Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 Movements

The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000

Since its origin, Grand Seiko quest has been the pursuit of perfection, in terms of design and performance. One such movement that epitomizes this quest is their Hi-Beat 36,000 or “10 beat” movement. In 1960, when Grand Seiko was first created (this year marks their 60th anniversary), they set out to create an official “Chronometer” in order to compete with the top watchmakers for relevance in terms of precision. 8 short years later, Grand Seiko developed their first 10 beat movement with the 61GS, 45GS and the 19GS (a high precision watch for women).

19GS Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 for women

Mechanical Movements and Challenges

As a mechanical watch unwinds its mainspring, the gears are turned at a constant rate of oscillation as the balance wheel applies the brake on the gears to precisely rotate the hands while conserving energy. Most high-end watchmakers set this rate at 28,800 vph (vibrations per hour) or 4Hz. 4Hz is equal to 4 oscillations per second or 8 semi-oscillations (vibrations) per second. The expert watchmakers at Grand Seiko figure, just as a faster spinning top is more stable than a slow spinning one, the higher the oscillation frequency of the balance, the less susceptible the movement is to impact from shock and other forces and the greater the precision. This is why they created the Hi-Beat 36,000 which vibrates at approximately 10 vibrations per second or 5 Hz. This is one of two ways to create a more precise watch, traditionally speaking, the other is widen the balance spring however this can be cumbersome to keep the watch within reasonable case size proportions.

In 1990, the Grand Seiko began submitting its 9S movements to the Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres (COSC), as an official, third party, chronometer testing institute of Switzerland. This institute only passes 3% of Swiss Watch production and is seen by the industry to be an important benchmark that defines a fine timepiece. They test the watch in three different temperatures in five different positions over a 15 day period to make sure the watch falls within their -4/+6 seconds per day threshold. In 1900, Grand Seiko submitted  4 prototypes, of which 3 passed. They then went on to submit 50 production movements which all met the COSC’s institute’s standards. However, this was not enough for them as they wanted to go one step further and added an additional position and temperature to this test. Additionally, they took it another step further and made the parameters -3/+5 seconds per day. Furthermore, with the development of the 9S movement, they wanted a longer power reserve that the standard offering of 40 hours, so they went with 55 hours power reserve despite using a higher oscillating model that consumes more power. Additionally they went about adding increased durability to withstand the additional 1.5 times of torque required to operate at 10 beats per second. Today the 9S hi-beat movement bears between 200 - 300 parts all made in-house.
9S features:
  • BALANCE WHEEL) Grand Seiko employs a new alloy (SPRON610) made from cobalt, iron, nickel and additional magnetic resistant metals to deliver the capacity to oscillate at 10 oscillations per second.
  • PALLET FORK) Using MEMS [Micro Electro Mechanical System] technology which employs an in-house developed technology used for semiconductor manufacturing, the escape wheel and pallet fork are made with a precision of 1/10,000 of a millimeter, which allows the critical components of the movement to be lighter, smoother, complex and have better retention of oil reserves on each gear tooth.
  • HAIRSPRING) Also using the Spring 610 alloy, increases the impact resistance twofold and the magnetic resistance three times. This hairspring is finer than a strand of hair and weight is within a tolerance of 1/10,000 of a gram.
Grand Seiko 9S8 Movement

In 2004 Grand Seiko created the Shizukuishi Watch Studio, a studio dedicated to the vertically integrated production of mechanical watches.
In 2009) Grand Seiko creates their first new Hi-Beat 36,000 watch in 41 years, using the new caliber 9S8 series.
In 2010) Grand Seiko creates a Hi-Beat 36,000 movement with a 72 hour power reserve (9S65)

Learn more about Grand Seiko's quartz and spring drive movements. Explore Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers online to see our current inventory of fantastic Grand Seiko watches