Seiko revolutionized the watch industry in 1969 when they introduced the Astron, the world’s first quartz-powered watch. Priced at the time at about the same cost as a new Toyota automobile, the Astron showed that it was possible to create a super-accurate timepiece without any moving parts.
Moving forward some 40+ years, the quartz watch is here to stay. They’re not nearly as expensive as they used to be, and you can often find them for sale for less than U.S. $10. Of course, quality quartz watches still cost a bit more, and watch companies realize that there are other considerations for watch owners besides owning a watch with a battery.
One of the problems with quartz watches is the battery itself. They usually work for 2-3 years before they need to be replaced, and when the new one goes in the watch, the old one goes in the trash. That might not seem like a big deal, but when millions of people are doing that every year, that adds up to millions of batteries going in the garbage, and batteries have toxic chemicals and metals within them that can pose a health hazard.
That is where the clever Seiko Kinetic Drive watches come in. Seiko likes to make quartz powered watches, as they give the buyer an accurate timepiece at an affordable price. Seiko wondered how they could do this while limiting the number of batteries that need to be thrown away every year.
The Seiko Kinetic Drive is the answer. The watch is actually sort of a hybrid between an automatic mechanical watch and a traditional quartz watch. The watch is powered by a battery, just like any other quartz watch.
The difference is that in a Seiko Kinetic Drive watch, the battery does not need to be replaced. Instead, the battery is rechargeable. Fortunately, you do not have to plug your watch in to recharge it every day as you do your smart phone. Instead, all you have to do to keep the Seiko Kinetic Drive watch running is to wear it.
The Seiko Kinetic Drive watches have a mechanical movement inside them, similar to that of a self-winding automatic mechanical watch. Where the mechanical watch is wound as you move your arm through the course of the day, the Seiko Kinetic Drive watch has its battery recharged through your movement.
These watches even have a power reserve indicator on the face of the watch that shows how much time you have remaining before your watch runs out of power. If your watch is almost run down and a bit of jogging isn’t going to be enough to wind it quickly, you will have another option – winding the watch by hand.
While you should rarely need to do this, you can add power to your Seiko Kinetic Drive by winding it at the crown, as you would a mechanical watch. Doing this actually charges the battery, and for four seconds, the reserve power indicator will show you how much power you have added to your watch via the mechanical winding. Then the reserve indicator will return to its normal state, which is to show you how much power you have left.
If you like the idea of an accurate quartz watch but you are environmentally conscious and do not want to throw away a lot of batteries, the Seiko Kinetic Drive may make a good choice for you.