form, the 9S66 and the 9S86 (hello beat). At that point, there is the hand-wound type 9S64, additionally with a 72 hour power hold. The 8L35 development, utilized in the Prospex Marinemaster assortment (like this  Marinemaster 300  and this  Marinemaster 1000 ), is a development dependent on the 9S55 (out of creation GS development). Some say it is an incomplete Grand Seiko development, however I am uncertain about whether this is the situation. It looks astounding (see below).

8L35 type, utilized in the Marinemaster assortment, is likewise made in Morioka.

As said, just exceptionally prepared and talented watchmakers are chipping away at Grand Seiko (and Credor) developments. Other than the undeniable degree of watchmaking, something that most likely struck me significantly more is the pride that the watchmakers (and any other individual at Seiko besides) take in making watches. This is obviously hard to reflect in an image, however I will attempt to give you a few models later on in these Seiko Factory Trip reports.

In one of the lobbies, there is this divider loaded up with declarations of the watchmakers at SII in Morioka. Most watchmakers are prepared and guaranteed in-house by Seiko. As you can see on the picture above, there are gold, silver and bronze endorsements for watchmakers.

Seiko is utilizing a Meister and a Specialist framework for these three levels. The ‘Meister’ watchmaker is mindful and spend significant time in assembling tasks like gathering of the development. The Specialist framework centers around the specialists dealing with R&D and engineering.

At SII, there are additionally a couple of watchmakers that are prepared to deal with the extra-slender (type 68) developments for Credor. Meet one of them beneath, where he exhibits how little and slender these developments really are.

The creation of development parts likewise happens in Morioka, however in an alternate division then the GS development get together workshop obviously. The development is being gathered by the watchmakers behind their wooden workstations. A while later, the developments are being fitted to the watches and will go several tests.

After the development has been cased, the watches are being tried for water obstruction and will get their arm bands. Everything is being done bit by bit and with the most extreme regard for subtleties by visual inspection.

Manufacturing of development parts

Besides the part creations, development gathering, packaging and tweaking, all Grand Seiko watches are dependent upon their in-house testing program. This testing program is more severe and extensive.

Seiko testing program & criteria

Chronometer

Grand Seiko

mean day by day rate

-4~+6 secs/day

-3 ~ +5 secs/day

mean rate variation

2.0 secs/day

1.8 secs/day

maximum rate variation

5 secs/day

4 secs/day

max contrast in rate between vertical & flat positions

-6 ~ +8 secs/day

-6 ~ +8 secs/day

greatest rate difference

10 secs/day

8 secs/day

rate variety as per temperature

-0.6 ~ +0.6 secs/day

-0.5 ~ +0.5 secs/day

secondary error

(not applicable)

-0.5 ~ +0.5 secs/day

rate resumption

-5 ~ +5 secs/day

-5 ~ +5 secs/day

no of position

5

6

temperature

8, 23, 38 °C

8, 23, 38 °C

period

15 days

17 days

All Grand Seiko watches come with a testament having a place with that particular watch and development expressing that it has passed all tests.

After our visit to Morioka on the main day there was a great deal of data to process. I was astounded by the receptiveness of the Seiko staff and how they managed our inquiries. Each question was replied and when something couldn’t be addressed immediately, they ran off to the capable individual or division and returned with the appropriate response later on. Compared to my outings to some Swiss and German brands, the Japanese were extremely straightforward. Practically no shut entryways and when an entryway was shut, it had a valid justification (future undertakings), where-as in Germany and Switzerland I get the possibility that a few times it is tied in with concealing pieces of the assembling interaction or the way that a ton of parts don’t come from their own production lines (or even from Europe). As I would see it, I figure Seiko ought to do some more ‘showing off’, just to tell individuals the amount it is they do themselves. I’m exceptionally enticed to express that Seiko is the production that truly does everything in-house, however I haven’t been wherever in Switzerland and Germany and due to the shut entryways, it very hard to tell.

On the second day of our excursion, we went to Morioka in the first part of the day to become familiar with the Grand Seiko developments and some of Seiko’s advancements throughout the most recent few decades. There was additionally some an ideal opportunity to find a portion of the specialized arrangements by Seiko ourselves, utilizing the magnifying lens on the watchmaker’s seats. Other than the specialized parts of the Grand Seiko, there was likewise time and space to take a gander at a portion of the current assortment of Grand Seiko. As you know, the Grand Seiko was presented in 1960 and from that point forward, the plan components of those first models (for example 62GS and 44GS) can in any case be found in a portion of the Grand Seiko models of today.

Seiko Epson Visit in Shiojiri – Spring Drive and Quartz

In the evening of the subsequent day, we left to Nagano where we went through a night to go to the Epson manufactory in Shiojiri the following (day 3). We left again by slug train towards Tokyo and eventually make a jump over to Nagano. We had a superb coffee shop in the inn café in Nagano, yet lamentably no an ideal opportunity to see around.

In Shiojiri, we visited the Seiko Epson industrial facility. As written in the presentation of this article, it is the place where Seiko centers around their Quartz (9F) and Spring Drive (9R) developments for the Grand Seiko. It is likewise the area where the Astron GPS watches are being made ( see our inside and out survey on the Astron here ).

In this Epson plant, we got an introduction on the quartz and Spring Drive developments. The Astron watches were disclosed to us on the following day, which I will cover partially 2 of this Seiko Factory visit report. In this plant, we were presented to:

Takumi Studio (assembly of developments and watches having a place with the Grand Seiko and Credor collections), the case studio (all measures in regards to case manufacturing), Micro Artist Studio (manufacturing, get together and calibrating of very good quality developments like the Credor Minute Repeater and Sonnerie and so forth) and the dial workshop. I concur that it comes across as somewhat confounding a few times, however it just was. They organized their cycles for the different assortments and appear to keep Grand Seiko, Credor and Astron for instance, independently from one another, despite the fact that a portion of the creation steps look very similar.

However, the day began with an extremely exhaustive clarification of Spring Drive and Quartz developments as utilized in the Grand Seiko assortment. I will return to this later on in this report. After this informative meeting, we were part into two gatherings and made a visit through the industrial facility to consider the to be disciplines as depicted above.

Takumi Studio

In this studio, the creation happens of the Spring Drive and Quartz watches having a place with the Grand Seiko assortment. Commit no errors, the quartz developments have little to do with the quartz developments in the less expensive Seiko watches. To be ruthlessly legit, these 9F quartz developments are so delightfully done and directed, I really may incline toward them over a portion of the mechanical developments that are being utilized by certain brands. #truth.

Furthermore, the watchmakers in this Takumi studio deal with the get together of the watches, visual controls and connection of the wristbands (or ties) before these watches are dispatched to another structure for boxing and loading. The pictures beneath should give you a few experiences into this Takumi studio inside the Epson manufacture.

After seeing how staggeringly exact the Seiko watchmakers are dealing with these developments and cases, I can just envision that these watches should have an exceptionally low bring rate back. Each watch is being checked and twofold checked before they are even tried utilizing the most present day test hardware for pressure tests, vibrations & stuns and accuracy.

The Spring Drive watches are exceptionally fascinating to find out about. In spite of the fact that I previously knew about the idea, some way or another it generally caused me to flinch a bit that it was utilizing a loop and an IC (on the as opposed to what a few group thing, Spring Drive isn’t equivalent to Kinetic and is not using a battery for power). The Spring Drive component utilizes an electric speed control instrument rather than a mechanical escapement. The controller (Tri-Syncro) creates power by utilizing the force of the heart. This power isn’t being put away (so no battery) yet burned-through promptly by the IC. The IC creates a reference signal that directs the electromagnetic brake controlling the speed of the wheel train. This creation, created by Yoshikazu Akahane (who died in the in the interim), required 20 years to be created by Seiko.

His wish was to build up a mechanical development with the precision of a quartz development, in which the Spring Drive instrument succeeded. Because of the IC (quartz) and Tri-Synchro controller, the watch is staggeringly exact. Likewise, the hands have this decent smooth float around the dial, constrained by the Tri-Syncro controller. Later on, when we will survey a Seiko Spring Drive watch, we will jump into this innovation a digit more profound. Regardless, my own impression of how this system functions has changed during this visit. It is genuinely an exceptionally fascinating turn of events, however it needs some an ideal opportunity to get it and see that it doesn’t hurt the mechanical soul of a watch.

The Spring Drive innovation isn’t just utilized for Grand Seiko (counting a chronograph model), yet additionally for the Credor watches. So let’s jump over to the Micro Artist Studio prior to zeroing in looking into the issue and dial workshops.

Micro Artist Studio

The Micro Artist Studio principally deals with the high evaluation developments that Seiko produces, those utilized in the Credor models. The Credor Sonnerie, Minute Repeater and lovely Eichi II models were appeared to us in the Micro Artist Studio.

Below you two or three pictures that I took of one of the craftsmans that is liable for the dial on the – for this situation – Credor Eichi II timepiece.

Another watchmaker was mindful for the completing (polishing) the development. A meticulously task that is being done in this Micro Artist Studio too. A photograph of watchmaker Philipe Dufour was on the divider, who has helped and informed the craftsmans with respect to this multiple times on the watch completing subject.

On the exit from this studio, I saw a heap of magazines from our sister distribution Chronos (the Japanese release). I requested one from the watchmakers later on (during supper) how he and his group keep themselves educated about what’s occurring in the watch business, which is chiefly a Swiss and German thing. He revealed to me fundamentally that he monitors what’s occurring on the lookout and at different brands utilizing magazines like this. The little shaded papers presumably mark some fascinating stories on Seiko, Credor or basically watches with complications they revere and discovered to be interesting.

Case Studio and Dial Workshop

Although seeing craftsmans dealing with dials and developments is a touch more appealing at that point taking a gander at these enormous green bits of equipement in a watch make, let’s not think little of the exertion and accuracy that goes into making that ideal case and dial. The case studio was something that truly flabbergasted me. For Grand Seiko watches, there is such a lot of hand-completing finished with respect to the cases. Mind blowing. Having that said, the “Zaratsu” cleaning strategy is the thing that makes these Grand Seiko observes so appealing for the eyes.

The photographs beneath show how much work is going into cleaning the Grand Seiko cases and give them that interesting allure (like we wrote in our audits of the  Grand Seiko SBVG009  and  SBGH001 ). Further underneath, you will discover some photographs that I took of the Grand Seiko assortment that was appeared to us during this day.

All the means of dial making were appeared to us during the introduction, however to perceive how it’s done in the tissue is – obviously – really energizing. The way toward cutting the markers was an intriguing thing to see too. A major move of markers were cut and cleaned by a person utilizing a little mirror to check his work for defects. The hands were blued utilizing a radiator, putting them on sufficiently long turning blue.

Grand Seiko Watches

During this day, we were likewise shown a portion of the models of the current Grand Seiko assortment. The snow-drop dial being one of my outright top picks, however a portion of different models are additionally powerful. Allow me to end this initial segment of the Seiko Factory Visit report several photographs that I took of these Grand Seiko models.

This is the finish of the initial segment of the Seiko Factory Visit trip report! Try to buy in our pamphlet so you are certain you didn’t miss anything!

Also, in the event that you have explicit inquiries or things you’d like to see tended to in these Seiko Factory Visit trip reports, leave a note in the comments area below.

June 8, 2017: Sign-up for the Grand Seiko Experience with Fratello Watches .

Special ‘made-to-fit’ workstations for the profoundly talented watchmakers in Morioka 8L35 type, utilized in the Marinemaster assortment, is likewise made in Morioka.

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