The Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

kinetic diagram2The Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

The Seiko Kinetic. Now that's a watch technology that had initially discouraged and mystified me for some time. When I first inquired about Seiko Kinetics at a small watch dealer, I was advised to stay away from Kinetics as far as possible. He mentioned about frequent customer complaints and warranty claims from his fellow watch sellers. "Stick to quartz or automatic", he advised. "A Kinetic will give you a headache later on".

What did he mean by that? The dealer didn't elaborate the heart of the issue or the specifics. So I decided to turn to the Internet and do some research of my own. I learned about the internals of a Kinetic watch, how the movement worked and Seiko's philosophy behind it.

Someday, all watches will be made this way!

"Someday, all watches will be made this way". That tag line had been Seiko's timeless slogan since they first pushed quartz analog watches into the world in the late seventies. Seiko's highly supercharged and persuasive ads bloomed in magazines and newspaper ads everywhere in full support for their revolutionary hybrid watch technology. Surely, Japan's biggest watch making company couldn't be wrong with the Kinetic?

Anyway, a half hour's searching on the Internet gave me some indefinite and inconclusive information. One interesting website detailed the writer's beef with Seiko. He was a mechanical engineer and bitterly complained of the geartrain backlash that affected his Kinetic watch's minute hand. It had too much free play in it and would shift when the watch was tilted from side to side.

More worrying to me was the mention of multiple incidences of premature failures of capacitors in Seiko Kinetics, which was also reported by other Kinetic owners in his page here. The capacitor was integral to Seiko's concept of a "battery-less" quartz watch. The company calls it the "energy storage unit" and what it basically does is to store electricity generated through wrist motion.

5m42 movement thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

A closeup of the Seiko 5M42 movement, showing its coil block, oscillating weight and the capacitor (borrowed photo).

The capacitor (or condenser) is fundamentally an electronic device with two electrodes which are separated by a dielectric insulator. It can store energy when it is charged and will release energy when discharged.

Seiko used two types of capacitors for its early Kinetics and A.G.S/Auto Quartz (pre-Kinetic) models. The earlier type was outsourced from the established Japanese electronics giant, Matsushita Electric, which is now known as Panasonic.

This capacitor was the model EECW2R4E334, which was the energy storage unit for early Kinetic calibers such as the 5M2x series. It was primarily designed to be used in confined spaces (like a watch module) where miniature primary lithium cells were specified. The EECW2R4E334 incorporated gold (the precious metal) as one of its raw components and is rated for 2.4V volts DC. It has since been discontinued by Panasonic.

Later Seiko developed its own capacitors and used them to replace the ones from Matsushita. The capacitors were made by Seiko's sub-division called Seiko Instruments Incorporated (SII) and were designated the SL920.

newandoldcapacitortop thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

A photo of the new TC920S LiOn cell (left) and the old SL920 capacitor (right). Pic courtesy of Poor Man's Watch Forum

The tiny capacitors were supposed to last for at least several years but apparently they didn't. Many batches leaked while in use, which resulted in dead Kinetics and many dissatisfied customers. It became somewhat a widespread problem which could have hurt sales of Kinetic models worldwide.

A Kinetic watch is directly powered by its energy storage cell and without it, the watch would simply stop working. The storage cell acts as a reservoir or buffer to store electricity generated by the electrical generating unit. The equivalent of the storage unit in a mechanical watch is the main spring.

I have no idea if Seiko's engineers ever performed simulated accelerated aging tests of the capacitors. The designers spent a lot of time into perfecting the Kinetic's  micro electricity generator (they did a terrific job on it) but perhaps overlooked the long term reliability of the capacitor itself, which is a key component of the Kinetic architecture.

Issues with the early Seiko Kinetic watches

I decided to revisit the issues which had plagued me for more than a year. The majority of the complaints centered on the premature failure of the capacitors that Seiko used. They tended to leak and resulted in the watch being unable to run for than several hours before stopping.

I wondered if I would be risking my hard earned cash if I were to buy a Seiko Kinetic. Should I or shouldn't I? After all, I had more than a dozen quartz and automatic Seikos at the time. Maybe I ought to try just one Kinetic for size and if things didn't work well, I could sell it later.

Was the capacitor trouble widespread or was it just limited to certain Seiko Kinetic models or calibers? I later learned that the problem largely affected the early Kinetic calibers, particularly the 5M4x and 5M2x series. These were mostly movements that were made prior to the year 2000.

At the same time, Seiko had quietly rectified the capacitor leakage problem when they introduced the new 5M6x caliber, which is still in existence at the time of writing. In place of the capacitor, Seiko decided to use a rechargeable titanium lithium ion cell (LiOn) as replacement.

Rather than spend money to self-manufacture the LiOn cells,  Seiko chose to outsource them from Maxell Corp, a renowned Japanese battery and computer media  manufacturer. Maxell also makes disposable watch batteries and they probably had the best designed LiOn cells around.

The good news is that Seiko also discontinued using the problematic capacitors for its Kinetic models from 2000 onwards. Models that use the older calibers like the 5M2x and 5M4x series are able to be retrofitted with the LiOn cells without problems.

The LiOn cell that Seiko uses in its modern Kinetics is the Maxell TC920S, as pictured below. It is rated to give a potential difference of 2.2 volts DC at full charge.

 

 

lion cell thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?maxell lion cell medium thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

The replacement KESU kit (left) and a closeup of the Maxell LiOn cell taken off my Seiko SKA013P (right)

 

Technically, the LiOn is a secondary battery which can be recharged and discharged repeatedly.

It does not operate on the principle of the capacitor but runs like the rechargeable battery that powers your cellphone, iPod, laptop or digital camera. Some people refer the LiOn cell as a "capacitor". From a technical point of view, this is incorrect. A capacitor and a rechargeable battery are constructed differently.

Going with Seiko's long-running and expensive "battery-less watch" marketing campaign, the company prefers not to use the term "battery" when referring to the LiOn cell. I presume after the millions the company had spent on promoting the Kinetic as a watch that required no batteries, they probably didn't want the public to get confused.

Probably someone in marketing came up with a brilliant idea and thus the technical sounding name Kinetic Electricity Storage Unit (or Kinetic E.S.U. for short) was born. Kinetic E.S.U. can  refer to the old style capacitor or the newer LiOn rechargeable cell.

 

 

Advantages of the Lithium Ion rechargeable cell

Seiko's decision to equip their Kinetic movements starting from the 5M6x caliber onwards with the lithium ion cell (and ditching the old capacitor storage unit) was a wise one.

Not only the LiOn cells were more reliable than the capacitor, they offered a much larger power holding capacity. This is capacity is also called the "power reserve". Depending on the caliber, the Maxell LiOn cells have a power reserve ranging from 1 month (for the 9T82 chronograph) to a whopping 4 years (for the 5J-series).

The typical reserve for a 5M-caliber Kinetic is up to six months and five months for a 7L22 Kinetic chronograph, fully charged. The 9T82 Kinetic consumes a lot of power when its chronograph is used (it has a 1/10sec stopwatch) hence its average reserve is just a month.

The 5J-caliber's ability to keep  time up to four years is due to its special Auto Relay technology. It has a unique power conservation (sleep mode) feature that shuts down the watch movement (except for the internal timing) when it hasn't been worn continuously for 72 hours and longer.

When you pick up a Kinetic Auto Relay watch and shake it, its main time hands will magically spin to match the current time. The date calendar unfortunately has to be set manually, presumably due to the amount of power needed to spin those hands to catch up to the current date.

Seiko claims that their Auto Relay Kinetics can hold a charge for up to 4 years and I wonder if any Auto Relay owner has actually put this claim to the test.

 

sng043p2 thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane? sma113 thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

Two Seiko Kinetic Auto Relays: A recent Arctura SNG043P (left) and an earlier SMA113P (right)

 

As far as I know, rechargeable lithium ion batteries have a self-discharge nature whereby its power will slowly deplete even though it's not connected to any electrical load. Anyway, I don't own an Auto Relay as I never liked their designs. Seiko Auto Relay Kinetics tend to be blingy and dressy, not really my kind of watch. icon smileThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

 

 

Drawbacks of the LiOn cell

On the flip side, having a very large power reserve also means that a lot of wrist motion is required to charge the LiOn cell to its fullest capacity. The original capacitors in the early Kinetic watches had a rather small storage and it needed about only 800 swings of the watch to charge it to its maximum reserve of 3 days. This reserve is still longer than the average mechanical movement's reserve between 30 to 55 hours.

The Maxell LiOn cell with its maximum 6-month reserve on the other hand, requires at least 24,000 swings of the watch to get it to its full charge! Which means to achieve this, you have to wear the watch as frequently as possible. Alternatively, you could invest in a special charger such as a Seiko Energy Supplier.

 

yt02a thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

A Seiko YT02A Kinetic charger. It can charge a 5M-caliber watch in 3 1/2 hours from a fully discharged state

 

The Energy Supplier works on the principle of electromagnetic induction, like those home induction cookers and has no moving parts. For those of you technically inclined, you may want to read up on Faraday's Law. icon smileThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

Some people have attempted to "charge" their Kinetics using watch winders meant for automatic timepieces. I'm not sure how efficient using mechanical winders would be as Kinetic watches literally need thousands of swings to get them to full charge.

These chargers are largely supplied to Seiko repair centers and to small numbers of authorized Seiko watch dealers. Perhaps the most well-known Kinetic charger is the model YT02A, which can be sourced from a few eBay sellers and online watch dealers. The YT02A can handle a variety of Kinetic calibers, including the current 5J22 Auto Relay and 7L22 Kinetic Chronograph models.

Whether it's viable to purchase one of these YT02A chargers depends on how many Kinetic watches you own and how often you wear them. In my opinion, if you have over three Kinetics and seldom wear them, you might want to get one of these chargers.

 

 

my smy003p thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane? kinetic charger thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

File photo of my SMY003P Kinetic being charged on a Seiko Kinetic Energy Supplier unit at my watchmaker's. This pyramid-shaped charger is different than the YT02A model (right).

Unfortunately, the LiOn cell doesn't have an infinite life span. Sooner or later your rechargeable cell will lose its ability to maintain an optimal charge. If you wear a Kinetic every day you probably won't notice the efficiency loss until the LiOn cell is nearing its end. With models that aren't equipped with the power reserve indicator feature, you won't know this until the cell's voltage drops to the point that your watch's second hand starts ticking in an erratic manner.

Note that all rechargeable lithium ion batteries have self-discharge properties. They will slowly lose their power even when not in use. LiOn batteries are best kept at around a 40% charge capacity if you intend to store them for long periods without use.

Allowing a LiOn cell to discharge completely is also a total no-no. Doing so will seriously degrade the cell's internal chemicals and reduce its ability to hold a charge. Be sure never to allow your Kinetic watch (or a solar powered one, such as Citizen Eco Drive or Casio Tough Solar) to stop functioning.

Also, be wary of buying a Kinetic watch at a store that has stopped for some time. Chances are if the watch has been in the store for many months or years, you'll need to replace the KESU not long after you've bought it. Unlike solar powered watches that are continually charged so long as there is enough light, Kinetics need to be shaken often to keep them charged.

Many brick-and-mortar watch dealers couldn't be bothered with this (the task itself is daunting if they have lots of Kinetics) and they allow the watches to self discharge over time.

 

 

Replacing the Kinetic ESU

It's very important that you replace your Kinetic's ESU at a Seiko service center or at least, at a jeweler that has experience in replacing Kinetic capacitors and LiOn cells.

I've heard a few horror stories of owners who unwittingly had their Kinetic ESUs replaced with primary silver oxide batteries! These usually happened at watch stores whose sales assistants are totally clueless about Kinetic watches and rechargeable cells.

Never substitute your Kinetic's ESU with a silver oxide cell meant for quartz watches! Silver oxide cells are primary cells, not secondary cells. It's possible for a silver oxide cell to leak or even burst if it is recharged. It's just like those disposable alkaline batteries - they are not meant to be recharged with a reverse current.

 

silver oxide cell thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

A typical 1.55v silver oxide cell meant for quartz watches, which can damage your Kinetic movement if used instead!

 

As the Seiko Kinetic is more of a quartz watch rather than a mechanical one, when it's time for a service or repair, it's best to take it to a Seiko repair facility. This is because the only major moving parts in a Kinetic are the oscillating weight and the micro step-up gears. The rest the components in a modular form, similar to a quartz watch.

However, if you are up to the task of replacing your dead KESU yourself, check out this excellent DIY tutorial by Reto Castellazzi. Reto is a well-known, veteran watch collector/enthusiast/seller and has quite a few hard-to-find Seiko watches for sale in his web site from time to time.

 

 

Buy a fresh replacement Kinetic ESU!

I thought it’s worth mentioning that if you’re replacing your failing rechargeable Lithium Ion cell, be sure that you’re getting a recently manufactured one. You’ll have to trust the seller or your watchmaker on this.

The reason for choosing a fresh rechargeable LiOn cell is because all Lithium Ion batteries start degrading when they leave the factory. Unlike disposable alkaline batteries that have very long shelf lives (about five years), a replacement LiOn cell that was made several years ago would have aged (and very likely in a state of total discharge). Therefore, they may not hold a 100% charge like when they were new.

This tip also applies to rechargeable LiOn and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries for consumer electronics like digital cameras, laptops, iPods, MP3 players, cellphones and the like.

So if you’re replacing your Kinetic watch’s KESU, try to ensure that you’re getting one from a recent batch.

 

 

Seiko Kinetic Calibers

The following is a table of Seiko Kinetic movement types which I have compiled from various sources. This list may not be exhaustive, so if you know of a Kinetic caliber not listed here, feel free to inform me. icon smileThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

 

Caliber Default Kinetic ESU type Max power reserve Features/Comments Production status
1M20 Capacitor 72 hours (3 days), 3 months with LiOn cell Discontinued
3M21, 3M22, 3M62 Capacitor 168 hours (1 week) Power reserve indicator Discontinued
4M21, 4M71 Capacitor 72 hours (3 days) Discontinued
5D22, 5D44 LiOn cell 1 month Direct Drive, real time power reserve indicator In production
5J21, 5J22, 5J32 LiOn cell 4 years Auto Relay In production
5M22, 5M23, 5M25 Capacitor 72 hours (3 days) Power reserve indicator Discontinued
5M42, 5M43, 5M45 Capacitor 168 hours (1 week) Power reserve indicator Discontinued
5M62, 5M63, 5M65 LiOn cell 6 months Power reserve indicator In production

7D46, 7D48 LiOn cell 4 years Auto Relay, Perpetual Calendar In production
7L22 LiOn cell 5 months 1/5sec mechanical operated chronograph

In production
7M12, 7M22 Capacitor 72 hours (3 days)   Discontinued
7M42, 7M45 Capacitor 72 hours (3 days)   Discontinued
9T82 LiOn cell 1 month 1/10sec mechanical operated chronograph

Possibly discontinued
YT47 Capacitor 72 hours (3 days) Produced for non-Seiko Japanese brands, e.g. Alba, GSX, etc Discontinued
YT57, YT58 LiOn cell 6 months

Produced for non-Seiko, Japanese brands, e.g. Alba, GSX, etc


In production

 

 

 

My personal experience with Kinetics

I finally pulled the proverbial trigger on a Seiko Kinetic late 2004 after weighing the pros and cons of owning one. There were many models to choose from and I settled for the SKA013P since it had the classic diver-like styling and a radiant, jet black dial with framed rectangular indices.

What I liked about the Kinetic is the sensation of the oscillating weight spinning when I shake my arm. It almost feels like an automatic. Notice that I said "almost".

Compared to an automatic watch, the Kinetic's oscillating weight doesn't spin as freely as I expected. The rotor is also noisier than the typical automatic watch and sounds rather coarse to the ear.

A quick flick of the wrist and you can hear and feel the oscillating weight spinning for half a second and stopping abruptly. If you're used to smooth-spinning oscillating weights in automatics  (such as the ETA Valjoux 7750 chronograph), you'll be terribly disappointed.

I thought it was peculiar to just my watch and later I had the chance to test other Seiko Kinetics of varying calibers at watch stores. All of them behaved similarly. Two more Seiko Kinetics later in my inventory, I'm convinced that Kinetic oscillating weights don't spin freely like automatics.

This phenomenon is probably due to the fact the oscillating weight has a high torque load to drive those  step-up multiplier gears, which in turn rotate the tiny dynamo at a mind boggling rate of 100,000rpm to generate electricity.

 

kinetic diagram thumb1The Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

An exploded-view of an early Kinetic movement (note that "capacitor" is used in this example)

 

When I had my SKA013P some years ago I owned about no more than two dozen watches. It was easy to discipline myself to wear it once a week. Since then my collection has more than doubled and with two more additional Kinetics, I have to force myself to wear them to avoid running down their rechargeable cells.

That said, I have since replaced the LiOn cells of my SKA013P and SMY003P because they were already dead when I purchased them. Their power reserves dropped sharply after owning them for eight months, so to be on the safe side I decided to replace them one after another.

Probably most Seiko Kinetic owners out there are one-watch folks who were attracted to the idea of a watch that needs no battery changing. I've met a few guys (and strangers) who wear a Kinetic and I actually asked them why they chose the watch in the first place.

Nearly half of them said they were interested in the virtually maintenance-free watch concept although they didn't really understand how the Kinetic mechanism worked (they probably couldn't care less anyway). As for the remainder, well... they said they chose their watches because they looked simply attractive or received them as a gift.

 

 

Why are there no more Seiko Kinetics for women?

You may have noticed that Seiko has not released Kinetic models for women for decades. Actually, Seiko Kinetics have a good market share and there shouldn't be any reason why they shouldn't make Kinetic watches for the ladies too. Actually Seiko did experiment with Kinetics for women (like very early 3M caliber) in the 1990s and then decided to discontinue Kinetics for ladies.

My best educated guess is - it was largely a marketing failure. Women typically consider wrist watches as accessories that tell the time. They want their watches to look good with the clothes they wear and more importantly, the watches have to be as maintenance-free as possible.

I'd say that 99% of the women I that I know personally prefer quartz watches. Unlike men, they're not too bothered with features or the movement that runs their timepieces. They want a good-looking watch and not having to go through the trouble of winding or charging them.

I guess this explains why fashion brand watches like Guess, Swatch and Diesel are mostly quartz.

For the female consumer market,  Seiko watches since then are available in either quartz or automatic format. Due to lack of interest in mechanicals, almost all Seiko timepieces for ladies are battery powered quartz.  Automatic calibers constitute the minority movement and the probably the most notable automatic caliber for ladies' watches is the 4207 caliber with auxiliary hand winding. You can find the 4207  in some women's model from the Seiko 5 Sports range.

There's also the limitation of the Kinetic movement itself. The internal power generator requires a rather strong torque to drive the step up gears. The only way to accomplish this is to use a large oscillating weight with sufficient mass to drive the Kinetic rotor. A small oscillating weight translates into less efficiency in charging the watch.

Seiko does have quartz calibers meant only for women's watches but lately the company has also used the 7T92 chronograph movement designed for gents' models. Ladies' watches using the 7T92 quartz movement are usually larger than traditional ladies' models.

(A big thanks to a few of my readers who pointed out that Kinetic watches for women did at one time, exist) icon smileThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

 

 

Direct Drive: The shape of things to come?

Very recently Seiko released a variation of its Kinetic movement - the Direct Drive Kinetic. It first debuted with the SRH-series Velatura yacht sports watches with the 5D44 caliber and shortly thereafter added the 5D22 caliber, without the retrograde day-of-week display.

What sets the Direct Drive movements from the other Kinetics is the DD's ability to charge the internal Kinetic ESU via a hand-winding crown and the inclusion of a real-time power reserve indicator. You can regard it as an automatic movement with manual winding.

I had the opportunity to briefly inspect a dark blue dialed SRH003P Direct Drive at my watchmaker's store. It's a pretty large and chunky watch and its approximately USD800 list price is an indication that the movement itself accounts for a chunk of the watch's retail price.

 

srh003p1 thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane? srg003p1 thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

The Velatura SRH003P (left) with the 5D44 caliber and the 5D22-powered Premier SRG003P (right). Pictures courtesy of Chronograph.com

 

To be frank, I liked the attractive looks of the SRH003P but wondered if the hand winding feature of the Direct Drive was more of a novelty. The real-time power reserve indicator probably works on the principle of a logarithmic voltmeter. As I shook or manually wound the watch, I observed the power reserve jumping a few notches up and then settling down to indicate the true reserve.

My watchmaker attempted to thumb-crank the Velatura to get it to a decent charge. Ten minutes later he gave up, citing that both his thumbs were sore! icon smileThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane? We looked at the power reserve gauge and it registered no more than a mere day's worth of charge in spite of his efforts.

In most likelihood, if I had this watch I would probably hand wind the watch for the first two weeks. When the fun wears off, I'll probably won't bother with winding it manually and let my natural wrist motions do the work.

 

070412 08 01 thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

Seiko's official diagram of a 5D44 Direct Drive. They probably didn't proof read it before publishing. "Two hour hands" on this watch? I don't think so.

 

Then I'll probably think, "Why buy a Direct Drive if I'm going to wear it like a regular Kinetic?". I think I were to  buy a Direct Drive watch, I would buy it because I like how the watch looks rather than for its underlying technology.

The 5D44/5D22's surprisingly unrealistically low power reserve of only 1 month raises some questions. Does the power reserve indicator use up that much energy as it measures the internal Kinetic ESU's reserve? I can understand the 9T82's one-month reserve as it's a chronograph with a energy-sapping 1/10th second stopwatch subdial. Even the 7L22 Kinetic Chronograph manages a 5-month reserve.

Will Seiko replace its conventional Kinetic calibers with the likes of the Direct Drive? I personally don't think they will. The Direct Drive movement is expensive to begin and it's probably targeted at their upper-midrange markets. Seiko is already enjoying good worldwide sales of its more affordable range of Kinetic timepieces. Therefore I don't suppose they're going to disturb their proverbial cash cow.

 

 

Conclusion

We’ve come to the end of this rather long-winded post. So, is the Seiko Kinetic a boon or a bane?

It’s definitely a boon if you only need one watch or own no more than half a dozen watches, worn on daily rotation. Not to mention that you’re not the sedentary sort of person.

On the flip side, I think Kinetics are a bane if you have a large number of watches that you wear on rotation. Unlike a solar powered watch that you can recharge by merely exposing it to light, you need to wear a Kinetic as often as possible. And if you’re a physically active person, a Seiko Kinetic would be right for you.

The Seiko Kinetic is an interesting hybrid movement combining the best of mechanical and quartz technologies. You get the feel of an automatic while enjoying the accuracy of a  regular, battery operated quartz. It's almost maintenance free too and with the newer lithium ion cells it'll be a long time before the watch needs to be sent for routine servicing.

Models using the older calibers could be easily upgraded to the more efficient LiOn rechargeable cell. The minute backlash problem that plagued the early Kinetics had since been fixed since the birth of the 5M6x series sometime in 2000.

Seiko was quite content with their perfected 5M6x caliber which is still used to this day. In fact, their engineers were confident with the design that later on when designing the 7L22 Kinetic chronograph movement, they borrowed the 5M's power generation unit and mated it with the geartrain from their tried-and-proven 7N quartz caliber.

 

ska013p 3155 medium thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?smy003p wrist 9880 resize medium thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?snl035p medium thumbThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

Three Seiko Kinetics later, I've decided to call it a day! From left to right, SKA013P, SMY003P and SNL035P

 

If long battery life is your ultimate goal, you'll be better off owning one of the quartz Perpetual Calendar models that Seiko sells. These watches are more accurate than your everyday quartz (+/- 20secs per year vs +/- 15secs per month!) and thanks to the disposable lithium cell, you won't need a battery change for 10 years.

Mechanical watch purists generally shun from quartz and hybrid watches like the Kinetic (and perhaps, the almost-mechanical Seiko Spring Drive) but hey, I'm a Seiko watch enthusiast so I must have at least one Kinetic in my collection. icon smileThe Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?

 

Originally posted 2008-05-15 22:48:32.

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Comments

Hi,
a "must read" technical post about Kinetic! Congratulations, it's exhaustive and very clear. I own a Premier kinetic with QP and 7D46 about two years, really good and accurate.
And what's about the Kinetic direct drive?

Hi Fred,

Merci beau coup for your kind comments. My thoughts about Kinetics are - buy the watch for its looks and because you enjoy it a lot; not so much about the technology.

IMO, the Direct Drive is nothing more than an overpriced regular Kinetic with a real time power reserve gauge and obviously, hand winding capability.

I like to hand-wind automatics out of personal habit and they reach full reserve in a short time. Try that with a Kinetic DD, you'll end up with sore fingers for sure. It takes thousands of crown turns to get it to full charge from zero. Of course, the watch dealer may pre-charge the watch for you, if he has the Kinetic charger.

As soon as the novelty wears off, you'll probably want to forget about hand-winding a DD and wear it like a normal Kinetic. :-)

I've handled a Velatura DD to check out its features before, it's a nice watch but rather overpriced. A Premier 6R20 or 6R15 would be a better purchase.

Glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

Excellent review. You really did a fine job explaining all the details of this movement.

Hello Ed,

Thanks for the comments. This took me 2 weeks to post the blog entry, had to conduct some research on my part. I've been replying to questions on the SCWF forum about Kinetics for years, so I thought I'd condense all the answers into one single article. :-)

Quartzimodo,

I thought this article was very well done. I can tell you spent many hours of research with it, let alone writing it in stepped up format.

I learned much here & my thanks to you for taking my fears of Kinetic powered watches away.

Cheers-Jimmy

Thanks Jimmy,

You're right - I spent quite some time looking back at my previous posts on Kinetic capacitors and rechargeable cells in the forum too.

Buy a Kinetic watch if you like how it looks and wears on your wrist - don't buy a Kinetic just for its movement's sake. That way you won't be less than critical of the Kinetic's shortcomings. :-)

cheers,

Quartzimodo.

Wow! great article with lots of info. and research. I definetly learned a lot about Seiko Kinetics.

[...] there was some truth in this as far as the early Kinetic watches were concerned. Seiko had since corrected their teething problems and their Kinetic models [...]

Selamat Sejahtera.

Happy to meet Seikoholic in .my :). Your site gives me lots of infomation related to Seiko watches.

I also like to share my Seiko watches here.

This is my First Seiko : Back in 1979: Price around MYR323, which look like this.

www.michaelwatch.com/pix/seikos/seikotopchrono.jpg

I still having it until today, but, the battery has been removed.

Next is my favourite Seiko watch, Seiko Auto Quartz, AGS (7M12-7A20) while I was in Japan in early 1990's, for around 20,000 yen (MYR500 that time). I love this Seiko because it is thin and lightweight. It has saphire crystal glass, and scratchless until this day.

www.hidemaro.com/watch/photo/aq2nd.jpg

Yes, like other pre-Kinetics, the watch also have a bad 'capacitor'. I am plaaning to repair it at Thong Sia service center at Plaza Central, and if there is anywhere else that I can repair it, please give some opinions.

TQ.

Hi Mohammad,

Pleased to meet a fellow Seiko enthusiast too. :-)

Thank you for your comments. The early Seiko LC digital watches cost around MYR300 upwards in 1979, in fact my mother bought me that Citizen Multi Alarm III for around that price you quoted.

It was a lot of money back then, probably comparable to MYR1,000 (USD330) these days, adjusting for inflation.

You can either send your vintage Seiko Auto Quartz to Thong Sia or any authorized Seiko dealer with repair facilities. The LiOn cell should cost you MYR60-70 inclusive of labor.

I had my rechargeable cells for my Kinetics replaced at Hing's Watch, Jaya 33 in Petaling Jaya Section 14. You could also try Chun Cheong Watch & Pen @ Sg Wang Plaza, Ground Floor (near the Parkson department store). I know that the latter has the Kinetic charger, it's possible the watch store may have stock of the Maxell LiOn cell.

Hope this helps.

Quartzimodo

Excellent article, I'm more of a Citizen ecodrive kind of guy but I'm looking at a few seikos. Now I wonder if I'm gonna go for SKA383 or SKA371P1 kinetics or go for an auto like SKX779K1 or a bit smaller SKX007... Thanks a lot for all the info, its the best I've read.

Thanks for the nice comments, Jeje. :-)

I have five Citizen Eco Drives myself and I find them easier to keep them going compared to my three Kinetics. I don't plan on buying another Kinetic unless I get a Seiko Kinetic charger first.

If I may give my recommendations, go for automatics first and enjoy them before looking at the Kinetics. The Orange Monster and SKX007K would be good choices - they are robust watches.

Buy a Kinetic only if you like how the watch looks, rather for the movement.

Quartzimodo.

Very nice article.
Have you had any experience with the Spring Drive Kinetic? It would be interesting to see what kind of electricity storage they use and how sustainable it is.

Thank you, Francis.

Unfortunately I don't have any experience with Spring Drives as they are not sold in my country. The Seiko distributor feels there is no market for high end Japan models, so they are unwilling to risk bringing in such costly Seikos.

Actually the Seiko Spring Drive is NOT even a Kinetic. It's basically a mechanical watch that has an electronic circuitry (Seiko calls it a Tri-Synchro regulator) that controls how fast or slow the main spring unwinds.

As the SD's main spring unravels, it also turns a micro generator that powers the electronics. There's no capacitor or rechargeable cell for electricity storage. Once the main spring fully unwinds, the watch totally stops - just like a regular mechanical watch.

The use of servo assistance makes the Spring Drive special (and very expensive!) and most SD watches have a 72-hour reserve.

The earliest Spring Drives were hand-wound (e.g. 7R88) Credors and shortly Seiko introduced self-winding calibers (e.g. 9R65) to their Grand Seiko range.

These 9R calibers behave exactly like automatic watches, except that their accuracy is phenomenal with a typical loss/gain of 1 sec per day or better.

While Spring Drives are almost totally mechanical, Direct Drive Kinetics are more towards quartz. They are not to be confused with one another.

Hope this helps. :-)

Quartzimodo.

Hi, great article! I was looking for a Seiko watch and, being a tech geek, I was very interested in the Kinetic series. I had my doubts since I'd read about those faulty capacitors and all.

But after reading your blog I became a true believer and I'm now a proud owner of a beautiful Seiko Kinetic watch(A stunning Arctura Kinetic Perpetual seikowatches.com/products/arctura/kinetic_p/snp011p2.html) I just couldn't be happier with it. I completely agree with you, there's no free lunch, but one's at peace with its limitations, Kinetic watches are simply a great achievement by Seiko and beautiful and precise timepieces to own.

Thanks for posting your article!

Hi Javier,

Congrats on taking the great Kinetic plunge! Seiko has certainly fixed teething problems with their early Kinetics and with the rechargeable lithium ion cells, premature failures are a thing of the past.

I'm glad to have gotten a new "Kinetic convert" through my writings. Just remember that if you have several Kinetics, it's difficult to get them all fully charged. That's where the YT02A charger comes in.

You can sometimes find such chargers on eBay. Enjoy your Arctura Perpetual Calendar in good health! :-)

Quartzimodo.

Hi,
Stumbled across your posting searching on why my Seiko ladies kinetic is not keeping it's energy. Good article that at least helped me figured out that it is probably time to replace the KESU.

It's funny that you say Seiko does not produce kinetic watches for women. They do (checkout their new models) but very few models to choose from (and 6 out of 8 has diamonds - too fancy for me). I have the ladies version of the STS series (3M62) that I bought over 5 years ago and I love it. Yes, it is not an "elegant" and ultra feminine ladies watch, but I like the weight of it. It has a larger dial face and thicker in order to accommodate the mechanics like you said.

I also have an older Seiko quartz watch that I inherited from my mother - this watch is at least 20yrs old if not more. I don't wear it anymore since owning the kinetic one because I can't be bothered with changing batteries.

best,
Lisa

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for leaving your feedback on Kinetic watches for ladies. I have not seen or heard of them until your comment and am interested to investigate this further.

Could you kindly provide me the last four digits of your caseback code 3M62-xxxx so that I can check the model that you have?

thank you!

Quartzimodo Admin.

[...] is not uncommon for  used SKJ divers for sale to have been upgraded with the LiOn cells. Click here for my past article regarding Seiko [...]

Nice one. I bought an SKA371P2 then stumbled over the endless complaints about cap failure before reading your titanic post. This helped me get my head around the new baby and my Casio tough solar, which is now out of its box and sunning itself happily. Given the needs of this movement I figure the SKA will be the watch I take jogging...Thanks for your efforts - much appreciated.

I too saw the comment about no ladies watches.
I bought one at least 10 years ago for my girlfriend here in the USA that was kinetic. She still has it and never a problem I was told (though no longer my gf).
It is pretty small, gold and looks sort of "rolex"ish.
If you want the number, please email me directly

I bought a Seiko Kinetic Cal.5M42-0H10 in 1999. I want to know whether my watch can use Maxell LiOn Cell & where to change it.

Hi Eason,

Yes, your Seiko 5M42 Kinetic should be able to use the Maxell LiOn cell. I remember reading that some years ago Seiko recalled some of their 5M42 Kinetics and replaced the capacitors with the rechargeable cells.

I presume you're in Australia. If you can't find an authorized Seiko dealer with the capability to replace Kinetic capacitors/cells, you may want to take it to the Seiko Australia service center.

Here's the address:

SEIKO Australia Pty. Ltd.
89 Epping Rd, North Ryde N.S.W. 2113, Australia
Tel:+61-2-9805-4777
Fax:+61-2-9887-3577

Hope this helps! :-)

Quartzimodo

Sorry about the wrong info. Actually, I'm a Malaysian & live in K.L. The thing is I asked some watchmakers, they told me that it is better to "service" the watch before changing the capacitor and it cost me around MYR200(around USD50.6). Is that worth it? And most of them advised me to 'modify' it to quartz watch because it is easier & cheaper to mantain. What do you think?

Hi Eason,

You were probably advised to service your Kinetic because you've had it close to 10 years. If it's your daily wearer, you might want to at least change the rubber seals for water resistance integrity.

Very few watchmakers are adept with servicing Kinetics and anyone who advises you to modify a Kinetic into a quartz is handing you B.S. on a silver platter. :-( Stay away from them!

Take your watch to the Thong Sia Seiko service center. They should be able to check your oscillating rotor, electricity coil block generator and re-oil its moving parts if necessary. Have the seals replaced and your watch pressure tested as well for possible leaks.

The replacement cell should cost you about MYR60 or slightly higher. I'm not sure how much they'll charge for a Kinetic service though.

HTH.

Quartzimodo.

Thanks for your advise. It really help but about Thong Sia, I heard that they are a lot of complain of the customers about their services(Sorry if I'm wrong). On the other hand, I do a research on watch overhauling, it almost the same with watch servising in term of steps like cleaning, lubrication, changing the capacitor/spring and pressure test. I'm confused and is there any difference between watch overhauling & watch servising?

Hello Eason,

The terms "overhauling" and "servicing" are sometimes used interchangeably but usually an overhaul means stripping down your watch just like a car mechanic would do onto an engine block.

Yes, there have been negative reviews about Thong Sia in the past but I don't know of any local watchmaker who is adept at servicing Kinetics.

Fortunately, the 5M42 Kinetic has much less moving parts than a mechanical watch therefore it requires less lubrication on parts.

The challenge is that a Kinetic is a hybrid movement and a watchmaker trained in fixing mechanical timepieces may not be trained with Kinetic repairs.

Quartzimodo.

Hi YS,

Sorry your comments somehow got accidentally deleted while I was upgrading my WordPress software.

From my past experience, Seiko doesn't practice upgrading calibers. However, if your movement is faulty they would replace it with the exact one (in your case, the GMT 5M45).

You can't buy movements separately from the Seiko Japan either - except if your watch warrants a movement replacement from your local Seiko service center (believe me, I've tried asking for a 5T52 world time module).

If you've upgraded your capacitor to the LiOn cell, your watch should have a similar power reserve with the current 5M65 caliber.

The only other way is to find a used 5M65 Kinetic GMT cheap and make it as a donor watch.

Hope this helps. :-)

Quartzimodo Admin.

Hi Quartzimodo Admin,

So what you mean is that find a cheap 5M65 and swap the movements & parts with the 5M45. Is that correct?

The other thing is I ask a watchmaker, he told me that the size of newer caliber's capacitor is bigger that the old one. So, he said the possibility of the movements & parts may not fit into the older case is very high. I'm still doing some research on it.

Thanks,
YS

Hello YS,

Your watchmaker is only correct in saying that the LiOn cell is slightly larger than the older SII capacitor it replaces. All 5M6x calibers use the Maxell LiOn rechargeable cell. I'm not sure if the 5M65 is any much thicker than the 5M45. From what I know, the 5M6x calibers have a more optimized power generation circuit to suit the LiOn cell.

Owners of the older 5M4x Kinetics have successfully swapped their capacitors for the LiOn cells for extra power reserve. The 5M45 belongs to the 5M4x family and is nothing more than a 5M42 Kinetic with an extra GMT hand. I'm not sure whether the improvements you'd expect in a 5M65 would be that substantial over your existing 5M45 to justify a movement swap.

IMO, if you're unsure, it would be safer to find a donor 5M45 watch and transplant it to your watch, just in case the 5M65 won't fit (most probably it would). The hands should fit on the hands stem, regardless of model (so long as it's a 5M4x caliber).

Hope this helps. :-)

Quartzimodo.

Hi Quartzimodo,

Like what you said, all I can find the differences between the 2 calibers is the power reserve and a more optimized power generation circuit that suit the LiOn cell.

So, I'm still thinking whether want to do the modification or not. Or maybe I just change the dails, hands & straps.

Thanks for your reply,
YS.

Wow . . . I guess I must be incredibly lucky and I'm a even a little embarrassed to say this. I have a ladies Sports 100 (3M22), which was probably the 2nd or 3rd generation or model, that I have had since approximately 1993, give or take a year. I cracked the sapphire crystal about 6 months ago and it 's the only repair I've ever done on it. It is the women's model and my husband bought the exact style in the men's (but lost it).

It's the best looking, best performing watch I've ever had.

Hi Quartzimodo,

Thanks for posting your article and follow up discussion.
I found it very informative.

I just bought a kinetic (ska333) january 8th.

It is a great watch, very light and comfortable.

It is my first kinetic watch. I have been fascinated for years by a so called battery-less watch. Your overview of kinectic watch technology clarifies this
misconception concisely.

I guess i'm lucky to have bought a 5m6x series movement.

Do you have an opinion on seiko's kinetic perpetual watches,
in particular snp005 or snp025

thanks again for your article

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your comments. :-) The capacitor or rechargeable LiOn cell serves as a power storage unit, much like the water storage tank in your home or apartment. Without it as soon as the water supply cuts, your faucets run dry. The battery-less concept is actually directed towards disposable batteries. Motion powered watches like the Seiko Kinetic and Swiss ETA Auto-Quartz and solar powered watches still require some means to store the power temporarily.

Actually the 5M4x calibers are quite reliable movements and they can be upgraded to the LiOn cell without problems. The 5M6x movements are among Seiko's current Kinetic calibers and they have not replaced them with an updated version yet.

The SNP005 is a dressy Premier Kinetic with a self-adjusting calendar, compensating for leap years (until the Feb 28 2100). Its 7D48 Kinetic movement is a testament to Seiko's prowess in horological technology. It's also Seiko's first multi-complication, non-chronograph Kinetic caliber with a sleep mode that kicks in when the watch isn't worn for a period of time.

Thanks to the power saving function, the watch is able to hold power for 4 years. It's also an Auto Relay Kinetic, which means the watch will automatically indicate the correct time when it is "awakened" from its slumber. The Premier watches are very nice but it's just that I'm not into non-automatic dress watches.

Rest assured, either the SNP005 or 025 will serve as a reliable and trouble-free timepiece for years to come. The Auto Relay function also makes a good conversation piece. :-)

Quartzimodo Admin.

Hi LJ,

I'm glad that you appreciate your Kinetic watch. Although there's information on the 3M22 caliber on the Internet, I have unsuccessfully tried to find photos and information on Kinetic watches for ladies. I guess Seiko did try to market Kinetics for women but they fared dismally on the market so they were discontinued.

Nowadays Seiko watches for ladies are primarily quartz although a few hand-windable automatics are available in their Seiko 5 Sports lineup. Women and men view watches differently - women tend to treat watches as part of their accessories while men appreciate the technology and features of timepieces. Which explains why very few automatic models are made for the ladies compared to quartz. ;-)

cheers,

Quartzimodo Admin.

Hi Quartzimodo,

I have recently bought Kinetic Auto Relay 5J32. Honestly, I was not fascinated with Auto Relay's Design. It's kinda unattractive design and costly. However, I was persuaded by the sales personnel on its advance technology. To be frank, those Seiko Chronograph (operated by battery cell) is more stylish and cheaper by more than RM 200.

Well....well..., I was misled by the salesman on so called "battery-less" technology. Thus, I bought it for its movement technology. After reading your article, I need to "care" my Kinetic Auto Relay by wearing it almost everyday.

I bought this 5J32 at less than RM 1K. My question is at this price, am I get a good bargain? However, I noticed that it is not a newer design in the market. I afraid that it has been lying inside the watch shop for quite sometime. More than few years? Or is it currently in production from Seiko? Just to confirm.

Then, what should I do in order to keep it in tip-top condition? Should I need to change the "Li-Ion" battery at Thong Sia, KL or keep wearing it? Any indication to tell on the condition of the "Li-Ion" Battery?

Thanks & Cheers,
Adrian

Dear Adrian,

The salesman was partly right - the Kinetic is "battery-less" if we're talking about disposable primary batteries. :-) When people take their watches to the jeweler's or watch store to replace their batteries, it's normally the disposable silver oxide or lithium cell.

Auto Relay Kinetics have a trump card other Kinetic calibers don't have - the much needed sleep function for power conservation. As I write this, two of my Kinetics in the drawer frequently suffer from stoppages for lack of charge. Without the Auto Relay function, my watches can only run up to 6 months on a full charge. I hate having to force myself wear a Kinetic just to keep it in charge, when I prefer to wear some other watch. So whenever my Kinetics are in storage, their energy cells are depleting of power over time.

I assume you have purchased a Seiko Arctura - for that price you paid it's a bargain considering that Seiko's new prices have gone up like mad since the last two years.

Auto Relay models have always cost more than normal Kinetics - the A.R. design was the cutting edge of horologic technology when it was introduced.

There's no advance indicator of the remaining charge. Only the 3M and 5M calibers have the power reserve indicator button, while the Direct Drive Kinetics have a real-time power gauge. You need to have the LiOn battery re-charged (or replaced) if the main second hand ticks in 2-second intervals despite wearing it daily.

Hope this helps. :-)

Q Admin.

Dear Q Admin,

Thanks for your valuable advise. I wish it's Arctura. However, My watch is actually Criteria (SNG-093P1)
Calliber No: 5J32-0AX0 S
Suggested Retail Price : RM 1375.00 at Thong Sia's Malaysia Website. I got it slightly less than RM 1K.

Based on your fast and indepth experience,

1) Is this watch an old watch which has been lying for more than few years?

2) How about its respective "Li-Ion" battery?

3) What is the difference between 5J32 with those 5Mxx?

4) When was it first launched into the market? I could not identify the same model from US and UK market, except for Mal, Singapore, HK and China.

Thanks again.

Cheers,
Adrian

Hi Adrian,

I think an MRSP of RM1.3K (approx USD392) is about right for a Criteria, given today's prices by Seiko.

Here are quick answers to your questions:

1) Is this watch an old watch which has been lying for more than few years?

I don't keep abreast of the Criteria models as I have absolutely no interest in them. However, if you could provide the 6-digit serial number on your caseback, I could tell you how old it is.

2) How about its respective “Li-Ion” battery?

Kinetic ESUs are installed at the factory and they are presumed to be of the same age as the watch, give or take a month or two at the most.

3) What is the difference between 5J32 with those 5Mxx?

5J-series calibers are equipped with the Auto Relay feature. The 5M-series are regular Kinetics without the Auto Relay but come with the power reserve button. There are more Seiko Kinetics based on the 5M calibers manufactured compared to the 5J's.

4) When was it first launched into the market? I could not identify the same model from US and UK market, except for Mal, Singapore, HK and China.

The earliest Criterias hit the store shelves back in 2002 starting with quartz models, including the 5T52 world timer models. Seiko then introduced 7s36 automatics into this line sometime in 2004, if memory serves me right. The reason you can't find Criterias officially sold elsewhere is because they are strictly for the SE Asian market. That's why the Criteria series are endorsed by famous Hong Kong celebrities like Daniel Wu and Miriam Yeung. :-)

Adrian, I hope these answers are to your satisfaction. If you need further information, please use the contact form, thanks.

Quartzimodo Admin.

I am very sad that, becasuse cannot afford to repair my first generation of kinetic (AGS, pre-kinetic) watch, caliber 7M12 (see my post above). I sent it Thong Sia, and they cannot replace the KESU because the watch was sold only in Japan. They have to send it to Seiko Japan, which costs RM200 and another RM1000 for labour charges. Wow!!! RM1200 to repair RM500 watch, and now lying in peace/piece in Tissot T-Touch box/case :(.

Any suggestion, should I put it on Ebay or else? Newer and revised version of Kinetic is very good and very cheap to replace it's KESU. But, if you need to replace it's KESU every 5 or 10 years, I think buying battery powered quartz watch, such as Seiko Perpetual seem to be better choice.

Hello Bahathir,

I'm sorry to hear of your predicament. I'm not really sure if Thong Sia was telling the truth (about the RM1K in labor charges) - they might be profiteering by quoting such a high price for labor charges.

You can always fax to Seiko Japan to request for a repair estimate. Shipping to Japan via Poslaju (EMS) would cost you around RM80 (USD22), depending on the weight of your parcel.

If Seiko Japan still has spare 7M12 movements, I reckon it should be cheaper to swap out the movement than to repair it. :-)

BTW, on a non-watch related note, do you have any problems with my Garmin Custom POIs for Malfreemaps.com? ;-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo Admin.

Ok, the costs are what Thong Sia told me. My 7M12 only need the KESU replacement, and I don't think you can find it anywhere execpt Japan. Thanks for the tips, and I should try your suggestion one day.

OT GPSr matters :)
Aiseh... you also read my messages too :) TQ. Ok, my Garmin Nuvi 755T (generally 7x5T) cannot display custom POI as good as other nuvis series. There are some discussion related to the detail level of infos displayed on map at gpspassion.com forums.

Start here:
www.gpspassion.com/forumsen/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=121046

I think there are changes for 7x5 series to catter 3D building drawing. Anyhow it does not realy matters much, because you cannot see it much during driving. Anyhow, I think it is really nice if it can shows it.
Anyway, nuvi 7x5T is a very nice GPSr, it's displays maps very smooth, like flowing water.

BTW, which model you have? :)

Hi Bahathir,

Your watch originally uses the early capacitor KESU (Matsushita EECW2R-4E type) and but it can be replaced with the newer LiOn cell.

There's an online site that sells the Maxell TC-920s LiOn cell. Try emailing Swatchbattery (here's the address: sales@swatchbattery.com) and find out if the 7M12 can use the Maxell.

If they confirm that your movement can use the LiOn cell, insist that Thong Sia replace your old capacitor with the TC-920s.

Hope this helps.

Q Admin

P.S. I own a Nuvi 310 with Bluetooth audio and optional TMC antenna connection.

Thanks for the tip. It seem that my watch's KESU seem to be much more smaller than Kinetic's. I'll try any option available to resurrect my 7M12 :)

Thank you very much.

Hi,

Thanks for the excellent info on Seiko Kinetic watches. I've just bought my brother a SKA371P1. We have owned lots of watches since we were young from Timex to Pateks and are crazy about Rolex Sports watches and both vintage and modern Omega Speedmasters. The first expensive watch I ever had was a Seiko 17 Jewel Automatic Chronograph when I was 11 in 1974 which my father bought for me. I loved that watch and looking back on prices of the day it cost nearly as much as a Moonwatch at about £70 GBP.

We both had the Diver Style Kinetic Sports 150 from about 1994 but sold them when we found out the movements had no jewels in them after taking the backs off. Later we learned of the Capacitor problems of the Kinetic watches so haven't really botherd with them although I have bought a few Seiko watches from the 60s and 70s.

I have been wondering how long the Lithium Ion batteries last in the current Kinetic watches as found in the SKA371. In your opinion how many years will these batteries last if used regularly every day or if only used occasionally? Also how much does it cost to replace the battery?

I thank you very much in advance for your reply.

Regards,

Steve.

Hi Steve,

Sorry for the belated reply. I saw your post in SCWF and I guess some of the forum members have already replied to you.

In my opinion, Seiko Kinetics with LiOn cells only appeared in the early 2000s. Without empirical data from owners it's impossible to determine the average lifespan of a Kinetic LiOn cell. Although it's true that lithium ion batteries don't have infinite life spans, the power consumption of of a watch is obviously a fraction of that of say, a cellphone or a digital camera. The watch's LiOn cell do not heat up as much when they are charged and discharged (as with cellphone batteries), therefore their lifespan should be much longer than LiOn batteries for high current usage devices.

My estimate is that a Kinetic ESU that's kept almost fully charged 80% of the time should last at least six years (or more!) - depending on the condition of the cell. I have a solar powered Citizen Promaster Tough 4x4 Ltd that's over 8 years old and its internal rechargeable cell hasn't shown any signs of deterioration yet.

Oh, btw - a replacement Maxell TC920s cell costs about RM70 (approx USD20) plus labor, here in Malaysia. Prices will vary from country to country. Don't believe what the service center says about "having to replace the movement every 4 years" - this is total bollocks. There are early Seiko Kinetics (under the "A.G.S" moniker) from the mid 1990s that still run perfectly till this day, never needing a movement replacement.

My advice when it comes to buying a Seiko Kinetic is - buy it because you like how the watch looks, rather for the sake of the movement.

May your SKA371P give you years of trouble-free use. :-)

Quartzimodo Admin.

I just discovered your site after entering "Seiko Kinetic reliability" into Google and I must say that the information you have presented herein is excellent; easy to read and understand.

I have an opportunity to buy an older (five years) Kinetic and had read snippets about the unreliability of the earlier models.
Your column has enlightened me and for that I thank you.

i am in the market for a kinetic dive watch. how do i know what parts it has internally? i thinking about buying from bluedial.com and have a feeling they will not be able to answer my question. i want to make sure the watch has the latest version/newer parts inside to include the new battery as your article suggested. thanks for your information. carlos from fort worth, tx

Thanks for a great post. I bought myself a 5M42 Kinetic in 1998 and was disappointed that is stopped holding a charge after about 4 years - this seemed to ruin the whole "never buy a battery again" thing. I still likee the idea enough that I bought another less expensive kinetic. That one is still working, but not as nice. Today I pulled the old one out of the closet, and its good looks got me on the internet to explore the idea of getting it repaired. After reading this post, I think I will!

Glad you enjoyed the article, Ken! :-)

I think Seiko was overconfident when they campaigned the Kinetic as a watch that you'll never have to change a battery. IMO, those who purchased the early AGS and Kinetic models were probably into technology, e.g. engineers. They were possibly disappointed to learn that their watches didn't live up to their expectations.

Perhaps expecting a lifetime operation of a Kinetic watch would be pushing it too far. I bought my first Kinetic out of curiosity and appreciation of the movement, not for the sake of saving money in frequent battery replacements in a quartz watch. :-)

Quartzimodo Admin

I refer to my comment (above, Feb 19) in regard to the opportunity I had to buy a 5-year old Kinetic.

After reading your column I went ahead and bought it on the basis that it had a 5M62 movement, utilising the LiOn battery.
When I took delivery of the watch it would not hold a charge for longer than a couple of days, so I had it attended to by a reputable watchmaker, who fitted a new LiOn unit and checked the watch over for me.
Since then I have disassembled the bracelet (original), cleaned it thoroughly and have replaced the clasp - which had a worn snap-lock - with a new item.

Now, polished and gleaming, the watch looks superb and, when the power-check function is used, it tells me that it has enough charge for 5 months.

I am delighted with it and thank you and your fount of knowledge for guidance.

Glad to know that you've got a spanking refurbished Kinetic, Bruce. A 30-second swing of the second hand means that it has anywhere between 75% to 100% capacity. The LiOn cell is rated at 6 months, fully charged in a 5M4x or 5M6x caliber.

Wear it in good health and thank you for the comments. :-)

Great article, very informative. I own 2 Auto Relays 5J22 and
5J32 purchased approx. 9 years and 4 years respectively. Both keep great time. Thanks again for your article.

Hi Danny,

Thanks for your nice comments. :-)

I'm interested to know more about your experience with your Auto Relays. Have you ever replaced the LiOn cells before and what's the longest duration that you have stored your watches? Two of my Kinetics are now unable to hold 100% charge as I inadvertently let them run down due to not wearing them frequently.

Thanks! :-)

Quartzimodo Admin.

Hello!

I own a women's Kinetic I bought when it came out in the late 90's. The case is made of metal and plastic, and the band is silicone (mine is bright yellow). The model number on the back is 3M22-0D49. IIRC it was Kinetic Arctura designed by Jorg Hysek. There was a more expensive stainless steel model, but I couldn't afford it as I was a student at that time.

I had put my kinetic away for a long time, since the charge didn't last very long. It stopped if I didn't wear it for a day or two, and eventually a charge lasted less than a day. Recently I happened to find out about the faulty early capacitors on this and other website. So I bought a replacement capacitor/rechargeable Li-on cell online, and successfully replaced it myself. Now it works very well, even if I don't wear it for several days. Thank you very much for the information, I am really enjoying my Kinetic again!

My ladies Seiko Kinetic Bracelet Watch 3M22 - 0A30 was owned by my mother-in-law who died in 2003. I inherited the watch and assumed it was broken when I got it after her death. When I called a local Seiko dealer, they said it would cost "at least" $150. to have it sent to Seiko for repair, so I put it away and forgot it for six years. Just yesterday, I took it to the local Seiko dealer and was willing to pay the $150. + to have it repaired ... but to my surprise and delight, the jeweler merely shook it for a few minutes and it began working! I took it home and cleaned it, as it was filthy from suntan lotion and who knows what else. I also shook it as often as possible to charge it. Then I wore it to bed overnight, but when I awoke, discovered that it stopped keeping time around 5 in the morning. So today I am shaking it like crazy whenever I think of it, in the hopes of keeping it charged. My question - if you are able to answer this for me, is: do they sell something with a battery in it or that plugs in that will shake your watch for you? I'm afraid I am risking Carpal Tunnel Syndrome with all the wrist shaking I'm doing. I love the watch and want to keep it running, so I am bookmarking your site in case I have to have the capacitor replaced by someone. Thank you for any information you can share with me.

Hi Lynn,

Thanks for adding in your comments. This furnishes more evidence that Seiko indeed produced Kinetic watches for ladies in the 1990s but I had trouble finding photos of such timepieces. As an owner of three Kinetic watches I can tell you that they require a lot of wrist activity to keep them fully charged constantly. Sorry to hear about your CTS ailment. In your case, it's best to wear the watch normally without vigorously shaking it.

Alternatively, you could invest in one of the Seiko YT04A chargers, but they're expensive and probably not worth to buy a new one unless you have many Kinetic watches. The YT04A is also not meant for the end user - they're sold to authorized Seiko repair centers and to some Seiko watch dealers. AFAIK, only serious Kinetic collectors buy the Kinetic charger.

For the time being, wear your late mum-in-law's watch until the power reserve indicator cannot indicate a 5-sec "swing" in spite of having your watch charged by your Seiko dealer (hope he has one of those Kinetic chargers). Then it's time to replace the internal Kinetic E.S.U. All 3M-series Kinetics have that extra button to check the state of the watch's energy reserve.

BTW, Kinetics rarely need periodical servicing, let alone a repair job unless the movement is obviously damaged. $150 is a rather steep quote unless it's a major repair job. To stretch your dollar, continue using your watch until it can no longer reliably hold a charge (e.g., it stops ticking at least once every day). Only then the time is right to have the capacitor or rechargeable cell replaced.

In any case, so long as your watch's second hand is ticking in consistent 1-second intervals, it still maintains its accuracy, regardless. Your watch is also equipped with a power EOL (End-of-Life) indicator in which the second hand moves in 2-second increments.

Hope this helps. :-)

Quartzimodo.

Thank you, Quartzimodo, for your answers and information. I'm giving my Seiko Kinetic Bracelet Watch 3M22-0A30 a good, long, compact shake about four times a day to keep it fully charged. Maybe it's my obsessive-compulsive nature, but I like seeing the second hand sweep all the way to 72 hours when I press the button after shaking it. And I've learned how to shake it efficiently (using a short punching motion) that sounds as if the oscillating weight is spinning well. Plus, I'm wearing it 24/7. My left wrist is active, not sedentary, but it will still show only 3 or 24 hours charge left if I fail to shake it at least four times a day. Even though it shows a charge of 72 hours immediately after I shake it --- within 4-6 hours of not shaking it, it's back to showing only 3 or 24 hours charge when I test it again. Which leads me to believe it isn't functioning at top performance. Nevertheless, I'm growing fond of it and it seems as if I'm keeping one of those "digital pets" that needs occasional tending to or it dies from negligence. Unless I choose to operate a jackhammer throughout the day, I'm going to have to accept that this is a high maintenance watch. If you would like a photo of it for your research or files, let me know, and I will take one for you. Again, thanks for all the information.

Hi Quartzimodo,

May I ask if you know Seiko Sportura 9T82 is using which LiOn cell? And where can I buy it?
Thanks

Hi Dennis,

While Seiko doesn't list the type of LiOn cell, I'm sure it's the same Maxell TC-920S that powers all of their Kinetic calibers. If you're changing your LiOn cell, it's best that your watch is sent to the nearest Seiko service center. The 9T82 is a complicated (and expensive) Kinetic movement and is best left to trained personnel to replace the rechargeable cell.

Hope this helps!

Quartzimodo Admin

Many thanks for a great article and wonderful place of resource. Thumbs up to a great read for every Seiko fan.

All the best wishes!

Hi Quartzimodo,

Thanks for the advise.
I had tried to send my 9T82 to my local service center in Singapore. But was told they do not repair this watch locally. It need to send all the way to Japan for checking.
The freight cost etc already cost S$900+ which did not even include the repair cost that will probably incur in Japan.
I think it is really too expensive for repair.
Any suggestion?

Hi Dennis,

The 9T82 is a specialty, hand-assembled movement. It's Seikos most complicated Kinetic based movement to date and as with many high end Seiko calibers, only trained technicians in Japan are able to diagnose and repair your watch. I don't think shipping to Japan should cost that much. It's better to bypass the Thong Sia service center and send your watch yourself to Seiko Japan.

You might want to contact Seiko Japan first via their contact form and ask them how to send your watch and a repair estimate. As your Seiko watch is quite an expensive model, be sure to use an EMS postal or courier service with insurance. Both services are have tracking and you can monitor your package online.

Hope this helps!

Quartzimodo

Thanks for the compliments, Bullosa! :-)

Hi! i need advice because i want to buy Seiko divers kinetic its a SKA model

Thanks

Hi Roemer,

What sort of advice are you looking for? You'll have to be more specific with your question.

Quartzimodo

Best article regarding Seiko's Kinetic watch I have ever read. Great work!
BTW, I recently replaced my Seiko 5M42 capacitor with a Panasonic MT920 rechargable battery. So far so good :). Now my Kinetic works again.

Thanks for the comments, LK! :-)

It's interesting to note that Maxell is not the only producer of rechargeable lithium ion cells for Seiko Kinetics, with Panasonic also making them. Be mindful that with the much larger power reserve, you'll need a lot more effort to keep your watch fully charged. I think I'll switch to the Panasonic brand for a change the next time I have to replace my Kinetic power cells.

Quartzimodo.

Thanks for your advice! Yes, the battery need quite some time to charge up. It took me 2 weeks to charge it to the full capacity. I wore it every day and sometimes also purposely shaken it to charge. The initial charge was indicated as 2/3, which means when I press down the indicator button, the second hand will advance 20 seconds (the full charge will indicated as 30 seconds). :)

Hi LK,

Good to know that your Kinetic is now freshly charged. :-) The power reserve indicator on 5M-series Kinetics are not accurate means of gauging the reserve. At the 30-second mark, your rechargeable cell can be anywhere between 75% to 100%, therefore you'll have to take the readings with a pinch of salt. The only real-time, more accurate indicator can be found in the Seiko Direct Drive calibers.

As I've mentioned before, don't fret if your watch someday shows the 10-second mark and no further. It's a sign of the LiOn battery aging. You can continue to wear your watch as usual, until it absolutely can no longer hold a useful charge. Then it's time to replace the LiOn cell.

Quartzimodo

Great article! We own two Kinetics. I thought they were a great idea after owning two of their earlier self winding watches. Unfortunately, both of the watches have had the storage units die. The men's watch also had the stem fall off. The quartz Seiko that I had before this also had the stem fall off! I'm afraid this has soured me on Seiko. I have gone back to my old self winder and when it dies, I'll go to another brand. I paid a lot extra to chase technology and it has been a major disappointment.

Hi Lemurs,

Sorry to hear about your Seiko woes. Realistically speaking, there will always be lemons in certain batches of mass produced watches regardless of the brand. Barring the reliability issues of the capacitor or rechargeable battery in Kinetics, crown stems falling off is not exactly a common trait with Seiko watches. I've never encountered a problem similar to yours - not even with my vintage Seiko automatic watch from the year 1967 (really).

For example, Toyota cars and trucks are generally known for the robustness, reliability and longevity as evidenced by the brand's large presence in all the major continents in the world. In spite of Toyota's reputation there will always be the odd Toyota giving problems requiring frequent trips to the garage. Does this imply Toyotas are inferior? No it doesn't.

Thanks for the research! I pulled my 5m42A out of mothballs only to find it won't run. No big surprise after reading this thread. My wife on the other hand has been wearing hers and it is running fine. We baught these things around 1995 or 96. they are nice looking watches and I plan on getting minr into the shop tomorrow.You mentioned that you had no pics of the ladies version. Here are a couple.

I took my 5m42A in have the capasitor replaced today. The jeweler, who's web ad said that he specializes in kenitics, wanted to charge me $120+ tax for just the capasitor and a new gasket. If the coversions in the above entries are correct, I was expecting between $40-$50. I asked him about replacing it with a LiOn and he said that I would have to send it in to Seiko for that. That he only replaces one with what was in it to begin with.
Any ideas on this situation?

Hi Chemoman,

Thanks for the photos of the 5M23 "his and hers" Seiko Kinetics! In my experience with the watch forums, Seiko Kinetic watches for women don't get a mention; let alone photos of them. Seiko has since stopped making Kinetics for women as they probably fared dismally, sales-wise. Women generally view watches as accessories that happen to tell the time. Men on the other hand, are more interested in the technology behind watchmaking.

Perhaps Seiko's marketing research revealed that their female customers are more interested in how a watch looks, rather than the movement that powers it. Which explains why the bulk of Seiko's watches for women are generally quartz, although a few ladies' models are available in the Seiko 5 line.

As for your question about your jeweler asking for USD120 for a direct capacitor replacement, I think that's a steep fee. The Seiko service centers in Southeast Asia generally do not charge over USD30 to replace a capacitor to the rechargeable LiOn cell. The standard of living is higher in the U.S. therefore labor (watch servicing fees) are generally higher in your country than in Asia. Note that this is the average cost of replacing the old capacitor or LiOn cell and does not include any diagnostic and testing charges for the Kinetic's charging circuit.

Have a look at the Kinetic Repair website. For just USD65, they'll throw in a general Kinetic movement servicing and diagnostics, including water resistance tests as well as the LiOn cell upgrade.

hope this helps,
Quartzimodo.

I have two Mickey Mouse Kinetics. They are both calibre 5M49. However one has the suffix "-0C19" and the other has "-0B49". What is the significance of the suffixes? Thanks!

Shaun

Hi Shaun,

The suffixes represent the case code or case type. Seiko makes at least one model per case code, with some case types in turn having several variations which are classified by the watch's unique reference number. For example, the classic 7s26-0020 diver has a few dial and bezel color variations for that case type but from they share the same caseback code.

The last digit in the caseback code however, signifies the market that watch was meant for and/or the movement's original country of manufacture. Generally the number "9" denotes the North American market. BTW, there is no Kinetic movement named "5M49" (sometimes the caseback numbers can be misread). If your watch has only a date, then it would be the 5M42, while a day/date calendar means it's a 5M43.

Quartzimodo

Thanks for the explanation. The calibre was a typo. Both of my watches are 5M43. :)

Shaun

Thanks for the article. About a month ago I purchased a Seiko Premier Kinetic Direct Drive watch (Cal.5D44)SRH009P1, and so far I'm very happy with it (see the link for the picture: www.seikowatches.com/products/premier/kinetic_dd/srh009p1.html). I got it largely because of the appearance, and secondarily because of the Seiko brand. Your article clarified a number of issues I'd been wondering about, like battery vs capacitor ESU. If I get 10 years out of the battery I'll be happy, given that the most I've had out of other watch batteries was 2 years. I'm not overly thrilled with the time accuracy as it's lost about 4 seconds in the last month, but the specification says its accurate to as much as 15 secs a month, so I suppose I have one of the better ones. There's no evidence of backlash at all, I would've demanded a refund if I had any of that because I've never owned a watch that had visibly noticeable backlash before, and won't pay a premium price for that! So all's good. I don't wind the crown much, except out of curiosity. At this point I have a week's power reserve, and that's been climbing slowly since I've had it, just from normal wrist movement (I wear it around 16 hours a day). As for the term "kinetic power", personally I think of it as "parasitic power"!

Hi Paul,

Glad to know that you're enjoying your Premier Kinetic Direct Drive. :-) Rest assured, the issues relating to legacy movements like the 5M4x series have since been resolved.

Whether a Kinetic's rechargeable lithium ion cell will last 10 years depends on many variable factors, e.g. age of the battery, whether it has manufacturing defects, if the watch is constantly subjected to excessive heat, if the cell had been discharged completely, the health of the watch's charging circuit, etc. The chemical properties of your watch's LiOn cell is no different that those bigger lithium ion batteries powering your cellphone, iPod, laptops, etc.

As with any quartz controlled watch's accuracy (a Kinetic is still quartz), a watch usually loses time (runs slower) when worn regularly and in the summer, where higher temperatures prevail. The reverse is true in colder temperatures where the watch gains time (runs faster). Variances in the quartz crystal's oscillating properties also influence accuracy. -4 secs/month isn't too bad actually.

Enjoy your new Premier watch in good health! :-)

Quartzimodo

To All,
I replaced the capacitor which was easy.
I lost a screw of the capacitor plate of 5M42.
I need a screw replacement.
Seiko can do it for Euro 110,-
Better to scrap the watch in this case.
Does anyone know how te get one?

Living in the Netherlands

Hallo Jaap,

Sorry to hear that you had lost the capacitor clamp screws. Try to order a set of replacement screws from Seiko Netherlands. The part numbers are 0022 247. I'm not sure if Seiko sells the screws separately or you'll have to buy the whole capacitor clamp assembly. 100 Euros is a ridiculous price to pay to solve such a simple matter.

geluk! :-)

Quartzimodo

Thanks,
Í'll try that.
If it is not possible I'll try via dealer.
If somebody has a spare let me know.
I'll pay the expenses of course.
Jaap

Really enjoyed your thorough analysis!

I have Seiko Premier Kinetic (one year old). After reading your \24,000 movements\ I now understand why the watch will go into \Sleep/ Hibernation\ mode after only one week. after reading your article, I fully expect that its Lithium ion battery will die prematurely.

Previously. SEIKO has left me 'high and dry' with a very expensive Titanium Chronograph (quartz) when a wrist-band element broke, and also would not repair either an automatic when the rotor excenter was ground away after only three years (a well known SEIKO problem which a watchmaker friend explained to me under his microscope).

This will be my LAST SEIKO, when and if it should die prematurely.

Hi Heinz,

The power cut off feature in your Seiko Premier Kinetic (I assume you have the Auto Relay version) is designed to save power when the watch is not in use. It is difficult to gauge how long your lithium ion cell will last. This also goes for any watch that uses the rechargeable power cell, e.g. Casio Solar Powered models and even Citizen Eco-Drives.

Sorry to hear your disappointment with your Seiko watch; but for every dissatisfied owner there are thousands of Seiko owners who are pleased with their watches. :-)

Quartzimodo

I bought a Seiko Kinetic 5M43 in 1998 for $600.00. In 2003 the capacitor went out, and I sent it to Seiko and they put a Li Ion battery in it for $76.00. In 2008 the watch wouldn't hold a charge, and I paid $109.00 to have a new Li Ion Battery put in it by www.yellowstonewatch.com and a new time coil. Now, in 2010, it has stopped holding a charge again and I am trying to decide whether to throw it away or spend another $100.00 to get it repaired.

If I have to replace the battery every 2 years, this is going to get real expensive real quick. The previous battery-operated Seiko that I owned, ran like a charm, and the battery replacement cost around $20.00. I'm not sure if I want to keep throwing money at this watch.

I don't think the Kinetic idea is panning out very well. One of the ENT surgeons that I work with said, "If you have to get the battery replaced every 5 years, doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of a self winding watch." I said, "Yeah, I guess it does."

Hi Carl,

Thank you for sharing your views. :-)

It's hardly surprising to read about love/hate relationships with the Seiko Kinetic watch. The 5M43 is an older Kinetic caliber which was superseded by the 5M63 which Seiko produces to this day. There are two variables involved in a Kinetic watch: the electricity generating efficiency of its power generating circuit and the lifespan of the capacitor or lithium ion cell. A Kinetic with a failing power generating circuit will not produce enough voltage to sufficiently charge the LiOn cell. Then there's the lithium ion cell itself to be considered. It's no different than that of a lithium ion battery pack used in digital cameras, cellphones and notebook computers.

There's a possibility that the LiON cell that Seiko replaced for you was not a freshly produced one; it could have been from an old batch. If you own a laptop or netbook computer, it's easy to gauge the performance of your laptop battery. Just download the very useful BatteryBar freeware utility and you can check the percentage of the battery's wear rate. For example, if you've just bought a notebook three months ago and BatteryBar reports a high wear rate of 15%, it means that either the battery is defective from the factory or that you got one that's been in storage in a fully discharged state for a long time.

Unfortunately, simpler LiOn batteries used in watches, digital cameras and cellphones have no means of reporting their power efficiency. If you bought an additional battery for your digital camera and it happens to be an old stock item, expect to get less number of shots per charge. That's the way it is.

No matter how you care for your watch, all LiOn cells will self-degenerate in years. Chemical aging will inevitably wear out rechargeable lithium ion batteries. The joy in owning a Kinetic watch is not the perceived notion that you never have to replace a battery, but the fact the feel of a self-winding watch with quartz accuracy.

I have a friend who owns a Seiko 5J22 Kinetic Auto Relay. He doesn't remember when he received it as a gift, but I looked at its serial number and was surprised to learn that it was at least 10 years old. My friend says that he had never replaced the lithium ion cell to this day, which is kind of a remarkable feat in itself. BTW, all my three Kinetic watches are temporarily "dead" due to not wearing them regularly. I had thought about replacing their LiOn cells but decided that it's not worth the cost since I have many watches and seldom wear the Kinetics.

Quartzimodo.

I bought a "limited edition" Sportura Titanium for USD3000.00 and I thought I never have to replace the battery. Now, the watch stops running if I don't wear it for a few days. I'm very upset at myself for spending $3000.00 on a watch that the Seiko co. falsely advertised that I don't have to replace the battery. Now I'm looking for a place to replace the "battery" or thinking about selling it. I live in the Bay Area, USA. Any good place for Seiko service? Please email me at nathanhoangusa@yahoo.com
Thank you

Hi Quartzimodo, thanks for a lo of very interesting info about watches. Month ago i've bought Seiko srh009p1 > what do you think ? is it better to keep battery full charge (must manual charge) or in natural (from hand - normal using) charge ~ 25% capacity ?
Thanks in advance.
Jacek from Poland

Hi Nathan,

You must own one of those flagship 9T82 Kinetic chronograph watches. Your watch is rated to hold a charge for one month, provided the rechargeable battery is new and has a 100% charge capacity. Send your watch to any reputable Seiko authorized dealer that can replace Kinetic watch batteries, the Seiko USA service center or to Kinetic Repairs. Seiko knows that they've misled many customers into thinking that Kinetics never need to replace a battery. At least that was their motto when they used the early capacitors, which are technically not batteries.

Quartzimodo

Hi Jacek,

The most important thing is never to allow your watch to stop for weeks or months. All lithium ion rechargeable batteries will degrade over time when left fully discharged for a long time. This applies to any device that uses LiOn batteries, whether it's a laptop, iPod, cellphone, digital camera, etc. Keeping your watch to full power all the time is the best thing to do, because if you let your watch run down and recharge you'll be using up the battery's charge/discharge cycles.

Quartzimodo

Quartzimodo

I found the tech info you provided amazing and helpful. This may seem a little off topic but, I have a Ralf Tech WRX E-Matic that I am led to believe has a Seiko Kinetic movement or a derived version. I was curious if you knew what version of the movement it has if this is true. I have had the watch for a couple of years and it seems to work flawlessly in rotation waring it a about 2 days a week or so. As an aside, you may want to check this out this brand, more so if it does have a Seiko moveent.

RolfB

Hi RolfB,

I've not heard of the Ralf Tech WRX until you brought it up. :-) While Seiko had a long standing policy of not selling its movements to third party watch brands (except to J. Springs and Alba, which are affiliated with Seiko), it's possible that they have secretly changed their policy and licensed its movements to other manufacturers, like TAG Heuer (only its 6s37 automatic chronograph caliber). If the WRX e-Matic uses a Seiko Kinetic movement, it's most likely to be the 5M62 caliber which has a date only calendar display, based on Ralf Tech's specifications of the WRX e-Matic having a power reserve of 6 months.

Quartzimodo

Hi:
I bought a 5m42 in 1998 partly because I'm a mechanical watch freak and also am very hard on watches and this was titanium. Ordered battery on line for about USD 12.00 about 5 years ago and replaced it myself (not as easy as replacing a battery in a regular quartz) Has been a great watch only problem is the pins in the watch band are wearing out and one already broke and have not been able to find replacement. Guess I will have to use my Movado Chrono for a while

Hi Jalopy,

You're one of the very few Kinetic owners who are lucky to need a capacitor replacement only after 12 years of ownership! There is a small chance that Seiko Japan may still have a replacement band for your watch, considering that you have a discontinued model from 1998.

Quartzimodo

Your comments about seiko kinetics and replacement of power cells are right on the money, and your audience is grateful. I have been dealing with a question that I'm sure you will be able to answer, but I have not seen it addressed. The 3023 5mz kit is used to upgrade the 5m42 kinetic to Li-ion. I have a 5m62-0840 which won't hold a charge. Various sites offer a 3023 44z as the replacement ESU for a 5m62, but it appears to be an ESU only, without the insulator or hold down plate. I believe this is the same ESU as in the 3023 5mz kit, and that the kit isn't required for the 5m62, because these watches have already been factory upgraded. If I am correct, then I could buy the 3023 5mz kit, containing 3 items to use as needed, or the 3023 44z ESU only, using the original insulator and hold down plate, for my 5m62-0840 watch. The odd thing is, the 3023 5mz kit is always several dollars cheaper than the 3023 44z ESU, which makes no sense to me if the Li-ion ESU is identical in both, since I get extra replacement parts when I buy the 3023 5mz kit. I would be grateful for your comments.

I've just bought a Pulsar Kinetic from Argos (my first Kinetic watch), its the cal YT58 variety with white hands and a blue face, quite a bonny looking watch. It was on offer at £60 with a claimed RRP of £125 which I think is a believable price comparison. I haven't actually worn it yet because i haven't got the bracelet adjusted. However there is one thing bugging me a bit. When I looked at it in the shop before buying I noticed that the second hand was moving in the normal manner. It wasn't until I got home that I realised that someone may have had this watch before and taken it back to the shop. My reasoning was that being a kinetic, if it was brand new and untouched, surely the second hand should not be moving. Even now, 24 hours later when it's sat on my desk, it is still working normally (no low power warning). I'm wondering if I should ask for it to be exchanged, or do they all come out of the factory charged up I wonder? (the instructions only say on how to get the watch started from a no working condition?

Hi David,

There could be other reasons why your watch was ticking at the time of purchase. The store could have recharged your Pulsar's battery to keep it running (they may have the Seiko electromagnetic induction charger) or the watch is from a fresh batch from the Seiko factory. I have seen Kinetics that tick on the display shelves, so it's nothing out of the ordinary.

If the watch is a returned item, the warranty card would have been filled for its previous owner. Look at the bracelet for any signs of scratches, indicating it's been used.

Hope this helps. :-)
Quartzimodo

Hi Randall,

This is a question in which I am unable to answer with absolute certainty. Seiko USA may have different pricing for both the LiOn cell alone and the upgrade kit. The upgrade kit, which comes with its corresponding LiOn cell could be of old stock and the cell itself may have deteriorated with age. Always buy replacement LiOn cells from the freshest stock available. This is something that only the supplier knows and that is if they're willing to disclose.

As your primary goal is to replace your worn out ESU with a new one, I should think it's wiser to get the replacement cell alone and not the upgrade kit (if it's from old stock).

Hope this helps,
Quartzimodo

Appreciate your thoughts regarding 5m42 upgrade kit vs 5m62 replacement cell. Both kit and cell are readily available and stated to be fresh. Any reason you think the kit would be more likely to be old stock than the individual cell?
The key would be if someone out there has compared the cells in the 2 packages to see if they are a perfect match.I see no compelling reason to pay more for a single cell than for a package with the same cell and 2 extra spare parts. If only someone knows the answer.

Hi giwatcher,

It was just a guess, because I don't suppose there are many pre 5M4x-series Kinetic owners requesting upgrades. If both the replacement cell and upgrade kit are guaranteed to be fresh stock, go for the latter. Only Coserv (Seiko USA's service center) will be able to tell you as to why they are priced differently. Note that the pricing in the U.S. may not necessarily reflect the same picture in other parts of the world.

Quartzimodo

Hello Quartzimodo,

Thanks very much for your reply. I went back to Argos to query this and looked at another identical watch they had in stock, and that also was ticking. I concluded that it must be normal. Argos will not have been charging their stock of kinetic watches up, because they are not specialist jewellers, just a catalogue shop. There was no evidence of previous ownership, so I am now happily wearing it. At first I thought I would be self concious about it charging up, i.e. would be always thinking about how I am moving my arm, but I soon forgot about it. I am going to wear it on the treadmill in the gym to give it a jolly good charging up!

Hello Quartizimodo,

Thank you very much for your reply. I took it back to Argos to query it and I looked at another identical watch which was also ticking, so I concluded that it is normal. There was no evidence of previous ownership of my watch. Argos will not have been charging up their stock of kinetics because they are not jewellers, just a catalogue shop. I am now happily wearing my watch. Thanks.

That was a wonderful post. Thank you.

That said, I don't understand the appeal of the Kinetic. If you wish to live a Green non-polluting life, the Kinetic fails utterly: it has either a leaking capacitor or a disposable LiOn battery. (One is an eco-hazard, the other is just eco-harmful.) In any event, this is not a battery-less watch.

If I want a Green watch, I should just by an automatic mechanical watch. Seiko makes inexpensive automatics. They are reasonably accurate, do not leak, do not degrade, have a nicer rotor feel, and do not require 24,000 swings. They require service every few years, just as the Kinetic does.

If I want a maintenance-free watch, I should just by a quartz. Considering the annoyance of needing to keep this watch charged through constantly being worn (or else suffer battery degradation), I don't see how this is better than a normal quartz watch. My quartz watch needs a new battery on average every 1 to 2 years. The battery is cheap, and every jeweler in the world knows how to replace a quartz battery. The Kinetic's battery lasts for 7 years, is expensive and needs to be replaced by a Seiko specialist. And it's not maintenance-free; I have to keep it charged. A quartz is maintenance-free; I can wear it, keep it in a drawer, put it in the freezer, whatever.

I've seen seen the styles of Kinetics, and all I can say is that they're butt ugly. Seiko's come in many styles: diver, sport, Swiss dress, Rolexy. There is no excuse for the clunky, tasteless appearance of the Kinetic.

I like watches. I've had automatics, windups, quartz; Japanese, American, Swiss, and possibly Filipino sweatshop. But outside of its very dubious engineering novelty, what's the point of the Kinetic?

Great article!

I've owned a 5M63 for over 6 years and its never stopped ticking in that time (except for when I set it for daylight savings). Its a great watch and I actually find it relaxing to take it off and rock it side to side to charge it.

About a year ago I bought a Velatura DD as an upgrade from my 5M63. I bought it mostly because of the look of the dial and bezel, the fact that it was a kinetic was secondary. Since I had already owned a kinetic for about 5 years at the time I was confident in the quality.

Imagine my surprise when on the second day of wearing my new Velatura I went to check the time and found that the watch had stopped! I got one with a dud KESU. Thankfully I live only a 10 minute drive from the only Seiko service center in all of Canada (2nd largest country in the world). A week later I got my watch back and its worked perfectly ever since.

One thing I must emphasize about the DD is that there is a proper technique to winding it. I've read several times on the internet people complaining about winding it over and over and barely getting a charge. I can wind it to the max 6 hour charge in only about 30 seconds. The trick is to take the watch off your wrist, hold the case with one hand and wind it with the other hand by running the length of your index finger along the bottom of the crown repeatedly. Trying to wind it like its a mechanical watch is ineffective.

I love the look of my Velatura. The only complaint I have is that I hate the steel and black bracelet it came with. I liked it in the store but after about a month I took an extreme hating to it. I bought a rubber band (from the yachting timer model) from ebay and have never looked back. It looks bad-ass now!

Now I'm getting off topic... but my biggest complaint with Seikos is that with the majority of their steel bracelets you can see the friction pin holes in all the links all the way up to the case. This is even true of their higher end models. The bracelet that came with my Velatura is also used for the automatic chronograph version which costs over $2000 CAD. I would expect a watch that expensive to not have visible pin holes on the first few links near the case.

Anyway, I love seikos overall. I own 5 so far and I haven't actually been trying to collect them. I only recently discovered the seiko 5 range and I'm hooked. I plan on getting several models (the mini-monsters are bad-ass!)

Thanks.

Hi Mike K,

Thanks for sharing your manual recharging tips with regards to the Direct Drive. Nobody really knows what goes in the minds of the Seiko designers who came up with the Velatura's design but I guess they were aiming the international Velatura range at the well heeled, younger watch buying market. Seiko had yachting-oriented models in the past, but they came in all kinds of calibers and designs with the occasional commemorative edition (the America Cup) for example. The entire Velatura lineup was envisioned as the sporting sailor's watch (they're not ISO certified divers, btw).

There are lots of Seiko watches that cost a lot more than the Velatura models, but they are the Japanese domestic market (JDM) Seikos that are generally meant for sales in Japan. Taiwan is the biggest market for these lovely watches outside of Japan.

Quartzimodo.

Hi J Paulson,

I hear you loud and clear. The concept of a self-recharging quartz watch via mechanical energy is not confined to Seiko as a few Swiss brands also came out with the same concept, except that they named it the "Auto Quartz". The initial concept was to do without a disposable battery by using a tiny capacitor but Seiko later discovered that the capacitors they used were prone to leakage and premature failure. They quietly switched to rechargeable lithium ion cells at the same time, increasing the power reserve of their Kinetic watches.

It's too late for Seiko to retract the motto behind their Kinetics but they found that Kinetics actually sell quite well. Buyers who purchase Kinetic watches have their personal reasons in doing so. Engineers appreciate the technology that goes into the Kinetics. Other enthusiasts buy Kinetics because it gives them the approximate feel of an automatic watch, with the rotor oscillating inside the watch while giving quartz watch-like accuracy. Kinetics are probably not suitable for certain calculative people, e.g. some accountants who are trained to expect that every cent spent on such watches gives them 100% returns.

I beg to disagree that all Kinetics are butt ugly - there are quite a few Seiko designs that are available only in Kinetic guise and which there are no quartz or automatic counterparts of the same model.

Quartzimodo

Q, you are right that kinetics are quite popular. Most people I've asked have at least heard of them. There was a thread on Slashdot about Nokia releasing a phone that would recharge itself automatically when the phone was moved. This spawned many comments from people bragging about their seiko kinetics.

Kinetics are not ugly. I've gotten several complements on my Velatura DD.

Hi Mike K,

I agree.
Seiko makes more models than any other watch manufacturer. There are too many models to keep track of and the ones that are mentioned in the various Seiko watch forums are limited to the ones that the forum members like. Your Velatura KDD is a rather attractive looking model. Reader J Paulson's comment is partly right. There are some strange and garish looking designs from Seiko which I would not even consider wearing, let alone buying them. Making a blanket statement that Kinetics are ugly watches is like saying all turbodiesel engined cars are ugly vehicles just because one doesn't like diesel engine technology.

There's a Seiko watch for each and everyone and watches are very personal and subjective items. :-)

Quartzimodo

Great article.
I bought my first Kinetic more than 10 years ago, and recently just service this 5M43 with new battery.

It was a nightmare just to kick start a long forgotten watch in the closet. Took a few hours. Hoping the new battery can give a re-birth of it.

I tried watch winder before but it didn't help. Likely, the charging movement needs bi-clockwise.

I agree with your conclusion.
And I had a eco-drive with some battery problem. However, just put it under sunlight for week or so, it is at least running. I rate eco-drive over kinetic model.

I'd rather invest in a good mechanical watch. Since I rotate watches to wear, time accuracy is not my first concern. +1/-1 min per day is not a problem. Get a decent one with good water resistant capability, the mechanical watch could run without service. Most importantly is that mechanical watch can appreicate.

Outlook design is important to me. So, I think I will continue to buy some solar power model if it really look nice. And leave kinetics alone unless it is a dirt cheap 2nd hand.

Hi Louis,

Watch winders are meant for automatic watches and lack the torque to spin the tight oscillating weight in Kinetic watches. The quickest and easiest way is to charge your watch to the max is to use one of those electromagnetic induction chargers that Seiko provides to some of its authorized dealers and all of its service centers.

People buy Kinetics for different reasons. Some think that they'd save the hassle in never having to change its battery (not really true). Others buy Kinetics because they love how the watch looks on their wrists. Yet there are those who have to settle for a particular Kinetic model because Seiko doesn't produce the exact styling in quartz or automatic guises. And then there are people who simply love the faux automatic movement feel the Kinetic gives.

All three of my Kinetics are temporarily in limbo due to not wearing them for a long time. Like you, I have to kick start them by shaking them violently for a couple of hours before enough charge is accumulated to start the movement ticking. Solar powered quartz watches like Citizen Eco-Drives and Seiko Solar models will give you a very long life before their internal batteries quit working. All rechargeable batteries have a finite lifespan.

Thanks for sharing your views! :-)
Quartzimodo

Hi Quatzimodo,

Recently, I just did a rough test on energy conversion comparison.?Just give 10 swings to a stopped watch and see how long it runs.

1.A kinetic with 6J22 only gave 30 min run time before it stopped again.

2.And other mechanical watches.
a. ~1.5 hr with chronograph running too
b. ~1.5 - 3hr just normal time (watches w/ no chrono function)

So, I see there is quite a significant energy loss during the conversion. The only plus side is better time accuracy.

Hi Louis,

Many thanks for performing the test and sharing your findings with anyone reading this article. :-)

If I might add, there are also other factors influencing the power reserve of the lithium ion rechargeable battery in Kinetics:

- The state of discharge. A Kinetic that's stopped for months won't even kick start with a mere ten swings.
- The battery's charging characteristics. Very aged Kinetic batteries are more difficult to recharge.
- The efficiency of the watch's coil block and the power generator.

The oscillating rotor drives a series of step-up gears and some energy is lost through the transmission to the micro electrical generator. When I bought my first Kinetic watch, it took me by surprise that the oscillating rotor does not spin as freely as the oscillating weight in automatic watches. In automatics, the oscillating weight winds the main spring smoothly and quickly, due to the very simple winding mechanism.

That said, I do enjoy the rattle of the oscillating rotor of a Kinetic but Seiko has yet to develop a power generating system that requires much less effort to charge the Kinetic to full. Speaking of which, I haven't worn my Kinetics in a long time. Time to give all of them a kick start! :-)

Quartzimodo

Hi Quartzimodo, Thanks much for a comprehensive article!
I own about 50 watches and have disasembled cleaned and oiled a few. I own 3 kinetics (5M-62, 5M-54, 5D-2378)and will never buy another! I sent the 5M for repair under warranty; it ran well for a while but not after laying on the shelf for a month then wearing it for a week it still jumped in two second intervals. I agree they are not for a person with more than 3 or 4 watches. Seiko cannot "make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." They need to admit that it's a failure. I prefer quartz, Eco-drive, or autos!

Hi John,

Thanks for contributing to the comments section and sharing your personal views. :-) I have no plans to buy another Kinetic watch unless it's a highly desirable model like the very rare (discontinued and expensive) Prospex Kinetic Scubamaster Stingray/Pipin diver series (5M45 with an additional GMT hand). The subject of buying a Kinetic watch is highly subjective matter. There are those who appreciate the novel technology and then there are those who buy one because they like the watch's look or collectible status.

From Seiko's viewpoint, the Kinetic is not a marketing failure as evidenced by new Kinetic models introduced every year. The rechargeable lithium ion battery is another matter and is outside Seiko's control (they don't make the rechargeable cells). It's the same thing as say, notebook computers. You may have a good laptop only to let down by a poor performing battery or one that loses its charge holding efficiency fairly quickly. Although in such cases, the notebook maker handles such battery related complaints, they do not manufacture the notebook batteries.

If you have a Windows based laptop, try using the excellent Battery Bar utility. You can check the wear level of your battery pack. I have two notebooks - a small 11.6" Acer 1825PTZ convertible that uses Sanyo cells and a 14" ASUS UL80Vt purchased within two months of one another in 2010. Battery Bar reports my Acer's battery having a crazy wear level of 21.4% while my ASUS laptop's battery pack has a reasonable wear level of 3.1%.

I alternate between both notebooks. Does it mean my Acer 1825PTZ is lousy because of its battery's capacity has diminished? No. It's the Sanyo battery to blame. As my Acer is still within its one year warranty period, I plan to complain to Acer's service center about my notebook's poor battery performance. The issue is whether they're willing to exchange the battery for a new one.

Quartzimodo

Hi Quartzimodo, I have a Seiko Kinetic 5m43 caliber. The serial nos. on the back is 631588. Do you think its manufactured on 1996 or 2006? What's the meaning of SQ50? I replace the capacitor w/ an silver oxide batteries and now its stop running? Where can I buy a Maxell TC920 or Panasonic MT920 Li-ion battery? I live in the Philippines.

Hi Ryan,

Your 5M43 is an early Kinetic model, which was made on March 1996. The 5M43 was superseded by the current 5M63 back in 2001-2002, therefore your watch cannot be from 2006. "SQ 50" stands for "Seiko Quartz, 50m water resistance". Never use disposable silver oxide batteries for Kinetic watches as they are not meant to be recharged and can leak or explode, ruining your movement's electronics.

You can buy either the Maxell TC-920S or Panasonic MT920 from the authorized Seiko service center in the Philippines, an authorized Seiko dealer (not all carry replacement Kinetic batteries though) or online.

Quartzimodo

Thanks Quartzimodo! Another questions, is 5m43-OA50 A4 is my watch model? It is show in the back of my watch, while in lower front it shows 5m43-OA70 T 2. Another thing is in the back it shows 5 bar, while in lower front it shows SQ 50. What is the meaning of sapphlex crystal st. steel + base metal shown in back? What is the meaning of 43RO-B-I written on the bracelet near the watch? Is my watch glass scratch proof because it does not show any kind of scratches? My watch is also glow in the dark, is it phosphorus or neon? Can you tell me how much my watch worth right now, in Dollars or in Philippine Peso?

Excellent text, and it came just when I was planning to
take SEIKO PREMIER KINETIC PERPETUAL SNP023. It looked to me
as elegatan and extremely interesting watch. I especially
liked the way it displays the date (two digits) and the
current month. But these problems with Lion batteries
let me think twice.
As this is not a small money for this watch, is there a
watch with similar design (similar date and month), while
not Kinetic? It would be my primarly watch.
And if it`s not the problem can I ask another question.
Is there difference in watches from Seiko authorized
representative and from internet stores (like
creationwatches.com)? I ask because the prices of the
authorized representative are 2-3 times higher, depending
on the model.

Thank you in advance for your reply

Hi Rashomon,

The Seiko Premier SNP023P is unique on its own because it uses Seiko's new 7D56 with a leap year complication. The large calendar window on the dial concept was initially introduced with the 7D46 caliber and it's also a Kinetic Perpetual Calendar. Currently Seiko has no equivalent design in either quartz or automatic versions, because the company has not designed a non-Kinetic caliber with the same looks as the SNP023P. There are quite a few Seiko watches that happen to be designed with a Kinetic movement only and you cannot get an automatic or quartz version.

Buying a watch is like buying a car. Do you choose a car based on its price, looks, comfort, size, interior space, handling or purely based on its engine? Most people don't buy a car because it happens to be powered by a certain engine.

Since you intend to wear this watch as your main timepiece, the lithium ion battery would be charged to full all the time and you shouldn't worry about the watch's reliability. I have a friend who has a Kinetic Auto Relay watch from 1999 and he swears he hasn't experienced any problem with it ever since he got it. He wears it everyday, never had it serviced and it's his only watch. Not bad for a 12 year-old watch, right? :-)

As to your second question, Creationwatches.com is able to offer lower prices because they bypass the local distributor and parallel imports their watches. Same watch, same reliability except that you pay a lot less. Authorized Seiko dealers generally advertised the manufacturer's recommended selling price (MRSP) which is always higher than actual, street prices. Besides, in European countries like Germany for example, Seiko watches are heavily taxed - hence the huge price difference.

If you really like how the Seiko Premier looks on your wrist, buy it by all means. :-)
Quartzimodo

Enjoyed the reading with great interest.I own a 5M22 since the 80's never had any problem, wore it all the time, lately I found that it was slowing down; So I took it to a local revendeur shop recommanded by Seiko France.They sent it to their workshop, kept it for 6mnths,return it to me with a bill of jst ovr 100 euros. It worked for few hours then wnt dead.Back to the shop for another 3 mnths, reckoned new capacitor has been fitted.noticed drops of water inside the wactch, when I have never used under water.Wish you all the best regards.Pierre PS: Ishall keep an eye on your webb from time to time.

Thanks for the great wealth of information! I too bought a 5J22 (Kinetic Auto-Relay) back in 1999 and have never had it serviced. It has worked perfect and kept time up until about a month ago.

First problem was that the second hand started acting funny by advancing two clicks, pausing and then advancing two clicks and so on. Then the date quit advancing and then started losing time. Finally, it just quit advancing the time all together (but still counts off the double seconds!).

I guess the first thing to try will be to have the LiOn replaced?

Hi The Shaz,

The fact that your watch's second hand is ticking in 2-second increments shows that the battery is running low. It's usual for a quartz controlled watch to lose time when its battery is almost depleted. In the case of a Kinetic, the rechargeable battery has definitely outlived its lifespan. Since this would be your first time having to replace the LiOn battery, my advice is to also have your Seiko Kinetic Auto Relay's power generating system checked for any problem as well as a total service, which usually involves lubricating the critical moving parts. You may as well have the caseback rubber seals replaced to ensure continued water resistance properties.

good luck! :-)
Quartzimodo

Hi The Shaz,

The fact that your watch's second hand is ticking in 2-second increments shows that the battery is running low. It's usual for a quartz controlled watch to lose time when its battery is almost depleted. In the case of a Kinetic, the rechargeable battery has definitely outlived its lifespan. Since this would be your first time having to replace the LiOn battery, my advice is to also have your Seiko Kinetic Auto Relay's power generating system checked for any problems as well as a total service, which usually involves lubricating the critical moving parts. You may as well have the caseback rubber seals replaced to ensure continued water resistance properties.

good luck! :-)
Quartzimodo

Thanks Quartzimodo! I absolutely LOVE this watch and have been lost without it. Although I definitely can't complain about getting this many years of it working flawlessly without ANY service. Any idea what a new LiOn and total service "should" run ($$) ballpark?

Terrific information. I own the same Seiko Arctura Auto-Relay that is pictured in your article, since 2004. A couple years ago, it started the same thing The Shaz mentioned; ticking off 2 seconds at a time and auto-relay non-functional. I've decided that I need to wear the watch now, rather than leave it as a dress watch, as these old eyes can still see the time on the watch, but can't read the time on my phone without glasses. Strange, I took it out today and swung it maybe 500-1000 times, unusually high for me, and it's now ticking off every second. Maybe I'll swing it another K and let it die down then check to see if the auto-relay starts up again. Beautiful watch and I'm kind of looking forward to wearing it all the time now.

Hi Stevie-Ray,

IMO, giving your watch another thousand swirls isn't the smartest way to recharge your watch; assuming that its rechargeable cell has deteriorated to the point where it can hold a few day's worth of charge. I recommend that you wear the watch normally as you do or try to get a Seiko YT-04 Kinetic Energy Supplier, which should fully charge your watch in under an hour without breaking a sweat.

Although the rechargeable lithium ion battery is subjected to a very light load (unlike power hungry electronic devices), nothing lasts forever. Replace the LiOn battery when its capacity has downgraded so badly that it consistently loses time due to a low output voltage. For example, if you have a laptop that could only muster 15 minutes' operational time on a full charge, that battery pack has outlived its usefulness to be practical. It's time to replace the laptop's battery pack.

That said, I very seldom wear my three Kinetics that they're all dead. It would take at least 2 days' constant wear to get the battery charged (and 20 minutes' of shaking) to get them into shape. It doesn't really bother me as I rotate watches all the time. :-)

Quartzimodo

l bought a 5m23 kinetic quartz seems like 10 or 12 years ago and it has worked beautiful for me. l have had no problems and this watch has class. lt sold for 500. but l payed less than that. So l do not complain. Great watch.

Bruce

Hi Bruce,

Most manufacturers have a MRSP (Manufacturer's Recommended Selling Price) for their products as a pricing guide, Seiko included. $500 is the maximum selling price for the Kinetic you own, but expect at least a 20-30% discount when it comes to actual retail prices. If you haven't found the need to replace is original capacitor, this is a testament to your watch's long term reliability and robustness. The 5M23 movement may have been superseded by two generations of calibers (currently it's the 5M63) and it's a good movement.

It's generally recommended to have your Seiko Kinetic checked for its water resistance properties. Your watch's rubber O-ring seals may have become brittle over the years and there's the risk of compromised water resistance. Since you're in the USA, you may elect to have your watch serviced and overhauled by the Kinetic Repair watch repairer. Note: I am in no way affiliated with this company.

cheers,
Quartzimodo

I have been wearing a Seiko clone, the Lorus for 8years now. It has the Y58 Li cell which I did not realise, I had always thought it was charged by a capacitor.
Thanks for the enlightenment !
The new Lorus (day/date,100m, lumibrite) cost me $55 from a watch shop on ebay and I guess my evaluation of it as a performer must be tempered by it's cost. If it stopped working tomorrow I guess I would be sorry but heck it's been active as a navigation tool on two yachts and several voyages so it doesn't owe me anything. On the other hand if I had bought the $400 submariners kinetic I might rather miffed about it's short life. And more importantly, having to destroy it's water tight integrity to replace the battery.
I can live with 15 secs a month, not over worried about the amount, as long as I know the approx daily rate it's still a useful nav tool. I came from a generation who used to turn their Rolexes on their side to adjust the watch without disturbing the hands ! Can't afford one now but I rate the Seiko movement in a reasonably priced overcoat as a good piece of kit.

Even more appreciated since I read your article.

regards

Thanks for your contribution,

Dear Quartzimodo,

I have just bought my Kinetic Auto Relay, but i'm sure that it has been in the shop for very long time as they are giving discount in order to clear their stocks.

1) Could you check for me when is the manufacturing date for this model 5J22. The serial no is 2N0763. I think it is under the Criteria category, and I don't even know what model it is. If you could email me the answer above, then I could probably estimate my KESU lifetime.

2) Can we change the Hardflex glass to Sapphire (scratch resistant) even though this was not the original accessories?

Hopefully, I could experience good time with this Seiko watch as it is my first time using Seiko. The reason for buying was because of its 4 years keeping of time & cheap due to discount. Furthermore, it looked ok to me. Other than that, is mainly because of its reputation of reliability from others.

Thanks.
Khairul (MALAYSIA)

Hi Khairul,

With regards to your questions:

1. You have a Kinetic Auto Relay watch dating to Nov 2002. Without the exact caseback code, I wouldn't know if your watch was part of the Criteria series. I might be mistaken, but Criteria models come in either automatic or quartz. Offhand, I don't remember ever seeing a Kinetic Criteria model.
The KESU lifespan is dependent on several factors: how new the rechargeable battery was at the time you acquired it, whether it has internal defects like internal shorting and whether the battery has ever been totally depleted. Some people own Kinetics for decades without having to change their rechargeable battery while others found they had to replace theirs after just 3-4 years.

2. Upgrading to sapphire is possible if the sapphire crystal is a direct fit with your original watch glass in terms of diameter, shape and thickness.

Seiko Kinetics are generally reliable watches; its weakest link is usually the lithium ion battery from Maxell which has nothing to do with the Kinetic technology itself. Seiko does not manufacture rechargeable LiOn batteries - they usually outsource them from Maxell Corp, Japan.

best regards,
Quartzimodo

I've had an Autorelay SMA003 for the last 10 years and it's been perfectly reliable so far. It's a great looking watch and other than a couple of tiny scratches on the face is in perfect condition. I do wish it had a sapphire glass face though.

Interesting article.

I have one of the Lorus kinetic watches which I purchased for $35 7 or 8 years ago. It has been fantastic, never losing a charge, never giving me any troubles, and weathering numerous environmental hardships. It's been drowned, frozen, thumped, scratched, and generally neglected and still preforms like a champ.

I only need one watch, so leaving it off for months at a time is not an issue.

I bought my Seiko Kinetic Pertetual calendar about 5 years ago and, apart from having it serviced to fix a problem with the date display not being updated properly which was quickly fixed, I have had nothing but good service from it.

It is my everyday watch and I chose it, and a stainless steel bracelet rather than leather, because of its styling but also because I loved the idea of a mechanical watch with a perpetual calendar that I didn't have to pay thousands of pounds for from a swiss brand. Not having to set the date every other month is, for me, fantastic, and the main selling point of it for me. Also I have the 7D48 movement so the 4 year reserve is really something!

I often alternate this watch with a Citizen Eco drive that I have and I wear a G-Shock radio controlled on the weekends a lot because I do tend to give my watches a bit of a hard time! It still manages to keep its power reserve up because it goes into 'sleep' mode after 24 hours anywway which is another great feature.

In short, I love this watch. I would wear a perpetual calendar automatic if I were made of money and didn't have to worry about it costing so much and keeping its value over time while being on my wrist!

Hi 7LeagueBoots,

A story like yours is not uncommon, really. I've read accounts from owners of Pulsars and Lorus watches (they're both made by Seiko) who testified the durability of their timepieces and most especially their "cheap" Pulsar quartz watch actually kept better time than its more expensive Seiko counterparts. That's just amazing.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :-)

Quartzimodo

Hi bearMedicine,

Thanks for the comment. So far I've not heard widespread complaints of Auto Relay Kinetics' lithium ion batteries going bad. I have a friend who owns a 5J22 Auto Relay since the late 1990s and he swore he has never needed to fix or repair his watch, despite it being his one and only timepiece (he's not into watches as a hobby). Although Seiko claims its Auto Relay technology allows the watch to go into hibernation for 4 years, I've yet to read about anyone actually prove this claim.

This is because the chemistry of rechargeable lithium ion battery does not allow its charge to be stored indefinitely. All rechargeable batteries have self-discharge properties, with varying levels of self-discharge. In due time, they will lose their original capacity and require replacement sooner or later.

thanks for the comments!
Quartzimodo

Not happy at the moment ... I got a Seiko Kinetic Cal 5M62 ....... I'm cycling to get back into shape (using to competitive) and I one day (dunno if it was there) I saw some distortion on the large charging gear, though maybe because of shock but upon leaving about the Cal I don't think this was the was

So I got a Pulsar for cycling (but with the Chronograph but even that doesn't work, the second hand stops when on Chrono mode after 2-3 hours of working out, when 'slips' a second. It was a second off when I bought it but the store was going out of bussiness - I bought both watches and complained within less then 3 weeks - they told me to go else where they're closing) Anyway - sorry for the babble

I don't care *SO MUCH* about the Pulsar but the Kinetic Cal 5M62 was in the in it's leather box and wrapped around it's form pouch for a week. Before that it said 6 months reserve, now when I press the charge indicator it sweeps 'twenty seconds' which I'm sure means 1 month ....

How could I loose 5 of 6 months of reserve after letting it sit for a week ...... What whould I do ......... It's getting to be a month now, the store just gave me a run around until the closed. I spent, to me, allot of money on this watch and it's already showing signs of sickness .....

*PLEASE HELP*....... Since I got it I started to learn about watches, jewels and I totally love them - I which I had the money to make it a hobby .... I don't ..... I bought this because I bought a knock off 12 dollar watch which kept stopping and really messed with my life. I thought I would spend some real money on this watch and be set for years .....

Seemingly I'm not even set for *MONTHS* since from what I gather is a serious sign of sickness. Dunno if the watch is drawing to much current (Lost of EE exp, and ME exp) or a problem with the charging circuit ( I'm thinking not, because it gets to 6 months reserve in daily use, but it's a guess dunno) ..

Thanks guys .... I hope when I have the money I can really get a watch collection ...... Rather then a new Puslar which is miffed, and a Kinetic Cal 5M62 which doesn't hold 'reserve energy'

Hi "Mr I Love IRIX sell Linux",

You mentioned that you bought your Kinetic watch from a store that was going out of business. In all likelihood, stores that are going under and closing for good don't bother to check the quality and performance of each and every one of the items that they're trying to get rid of.

That said, there are two reasons why you're having issues with the 5M62's power reserve:

1. Most stores do not have the Seiko Kinetic Energy Supplier charger, so they just leave unsold Kinetic watches as they are until their power runs out.
2. The Kinetic watch that you purchased may have been sitting on the shelf for years and its internal lithium ion battery must have deteriorated that it cannot give you 100% charge capacity. If you read about lithium ion batteries, you'll find out that in a prolonged, state of discharge they will not store energy to their fullest.

Your watch battery certainly needs conditioning. Take it to another watch store or the nearest authorized Seiko repair center and have your watch fully charged using the a Kinetic charger. Wear it actively for at least a month (seriously, riding a bicycle will not help unless you strap the watch onto your ankle) and monitor its power reserve after an additional 30 days. Even if it doesn't indicate 100% charge using the watch's power reserve indicator, you shouldn't be worried - unless its reserve drops dramatically within a couple of days. If it does, then have the lithium ion battery replaced.

good luck,
Quartzimodo

You can get your seiko watches repaired here.

Dear Quartzimodo,

Thank you for your insightful article. I am one of those who bought my Kinetic Auto Relay on the understanding that it will never require any battery change (not a very technical person myself). My model is Sportura SMA137 produced in June 2000. I think I bought it in September 2000 and has been wearing it for almost every day. No problem with the watch except the crown couldn't be screwed back about 3-4 years ago. Got it replaced. 2 years ago the watch stopped working and I thought it was broken. Sent the watch to be fixed through a friend and never bother to find out the fault. After reading your article, I am now sure that the watch stopped because the Lithium Ion cell has depleted. Hence I can say that my Kinetic cell lasted for about 9 years! By the way, do you know which caliber does SMA137 use? Also, I am thinking of buying my second Kinetic. Please let me have your thoughts on a Kinetic Perpetual (SNP045P1) and a Kinetic Direct Drive Moon Phase (SRX003P1)

Your reply and view is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Regards,
Chai

Hello Chai,

If you ask my opinion, Kinetic watches originally appealed to geeky, engineer-type folks who marvel at the thought of their arm movements powering the watch. I think Seiko was over-confident with their marketing hype by saying that "you'll never need a battery change". This is true from the standpoint that capacitors were first used to store power and capacitors are technically NOT batteries. Unfortunately the capacitors tended to leak prematurely, forcing Seiko to switch to rechargeable lithium ion cells.

The lithium ion technology used in Kinetics is no different than the ones found in your laptop, iPod, smartphone, tablet, digital camera, etc. They all have a finite lifespan and will fail someday. The only difference is that the Kinetic movement is a very low drain electronic equipment and unlike heavy drain electronic gadgets, the stress on the small lithium ion cell is quite minimal. All lithium ion batteries have one thing in common - they must not be left in a state of deep discharge because doing so will impair the battery's storage capacity. Kinetic watches that are left 'dead' on the shelves of watch stores for a long time are likely to have lithium ion cells that have lost 100% of their maximum charge holding ability.

Most watch stores do not own the Kinetic charger and those who do, tend to be lazy to top off the charge. I've often told one of my regular watch retailers to periodically charge his dead Kinetics, but my advice sadly went unheeded. Customers who end up buying such watches will find themselves replacing the rechargeable cells a lot sooner than they're supposed to.

Your SMA137 uses the 5J22 caliber, which is one of Seiko's earliest Auto Relay movements. I took a look at the SNA045P and the SRX003P and I think they make very nice dress watches, but they're not my cup of tea. :-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Thanks for your swift reply. Ya, I actually managed to see 5J22 engraved on case back and on the dial. However, one thing that puzzles me is the number that follows 5J22. On the back it states OD30 while on the dial it states OC28. Able to enlighten me on that? =)

Went to a shop to have a look at SNP045 this afternoon. It is a smaller watch compared to the earlier SNP or other Premier series watches. Slightly disappointed with the smaller size but may still choose it as I really like Kinetic Perpetual. Also, having doubts about the low power reserve issue you mentioned in your article above eventhough the Direct Drive Moon Phase looks stunning.

Hi Chai,

Good question! Your watch's caseback code is 5J22-0D30 (it's zero and not the letter "O" btw). Seiko makes three models with different dial designs based on the 0D30 caseback and the only way to differentiate the front dial is assigning a separate dial code. Therefore your particular Kinetic Auto Relay. uses "0C28" as its dial code (the other watches have their own dial codes) to signify that it's the SMA137P.

While the lithium ion cell used is the same type and same capacity, its power reserve depends on the caliber that it's used in. For example, in a 9T82 Kinetic chronograph (with a 1/10sec chrono) it will power the watch for only one month. In a 5M63 Kinetic the same battery, when fully charged will power for six months, on a 7L22 you get five and in a 5J22 with its sleep function, Seiko claims a 4 year power reserve.

My advice is to buy a watch that you like and looks pretty on your wrist. If the Kinetic Perpetual is likely your daily wear, don't worry about its power reserve. My three Kinetics are "dead" due to my neglect as I very seldom wear any of them - not because of they're bad watches. I've ordered the Kinetic Energy Supplier charger to revive them. :-)

Quartzimodo

Thanks for your interesting site.
I have the 5M43 model which is now about 15 years old. I have had two capacitors before buying a battery online and fitting it myself. However I was disapointed to find that too much shaking was required to keep it charged. So now I take off the back and using 2 AA batteries and 2 fine wires, connect onto the watch battery with the correct polarity. The AA cells give 3V, so I leave it charging for a couple of days. The indicator then runs to (almost) maximum and no shaking is reqired for a month.
Hope this is useful.

I thoroughly enjoyed your informative post. I recently purchased a Seiko Kinetic DD and I am very pleased. This is now my second Seiko of many more to come. Thank you very much for sharing the information along with your thoughts.

Hi Barry,

Thank you for your suggestion to directly charge the capacitor by means of using AA batteries. I don't think many people are willing to resort to this MacGyver method of recharging their Kinetic watches. This might be safe for capacitors (which are technically, not secondary batteries) but the simple LiOn cell used in more modern Kinetics doesn't have any overcharge protection safety measures in it. Overcharge protection is usually built into the charging mechanism and not in the cell itself.

The quickest and safest way to charge Kinetics is through the use of the Seiko Kinetic Energy Supplier, which is sold by a few online stores such as Princeton Watches.

Quartzimodo.

Hi Christian,

Thanks for the kind words. :-) If you plan to buy more Kinetic watches in the future, it's a good thing to invest in a Seiko YT-02A Kinetic Energy Supplier. I recently got one through my watchmaker and it has succeeded in reviving my three long dead Kinetics back to life. Topping up the charge frequently will help to prolong the lifespan of the rechargeable cell in your Kinetic Direct Drive.

Personally I do not like the idea of having any of my Kinetic watches opened just to replace the lithium ion cells (I've done this twice on two of my Kinetics) and the Energy Supplier unit keeps my Kinetics running all the time.

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Hello,

Just bought a very handsome SKA474 Kinetic, and found your site searching for instructions on how to use the power reserve button. The manual that came in the box might have been the wrong one. When I looked at the back of the watch, I was surprised to find the mechanism looking back at me. "Ah, an automatic," I thought. Now, however -- and thanks to you -- I realize what "Kinetic" really means. Frankly I bought the watch for its looks, and the fact that it was a Seiko, of which I've owned many over the years. Can you tell me how current the technology of the SKA474 is? I'm hoping it's state-of-the-art, but perhaps I'm mistaken. Thanks!

It's simple...

Buy a normal battery every year for $3, or buy a fancy 'capacitor' for one of these SOBs every 4 years for $20 + ($40 to install). These watches always have that dumb weight flopping around inside and they are much larger due the the needed extra room for the mechanism. I bet you will burn up more 'resources' trying to shake these to keep them running than those little 364 batteries at King Soopers need to make.

It was a bright idea, but a failure in the long run. Save your money and get a cheap Timex that will never fail...

The titanium versions are very light though for a giant watch and the sapphlex crystals are ultra super tough! The full luminescent face versions can light a whole room at night too!

But, sadly, the Kenetic drive is truly worthless...

After about 4 years the generator drive will wear out and start sticking too. Under a microscope, you will see the metal dust collecting on the rear side of the glass in the glass back versions...

Now days, quality watches that have no moving parts are far far better and will last longer than you will.

Get a nice LCD. WWV synced if you live near the central US...

Now, clocks, computers, and phones make the need to wear a watch silly for most of us.

Looks like we have a disgruntled Kinetic antagonist here. ;-) I have not heard of any cases of the Kinetic micro generator wearing out prematurely and I have a friend who owns a Seiko Kinetic Auto Relay watch since 1999. He swears by the watch and has never had to change his rechargeable cell whatsoever. it's still running perfectly to this day and it's his only watch.

Quartzimodo

Hi Tom K,

Your SKA474P uses the 5M62A Kinetic movement, which is Seiko's current 5M6x series movements. The earliest 5M62 watches were introduced between 2000 and 2001. I think Seiko considers this a "stable" design and has not found any pressing need to update the design or electronics. Three versions of the 5M6x calibers exist today - the 5M62, 5M63 with day/date and the 5M65 with an additional 24-hour display hand.

The power generating circuit design of the 5M series is reliable; in fact Seiko borrowed it for its 7L22 Kinetic chronograph movement.

Wear your watch in good health! :-)

Quartzimodo

Thank you, Quartzimondo Admin. Unfortunately I cannot get the residual power reading beyond 10, and it's begun a two-second click. I think I'm going to have to return the watch. I'll bet the problem is that it sat too long on the shelf.

"Looks like we have a disgruntled Kinetic antagonist here."

I was a $450 watch that broke all by itself in 17 months so I cannot deny bing a little disgruntled :) But I don't mean to antagonize, but rather just report the issue.

We did some checking...

The brown dust is enamel from the electromagnetic coils in the watch. The wire winder used on one of the coil appears to have scratched the wire enamel since you can see enamel flakes on one of the coils deep into the windings. Happily, the dust seems to safely deposit away from anything important. The rotor weight must stir the air up some and blow it onto an area on the bottom glass.

The old battery was Maxell TC920S with "880" prolly a date code inked on the side. I was at 0.167 volts and internally shorted just like all rechargeable batteries like to die. Even if you give it a charge, the internal short just burns it off in a minute or so.

It is a 5M63-0B70 serial number 110014**.

The Generator sticking problem is gone after the battery replacement so we probably beat it enough to fix that :D But rotor sticking is a common issue... Just pound your fist more I guess.

So I just got a new battery from swatchbattery.com* and it seems all fine now. So maybe it will last this time.

Ken - Your watch probably just need a new battery. Many pages on the net about how to replace them yourself but probably best to let a true watch mechanic do it. I used two filed down drivers ($5), a back removal tool ($6), and a $1700 stereo zoom microscope. Probably about a $50 to $75 job for a pro. The battery was $20 alone.

*I do not have any connections or business interest with them... They were just the first to come up on Google... New battery was shipped in a smashed letter envelope but it was not harmed. It started right off at full charge and seems to be perfect. I note that when this watch was new the battery was pretty dead already so maybe it was defective right off.

**I actually really like the watch itself. I rock climb and such and the outside is very tough.

Hi Terry,

Sorry to hear about your personal disappointment with your SMY042P gold toned, titanium Kinetic. When it comes to mass produced movements, there will always be a lemon in every batch. Even analog quartz watches are not spared of the odd failure, let alone more sensitive automatics. This is the first time I've come across a case of disintegrating induction coils in a Kinetic; and I have been an active forum member with a well known Japanese watch forum. True, some Kinetics might suffer from the rotor sticking issue but I personally feel it's a miniscule percentage, statistics-wise. But then automatic watches can also be plagued with sticking main spring problems.

As the Kinetic has more moving parts than a regular battery powered quartz or solar powered watch, it shouldn't be treated like a Casio G-Shock. Your closing sentence - "I rock climb and such and the outside is very tough" strongly suggests that your watch had been subjected to strong, long term impacts associated with rock climbing. Seiko never intended its Kinetics to be as tough as e.g. Citizen Promaster Tough Eco Drives or Casio G-Shocks. Seiko did release special edition Landmaster GMT Kinetics for the South and North Pole expeditions (5M47 and 5M45 calibers, respectively) but they were never designed for rock climbing, but for extreme cold temperatures.

In retrospect, I think it would be unfair to pass off sweeping statements just because your Kinetic didn't last long due to rotor problems. That would be like saying you bought a Toyota Camry and complaining the car's suspension failed within six months and adding, "Oh, I also love driving it off-road where other people usually drive their Hummer H2's". ;-)

Quartzimodo

I see you have the ability to look up manufacture dates by serial number. I have an older kinetic 5m42-oc99 serial number 652981 that I purchased back when the Kinetics first came out. The original full charge time was a week. Since I purchased it I have had to send it in to Coserv once before due to some damage(cracked crystal which caused hand damage etc)at that time they replaced the capacitor.

Recently the crown came completely out when I needed to set the date( was looking at threads and an o ring). The crown went back in just fine and everything seems okay. I have been reluctant to wear the watch since then for fear of water resistance issues etc... I was curious though since I know the watch is long since been discontinued when it was made and if you think it will be easy/hard to find parts if needed for this one.

I love the look of the watch as it was rather unique and a special order. I have only ever seen two of them (my two tone and one solid gold) so I would like to get it repaired. BTW as a further note about ladies watches this particular model ALSO had a womens version when it was originally availbale.

Hi Chris,

You have a dressy Kinetic gent's watch, ref no: SKH224P which was most likely made for the US market. For some reason Seiko USA thinks that its mainstream customers prefer blingy watches with integrated bracelets. You can see this trend in the Coutura range of Seiko watches, which is unique to the North American market.
As for spare parts, it depends on the how popular or collectible the model is. Generally, with less popular models you are more likely to able to procure the parts. If Coserv doesn't have parts they will refer to Seiko Japan, which may still stock parts for your exact model.

Your watch was made by Seiko's overseas factory in Singapore, on May 1996.

hope this helps,
Quartzimodo

Thank you very much for the reply and information. Looking up the ref number SKH224P I was able to find pictures of the watch with google and can confirm that is my watch. Sadly when I checked the watch today it looks like I have allowed it to sit too long and its in the two second second hand mode which means I will most likely need to replace the battery/K.E.S.U again.

I am scared now to send it off knowing its a 15 year old watch. I sure hope its as rare a watch as I think it was which does give me some hope that there will be replacement parts for the watch.
I did notice you mentioned kineticrepair.com and looking at their info they are almost right around the corner from me(less than 20 mins by car). Do you know much about the quality of their work? I am not finding anything online complaint wise myself. Sadly even they say that for watches over 10 years they may be unrepairable.

Wow not sure where I got the website link/ repair company link I posted in the last comment. Might have been one of the advertisments or something. But if you have some comments about them that would be awesome or would you suggest sending it on to Coserv in NJ?

Hi Quartzimodo,

Thanks for a great article. Your very thoroughly researched post was actually one of the main sources of information I used to finally take the plunge and order a Seiko Kinetic Watches. Yesterday I received my new SKA427P1 Kinetic Diver's (Gun metal Ion Plated version) and I'm very pleased with the appearance of the watch. Even the seconds hands ticks exactly on the marks, which is beyond my expectations. Of course, longevity remains to be seen and charging it using the 'Seiko Swing' is indeed a major effort.

Thanks again for the valuable information.

Big Bad Wolf

Hi BigBadWolf,

Congrats on owning the SKA427P Kinetic diver. It's fondly referred as the "BFK" which stands for "Big Freakin' Kinetic" in the Seiko watch collector circles. I'd say you're fortunate to receive one with perfectly aligned dial markers and sweep second hand. Most Seiko quartz and Kinetic watches have their ticking second hands in perfect alignment although some don't, perhaps as a result of varying manufacturing tolerances.

I remember reading an online rant about a journalist from India who was extremely dissatisfied with the Omega Sea Master (if I remember correctly) quartz which he bought which suffered from too much slippage of the hands and he discovered that it was less accurate than a cheap Casio quartz. He wrote to Omega Switzerland's office, demanding an explanation and to add insult to injury, received a reply stating that his watch was "within Omega's manufacturing standards".

You'd expect perfectly aligned ticking second hands and state-of-the-art accuracy with something as prestigious and expensive like an Omega quartz watch. ;-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Wow, very informative!
Yes, Seiko Kinetics do exist for women. I have one, the 3m 22 OD 49 plastic. It hasn't been worn in years but it is now! Blue face with a white plastic band and REAL stainless steel...very nice looking. Let's see how long it runs....so far it's been 24 hours. Curious how much it is worth.

Thanks!
Blondie

[...] Maxell Corp. (TC920S). Pokud chcete podrobn?jší informace, asi vy?erpávající data najdete tady [...]

Quartizmodo,

What a great and informative article on the Kinetic. I really enjoyed reading and learning about the movement and power cells. Really informative article and worth the time to read.

Would you happen to know any links that have a Kinetic product catalog from around 1997 or 1998? Back at that time, I remember seeing the blue, red, black and yellow rubber-strap models but didn't save documentation on them. I would love to go back and see all of the different models from that time.

Thanks again!

Ron

Hi Ron,

Thanks for the kind comments. :-) I don't have a specific catalogs of Kinetic watches but I remember downloading scans of Japan market Seiko models, particularly the Prospex range of high end models of which, includes a few Kinetic Landmaster Sagarmatha, North and South Pole limited edition models.

The problem is that Seiko doesn't publish online catalogs for generic Kinetic watches or any Seiko model that belongs to specific lineups e.g., Sportura, Arctura, Premier, Velatura, Prospex, Brightz, Criteria, etc. Some authorized Seiko retailers do receive full model catalogs in printed form but nobody goes through the trouble of scanning them. These catalogs are solely meant for dealers and not the end customer or for public reading.

So far I have never seen a PDF catalog for generic Seiko.watches except the ones meant for the Japan market;.which you can download from Seiko Japan's website.

cheers,
Quartzimodo Admin

Thx for your enlightening column. I think a light bulb may have just come on. I just bought a new 5M62 & so far love it. I tried to buy a 92 olympic railroad approved (SDF326P). Prior to making a bid (on ebay) I ask a question about the age. I wanted to know if it was manufactured in 1992 & if so how does that impact the remaining life of the watch. The ebay seller, L8DYAURORA, did not answer. I ask the same question a 2nd time & still silence. I wore a Seiko automatic for years till I gave it to my dad & based on that, I clicked on "buy". I was instantly blocked from their site although I have 200 feedback at 100%. L8DYAURORA also failed to post my question on the page.
I suspect this watch may have been manufactured in 1992 and they just did not want to tell me about the capacitor. Am I right? Were they just hiding this from buyers?

Valuable info! I have a Sportura Kinetic Chronograph. I really dig the styling. The model is SNL043P1. I wonder what you think of this model and caliber used on it which is 7L22?

Insightful article. I got a kinetic chronograph sportura (SNL043P1) and i just really like the way it looks. what do you think about its movement, 7L22A 8 jewel?

Hi alfanaC,

The SNL043P is a nice looking Sportura and its main time dial is actually easy to read, thanks to the large "12", "3", "6" and "9" Arabic numerals. This model replaces the older SNL035P, which I have. I prefer the SNL035P as I liked the raised, semi-circular hour markers and especially the honeycomb-patterned dial, which is not found on the SNL043P. For some reason, when the SNL043P was introduced, Seiko sold it at a much higher price than the SNL035P. The differences are purely cosmetic, yet the price difference was significant. The SNL035P and SNL043P can still be found in some retail stores and online watch websites. I'm not sure if both have been officially discontinued unless I pick up one at a store and look at its serial number to look for ones that were made in 2010 or 2011.

Be aware that the mechanically actuated chronograph of the 7L22 cannot be adjusted by the user. If it somehow doesn't snap back to zero (or at 12 o'clock) precisely, you'll need to send the watch to a repair facility. Take care not to subject your watch to powerful shock and impacts when the chrono is running. Besides that, the 7L22A is a stable caliber and Seiko has found no compelling reason to update it to the 7L22B (which doesn't exist).

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Hi Quartzimodo Admin,

Recently I bought the new SEIKO Sportura Kinetic Diver's SKA511P2 advertised on their Bazelworld 2011 new launches and found out that the minute hand is loose. Doing some research online (that's when I came across your article) this defect is called a "backlash phenomenon". Many sites states that this backlash phenomenon only exist in older kinetic series but I think SEIKO haven't fully rectify the issue and continues to sell a defect kinetic product. This defect continues in their latest kinetic release using 5M62 caliber.
SEIKO service center described the defect as "the minute hand too heavy for the gears"...acceptable? But was not able to rectify the defect. This does make a USD550 watch looks kind of "cheap". If SEIKO sells it for USD150 then most probably I won't complain.
SEIKO says it is not obvious but when the minute hand is at 11, 12, 1 position (pointing upwards)...the loose movement is quite obvious moving to the direction of the tilt by half a minute. Acceptable for such a reputable watch maker?
SEIKO should had informed that there is such a problem so that customers are aware of the quality of watch they are purchasing. I liked SEIKO watches previously but now I felt a bit cheated.
Any thoughts?

Sincerely,
Tony

Hi Tony,

I wouldn't say that the 5M62 is a flawed design, as Seiko has made literally hundreds of thousands of models based on this caliber. This backlash problem may not necessarily be unique to your SKA511P (which is a very interesting Seiko diver, if I might say) and it's not a design problem pertaining to the watch. It's more of a quality control problem, if you ask me.

5M62 Kinetic movements are mass produced and when you're talking about tens of thousands of pieces made every month, there will always be the occasional lemon in every batch. I think something is wrong with the gear train or the stepping motor that drives your watch's hands, causing the minute hand to slip. I can vouch that none of my 5M62 Kinetics are having the same issues as you have. Does that make the 5M62 design flawed?

We're not talking something like the Apple iPhone 4's signal loss problem when it first came out; hordes of iPhone 4 owners complained about it and this was later admitted by the late and great Steve Jobs. Now, THAT was a design problem - because the predecessor iPhone 3GS did NOT share the same quandary. It's the same thing as automobile mass recalls, like the infamous Mercedes Benz A-Class (W168 platform) sub-compact car incident, which had a tendency to overturn on making sudden evasive maneuvers. Now, THAT was an initial design problem and Mercedes Benz fixed it by revising the suspension and adding electronic stability control system.

I'm truly sorry that you happen to receive a defective Seiko SKA511P but it's grossly unfair to blame on the 5M62 Kinetic design. You can however, blame on quality control instead and resolve this matter with Seiko Japan if your local Seiko repair facility is unable to rectify your problem. Remember that nothing made made, especially that is mass produced is free from defects. There's always a bad apple in every basket, so to speak.

best regards,
Quartzimodo

Good day Quartzimodo Admin,

I'm planning to get a Seiko Premier Kinetic (with Retrograde Day Indicator (Cal.5M54) - SRN005P1). Personally what do you think of this watch? As I might not be wearing it often, is it worth to get a Kinetic watch in this case? If not, can you recommend me a series that I should look into?

Regards,
Kher

Hi Kher,

I think it would make a great dress watch for wearing to work or to formal events. The newer Premier models like the SRN005P have more of a Swiss-like design influence, in my opinion. When it comes to choice in watches, buy what you like; and if it looks good on you, why not? Don't worry about not wearing it infrequently, unless you anticipate putting this on your wrist once in 5 months or so (at this point, the Kinetic's charge would have run down).

Seiko makes too many models for me to keep track of - and that's not including the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) models that are generally sold exclusively in Japan. JDM Seiko watches usually cost more due to their higher cost of manufacturing and Japan's very strong currency.
I'm afraid I can't make any personal recommendations as everyone has their own, unique taste in a wristwatch. Some people like a particular watch so much that they're willing to bust their wallet, while others prefer to be practical and choose one within their budgetary constraints.

happy buying,
Quartzimodo

Great information here! I'm having trouble finding a solid pin for my Seiko S/S Metal-48N6ZB/48N7ZB band. I stumbled upon a pin a few years ago, but that company isn't in business today. I have a 5J22-0A50 Kinetic that my daughter bought me 11 or 12 years ago. No problems with the watch except for the solid pin in the band. Thanks for your help!

V/r

Ron

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us! I'm looking for a solid pin for my 5J22-0A50 Kinetic watch band. The band number is S/S Metal-48N6ZB/48N7ZB. I replaced this pin a few years ago, but that company is out of business now.

Thanks...Ron

Hi Ron,

This is a rather unusual request, as generally I've heard of people looking for extra links for watch bracelets rather than pins. I don't think Seiko sells pins (or extra links for that matter) separately as they all come with the whole bracelet. You have a few options:

a) purchase the exact bracelet for your Kinetic Auto Relay watch from the Seiko service center (not cheap, but at least you'll get a new bracelet)
b) find a used, non-functioning SMA001P/SMA003P model on eBay and salvage it for parts (after all, you only require the pin)
c) look for a pin that's compatible with your bracelet at a watch store.

good luck! :-)
Quartzimodo

I just recently bought a Seiko kinnetic SKA4771P1 from Amazon. They advertise for model year 2011 and 5M62 caliber.
I read your topic (great one and sorry I know thias after bought it) and wonder how to use the power reserve button as well as power reserve indicator?
I often come to Malayasia (Penang) for business and wondwer if there is a good Seiko service cneter there?
Thanks

Hi Chau,

Did you make a typo? I could not find any references to the SKA4771P although there's a gold faced version of the SKA472P Kinetic. Perhaps your model is fairly new and there are no photos of it on Google Images yet.
Your watch should come with an instruction manual, detailing how to read the power reserve. If you don't have it, you can download a PDF copy of it here. Keep in mind that the power reserve function is not very accurate; it will just give you a rough estimation of the amount of remaining charge in your watch. It's still better than having no indicator at all! :-)

Seiko's service center is located in Kuala Lumpur, not in Penang. They have the appropriate diagnostic tools to check your watch if there's any problem with it.

Happy New Year,
Quartzimodo

hi mate you really know your stuff .....my prob is simple..i cannot locate watchband links for my arctura anywhere as if it dont exist ???
MOVEMENT ....7L22B
CASE....7L22-OAFO
STRAP....33T6-B.I

CAN YOU ADVICE WHERE LINKS ARE OBTAINABLE OR EVEN WHERE I CAN PURCHASE A NEW STRAP???
Sorry if this seems minor but sometimes ya just get exasperated ...
thank you

Darren,

There is no need for typing in ALL CAPS mate, because I can read your post perfectly fine in lowercase, thank you. :-)

First of all, you have the caseback code read wrongly. It should have been 7L22-0AF0 and not 7L22-OAFO. Seiko does not use the letter "O" for its caseback type, but the number zero.

Secondly, Seiko does not sell links separately. You have to buy a brand new bracelet if you've lost or damaged some links through an authorized Seiko dealer, who will happily order one for you. Alternatively you might want to check with Mr Lee Wee Wah, who runs his renowned Chronograph.com watch retail site and you can contact him for the strap, if you feel that the UK stores are selling the bracelet too expensively.

Quartzimodo

Hi Quartzimodo,

I have a Kinetic 4M21 - 0840. It seem to stop running after about 2 hours of inactivity. Should the capacitor be replaced? If so, where can I obtain this part?

Regards
Abubakar Saban
Cape Town, South Africa

Hi Quartzimodo.
Many 10x for this great review.
I've ordered the seiko SRN001P1 before reading your review.

Shuold i cancel the order?
will the Cal 5M54 make me problems with the capacitor?

10x a lot!
Roy.

Hi Roy,

There's nothing wrong with Kinetics. My article merely highlights the merits and demerits of the Kinetic movement technology. There will always be some bad apples in every basket and the failure rate of Kinetics is actually low.

Remember that anything man-made that's mass produced will have a defective unit in some batches, whether it's a smartphone, laptop, car, cameras, lenses, watches, etc.

Go ahead with your purchase. Watches are personal to the buyer; if you like the SRN001P by all means buy it.

Happy buying and enjoy the watch! :-)

Quartzimodo

Hi AbuBakar,

Sounds like your old capacitor in your watch has reached its end of life. Take it to an authorized Seiko dealer who can replace the Kinetic capacitor (better still, upgrade to the lithium ion rechargeable cell) or the Seiko service center in South Africa.

Good luck! :-)
Quartzimodo

[...] up. Any ideas. Quartzimodo have written a good article on this; it should answer your question. The Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane? I suspect KESU replacement will solve your problem. WTF Admin Team Moderator Japanese [...]

Hi

I have been delighted to read your blogs on kinetics and Seiko dating. Thanks so much.

I have a 6139 (that would have been Greek to me till recently) either 8002 or 8020, I think the former but it's being serviced so I can't check. I also have a seven year old 5M62 workhorse whose band lost a couple of pins today so that's gone to the watchmaker today too.

Also today a mail order SMY115 s/n 023394, a 5M63 which I've always wanted, arrived. Great, but not so great. Even after giving it several hours wear to wind it up, it still bounces two seconds at a time and the press button power checker doesn't work. It seems to keep good time but I suspect the battery has been allowed to fade.

I shall be chasing up from the mail order angle, especially as they didn't send me the warranty card with the instruction and warranty books, but in the meantime I would be grateful for any advice or comments you may have on the condition of this obviously two year old watch.

Hi again

As a follow up to yesterday's comment, after 24 hours vigorous work with the watch, including a round of golf and 45 minutes on a cross training machine, the battery reluctantly decided to cooperate.

The second hand now moves in seconds, instead of bouncing two at a time, and the power checker is moving, albeit only five seconds, or a week's worth. I guess it will take a week or so to get it up to a six month life.

The moral of the story is that after two years the battery can re-emerge, but not as the instruction book says - it takes a fair bit longer for things to start happening.

From what I can tell the watch will be up there for accuracy with my 5M62, which is praise indeed.

Hi Foxbat (MiG 25?),

The instruction manual for your SMY115P watch can be found here. It's in PDF format, so make sure that your computer has Adobe Reader or a compatible PDF reader software. Seiko's instruction manual's instructions assume that your watch's lithium ion battery is not a state of deep discharge (in your case, it was).

I gave up on trying to revive my Kinetics the "old fashioned way", so I purchased a Seiko Kinetic Energy Supplier unit - the YT02A charger. Problem solved in three days - all my three Kinetics were running fine after several bouts of forced charging. :-)

Enjoy your new watch in good health!
Quartzimodo

Hi Quaftzimodo, I would like to thank you for publishing a very interesting page on Seiko Kinetics. I was an out and out mechanical watch enthusiast and steered well clear of quartz watches even the Omegas.

Well I too was also curious about the Kinetic watch made by Seiko. Curiosity got the better of me and I bought one from ebay just to take to bits to see how it worked. I was so impressed with the engineering and electronic circuit design I fell in love with these Kinetics especially the earlier calibres 7m22 5M22 5M42 etc.

I have since owned many of these watches which I restore to their former glory and upgrade the capacitor to the Titanium Lithium Battery. The watch is immediately transformed to a very usable 6 month reserve watch as mentioned above.

Just a word of warning to anyone using inductive chargers. Seiko stopped making the YT02A which was primarily intended for watch makers and dealers with a high price tag. However if this charger was not used as intended it was possible to overcharge the Capacitor/battery, which reduces the life and charge capacity. It is worth noting that the overcharge prevention on these earlier calibres was a mechanical solution whereby a clutch on the intermediate wheel for the charge rotor would slip when the torque required to rotate the generator rotor exceeded set parameters designed into the clutch (which is why it is important that the intermediate clutch is cleaned and lubricated to the Seiko recommended specification.

I’m sure all kinetic owners would have noticed that the oscillating weight doesn’t seem to move as freely when the watch is fully charged due to the load and friction of the clutch slipping. With induction charging there is no overcharge protection because the battery is charged without the rotor or any of the generating components rotating. I hope one day to be able to complete a design for an induction charger that will prevent overcharging. For now it is just an idea in my head so please don’t ask where you can get one of these chargers. Sorry for such a long post.

Hi Phil,

Thank you for sharing your insights. I guess I'm lucky to get one of the last stocks of the YT-02A Kinetic Energy Supplier from my regular watch dealer (he ordered it from the Seiko service center) as I rarely wear my Kinetics these days. According to him, Seiko Malaysia will still be bringing in new batches of this charger, perhaps the last batches. I'm unable to confirm if Seiko Japan has indeed ceased production of their Kinetic chargers but if they did, it could be the YT-02A and they're likely to replace it with an updated version.

There is no way for the YT-02A to sense a Kinetic's battery charge since there's no electronic connection to the battery itself, unlike microprocessor controlled rechargeable NiMH AA battery chargers. What it does have is a timer switch to select between a 30-minute or a 3.5-hour charge time.

The Seiko Kinetic's overcharge prevention mechanism is something that Seiko has never mentioned in detail and there's no separate section in any of their Kinetic technical manuals explaining how this works. Designing an overcharge prevention system need not be something as complicated as what you've described. If you inspect solar powered watches, there are no moving parts required for an overcharge prevention circuit. It's all electronically done - there has to be a simple CPU controlled regulator that senses if the battery is overcharged and turns off the charging system.

I would however be grateful if you could furnish citations (or links to authority sites) detailing the Kinetic's mechanical overcharge prevention system. :-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Hi Quartzimodo

Thanks for the info on the YT-02A. The price tag will probably still be a bit high for the single watch owner. You are correct about the timer to prevent overcharging on the YT-02A but it is prone to misuse as you can imagine. Seiko don’t publish any info on the charging system and you are correct in your assertion that overcharging could "easily" be achieved by the CPU sensing the charge state and controlling the charge.

The information I gave in my post is from my observations after back engineering as much as I could. The tech specification and observation of the intermediate wheel for the charge rotor definitely show a clutch which has to be properly lubricated and must be there for a reason. From an electronic point of view I have observed that a sine wave is generated by the circuit board and supplied to the charge rotor coil. This sine wave appears to be proportionate to the charge state of the ESU. So I surmised that when the ESU voltage is at full charge the load exerted on the rotor will exceed the load required to cause the clutch to slip.

A motor will act as a generator when the rotor is rotated so therefore a generator will act as a motor when a current is supplied to the stator coil i.e the charge rotor coil. This would cause the torque required to turn the rotor to be proportionate to the alternating current applied to the coil hence a mechanical overcharge system. I can only guess as to why they did it this way.... perhaps because the original design intended a capacitor to be the ESU which would not require complicated battery sensing routines on the CPU and they are complicated for lithium batteries especially when the battery is in use all the time.

Lithium batteries are more prone to damage due to overcharging than a capacitor would be. I believe it would be possible to inductively sense the sine wave generated in the rotor coil to determine the battery state just like the charge is detected in the stepper coil to test quartz watches without the need to remove the back and indeed exercise the gear train by inductively pulsing the stepper motor. If this can be done with sufficient accuracy then this could control the inductive charger to prevent overcharging. I have not completed any proof of concept testing so it may not be possible as I said just an idea in my head at the moment. I’m sorry I didn’t make it clear in my post that the info I supplied has not been published to my knowledge and is just supposition from my observations. Please do not rely on this info as being accurate or correct. I would however be most interested to hear if anyone can suggest another reason for the clutch in the charging system on the 7M & 5M calibres.

Great site keep up the good work.

All the Best

Phil

Dear Quartzimodo admin.
I read your articles on the Kinetic movement with great interest. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.
Few silly questions:
What is the meaning of the letters P and P1 in the references of Seiko watches, for example, SKA475, 475P1 and 475P?
The 7T62 caliber of a Pulsar watch is it the same as a Seiko? Maintenance of the watch ("overhauling" and "servicing") is it the same?
On my watch Pulsar (353206 - 7T62-x030), for setting the time, the crown rotates in a vacuum (Second click, no setting time): Problem pinion?
I was thinking of buying a Seiko watch SRL019P1 (Caliber: 6G34) or SRN001P1 (Caliber: 5M54) or SNP001P1 (Caliber 7D48). What are the difference between thes calibers. NB :I like white dials. ... But reading the comment of 17 September 2008, I wonder if I will not buy a Citizen Eco-Drive!
I'm in France and I write a bad English, so thank you to Google translator;
Bests regards

Dear Quartzimodo admin.
I read your articles on the Kinetic movement with great interest. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.
Few silly questions:
What is the meaning of the letters P and P1 in the references of Seiko watches, for example, SKA475, 475P1 and 475P?
The 7T62 caliber of a Pulsar watch is it the same as a Seiko? Maintenance ("overhauling" and "servicing") is it the same?
On my watch Pulsar (353206 - 7T62-x030), for setting the time, the crown rotates in a vacuum (Second click, no setting time): Problem pinion?
I was thinking of buying a Seiko watch SRL019P1 (Caliber: 6G34) or SRN001P1 (Caliber: 5M54) or SNP001P1 (Caliber 7D48). What are the difference between these calibers ? I like white dials. But reading your comment of 17 September 2008, I wonder if I will not buy a Citizen Eco-Drive!
I'm in France and I write a bad English, so thank you to Google translator

Bonjour Petrus,

Seiko directly owns several sub-brands like Pulsar, Lorus and Alba. While there are certain quartz calibers that are used exclusively in certain Pulsar watches (and not Seiko), if it's a 7T62 alarm chronograph Pulsar, you can be sure that the movement is borrowed from Seiko. It doesn't make economic sense to manufacture a separate caliber for Pulsar if Seiko already has an existing movement.

Orient Japan, of which Seiko has a controlling stake in the watch manufacturer also follows suit. While Orient's mechanical movements are wholly developed by Orient's engineers, when it comes to their quartz models Orient would simply use Seiko's (or Pulsar's) quartz movements.

The "P" suffix in Seiko reference codes refers to the country of origin. All Seiko watches that end with "P" are assembled by Seiko Singapore. The movement parts are however, sourced from Seiko Japan. If your Pulsar 7T62's crown will not move the main time hands, you may have a problem with the crown. Send it to the Seiko service center for repairs or look for an experienced watch smith who can solve your problem. :-)

Both overhauling and servicing are part of the watch's maintenance. An overhaul job usually means disassembling nearly every part of the movement and cleaning them piece by piece, while a routine servicing usually involves simpler tasks like re-oiling the movement and testing it for accuracy and water resistance. An overhaul job can take weeks and will cost more than normal servicing. It's like cars - you don't overhaul your car's engine unless its engine is losing compression and hence, power. The engine will need to be taken apart and the piston compression and oil rings replaced or the entire pistons replaced in whole, among other components like valves, big end bearings, connecting rod, etc.

In a periodic car maintenance, what is involved is simpler tasks like changing the engine oil, automatic transmission oil, spark plugs, adjusting the ignition timing, replacement of timing belts, etc.

The differences among the 6G34, 5M54 and the 7D48 lie in the watch technology. Both the 5M54 and 7D48 are Kinetics while the 6G34 is quartz.

Cordialement,
Quartzimodo

Hello
Thank you very much
Cordialement
Petrus

Hi Quartzimodo Admin,

With reference to my comment on December 7th, 2011 @3.30pm and your reply on December 19th, 2011 @7.26pm regarding my faulty SEIKO Sportura Kinetic Diver's SKA511P2,I sincerely apologize blaming the 5M62 kinetic movement as the key concern. It was really frustrating knowing that a watch from SEIKO can have such a problem and worst of all, the local SEIKO authorized service center cannot rectify the defect.

After my second attempt sending the watch for repair and some help from SEIKO Japan, SEIKO Malaysia finally accepted my watch for repair but they can only minimize the degree of tilt to a more acceptable degree. My question here is what is the acceptable degree of tilt? Is it supposed to even tilt any degree in the first place?

Secondly, this is what they wrote in their email reply to my complaint "We have checked some others of this calibre. 5M62 movement watches and do found “spacing” of wheel gear reflected in the movement (tilt) of the minutes hand." Here SEIKO Malaysia announced that they DO FOUND an issue with the 5M62 movement which contradicts with your earlier comments, surprised...sigh.

Frankly, I like SEIKO watches...but hope that SEIKO wouldn't let this single bad apple continue to spoil the whole basket of apples.

By the way, why did you say that this watch is a very interesting SEIKO diver?

Sincere sharing here without the heart to offend or upset anyone.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Tony

I have owned a 5M42-OK40 pulsar kinetic since buying it new - if rather reduced in 2001. My guess is that it had sat on a shelf in the shop for several years.

It held, when new, 12 days of charge so it had the capacitor. It holds a few days less now. It spends months unused, then I will get it out and start and set it. Note that an automatic or kinetic can be charged by shaking or wrapping in a handkerchief and leaving it in your trouser side pocket for a few days.

All in all, it had behaved well and I am glad I bought it. I usually wear automatics, new or old, or favourite quartzes ranging from whizzo to cheap plastic, but a kinetic is a fairly unique thing and I like unique things.

P B

Hi P Buddery,

Interesting tips. I've tried putting a Kinetic in my trouser side pocket years before and found that it does very little to charge the watch years. This is because a Kinetic's oscillating rotor needs a lot of torque to spin it and it doesn't spin as easily as automatic watches. The most natural way to charge a Kinetic is to wear it all the time, but if you have a large collection of watches it's hard to give equal "wrist time" for all of them.

The quickest way to charge a Kinetic watch is to use the dedicated Seiko Kinetic charger, the YT-02A. It can really revive seemingly "dead" capacitors and rechargeable lithium ion cells in Kinetics.

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the update. Sorry to hear that you have had to go through so much trouble to get your SKA511P Kinetic diver rectified. I can tell you about Seiko Malaysia's customer service - as long as your watch is running and telling the time perfectly, it's not considered as a defect. Thong Sia is NOT like Canon Malaysia, whose customer service takes every little complaint seriously and Canon Malaysia shows its professionalism. I know this because I've dealt with both customer service departments before. BIG difference. When you were at the Seiko service center, did you happen to see a suggestion box or a "How Are We Doing?" customer feedback form? Of course you didn't. There's none to begin with.

The fact that you had to seek help from Seiko Japan before your watch was looked into tells you something - Thong Sia isn't going to budge until Seiko Japan intervenes. Actually, what Seiko Malaysia could have done was to replace your movement and gotten it over with, but they're penny pinching. There's a lot of paperwork on their part to justify ordering a spare movement from Seiko Japan and replacing it under warranty.

I own the SKA013P and the SMY003P with the 5M62 and 5M63 calibers respectively. None of them have the problem that you have and I've had them for several years. The fact that neither watch has excessive hand freeplay suggests one thing: either I am lucky or you are unfortunate. If the 5M62 has a design flaw, then ALL 5M62 based Kinetics will exhibit the minute hand backlash. In this case, my observations contradict with what Seiko Malaysia wants you to believe. In the six years I've spent posting on the SCWF forum, I've not read one single complaint by a 5M62 Kinetic diver owner about the tilting hand problem.

The only way for you to prove that the SKA511P is plagued with the backlash phenomenon is to look at several samples of the same model from different watch stores. If you're able to prove that ALL of them have exhibit the same problem as your watch, you might want to file an official complaint with the local Consumer Claims Tribunal and fight for your rights for a full refund or an exchange. Or sell your watch on eBay and get a replacement one, making sure that the latter's hands are perfect.

good luck with your decision! :-)
Quartzimodo

Hi,

i have read your article and suppose there are some valid points but the thing is I have a Seiko Kinetics for 15 years now.... replaced strap once, capacitor once... and so I am definitely gonna buy another one if this ever really dies...

As for needing to charge the newer capacitors with so many swings... why would one want to?

Sure the watch goes to sleep if not used... but comes back to life in a few swings of rewearing... want is the problem with that? I have found it working for a week or more on disuse as well...

Namaste John,

Most people prefer to have a peace of mind by keeping their Kinetic watches as fully charged as they can, so they either wear the watch daily or buy a Kinetic Energy Supplier like I did.

You wrote:

"Sure the watch goes to sleep if not used... but comes back to life in a few swings of rewearing"

which implies that you have a Kinetic Auto Relay model, like the 5J22 caliber. Non Auto Relay Kinetics do not have a power saving sleep mode and they continually drain the reserve power unless the watch is actively worn. Please don't assume everyone owns a Seiko Kinetic Auto Relay watch, thanks.

Quartzimodo.

Thanks for your informative write-up on Seiko Kinetics. I have a Model SNP017 Perpetual Coutura which, according to your SN analysis, was manufactured in November, 2008. I wear it every day and so far it has worked perfectly. The only time I reset it is when the time changes from EST to DST and back. The accuracy of the watch is phenomenal. I check it by reference to the information provided online by NIST and USNO. The accuracy of my Kinetic is consistently plus one second per month. Is that normal or did I just luck into an especially good one? Thanks again.

Hi George,

Yes. the SNP017P is a relatively recent model and your production date estimate is spot on. Quartz watches (including Kinetics) are more accurate when they're worn daily on the wrist; off-wrist they tend to gain time.

I'm impressed with the degree of accuracy that you've managed to attain as Kinetic watches are generally rated to +/- 15 seconds per month. Fluke? Maybe. Unless other owners of the same movement as yours also report highly accurate readings, treat your watch as an extraordinarily accurate one. :-)

Quartzimodo

I have been searching for a new watch and could not make up my mind between eco drive and a kinetic as kinetic direct drive was to expensive. This article helped me out a lot and made a decision to buy a kinetic watch. I love the dial of this watch but still little concern about charging it. Hopefully I don't have to shake it 350 times in a day to keep it up for next day. Can you brief me on that? This is the only watch i will be wearing and also I am usually behind a computer desk so will have movements during the day as well as I am willing to swing my watch few times a day if it helps. Is this what I have to do on a daily basis? The watch that i have just purchased is SKA433. Again many thanks for this article.

Hi Quartziguru

I have a 2003 vintage SKA198P (5M62) and a recently bought SMY115 (5M63).

Having got into the semi-WIS business recently I have been assiduously checking the accuracy of my various watches. Both kinetics are incredibly accurate (1-2 seconds a month gain).

I am currently experimenting with both, deliberately letting them reduce power and monitoring how quickly the power monitoring process goes down.

The SKA (nine years old) went from maximum to 20sec in a day or so, then to 10sec after eight days, where it has stayed for the past ten days.

The SMY (two years old though I've had it for only three months) went to 20sec after five days, and has stayed there since (two weeks).

The accuracy of the watches hasn't changed yet.

I have, however, noticed that some Citizen eco-drives are more accurate than others. My CA0021 and AV0031 are both stupendously accurate, but my BM8430 gains marginally and my AT0787 and BM0730 gain about 10 and 15 seconds a month respectively.

My Orient FEU automatic gains about three seconds a day, and the CEY about seven seconds.

Cheers and a million thanks as usual

Hi Mike,

Your Seiko SKA433 is powered by the 5M62 movement, which has the Power Reserve button located just above the main crown. While it's not a very accurate means of gauging the remaining battery charge, it does serve its purpose. When you push the PR button, the watch's second hand will swing forward between 5 to 30 seconds, depending on the watch's reserve power.

In my opinion, ideally it's good to get the watch to indicate 100% power but it doesn't have to be at 100% all the time. As long as the reserve capacity remains between 25 to 100 percent, your watch is good to go. Think of battery powered, quartz watch for example. They typically run between 3 to 5 years between battery changes. The last time you had your battery changed, it would have a 100% capacity since the battery is fresh.

In time its juice begins to run out, but do you actually know whether a year on, how much remaining power the battery has? You won't know until the watch's EOL (End of Life) indication system kicks in and the second hand jumps in 2-second increments. That's the signal to have the battery replaced as soon as possible. Most people won't bother to replace their watch battery until their watches tell them it's time to replace, even if there's a year's supply of power left in it.

However, if you're adamant in keeping your Kinetic fully charged at all times, wear it as often as possible. Walking briskly with your arms swinging in stride also helps to recharge its battery a lot quicker. Occasionally I would do so when taking a walk from the office out for lunch and I sometimes I'd get into the habit of wringing my wrist to get the oscillating weight in motion. Those were the days when I was absolutely anal about having my Kinetics at 100% charge, but not anymore. :-)

You can also think of your Kinetic's battery like your car battery. Depending on the condition of the battery (how much power had been used and replaced by the alternator), it can vary between 12 to 14 volts. You should only worry when its voltage drops well below 12 volts as this would certainly affect the engine's cranking power and the brightness of the headlights. By this time your car's battery has reached its end of life and should be replaced.

hope this helps,
Quartzimodo

Hi Foxbat,

Welcome to the WIS World! :-) When watches mean more than mere time telling devices to you, it means that you've been afflicted by the dreaded WIS bug. You eat, sleep and breathe watches. You spend a lot of time on the Internet looking at other possible watches to buy, read watch reviews and use eBay to find the best deals and auctions. You get preoccupied with your watches' accuracy and constantly compare them against the NIST atomic time (your computer's clock is always synchronized with a time server as long as you're connected to the Internet) and you cringe at the sight of a tiny scratch or blemish on your watch.

Some people have mentioned that the lowly Pulsar (which is a subsidiary of Seiko) watch is even more accurate than more expensive Seiko watches, along with certain Citizen Eco Drives. Unfortunately I'm unable to comment on why this is so, as the accuracy of a quartz watch depends on the stability of the quartz oscillator and also its frequency. Does it mean that Citizen uses higher grade raw materials (sand) for its quartz oscillators? Nobody knows for sure, because only the manufacturers have privy to the supplier of the quartz modules.

While I'm happy to learn from your observations, unfortunately I don't have the time to respond to comments in a timely fashion. :-( There are people like you and I who are more than elated to read about your accuracy reports...and they can usually be found in watch forums. These are the best places to discuss and exchange thoughts (and sometimes argue) about watches. If you decide to join the Seiko & Citizen Watch Forum, you may find a nice elderly gentleman named Peter Horne, if he's still there (he switches aliases in the forum more often than I can remember) and loves to participate in watch discussions.

thanks for sharing!

Quartzimodo

Nice blog!
I'm impressed how informative and complete it is. I have been making some research myself too. It is a shame Seiko's website is not so easy to browse. With a plenty of time and patience I have found many of my concerns. I believe they should reorganize their website completely!

I have the following questions:

1) What is the difference/s between a caliber 5m62 and 5m63??

2)Is it true that after a couple of years the energy storage unit has to be replaced? Wouldn't this defeat the purpose of not ever needing to replace the battery (in this case the E.S.U.)?

3) Finally what is your thought of Seiko pricing policy? I mean I found a watch I liked very much. In Seiko USA it is priced for ~$400. In Macy's, Kohl's, JcPenny,etc they sell it anywhere between $250-300. In the Internet you can find it for ~$150. Today I found it on Amazon for $99 (usually ~$125).
Should I be careful with the ones found in Internet. Could these be imitations or do you think they have problems/issues? Why do you think there are such big price differences from retail price to Internet price. How can it devalue so much? Is the low price telling me something?

Thanks

Hi DV,

I have no idea who designs Seiko's official websites, but if you can see that their front page styling differs from one country to another. I agree with you that Seiko's websites aren't that easy to peruse.

You have a terrific set of questions here.

What's the difference between the 5M62 and the 5M63? You'll be surprised that the disparity only lies in the calendar display. That's right - the 5M63 is actually very similar to the 5M62, except that it also displays the day-of-the-week (the 5M62 shows the date only). Same goes for the older 5M42 and 5M43 Kinetics; the 5M43 has a day-of-week calendar.
This is nothing new to Seiko as they've been adding one digit to certain calibers to distinguish between a watch with only two hands (hour and minute) and one with a sweep second hand.

Seiko also follows a tradition when it comes to their caliber nomenclature. For example, the discontinued 5M45 caliber was basically a 5M42 plus a 24-hour GMT hand. A few years ago they decided to reintroduce Kinetics with a GMT hand and they called it the 5M65 a.k.a. "Kinetic GMT". So there you go.

As for your second query, here's the low-down on batteries: no battery lasts forever, period. They all age and start chemically deteriorating once they leave the battery manufacturer and have a finite lifespan. For example, disposable alkaline batteries have a shelf life of 5 years maximum. If you plan to keep alkaline batteries for a long time, be sure you buy ones that expire in 2017 for best results. What about lead acid batteries for automobiles and emergency lights? They won't last for all eternity. Most motorists will get between 12 to 18 months out of a brand new car battery, while stretching it to 2 years is a rare occurrence.

What about the lithium ion battery pack that powers your smartphone, laptop or digital camera? As you use them, their recharge performance and capacity will eventually drop. The same goes for the tiny lithium ion KESUs that power the Kinetic watch; the only difference is that the power demands placed on the ESU is miniscule compared to high power drain, digital gadgets. The KESUs will definitely last much longer compared to a laptop battery pack, but it is not, and never will be an everlasting rechargeable cell.

Most quartz watches have an operational life between 3-5 years before a battery change is required, but a rechargeable lithium ion cell that's never allowed to fully discharge for prolonged periods can last a decade. I have a Citizen Eco Drive Promaster 4x4 Limited of six years that's still ticking to this day. It was made on August 2000 and the internal rechargeable cell has never been changed for almost 12 years. Its power reserve may not be as long as when it was new, but it runs happily in my drawer for at least a month before needing to be exposed to light for a recharge.

When Seiko first envisioned the Kinetic as "a watch that never needs battery changing" in the early 1990s, they initially didn't use rechargeable LiOn cells but capacitors. If you're familiar with electrical physics, you'll know that capacitors are technically not the same as rechargeable batteries. In hindsight, Seiko didn't realize that the capacitors which they used were prone to premature leaking, which led to dead Kinetics and hordes of dissatisfied customers. There wasn't anything Seiko could do to retract their original marketing slogan but what they did was to quietly swap the capacitors for lithium ion rechargeable cells, used to this day.

Therefore, if you were to compare to a silver oxide, battery powered analog (not digital) quartz watch the Kinetic should outlast such watches needing periodic battery changes. Since it still uses some form of rechargeable cell, in eventuality that cell will require replacement. Perhaps not as frequent as regular quartz timepieces, but the KESU will still need to be replaced someday. This can vary between 5 to 15 years, depending on the level of internal chemical degradation of the KESU.

Your third question comes up now and then on my blog. A price has to be relative to something. The MRSP of a Seiko watch is always determined by the regional or country Seiko distributor. It's up to the authorized dealers to offer discounts; some offer more discounts than others. The street price of a Seiko watch is usually much lower than what Seiko USA recommends. Also take note that the purchasing power differs from one country to another. Since the United States ranks amongst the top five most developed nations in the world, it's hardly surprising that Seiko USA decided that USD400 is a "fair price" for that particular model.

If the same model carries the same MRSP tag in a developing Southeast Asian country, nobody is going to pay that amount for that same watch. That is why Japanese branded watches are usually a lot cheaper in the Far East (except Japan) compared to Europe, Australasia and North America.

When one mentions Amazon, it's not really Amazon (the e-commerce company that originally sold books in the late 1990s) that are selling watches but small scale merchants that operate under the Amazon brand. How is it that certain Seiko watches can be had at a fraction of the price what Macy's charges for? Well, there are too many variables that influence the final price of that watch. Overstocked watches, merchandise returns, volume/bulk purchases, sourcing from watch stores that are going out of business, watches sourced from auctions, massive stock clearances (think of "Black Friday" sales), parallel imports etc. That's how a watch that's originally priced at USD400 can go down to as low as 99 bucks.

Like eBay, many sellers who operate under Amazon have very low overheads - especially if they're running a virtual business from home. There's no real storefront, no real business address, no employees to hire. They usually operate under the drop shipping method of doing business. Look it up. :-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

My husband and both have Seiko Kinetics we have had for more than 15yrs. They are wore daily and we swim and hot tub in them and have since we bought them. I guess if not buying a watch or a watch battery for 15plus years was a reason not to make them any more I understand. Mens are still around. One style of Ladies came out last year but are hard to find. I hope they keep holding up.

Very interesting blog!

I've had a beautiful and comfy SKA211P 5m62 titanium since Oct 2005, and love it. It's my favorite watch, but I didn't wear it every day, or all day long, and it's alway held a charge (I'd give it a good shaking when not used for a while to bring it back up).

However, recently it would not sustain a charge over 5 seconds, even when shaken long enough to get to 30 seconds with the charge indicator, it would always be back to 5 seconds very soon. But it never reached the point that the second hand was skipping.

Well today I took it to my local watch shop, a great place called "Time Center" in Huntington Beach CA. USA, and they offered to first put it on their charger for 3 hours and see if the cell could hold a charge. If not, it might be about $135 to replace the cell, and do any other maintenance required.

Luckily, it took a full charge and is holding just fine, and they didn't even charge me for the service!

BTW, I have kept it in a standard watch winder on occasion, but I don't think they provide the kind of movement required to maintain a charge.

Hi Anna,

Please accept my apology for the late reply as I wasn't able to attend to my blog lately due to health reasons. Thanks for sharing your personal experience with the Seiko Kinetic. I wouldn't recommend subjecting a Kinetic watch to the intense heat in a hot tub (or a sauna) because the internal watch movement would be exposed to heat. Heat expands the metal components and cooling off in the shower or in an air-conditioned or cold bedroom will cause perpetual metal expansion and contraction.

Frequent hot-cold transitions also place stress on your watch's water resistant rubber seals, causing them to deteriorate quickly than normal. The only explanation I can offer that your watch is ticking fine to this day is probably due to its use of the older capacitor, which is hardier than the rechargeable lithium ion cell that powers Kinetic watches from the year 1999 onwards. Then there's the element of sheer luck. Most Kinetics wouldn't last that long if they were worn to a hot shower/sauna/tub/jacuzzi on a frequent basis.

cheers,
Quartzimodo

First I wanted to say thank you for such an informative article and the great information found on your site / blog. I am a self-proclaimed watch fanatic (apparently WIS is the proper term) lol. I have a wide variety of watches including 5 ECO's, 1 seiko, 1 Tag, 1 TW Steel, as well as numerous Quartz watches totalling 14 watches so far. I also did a research thesis for my degree on the human factors involved with the design concepts of a watch for use within the military. I am currently writing a paper for publication and a few things you mentioned in the above article I would love to cite, however I can not cite Quartzimodo (as much as I love the name - I do not think my advisor will see the humour in it). I was wondering if you have a list of references that used in writing the above piece.

Thank you

[...] a few sites that the dynamo can spin at up to 100,000 RPM because of the multiple multiplier gears. The Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane? Reply With [...]

Hi Ronald,

Thanks for the comments and I apologize for overlooking your post. I've never heard of anyone doing a thesis on the design factors in the making of military watches before, but I suppose there's always the first for everything! :-)

You probably already know that the concept of wearing a watch on the wrist was born out of necessity in the battlefield trenches during World War I, when soldiers found the impracticality of putting the pocket watch into well, their pocket.

Most military styled watches issued in World War 2 are small sized, with luminous hands and dial markers and with Arabic numerals for easy reading.

During the Vietnam War, U.S. service personnel were free to wear whatever watch they want, but generally infantry and Army ranger snipers would avoid anything that's shiny and risking giving away their positions when setting up an ambush. It was also common to wear the watch with the watch facing downwards in case the watch glass reflects the sun and catching the attention of the enemy.

Today I see military styled watches as more of a subject of interest to watch collectors rather than to soldiers in the battlefield.

Although Seiko came up with interesting military styled designs like the SNA141P alarm chronograph with a matte titanium case, I see more tough digital watches like the Casio G-Shock and Suunto being worn by coalition troops in Afghanistan and Iraq on TV. For them it's function over form and survivability - the need for reliable watch featuring a digital stopwatch, timer, alarm and international time zones precedes watch styling.

You are free to quote my blog URL as your source of information, as someone even referenced this very article in Wikipedia under the subject Automatic Quartz. :-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

I asked you a question on March 28, 2012 about my Seiko Perpetual time piece (SNP017) which you kindly answered. Now I have another. Seiko readily admits that my watch is not truly perpetual and will have to be adjusted on February 29, 2100, since that is not a leap year. When I correct the time to March 1, 2100, will the watch be accurate until February 29, 2200 or will I have to make monthly adjustments. Obviously the "I" I refer to is not me but my offspring. Thanks in advance.

Hi George,

That's a very good question. I'm not sure about other watch manufacturers, but neither Seiko nor Citizen have accounted for leap years ending with "00" by dividing the year by the value 400. Instead, a simple algorithm is used; which is merely dividing the year by 4. If you could time travel back to February 28th 2000, your watch would correctly consider the year 2000 as a leap year since 2000 /4 = 500, with no remainder and the following day would be correctly indicated as Feb 29th 2000 instead of Mar 1st 2000. On the other hand, if you could travel back a hundred years earlier to 1900 (not a leap year), the watch would incorrectly assume 1900 as a leap year since it doesn't divide 1900 by 400, but 4. Therefore 1900 / 4 = 475, which has no remainder. 1900 is not a leap year, but to the watch, it is.

While watches with a digital readout can be programmed to exclude 2100 as a leap year, an analog watch like the Perpetual Calendar cannot. To fully understand why, you need to understand how the process of pre-setting the Perpetual's calendar works.

When the Perpetual watch calendar is preset at the factory or following a battery change, there are no provisions to tell the watch what year it is exactly. It doesn't really matter to the Perpetual whether it's 2000, 2010, 2012 or 2013. All the watch needs to know is how many years have passed since the most recent leap year and it will calculate the calendar correctly. The procedure is a bit complicated, involving shorting the positive side of the battery to a dedicated contact point at the rim of the movement which sets the "year". The Seiko service center does this procedure but anyone adept at tinkering with watches can also perform it successfully.

For a leap year like 2012, the contact point must be short-circuited four consecutive times, 2013 once (since it's a leap year +1) , 2014 twice (leap year +2), 2015 thrice (leap year +3) and 2016 back to four times, as 2016 is a leap year. As you can see, once the no. of years since the last leap year has been programmed correctly, by using this crude algorithm the watch will happily compensate for leap years until the next battery change. There's a 3-minute grace period between replacing a dead battery with a fresh one; thereafter the watch's calendar memory will be gone and the calendar setting procedure must be done again.

The calendar problem will arise when it comes to 2100, since it's not a leap year. As I mentioned earlier, the watch doesn't really know what year it is and it will display as 29th Feb 2100 instead of Mar 1st 2100. The calculations will go awry again in 2200 and 2300, which are not leap years but 2400 AD is a leap year.

The remedy is quite simple, really. All that's needed to be done is to reset the Perpetual watch's calendar when Mar 1st 2100 comes and the watch should calculate the calendar correctly until 2200, when the calendar reset procedure needs to be done once more (providing the watch calendar memory is never erased). Therefore between Mar 1st 2100 and Feb 29th 2200, the Perpetual will continue to function normally; there's no need for monthly date adjustments.

Of course, this is all purely academic because quartz controlled watches like the Perpetual Calendar or Kinetic Perpetual have a limited lifespan. 2100 is 88 years from now and very few quartz watches dating back to the early 1970s survive to this day. 88 years ago was 1924, and only mechanical wind-up watches existed back then; not even automatics. However mechanical watches have longer service life than quartz ones, therefore you can find hand-winding watches from that era that can still work to this day.

Neither you nor I will be around by 2100 but I'm sure by then Seiko will already have found a way to come out with a true Perpetual Calendar watch that accounts for 2100 and 2200. ;-)

Quartzimodo

I have a question and the "Ask Quartzimodo" form doesn't seem to be working for me.

I own three Seiko Titanium Kinetics and one Le Grand Sport Titanium and overall have been pleased with all of them, though I believe two of the kinetics require the capacitor to be changed. Anyway, my question is about the spring bars- I've had problems in the past with spring bars and just went to the local Seiko dealer and had them replaced when needed, but one of my SKJ076's has a badly bent spring bar and I would like to replace it myself. I've done a lot of research online and in the manual and it seems that it's a 20mm spring bar, but I can't find any information on the diameter. I see lots of "fat" spring bars for sale online for Seiko Divers but I don't know if the "fat" spring bars will work with my SKJ076 (5M42 or 5M43). Can you tell me what size spring bars I should be looking for?

Hi Eric,

Sorry about the contact form not working as I've not been tinkering with my blog for sometime. Anyway, let's get to your question. AFAIK, fat spring bars are meant for bracelets that are fitted to ISO certified, Seiko diver's watches. Your SKJ076P is a sports watch, not a diver's model. In all likelihood a fat spring bar would be a very tight fit on your lugs and the bracelet end links - IF it would fit at all. You might damage the end link holes with a fat spring bar. From my experience, not all of my diver's watches can take fat spring bars.

Watchband.com specializes in watch bracelets and it has the replacement titanium 4450XG bracelet for your model. You can order the spring bar for it for just $4. I would highly suggest that you stick to the standard sized spring bar for the 4450XG.

hope this helps! :-)
Quartzimodo

Dear Quartzmodo Admin,

I'd need an advice since you're such an expert. I'm considering to buy a Seiko Premier Kinetic SNL041P1. I'm just impressed with its looks and I think it would be a stunning dress watch. I just hope it doesn't cause me any headaches as it's not the cheapest watch and I would hope it should not be problematic one. I have two quartz watches for 15 and 5 years and they only need battery change every few years. I'd expect the Seiko would demand even less attention.

Your feedback would be appreciated!

Hi Damir,

The Premier Kinetic SNL041P looks very sharp as a sporty, dress watch and I agree with you that it surely looks stunning on the wrist. While Seiko Kinetic watches are generally extremely reliable, let's not forget that anything that's man-made and mass produced at the factory are not immune to defects.

Perhaps the most common complaint with Seiko Kinetics is premature KESU failure - the tiny rechargeable lithium ion cell that stores powers and drives the Kinetic's timekeeping. These storage batteries are not manufactured by Seiko, but by Maxell Japan. All rechargeable lithium ion (LiON) batteries start to age once they're manufactured and its internal chemicals will deteriorate quickly if they are left in a state of deep discharge for extended periods. This trait is no different than any rechargeable LiON battery that comes with your digital camera, smartphone, tablet PC, notebook, etc - except that the Maxell rechargeable cell that's fitted to Kinetic watches is a very light duty type with a very small power capacity.

Since these rechargeable batteries age at different rates, it's impossible to predict how long the Premier SNL041P will run before it eventually needs a LiON battery replacement. The best way to prolong its lifespan is to wear the watch as often as possible, keeping the internal storage unit fully charged at all times. In other words, don't allow a Kinetic watch sit in your drawer for months until its second hand jumps in 2-second increments (indicating that its power reserve is dangerously low) or worse still, dead and its rechargeable cell should last you for many years.

The 7L22 caliber inside the SNL041P is a very reliable movement and despite its design being 10 years old, AFAIK it is still in its original, 7L22A version.

hope this helps,
Quartzimodo

Thank you for taking the time to write this in depth article on Seiko Kinetic Watches.

I purchased my model 5M62 in 2000 (12 years ago). I was particularly impressed when you mentioned about maintaining 40% battery life on Lithium Ion batteries. That is not common knowledge. Most people still think its best to run the battery down all the way before recharging it. That was true for Nickle Cadnium batteries, not so with Lithium Ion.

I never replaced the battery on my watch. It used to hold a charge for 1 month. But 12 years later, in 2 days its almost dead. I need to get my battery replaced.

Anyway, I'm glad I got the 5M62. Once again I appreciate your information. I'm going to buy that Seiko Kinetic Watch Energy Supplier-Winder from Amazon once I get my battery replaced.

Thank you!

Hi Thomas,

You're most welcome. The recommended 40% remaining charge for lithium ion batteries is a ballpark figure which applies mostly to removable LiON battery packs like those used in cellphones, digital cameras, laptops, tablets and such. Allowing a lithium ion battery to exhaust itself uses up one cycle and there are only so much number of cycles a lithium ion battery can be charged and discharged until it quits working. I would say twelve years is very impressive for the 5M62's Maxell rechargeable battery; I guess you frequently wore the same watch since the day you bought it.

In my opinion, the Seiko Kinetic Energy Supplier may not be worth your money if you have only one Kinetic watch that's worn frequently. In my case, I have three and seldom wear them as I have...well, too many watches. :-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Hi Quartzimodo,

Great information here! I just picked up a Seiko Kinetic Auto Relay SMA167P1 on Amazon for a good price. With a manufacture date in 2001, it has obviously been sitting on the shelf for a long time. I am getting the lithium cell replaced, but do you think it is also going to need a cleaning of the movement? I read somewhere that mechanical / kinetic watches need to be cleaned every 5 years or so, but I wasn't sure whether that is the case when a watch is still new and is just sitting unused on the shelf. Also will I need to pay extra to have the water seal redone after replacing the lithium cell?

Thanks

Henry

Hi Henry,

Congrats on your purchase of a NOS Seiko Premier SMA167P! :-) Yes, this is an old model introduced sometime in the early 2000s, if not the late 90s. Actually, the 5 year routine service is a guideline for mechanical watches that are worn on a daily basis and not meant to be taken as gospel. Changing the original lithium ion cell is a good idea, given the state of discharge the cell has been through over a decade.

It's not necessary to have the movement cleaned as the wear and tear on the movement is virtually nil. Have your watchmaker inspect the movement and case gasket since you're replacing the lithium ion cell with a new one. A water resistance check isn't really necessary either because you're unlikely to go scuba diving with this watch anyway. As long as the rubber seals are replaced properly its water resistance should be intact. The rubber gasket is inexpensive, so go ahead and replace it. If the labor charges for a water resistance inspection is significant, don't bother; if it's free, why not? :-) The watch may be 11 years old, but your warranty still stands from the day you purchased it.

A rough analogy would be buying an unsold car at a dealership that's been around for ten years. You'd certainly have the dealer replace the car battery, tires (if they're the original factory ones), engine lubricant, radiator coolant, transmission fluid, spark plugs and perhaps, the camshaft timing belt. You only change the car's vital oils and fluids plus rubber parts that age and deteriorate over time. What's NOT necessary is a top overhaul of the motor, or engine mounting or suspension replacement since the car's practically brand new with near zero mileage.

Make sure that your watch battery is fully recharged after replacing it, because if the lithium ion cell is not fresh from the factory its charge would likely be nearing depletion. The Seiko service center certainly has the Kinetic charger and some authorized Seiko dealers may have one.

hope this helps and enjoy your new Seiko! :-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Thanks Quartzimodo! I am having it serviced at the Seiko service centre so I certainly expect they will have a fresh battery or charge the battery if it needs it.

If I had known the watch was 10+ years old when I bought it, I would have thought twice before buying. However what you have said about new, old stock and the analogy with a car makes me more confident about my decision.

I really like the look of this watch - the kinetic feature was just a plus for me as I like the idea of not having to replace the battery every so often. Although it is ironic when the first thing you have to do is to REPLACE THE BATTERY! :)

[...] The Seiko Kinetic: Boon or Bane?Sep 21, 2010 … The capacitor was integral to Seiko’s concept of a "battery-less" quartz watch. The company calls it the "energy storage unit" and what it … [...]

I know this seems a bit silly but i bought my watch in 1994, it's a 5m62 0b90 a4 with an 0c28 face code, According to the serial number it was made in june 1991, Is it possible that I'm mistaken about when i bought it or is there some time travel involved? just kidding but it's definately a 5m62

Hi Quartzimodo,

Thank you so much for your highly detailed article that you wrote several years ago (I suspect you've updated it a few times since then). I've learned more about the Seiko kinetic drive from your article than any other.

I bought the SKA413 (5M62) earlier this week (got a great deal on sale), despite being a Citizen Eco-drive kind of guy when it comes to analog watches. I love the Eco-drive technology and find it overall more robust than any other solar technology on the market (even better than Casio). While I appreciated what Seiko tried to do with the kinetic, which is ideal for very active people or anyone living where there's little sunlight, the limitations of power reserve and the number of arm swings to fully charge it left me wanting. I didn't think I'd take the plunge until I got a really good deal, to at least own it for a while and see if it works out (I have 22 more days to return it where I bought it).

The second hand wasn't moving when I first bought it. Shaking it just a dozen times or so got it going with the 2-second movement. Another two hundred swings or so and it was normal 1-second movement. I kept wearing it and when I went to bed, it was still working fine. But in the morning it was back to 2-second movement. I then deliberately swung the watch another 300 times and checked it... normal movement for 1 minute, then it was back to 2-second movement. I have a feeling the LiOn battery must be damaged from being completely discharged for so long.

Since the watch was just purchased, does the warranty cover getting the battery replaced by Seiko? I am fairly adept at doing maintenance to quartz watches, including screw-back case removal, but would prefer if Seiko could do it for me (they may inspect other aspects to be sure it's working 100%). I'll try wearing it frequently and see if I can get it fully charged, or at least up to the 1-month+ level.

In all other respects, the watch is terrific. The fit, finish, and build quality is on par with Omega. And of course, it has that ageless classic diver watch appearance. I have a large watch collection and fear I may find myself frustrated owning a kinetic, but I'll have to see how it goes the next two weeks.

Thanks again for all your work on this subject. :-)

Cheers!
--Gary

Hi Nicholas,

Your watch's model has a reference prefix "SKH" instead of "SKA", which is the more common prefix for 5M62 caliber Kinetic watches. Seiko made only five models with the "SKH" prefix: SKH651P (black dial), SKH696P (purple dial with gold accents), SKH691P (white dial), SKH692P (white dial, gold accents) and the SKH694P (white dial, gold plated case and bracelet). The paradox is that back in 1991, the Kinetic technology was still at its infancy and Seiko had earlier calibers like the 1M and 3M series. The 5M42, 5M43 and 5M45 calibers appeared during the mid 1990s, replacing both the older 1M and 3M Kinetic movements. By the early 2000s, Seiko superseded the 5M4x calibers with the 5M6x, which is still being produced to this day.

However upon doing further research, I found out that Seiko did make a small number of early "SKH" models with the 5M62 caliber, while other SKH watches were fitted with the 5M42. That said, I have no further information to ascertain whether the 5M62 movement that was fitted to early SKH models like yours is actually identical to the 5M62 movements that were made much later for the SKA-series models. If your watch was made in 1991, it should have the horizontal and vertical ellipse crest that signified the Kinetic technology and "SQ100" instead of "100m". Seiko dropped the "SQ" (Seiko Quartz) abbreviation by mid-to-late 1990s.

My theory is that Seiko could have made the early 5M62 for the discontinued SKH-series Kinetics for a short while, discontinued the 5M62 and revived it in between 2000 and 2001, possibly with some internal refinements to the movement. It remains to be seen whether both 5M62 movements are one and the same design. Note that this is the rare exception than the norm; because Seiko usually does not reintroduce a caliber once it's discontinued. If you could post pictures of your watch (front and back) and upload them to Tinypic.com and reply later, I'll take a look at your watch.

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Hi Gary,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts in the comment section. Although solar powered watches is nothing new (Seiko, Citizen and Casio made solar powered digital watches back in the 1980s), Citizen appears to be the market leader in the solar powered, analog watch market. They were the first to make translucent dials which allowed light to pass through the dial where the solar panels are.

In my opinion, Eco-Drives are much easier to charge to the maximum compared to Seiko Kinetics. You can leave a Citizen Eco-Drive under a fluorescent table lamp for a week to be sure its rechargeable cell is fully charged. With a Kinetic watch, recharging it a couple of times with the Seiko YT-02A Kinetic Energy Supplier is the only way to be certain that its battery is fully conditioned and charged. Lithium ion batteries can be kick started, but they really need one heck of a kick start. Most problematic rechargeable lithium ion batteries that power laptops, tablets, cellphones and digital cameras can be reconditioned by force charging them repeatedly.

Not all LiON batteries have the same charge retention characteristics. Heat and high rates of discharge are two main factors that cause such batteries to fail. Appliances like laptops and digital cameras incur frequent charge/discharge cycles and heavy power drain; therefore their rechargeable battery packs require a much earlier replacing compared to a Kinetic watch. (What good is trying to extend the life of a laptop's rechargeable battery pack if the laptop can only be powered for 15 minutes before it shuts down?) ;-)

Good Seiko watch dealers should ensure that they charge a Kinetic watch before shipping it to a buyer. A retail store with the Kinetic charger should be able to do so while you wait, but an online seller that's swamped with lots of orders will find it impossible to cope with the task. That's assuming that they possess a charger in the first place.

The Seiko Kinetic charger has two modes: a quick 30-minute top-off charge mode and an extended 3.5 hour mode. If a Kinetic has been totally discharged for a long period of time, it should be force charged at least twice, using the 3.5 hour charge duration mode.

The dilemma that you're facing is whether it's worth buying the YT-02A Kinetic Charger since your SKA413P diver is your one and only Kinetic watch. Alternatively, try seeking a local Seiko authorized dealer that has the charger and ask them if they'd charge your watch overnight for a small fee. :-) I bought the charger because I didn't fancy the thought of having all three of my Kinetics' rechargeable cells replaced; only to know that their charge holding properties will diminish again since I wear them very infrequently.

Enjoy your "Big Freakin' Kinetic" in good health! :-)
Quartzimodo

Hi. Enjoyed and learned a lot about seiko kinetic watches. A watchmaker friend of mine is selling a seiko kinetic sq100 cal. 5M43A. I am thinking about buying it. But when I ask him to open the back case, I found out that a maxell SR920SW silver oxide battery was installed! After reading your article I knew thats a no no. I still plan to buy it and change the battery to TC920 Li-ion. My question is will the silver oxide battery have any bad effect on the watch later on? I had the silver oxide battery removed to see if the watch can still generate electricity on its own and it did. And that's another question- why didn't the battery explode yet since the dynamo still works?
Thanks and have a good day!

Hi Gideon,

Interesting question you have there. While I don't think the watch movement would be affected by the silver oxide battery, the constant act of charging a primary battery (e.g., using the Seiko Kinetic charger) with a relatively high current can cause the disposable battery to leak or explode. The Kinetic movement produces a much smaller current only when the watch is shaken and I guess that explains why the disposable battery appears to be OK. The SR920SW has a voltage output of 1.55V, while the Maxell TC-920S rechargeable has a nominal output of 1.5V. Although the voltage difference is a mere 0.05V, Kinetic watches are not supposed to use a primary (non-rechargeable) battery.

As long as you see no traces of chemical leakage emanating from the silver oxide cell, the watch should be fine. If you plan on buying a new rechargeable cell for the watch from a Seiko dealer, look for one that has the Kinetic Energy Supplier charger and have your watch fully charged after fitting the new Maxell LiON cell. It saves you from having to swing the watch for hours to get the battery fully charged. :-)

hope this helps,
Quartzimodo

Hello Quartzimodo! I just bought the kinetic watch that I wrote you aboout. Thanks for your help! I really appreciate it, and thanks for your tip on looking for a watch dealer with a kinetic watch charger when buying a Li-On battery. You're a great help for us who knew little about watches. Great job!

I just bought seiko srh006p1 kinetic direct drive about a week ago. i love it and wear it night and day for about a week. this morning the watch stop but the power reserve indicator shows still got a lot of power. after that i read the instructions manual about IMPROPER FUNCTION and try to reset the built-in IC. after the reset the indicator hand point to 0 Zero. and the watch start working again after the reset. but the watch stop again and need to reset again like 10 times already in 3 hours time. after resetting the watch many times, i found out that actually no need to press the reset button to make the watch start moving again. just pull out the crown and push it back to normal position will start the watch. and it is very anoyying. i am thinking to bring the watch to seiko service centre later. anybody has experience this before ?

thanks

hello again quartzimodo! could you please help me identify my seiko kinetic? cal 5m43-0B90 and an enclosed A4. S/N 750434. black dial and the marking seiko kinetic below the 12 and SQ100 above the 6. thank you and good day!

Hi Gideon,

Sure, no problem. Your 5M43-0B90 is most probably the SKJ090P if it has gold accents on the bezel and gold toned main crown and power reserve check button. I think it was made on May 1997, judging from the serial number. It's a bit odd considering that for this model, Seiko had the "SQ" moniker on the dial as late as 1997. Does it say "Mov't Japan" on the dial or just "Japan"?

best regards,
Quartzimodo

yep, it has gold accents on the bezel, gold toned main crown and power reserve check button and it says "Mov't JAPAN". I tried looking it up on the internet and I found one that is for sale and looks just like it, only this one has white dial but mine is black. This is the site if you want to see the image of the watch - www.watchhunter.ca/Watch-Hunter-For-Sale-Used-Seiko-5M43-Kinetic-SQ100-SEIK54.html. Thanks for your help. Good day!

Hi Max,

Seeing that nobody has responded to your post in over a week, I thought I'd just share my personal thoughts on the matter. :-)

I don't have any first hand experience with the Kinetic Direct Drive since I never owned a Seiko watch with this movement type. However, the Citizen Promaster Eco Drive Cal 2100 chronograph has the same All-Reset function like the 5D44 does. I think the All-Reset procedure is meant for quartz controlled watches with a real-time, power reserve indicator. Recently one of my Citizen Cal 2100s was oddly showing an inaccurate remaining charge state and I did its reset procedure. The watch's second hand was ticking at the normal 1-sec intervals, while the power reserve indicator indicated a full charge.

It was only when I did the All-Reset that the watch recalibrated its power gauge and not only the it showed nearly "empty", its second hand jumped in 2-second intervals. Most of the time the watch sits in my dark drawer and was rarely worn. As I write this, I'm recharging the Citizen under the table lamp and where it will charge for a day or two until it shows a full charge.

You mentioned that you just bought your Seiko Velatura SRH006P two weeks ago. There's a good chance that its power reserve gauge was showing an incorrect level, leading you to believe that it was fully charged. I believe its built-in LiOn cell is almost exhausted and needs to be sent for a recharging procedure. Any Seiko dealer equipped with the Seiko Kinetic charger can do this for a small fee (or even free). For best results, have your watch recharged to full two or three times to recondition its battery, which can mean leaving your watch there overnight.

You can also opt to send the watch to the Seiko service center and they will do the same thing (recharging the battery first). If the watch cannot hold a proper charge, they will replace the LiOn battery under warranty (assuming you have a valid warranty).

hope this helps,
Quartzimodo

I have an 8.5 year old Seiko Kinetic 5M63-0B70 that I have great affection for. I have worn it 24/7 since I bought it.

As my life becomes more sedentary with age and disability, I worry that I am not providing sufficient movement to keep the watch fully charged. I am beginning to get the two-second sweep indication that my battery is becoming discharged.

Before I put out $250 for a Seiko YT02A winder, I am wondering if my battery is simply feeling the effects of its age just like I am. :) How long should I expect a battery to last before it needs routine replacement?

BTW, thanks for the excellent Kinetic article. It filled many gaps in my admittedly limited knowledge. Now it has provided me with the information I need to intelligently communicate with my watchmaker.

Dick

Hi Dick,

Thanks for writing in and the compliments! :-) . This a common question I get but a sound one nonetheless.

Firstly, congratulations on owning a titanium finish, Seiko Kinetic (model SMY042P) for the past eight-and-a-half years without having had any major hiccups whatsoever. :-) When it comes to secondary (rechargeable) batteries, no watch manufacturer dares to put a ballpark figure on the lifespan of their energy storage units. Then again, no automobile manufacturer I know of will put a claim in writing how long their car batteries will last either; because firstly the batteries are sourced from a third party and secondly, they have no idea in advance how the car will be used by the owner or driver. Although car batteries do carry warranties ranging from 6 to 24 months, the actual lifespan of a lead acid type battery (or the maintenance free versions) can swing from one to 3 years depending on how the car is used.

If your car is rarely driven and imposes a high load on the battery (e.g. frequent start/stops, city driving, use of lights, wipers, high powered sound amplifiers, extreme weather, faulty alternator, etc) expect a battery change a lot sooner than the average daily driver gets. Even if the car is driven sufficiently or you have an 12-volt battery charger in your garage to top its battery charge weekly, the car battery will still wear out. It's just a question of "when". :-)

Is it worth getting the Kinetic charger (it's technically not a winder)? Well, that depends on whether the benefits to you outweigh your investment in the YT-02A. In my opinion, should you replace your watch's ESU and you are unable to sufficiently charge it over the next six months, it's worth getting one (the cost wins over inconvenience). Otherwise, save your money and just replace that lithium ion cell (make sure your watchmaker charges it to full after changing the battery). You don't really need to have your watch's power reserve showing full all the time (30 second swing by the second hand indicator) because the watch will still keep accurate time until the power reserve drops to the 5-second swing mark.

And yes, I do happen to own the Seiko YT-02A charger because I have three Kinetics and might buy another one in the future; therefore from my perspective that's still cheaper and more convenient than having to replace all three watches' rechargeable cells.

hope this helps. :-)
Quartzimodo

I had bought a Seiko kenetic for almost 500 USD in Phuket, Thailand. Soon after that I found out that the watch runs too fast: almost 20 seconds a day. I returned the watch to a Seiko dealer in Central Festival, Phuket Town. They sent the watch to Bangkok twice. It still runs too fast. After many, many emails, many month and 3 visits to the dealer I am being told that I can't expect the watch to be accurate because it is "mechanical". It is normal and I should except that it runs too fast 20 seconds a day. For me that is a joke as I have had a Seiko kinetic for years without any problem. I also have a Invicta with the "kinetic" system that runs on time. And it was half the price as the Seiko. Why is there a seconds hand if it can't tell the time properly? The performance of the Seiko kinetic is very poor and the service a joke. I would never recommend anybody to buy a Seiko kenetic.

Hi Lucas,

I am unable to give any comment unless you furnish the exact caliber/caseback code that's found on your Seiko watch. A watch that gains 20 seconds per day is typical of an automatic watch, not a Kinetic. Does the main second hand sweep around the dial smoothly or ticks once per second?

Quartzimodo

To whomever, I received my first seiko on 09- 02-1999 for my sixtieth birthday. On dec. nineteenth of 2012 my seiko stopped working so I immediately sent it in for repairs through alocal jeweler. The point being if a seiko can run that long on one battery one capacitor or whatever then go and buy one. Believe me a great watch.Can't wait to get mine back.

Hi John,

Congratulations on your good fortune having had the original, factory supplied capacitor running in your Seiko Kinetic for over a decade! Most of us aren't so lucky with our Kinetic rechargeable batteries and our watches' recharge performance starts to drop within the first three years. :-)

Quartzimodo

Hi John,

Thanks for sharing your experience with your Seiko Kinetic. The fact that your watch ran continuously for fourteen years before its factory fitted capacitor (or rechargeable cell) is an amazing feat. It's not often that I hear about Kinetic watch owners needing a capacitor or battery change after a decade. :-)

One of my Citizen Eco-Drive watches - a Promaster Tough 4x4 Limited Edition died on me very recently. Citizen made only 1,000 pieces of this model and they appear to be made on August 2000. Therefore the rechargeable battery lifespan of my watch is 13 years - not bad at all.

Quartzimodo

Hi there! And thanks for the great article!
A month ago I made my longtime dream to own a Seiko Kinetic watch reality :) I bought a beautiful Seiko SKA493P1 and I'm wearing it every day despite my initial idea to wear it on special occasions only. It's that much I like the watch :)
On the day of purchase the second hand was barely moving, in 2-seconds increments but only a week later, after some intensive walking (and shaking too, haha) the battery indicator was doing the 30-seconds leaps meaning that the battery was fully charged. I can't even imagine that it will lose its charge some day. Even more - the watch seems to be very accurate, gaining less than a second per week.

So here's my question: What's the best charge capacity I should keep my watch with, in order to keep the battery life as long as possible (having in mind that I'm wearing it everyday)? Is the 30-seconds leap a good thing in longer terms, or is it better to wear it just enough so the indicator stays at the 20-seconds mark?

Hi Ivailo,

Congrats on owning a Seiko Kinetic. :-) It's fairly common to receive a brand new Kinetic with its power reserve almost depleted and is no different from buying a smartphone or digital camera and finding that it barely has juice to power it on for a few minutes.

Lithium ion batteries should not be allowed to fully deplete its charge for long periods as this will degrade its internal chemicals. In theory, they are best stored in a cool dry place with roughly a 40% remaining charge. However, without sophisticated measuring equipment it's impossible to tell how much is 40 percent; therefore as a rough guide if the battery can still turn on the device for a couple of minutes it should be OK.

Just like any other battery, there is no such thing as a rechargeable battery that has an infinite shelf life or operational lifespan. My Citizen Eco Drive Promaster Tough 4x4 for example, finally quit working after 12 years (it was manufactured in 2000) despite my periodic charging it under a table lamp. Its internal rechargeable battery could no longer hold a charge due to age, simple as that.

I would recommend that you try to ensure that your watch's power reserve doesn't fall below the "10-second jump" mark. Keeping it in fully charged condition won't harm the battery since the watch has a built-in overcharging circuitry. I've never had any problems with my lithium ion based cellphones as I constantly charge them to full even on standby mode. I also make it a point to fully recharge all the lithium ion spare batteries for my myriad cameras once every two months and my laptops, once a month.

Don't worry about your watch, just wear and enjoy it as frequently as you can. :-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

I have owned a ladies seiko kinetic
watch since 1989...until recently like one year ago I started having trouble with the capacitor problems.
Can I still get it repaired ? with a new capacitor

Hi Annie Eves,

Apologies for the late reply. Yes, you can get your Seiko Kinetic up and running again with a brand new capacitor or replacement lithium ion rechargeable battery. Due to the age of your watch, it might be prudent to have your Kinetic module inspected as well for best results. You can either send your watch to the Seiko service center or to a trusted third party watch specialist like Kinetic Repair.

good luck!
Quartzimodo

I bought a Kinetic Diver's model about 10 years ago on eBay (maybe NOS or returned stock). I always thought it was an SMY003P like yours, but I'm not so sure after reading your notes about movements - mine is a 5M43-OA40 (followed by an "AO" in a box), not a 5M6X. Can you confirm the model?

It has worked great until now; I've been laid up from knee replacement surgery, so it hasn't moved much for a couple of weeks; the second hand has started stutter-stepping, and it is losing a couple of minutes a day. If I shake it, it will go to normal movement for awhile, then return to to the two-step. If it were a LiOn model, I might go first for a recharge, but your notes indicate it's a capacitor model - do I need a new capacitor? Should I try to get it changed to a LiOn?

BTW, thanks so much for the highly informative blog!

Hi Tom Ford,

What you have is the striking, Pepsi-bezel SKJ003P which I've made a passing mention in this article. The SMY003P model is actually based on the SKJ003P except that it uses the updated 5M63 Kinetic movement and omits the "Sports 200" marking on the dial. While Seiko made only two models for the SMY-series "Submariner-like" models, the previous SKJ lineup had as many as six variations including two titanium cased models.

In the early 2000s, Seiko did replace the capacitors in some 5M42/5M43/5M45 based Kinetic watches with the newer LiOn rechargeable cells as goodwill, following widespread complaints from owners. The exact number of timepieces or their models which Seiko replaced is however, unknown. The only way for you to determine whether you have the old style capacitor or the present Maxell TC-920S lithium ion battery is to open up your watch and look at the Kinetic Energy Storage Unit (KESU).

Since your watch is well over a decade old, the warning signs which you've noticed is an indication that the capacitor or lithium ion cell has reached its end-of-life. Kinetic watches usually lose time as its storage cell's voltage drops well below its optimal working voltage. Whether you want to upgrade to the LiOn cell or replace with the same capacitor (I believe some online stores still carry such capacitors) is entirely up to you. Note although that the LiOn battery has a larger capacity than the capacitor, it will take a longer time to fully charge the former.

You can think of it like the lead acid car battery. If your car uses a standard 45 Amp-Hour battery with a 60-Amp alternator and replace the battery with a larger capacity 70 AH one, it will take a longer time for the alternator to fully recharge the 70 AH battery. Unless you upgrade the alternator to say, a 90 Amp type of course. :-)

hope this answers your questions!
Quartzimodo

Hi. I'm just sending back a Seiko Kinetic SKA465P1 for replacement, a few days after purchase it abruptly lost 40 minutes. Not a drive issue, that seemed fine...It's running fine now but I need confidence in my timepiece! Needless to say my confidence in Seiko has taken a knock. It's a shame, I *really* like the watch.

PS I'm just curious, how concerned should I be about reliability?

Hi John Gilmore,

Sorry to hear about your dissatisfaction with the first SKA465P which you purchased. From my experience with Kinetics, they do lose time if their lithium ion cells lose their charge retention properties and their voltage drops well below 1.2 volts. More often than not, this is caused by the seller failing to recharge the watch to its fullest prior to shipping, OR the rechargeable battery inside has worn out due being in a state of prolonged, long term discharge.

It could also be a case of a malfunctioning coil block that's part of its electricity generation system but such cases are extremely rare, like a defective engine in a brand new car. Seiko has no control over the state of the Maxell rechargeable battery once a Kinetic watch has left the factory, just like any car manufacturer can't guarantee the car battery's condition once it's reached the dealership.

Seiko Kinetics, like Citizen Eco-Drive solar powered watches are generally reliable timepieces. If there are any faults, they're usually due to their internal capacitors or rechargeable batteries.

Enjoy your new SKA465P in good health! :-)
Quartzimodo

The all black SKA465P1 is a thing of beauty; now I've posted it back to the supplier I miss it! They said it wasn't a power issue or a go-slow (it just dumped 45 mins in a short period -- and I got a kicking from Mrs Gilmore because I was late picking her up for the movies).

Apparently on low power the Kinetic second hand starts going round double quick. There was plenty reserve power so it wasn't that.

I should have the replacement on Friday. I'm just a bit concerned about Seiko reliability after this incident. Wouldn't want to miss a plane or something.

Thanks for very interesting article about Seikos Kinetic watches.
I bought a Seiko sportura Divers with calibre 5m62-0C80 and serial nr. 190174. I like the watch but I do not understand what 0C80 means.
I will be happy to know if it is a good watch.

Thanks in advance.

I have forgotten to say that my Seiko sportura divers is SKA509P1 Calibre 5M62-0C80.

Thank you.

Hi Torne,

The "0C80" on your watch caseback is a Seiko designated caseback code. It separates your watch design from other 5M62 caliber watches. Seiko made hundreds of 5M62 models and their method of classifying their product models is to have the 4-character code following the caliber type. Minor watch styling variations exist within the 5M62-0C80 family, therefore "SKA509P" is the exact model that you own. Your watch has an accompanying sister model - the SKA511P with a red minute hand, white second hand and an anodized black rotating bezel instead of brushed stainless steel. Therefore both the SKA509P and SKA511P are designated "5M62-0C08". :-)

You have a good watch and so far I have not read of any complaints about this model. It first appeared sometime in 2011 (yours was made on Sept 2011) and is considered relatively new. Although it's not Seiko's first Kinetic diver's watch ever made, I believe the SKA509P/SKA511P are the first true 200m diver's models in the Sportura lineup. Many years ago I didn't think Seiko would introduce a diver's model into their Sportura range but they did.

hope this answers your questions! :-)
Quartzimodo

Thank you very much for the answer Quartizimo.I am happy that I have found this homepage.
When I was teenage I bought a Seiko Automatic and it was the best watch I ever had.I handeled it toughly but it never let me down thats why I always liked Seiko watches.
I also have bought a Seiko 5 SRP167K1 one month ago for the memory of my old Seiko and I hope it serve me meny years.
I have a colleague who has bought a Tag Heuer Divers
caliber 5(Automatic) and the price he paid for it was at least 3 times more then min Sportura Kinetic Divers but the finish of look of his watch is not as good as mine Sportura Divers.
People pay a lot for the name and do not know that Seiko has much bettre quality and finish then many swiss made watches.

Thank you

could you please recommend me a Forum about Seikos automatic watches specially Seiko5.

Thank you.

Hi Torne,

Sure, no problem. Try out the big forums like SCWF and WatchUSeek. There's also the Poor Man's Watch Forum which is quite active, but difficult to navigate IMO.

good luck! :-)
Quartzimodo

Hi Quartzimodo!

I purchased a Seiko5 sports (calibre 4r36-00B0) with serialnr. 192181 from Waches88.
I would be greatful if you could tell me how good this watch is with this calibre and if it is a genuin Seiko5.

Thanks!

Torne

Hi Torne,

You have a rather recent Seiko 5 Sports watch from Sept 2011. I've not seen this model in person before but the 4R36 is considered an upmarket movement compared to the fully automatic, 7S36 caliber. The 4R36 was originally fitted to more expensive models but have found its way to the affordable Seiko 5 range. The 4R36 is the more desirable caliber as it can hack and offers auxiliary hand-winding.

There are no counterfeit 4R36 models made at this time of writing, therefore I'm certain that only original ones are sold. Besides, Watches88.com is one of the reputable Seiko sellers on the Internet.

Wear your new watch in good health! :-)

Quartzimodo

Thank you Quartzimodo!

I appreciate your time and efforts and have a nice time.

Hello Quartzimodo!

Is there any differences in quality and durability between Seiko watches manufactured in Japan or in another countries.

The reason that I am asking this question is that I have a Seiko5 Sports SRP167k which I think it was manufactured in Singapore and
in my Sportura Divers kinetic is written "movement Japan" but I think it was mounted
in Singapore.

Seiko manufactures their expensive watches like Grand Seiko or Ananta in Japan and many people in internet mention the word "Japan Made".
Does Seiko have same policy when it comes to the quality and durability of their watches no matter where they are manufactured?

Thanks.

Hi Torne,

Great question. I can tell you that the quality and durability of Seiko watches, irrespective of the country of manufacture is generally on the good side. Therefore my answer would be "yes", Seiko exercises the same quality control over the manufacture of their products.

However, different watch calibers will have different levels of quality and durability; some more and some probably less. If you're referring to mechanical (or automatic) movements, generally the more complicated the movement - the greater the need to treat the watch more carefully.

For instance, the low cost 7s calibers are simple to manufacture and assemble compared to say, the very complicated 6s38 automatic chronograph movement. While the 6s38 is obviously far better than the 7s36, it (the 6s38) is likely to be less durable than the 7s36 because it involves a lot of highly precise and delicate parts.
High end movements are always hand assembled in Japan by a select team of highly skilled watchmakers. If you own a Grand Seiko or a Seiko Ananta watch, Seiko Japan does not allow such models to be repaired or serviced by its overseas Seiko service centers. You can send your Grand Seiko to the nearest service center but they will ship it to Seiko Japan for servicing. This is a company policy as Seiko wants to maintain a strict quality control in servicing or repairing such movements.

A cheap 7s36 automatic movement on the other hand, can either be serviced locally or completely replaced with a new one. In most cases, it's cheaper to have a broken 7s caliber replaced than repaired.

BTW, Seiko never labels its watches as "Japan Made", but just "JAPAN", "Mov't JAPAN" or "Made in Japan". The nomenclature depends on the intended market and the watch model. Your SRP167K is likely to be assembled in China while your Sportura Kinetic diver is Singapore made.

Quartzimodo.

Back to the Kinetic discussion. I own 2 of them and I really like them.Sure they are a pain to keep fully charged if you have a large watch collection and they don't get used much. They do stay fully charged if it is your everyday watch. The main attraction for me is that the movement doesn't look cheap !! You take the back off and you see metal and lots of it. One of mine has the see-thru back. My favorite of the 2 is a model 5m62-OA79.Rescued from a pawn shop for $40.00.The crystal was a total mess so I installed a generic flat sapphire one. It is slightly thinner and sets just below the bezel which should protect it from that nasty edge chipping. My other is a 5m62-0BJ0, bought new and I somehow "acquired" pits not scratches on the Hardlex ??.Anyway I installed a generic domed sapphire on it and to say they both look sweet is an understatement !!

Hi J.R.,

Thanks for sharing your personal experience with your two Seiko 5M62 Kinetics. The good thing about pawn shops is that they generally don't regard Seiko as a premium watch and they're more than happy to get rid of whatever Seiko watches they have. I've heard quite a few interesting stories of Seiko collectors scoring big time finding rare and hard-to-find Seiko watches in pawn stores.
Most people don't really consider Kinetic movements good looking. There are certain 7L22 Kinetic chronographs with a display back and IMO, the 7L22's oscillating rotor looks quite nice. :-)

In some cases, Hardlex glass can accumulate pits instead of scratches. Hardlex is just ordinary mineral glass and has a much lower Vickers hardness index than sapphire. On the other hand, while sapphire is much more scratch resistant, it's also more prone to shattering than Hardlex. In the 1990s, Seiko fitted hybrid crystals to selected 5M62/5M63 sports Kinetic models. Seiko named this crystal "Sapphlex", which is basically Hardlex glass with a laminated sapphire surface. Since then the company decided to cease making Sapphlex and today Seiko's watches are fitted with either Hardlex or sapphire glass.

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Do Seiko kinetic watches have jewels in their movments(ie.5m62 movment)?
Somebody said that this movment has 6 jewels.
If it is the case its good because I have SKA509P1 with 5m62 movment.
Kinetic watches are basically quartz watches and they do not have so many moving parts like automatic watches.I wonder if Seiko and some other watch manufacturers use jewels in them for better precision and durability?
I appreciate if you could clarify it.

Thanks Torne

Hi Torne,

Seeing that no one else has replied to your post, I guess I'll step in. :-)

Firstly, it's true that the 5M62 (and the 5M63 with the day-of-week calendar) both have 6 jewels. Although the Kinetic is basically a quartz watch, it does have an oscillating weight like an automatic - therefore critical parts that require permanent lubrication are fitted with usually synthetic rubies (jewels) at points of friction. Actually older Seiko quartz movements also have a small number of jewels in them but certainly not as many as 17 or 21 jewels (like in mechanical watches). Modern quartz movements may have at least one jewel or none at all. Obviously all-digital (LCD) watches have zero moving parts therefore jewels serve absolutely no purpose in them.

I'm certain that jewels used in quartz watches are "functional" jewels rather than for marketing purposes. The Seiko 7s26A for instance has 21 jewels while the slightly upmarket 7s36A has two extra jewels that do nothing but to add to the jewel count. The 7s36 is fitted to the slightly more expensive Seiko 5 Sports and Superior models while the 7s26A is found on the more basic Seiko 5 automatics. One watch hobbyist from Brazil named Adriano was the first person to debunk the myth of the 23-jeweled, 7s36A caliber. He took apart both the 7s26 and 7s36 automatic movements and discovered that the additional 2 jewels from the 7s36 caliber had no functional value at all, except to add to the jewel count for marketing tactics.

Back in the 1960s, watch companies competed with one another by adding more jewels than the watch actually needs. Consumers became fixated with the jewel count, believing that "more is better".
As funny as it sounds, the Waltham Watch company once made the "Waltham 100 jewel" model, of which only seventeen were actually functional jewels with the remaining 83 serving as decoration. ;-)

Since the timing in Kinetic watches is regulated by a solid state quartz oscillator, jewels used in such watches do not affect their accuracy in any way. As such I believe the 6 jewels in the 5M62 Kinetic exist for lubricating purposes.

cheers,
Quartzimodo

I have a Seiko 5M42A Kenetic that just had the original
capacitor replaced which I have worn 6 days a week
since 2000. The serial number is 970064 which from
what I understand was manufactured in 1997. 16 years
on the original capacitor is not bad at all.

Mike

I stand corrected on the date of manufacture. I recieved the watch in 2000 new and I am being told that the first
digit of the serial number is the year of manufacture.
Still not to bad, 14 years on the original capacitor.

Mike

Hi Mike Jones,

The 5M4x series calibers preceded the slightly improved 5M6x movements that Seiko currently uses. If I'm not mistaken, the 5M62 first appeared either in 2001 or 2002. The caliber is still in its first generation form - the 5M62A and there were no updated versions such as a "5M62B" or "5M62C".

Your watch was manufactured on July 1999 and that makes it exactly 14 years today. The fact that your watch is still running on the original capacitor (or lithium ion cell) is simply amazing! :-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Thanks for the reply. The original capacitor was a sl920 which was replaced just 2 weeks ago with the Maxell lion. This watch is worn daily and I guess this might be why the original cap lasted 14 years . Hope to get another 14 out of it.
Sapphire Crystal with no scratches and I have never been easy with it.

Good day
Mike

I own a Seiko kinetic 7S26B which has stopped. I have searched for a replacement capacitor/battery but cannot find one. Can you advise me of a supplier,ideally in UK?
Alan Watson

Hi Alan Watson,

When you wrote "Seiko Kinetic" and "7s26B" in the same sentence, these two terms actually contradict one another. Any Seiko watch with a "7s26" caliber is an automatic mechanical watch while a Kinetic is a quartz regulated watch that's powered by a reserve capacitor or a rechargeable cell. There is no such Kinetic watch with "a 7s26B" movement. When your watch was formerly in running condition, was its second hand ticking in exact, one-second jumps or appear to "flow" smoothly across the watch dial (or sub-dial)?

Quartzimodo

Thank you for clarifying for me the difference between kinetic and automatic. When the 7s26b watch was running the second hand moved smoothly without any jumps. It began to lose time, then when I wore it on my right wrist it recovered, then I had to keep wearing it at night until it finally gave up. I have just given it a little shake and it operated for less than a minute.
Alan Watson

Thank you for explaining the difference between kinetic and automatic.
When the watch was running it began to loose time but improved when I wore it on my right wrist and kept it on at night.Finally it gave up. The second hand moved smoothly without any jump. I have just shaken it and it ran for 30 seconds.
Alan Watson

Hi Alan,

Okay, so we've established that you own an automatic watch and not a Kinetic, which is of a totally different watch technology altogether. :-) Sometimes the main spring of a mechanical watch can get stuck, which perhaps explains why you're getting a rather low reserve time.

Seiko rates the 7s26 movement with a nominal non-stop, reserve time of 42 hours (almost two days) on condition that the main spring is fully wound and nothing is wrong with it. From the state of being fully unwound (when the second hand stops), it normally takes between 3-4 minutes' of physically swirling the watch (like brandy in a glass) to get it fully wound. Its mean accuracy is within +/- 40 seconds per day. Some people are fortunate to receive unusually accurate 7s26 watches right out the box, with a mean accuracy of -10 secs/day.

A mechanical watch that is consistently losing significant time, e.g, 5 minutes per 24 hours definitely needs looking into. It could be a simple case of re-regulating the watch's escapement mechanism (which keeps time) or a serious case like a partially sticking main spring. Under normal conditions, the main spring should unravel smoothly and uniformly until it becomes fully unwound.

In some cases, stuck main springs may be dislodged by repeatedly banging the watch case against the palm of your hand (without using excessive force). If that doesn't work, your remaining option is to have it inspected by either the Seiko service center (if your watch is still under warranty) or taking it to a watch repairman who is experienced with servicing mechanical watches.

Just for your additional information, Seiko 7s-series watches are roughly adjusted to run on the fast side of timekeeping from the factory. These low cost movements are mass produced and are not individually regulated, unlike their high end Grand Seiko automatics which are finely adjusted to several different positions, and each watch presented with a special certificate specifying its accuracy rates. A good thing about the 7s26 caliber is that the movement itself is relatively inexpensive to replace (if it needs to). :-)

best regards,
Quartzimodo

I followed your suggestion and banged the watch against the palm of my hand. The watch started to work immediately and I wore it continuously. Last night I did not wear it in bed and it stopped at 2 am. I now have a Seiko solar watch.
I am grateful to you for your expert advice which has made me aware of the different types of watch that are available.
Regards,
Alan Watson

Whoa. Astonishing review. Still relevant today in 2013! Thank you. I have been searching for a Seiko Kinetic SKA060 (5M42-0B09) for a while, it's quite an uncommon watch and not very expensive. I definitely like it's style, which is impossible to find in other modern models (as far as I was able to find!), but I am pretty scared by the kinetic system... Which model of LiOn battery could I use for that clock? Thanks again!

Ciao Luca,

My sincerest apologies for the belated response. There are actually two versions of the watch that you mentioned; the SKA060P (5M62-0B40) and the older, SKH060P (5M42-0B09). The earlier SKH060P would have used the original Panasonic MT-920 capacitor, while the SKA060P could also be fitted with the Maxell TC-920S lithium ion rechargeable cell. They appear to be similar looking watches except for the Kinetic movement.

Kinetic watches are quite reliable and the first component that is most likely to fail is the rechargeable battery or capacitor. It's no different from your car - your car battery will need to be replaced 24 months at the most, while the alternator that charges your car battery and runs the electrical system typically lasts for at least 10 years. Seiko's watch designs have changed over the past decade. Some people like the earlier models, therefore if you are able to find a NOS (new old stock) SKA060P, buy it before someone else does! :-)

all the best to you,
Quartzimodo

Hola Quartzimodo,
Yo tengo un Kinetic modelo 5M62-OBTO y la serie que tiene es (330029), me gustaria saber en que año fue fabricado y cuanto tiempo duraría trabajando.

Gracias!

Hola, Luis.

Su reloj Seiko Kinetic fue fabricado en marzo de 2003, la fábrica de Seiko en Singapur. Kinetic relojes son generalmente confiables, pero su batería interna recargable es casi siempre el primer componente que tendrá que ser reemplazado.

Si tienes suerte, su reloj debe funcionar durante diez años antes de que la batería tiene que ser reemplazado.

saludos,
Quartzimodo

I have had a Seiko Kinetic since 2001, It is in my opinion one of the nicer designs 5M42-0D30, Serial no. 990159. Not too bulky, satin finish stainless steel, Sapphire Crystal face and glass view-through back. The face glows in dark but only it appears when it has been left in the light. The capacitor fail some three years ago and I sent it of to have it replaced with the battery cell. One down side is as you point out in your very interesting article is if it is left (as I did) and the cell discharges it is finished, HOWEVER reading your article I tried an experiment to recharge using the induction principle, with what, the base unit of a electric toothbrush which employs that principal, it seems to have worked as the indicator now shows from 12 to 20past; I believe this to be the max. charge.

Hi David Holloway,

Thanks for your report on having some success using a toothbrush induction charger to charge your Seiko 5M42-0D30. Your watch was made on September 1999, which is the correct era for the discontinued 5M42 Kinetic movement. A fully charged 5M42 Kinetic should indicate 30 minutes past 12 when the power reserve check button is depressed. The fact that it indicates up to the "20 minute mark" after charging shows that either your rechargeable cell can hold up to 75% of its original capacity, OR the makeshift induction charger could not supply enough electromagnetic energy to charge it up to 100%.
Like lead acid car batteries, lithium ion rechargeable cells eventually age and lose its charge holding capacity. As long as your watch is able to maintain 75% of its capacity, there's no pressing need to have it replaced immediately.

Interestingly, Seiko made only two models based on the 5M42-0D30 design: the SKA149P and the SKH233P with a military 24-hour numerals. The entire dial has been coated with Seiko's proprietary LumiBrite compound, which makes the dial glow in the dark. Such dials were popular from the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s; today it's very rare to find a brand new model with an all-LumiBrite dial face. :-)

cheers,
Quartzimodo

Thank you for your response, a question, I did mention that I had the original capacitor changer after it completely failed and was told by the company that carried out the repair that the 'battery cell' would show to 20 min.after the function button was pressed at 12 and not the full half hour as in the case of the capacitor; is that correct or should it still show the full half hour?

Hi David,

I think the repair center told you to expect a "20-minute mark" on checking the power reserve if they have pre-charged the replacement lithium ion cell for the same period of time as they do with capacitors.
Since the Maxell lithium ion cell has a much larger capacity, it would take a much longer time to charge it to full. It's like filling up a 100 gallon water tank vs a 20 gallon one using the same water hose with the same water pressure; obviously the 20 gallon tank will become full much earlier.
I would like to reiterate that getting a fresh, replacement lithium ion cell is based on luck of the draw. Unlike the brisk disposable silver oxide battery trade, sales of replacement lithium ion cells is a rather slow. All rechargeable cells are pre-charged at the factory but once they are shipped, the level of charge slowly depletes from its naturally occurring, self-discharge. I have ordered a replacement rechargeable cell for one of my Citizen Eco Drive watches from the Battery Bob online site and it was DOA. I have no idea how long it had been sitting in storage before it was eventually sold to me, but lithium ion cells should never be left in a fully discharge state for extended periods.
It's always best to have these cells replaced at the authorized repair center, rather than buying online.

regards,
Quartzimodo

Hello,
Thanks for the awesome article about Seiko watches. i am proud owner of SEIKO PREMIER KINETIC PERPETUAL SNP023. And I wouldn't change it for any other... maybe spring drive :-)
But, the leather bracelet is eaten, and I would like to ask where can I find the metal bracelet for this watch?

Thank you in advance for your reply

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