Seiko: Kinetic Technology

Kinetic, or AGS, is the technology employed by Seiko for a continuously recharged quartz movement. This offers the benefits of an automatic watch, the endless power generating capability, but allied with the benefit of an accurate quartz movement. Although known by other names for this technology, such as auto-quartz, Seiko is best known for their tireless pursuit of pioneering breakthroughs and constant refinement in this technology.

How Kinetic Works
The recharging of the watch is carried out via a pendulum fitted to the rear of the movement, as with an automatic watch. However, instead of tightening a main spring, this is connected by a large gear to a pinion, which is turned at very high speeds as the wearer moves during everyday activities, such as walking or moving the arm. The pinion can rotate at speeds of up to 100,000rpm, and this in turn is used to generate an electric charge that recharges a storage facility or battery, called the ESU, or Electrical Supply Unit. The ESU functions in much the same way as a normal lithium battery, providing a stable voltage to power the quartz movement, allowing for high accuracy, but is continually recharged by the pinion. Electrical Supply Units were originally capacitors, electronic components used to store electrical energy and then release them to the movement as a regulated voltage. Some modern watches have a Lithium-Titanium Ion battery, which allows larger power reserves, several months on some models. In addition to this, the watch will not overcharge the battery, as it has safety cut off features built in within the generating system to stop this from ever happening.

Kinetic movements are not limited to simple date and time models, they have been expanded to include chronographs, perpetual calendars and moon phase displays. Due to the power generation capability of the watch, there is no limit to the number of complications that can be used within a kinetic movement.

Auto Relay
In addition to the kinetic movement, some models have an auto relay function. This means the watch enters a “sleep” mode when it is not worn for around 72 hours. The system retains the normal time keeping, saving the time and date accurate to the second, but does not operate the hands to display the time whilst in hibernation. This drastically reduces consumption of power by the movement, as the motors to move the hands around the dial attribute to the vast majority of power usage in normal conditions. This, coupled with new technologies for improving the ESU, has allowed Seiko to increase power reserve from 2 weeks to up to 6 months, but will retain time keeping for up to 4 years in some models from when the hands stop moving, reviving itself when shaken. When the watch is charged again, the hands and date move around the dial to indicate the time again for the user without skipping a beat.

Direct Drive
Standard Kinetic movements do not allow the user to “wind up” the watch, as can be done with a mechanical movement. However, Seiko introduced Direct Drive to some models, and this means the watch can be charged by winding the watch via the crown, as well as via the rotor on the movement. Many models in the Direct Drive range are also fitted with power reserve indicators, showing days, weeks or months of charge left on the watch. While being wound, the indicator doubles up to show the efficiency of the winding action, before indicating the amount of charge left in the ESU again.