Seiko Kinetic: The Power of Movement
Seiko's groundbreaking Kinetic technology dates back to 1986. The caliber converts kinetic energy into an electrical charge that, in turn, powers a precise quartz movement. Top models offer a perpetual calendar, chronograph, or GMT function.
The First Automatic Quartz Watch
Seiko introduced the forerunner of its current Kinetic technology at Baselworld in 1986. The concept was groundbreaking: a quartz watch that gets its energy not from a battery or solar cells but from kinetic energy, which the watch converts into an electrical charge. The mechanical principle is actually quite simple: a magnet moves in a coil of copper wire, which induces an electrical charge, just like a dynamo on a bicycle. In the initial prototypes, the magnet was moved using the winding crown. Since this method wasn't particularly efficient, Seiko introduced the Automatic Generating System (AGS) in 1988, in which a winding rotor performed the task. The Kinetic watch collection emerged from the AGS in 1993.
Over the years, Seiko has equipped its Kinetic calibers with increasingly complex complications, including perpetual calendars, moon phase displays, GMT functions, and chronographs. At the same time, the Japanese manufacturer continued to refine its Kinetic technology, making it possible, for example, to increase the movement's maximum power reserve up to four years, thanks to Seiko's Auto-Relay system. Furthermore, Seiko's Kinetic Direct Drive enables you to power the watch with both the winding rotor and the crown.
Seiko included a Kinetic collection in its product catalog until about 2020, while also offering watches with Kinetic calibers in other collections such as the Prospex and Sportura lines. At present, timepieces with this innovative technology can only be found in the manufacturer's Premier collection.
Reasons to Buy a Seiko Kinetic
- Innovative caliber technology combines the best of quartz and automatic watches
- Attractive value for money
- Eco-friendly wristwatches without batteries
- Top models with a perpetual calendar, chronograph, or GMT function
Prices at a Glance: The Seiko Kinetic
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Feature(s)|
|Kinetic, SRN045P2||150 USD||Day-date display|
|Kinetic, SKA783P1||235 USD||Water-resistant to 100 m (656 ft), date|
|Sportura Kinetic, SRG021P1||340 USD||Direct drive, Auto-Relay, date, power reserve indicator|
|Sportura Kinetic GMT, SUN028P1||500 USD||Date, second time zone|
|Premier Kinetic Moonphase, SRX017P1||660 USD||Moon phase, day-date display, 24h display, power reserve indicator|
|Premier Kinetic Perpetual, SNP146P1||900 USD||Perpetual calendar, 24h display, outsize date|
|Sportura Kinetic Chronograph, SLQ001J1||3,360 USD||Chronograph, date|
How much does a Seiko Kinetic cost?
Kinetic caliber watches from the 1990s and early 2000s change hands on Chrono24 starting at around 100 USD. These timepieces are mostly simple three-hand models with a date display. Newer three-hand watches in the Kinetic collection cost between 200 and 320 USD, depending on the edition. The price point for watches with a Kinetic Direct Drive is between 340 and 480 USD.
If you'd prefer a Kinetic watch with complications like a perpetual calendar, moon phase display, or second time zone, plan to spend between 500 and 900 USD.
Particularly rare collector's editions, such as the Sportura Kinetic Chronograph, will set you back quite a bit more; sums of around 3,000 USD are not uncommon.
About the Kinetic Collection
From 1993 to about 2020, the Seiko catalog offered a Kinetic collection of mostly three-hand watches. As you'd expect from Seiko, the selection was broad. Thus, you could find timepieces with playful futuristic designs alongside elegant dress watches, pilot's watches, and genuine diving watches.
Despite their diverse designs, these watches all have one thing in common: They are powered by a Kinetic movement from the 5M caliber line, recognizable by the push-piece at 2 o'clock. Press the push-piece, and the second hand functions as a power reserve indicator, showing you how much energy the watch has left.
Elegant dress watches like the ref. SKA775P1 change hands on Chrono24 for a little over 200 USD. If you'd prefer a sporty alternative, check out the ref. SKA783P1, which is available for a similar investment. If you want a Seiko in the style of a military or pilot's watch, you can purchase models like the ref. SKA723P1 for approximately 320 USD. Should you prefer a diving watch instead, the ref. SKA371P1 might be the watch for you, and can be yours for roughly 320 USD.
Watches in the Kinetic Collection with an Auto-Relay Caliber
The Kinetic collection is also home to a number of watches with an Auto-Relay function. These movements fall into a kind of hibernation when they haven't been moved in 72 hours, and can conserve energy in this state for up to four years. As soon as it starts moving again and gathering kinetic energy, the watch automatically sets itself to the right time.
Many of the Auto-Relay watches in the Kinetic collection have rather futuristic designs. One example is the soft-cornered, tonneau-shaped reference SMA123P with an integrated bracelet. Thanks to its contours, the surfaces seem to flow into one another, which gives the watch an overall organic look. The timepiece features a date display at 4 o'clock and is powered by the caliber 5J22. Watches with an Auto-Relay movement demand an investment of between 400 and 550 USD on Chrono24.
Prospex, Sportura, and Other Watches With Kinetic Calibers
Seiko utilizes its Kinetic technology in other collections. This means that other lines, like some of the professional diving watches in Seiko's Prospex collection, also benefit from Kinetic movements. The Prospex Kinetic GMT SUN043P1, for example, is water-resistant to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft) and powered by the caliber 5M85. The watch features a date-display at 4:30 and a GMT function that uses an extra central hand to keep time in a second time zone. You can call one of these watches your own for roughly 740 USD.
If you're on a tighter budget, you can purchase a Prospex Kinetic from the Land series (ref. SUN049P2) for about half that amount. This watch is also fitted with the Kinetic caliber 5M85 with a GMT function and date display, but is only water-resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft). Instead of a diving bezel, this model comes with a compass bezel and costs approximately 350 USD.
Another collection that frequently features Kinetic movements is Seiko's Sportura line. Along with a selection of three-hand and GMT models costing between 300 and 650 USD, the most notable watches here are the collection's Kinetic chronographs. These include fan favorites such as the references SLQ019 and SLQ001J1, both of which look like something out of a sci-fi film. The watches have four separate dials: one for the time, and one each for stop minutes, seconds, and 10ths of seconds. An additional fifth window displays the date.
The ref. SLQ019 is tonneau-shaped and features an integrated bracelet. The price for this timepiece is approximately 2,500 USD. The SLQ001J1, on the other hand, is round and limited to just 1,000 pieces. This model's rarity means the watch changes hands for closer to 3,400 USD.
If you'd prefer something more conventional, the Sportura Kinetic Chronograph SNL015 may be the watch for you. This timepiece has a very modern design, but its dial is inspired by that of conventional chronographs. Thus, the stop seconds are counted by a central hand, while the stop minutes are shown on a retrograde display at 2 o'clock. A small seconds is located at 10 o'clock, and the time is displayed on an off-center dial at 6. Prices for the SNL015 start at around 420 USD.
Current Models With Kinetic Calibers
At the time of writing in February 2022, watches with Kinetic calibers were only available in Seiko's Premier collection. Watches in the Premier line are fitted with high-end Kinetic movements like the caliber 7D56. The caliber features a perpetual calendar, a power reserve of up to four years (thanks to the Auto-Relay function), and a Direct Drive, which allows the watch to draw power from the crown and rotor.
One such timepiece is the 43-mm stainless steel Premier Kinetic Perpetual ref. SNP141P1 with an integrated bracelet. The dial on this classic men's watch is protected by a high-quality, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The Japanese manufacturer opted not to use luminous material on the timepiece's tapered hands, which helps underscore the traditional character of the SNP141P1's design. The slate-gray dial features vertical stripes and Roman numerals, which also contribute to the watch's understated look. The Kinetic Perpetual's size and beveled lugs are definitively modern touches.
The Kinetic Perpetual features an outsize date just below 12 o'clock, a 24-hour display at 4, and a month and year display at 6. In new condition, the model demands an investment of roughly 520 USD. Editions with a blue, silver-white, or brown dial cost a bit more, changing hands for around 700 USD. A rose gold-plated model with the reference number SNP146P1 will set you back about 900 USD.
Seiko's Premier collection also offers models with moon phase displays. Along with the moon phase, the 42-mm men's watch ref. SRX017P1 also displays the current date, day, power reserve status, and, of course, the time. There's also a 24-hour display to show you whether it's AM or PM. Plan to spend roughly 660 USD on a SRX017P1 in mint condition. The yellow gold-plated variant with the reference number SRX014P1 costs just over 900 USD.