Seiko Automatic vs Kinetic Watches – What’s The Difference?

Seiko Automatic vs Kinetic

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Seiko are innovators and have been since back in the 70s. They are continuously looking for ways to improve their watches and take the industry to a new level.

It all started with the Quartz watch, way back when, but since then Seiko have moved on to new technologies like Solar and now Kinetic.

Of course, they have not left out the classic Automatic (aka self-winding) watches that the Swiss watch industry is renowned for too. They do those as well. And always to a very high standard.

But in this post, we are going to compare the Seiko Automatics with the Kinetic and see what all the fuss is about.

The Difference Between Automatic & Kinetic

Both Automatic and Kinetic are powered by a swinging rotor. The key difference is that an Automatic watch stores the power in the spring, while the Kinetic watches stores it in a capacitor.

Of course, there is far more to it, and below I will show you exactly how they work.

Seiko Automatic Watch Recharging

self winding automatic watch
Self-winding Automatic Watch – Courtesy of Wikipedia

Automatic watches have been around for nearly 100 years and are based on mechanical principles. But, how do they actually work?

Basically, the watch has a large rotor (think of a swing on a playground) that moves when your wrist moves – which in turn, winds the watch for you. This swinging rotor winds up the spring which is actually responsible for the power that drives the watch.

In a manual-winding watch, you have to do this yourself via the crown on the side of the watch. Slowly turning the crown winds up the spring and stores energy for use in rotating the gears in the watch.

Automatic watches can store a charge for up to 48 hours (depending on the setup and the spring size), but they have the disadvantage of needing to be worn constantly in order to get the rotor moving and the watch charging.

Yes, you can also buy a watch winder that keeps it moving when you are not wearing it so that it is always charged and ready to go. But it’s something extra you have to do, and you have to remember to do it. This is something most watch collectors own and use frequently, for obvious reasons.

Seiko Automatic Watches


How Does A Kinetic Watch Work?

The Kinetic watch movement was created by Seiko back in 1986. And in many ways, it is similar to an automatic watch.

A kinetic watch works through movement. The swinging or moving of your arm moves an oscillating weight within the watch. This turns a number of gears which then produce electricity in a small generator. The generator then charges the capacitor.

So, the big difference to an automatic watch is that a kinetic watch charges a capacitor instead of a spring.

You can see how it works in the diagram below, taken from a Seiko user’s manual. It explains the parts in detail. Both of them, however, could be referred to as motion-powered watches.

So, as with an automatic watch, a Kinetic style watch from Seiko needs to be worn regularly to keep its charge. And given that it requires movement, you can also keep it on a watch winder when you are not wearing it.

One con of this type of watch though is that many people have reported on forums that the capacitor will need replacing at some point, kind of like a battery. This is not an issue with automatic watches. They just keep on running!

Seiko kinetic recharge storage
Image Courtesy of Seiko

However, the big difference is in the charge: Kinetic watches can store their charge for up many months compared to an automatic watch which normally only has a couple of days of charge maximum.

It does however depend on the specific kinetic model you have. See below for details.

Kinetic Models Used By Seiko

Seiko has constantly been evolving their Kinetic range and there are now many distinct types you can get:

  • Kinetic Direct Drive: 1 month of charge, can also be hand-wound via the crown
  • Ultimate Kinetic Chronograph: 1 month of charge
  • Kinetic Chronograph: 5 months charge
  • Kinetic Perpetual: 6 months charge, can preserve time for 4 years (sleep mode after 6 months charge)
  • Kinetic Auto Drive: unknown charge, can preserve time for 4 years (sleep mode after 72 hrs)
  • Kinetic GMT: unknown charge, can preserve time for 4 years (sleep mode after 72 hrs)

Seiko Kinetic Watches

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