The Ultimate Techno-Watch Review

Francis Vale

Seiko Arctura Kinetic Chronograph


If movie star good looks are all that finally matter in keeping relativistic time, then look no further than the $650 (MSRP) Seiko Arctura Kinetic Chronograph watch, and in particular, the SNL013 model with its sculpted black rubber strap, which makes this piece the baddest looking techno-watch of the whole reviewed bunch. It's what Will Smith should wear in MIB III.  How cool is it? One night at a fancy restaurant, a woman sitting next to our table and whom I didn't know, asked about my watch and commented how good looking it was. This, of course, raises a very serious geek lifestyle issue. If genteel well-dressed women start telling you how good your techno-stuff looks, has it just passed from a state of exalted geekiness to so much proletarian high fashion? These are deeply geek philosophical discussions better discussed at Source Forge.

Meanwhile, know this. In 1982 Seiko introduced the world's first TV watch, which feat alone secures the company's place in the geek pantheon of heroes. And in 1983 Seiko invented the quartz chronograph. More great wrist candy from Seiko was to follow, like the introduction of the world's first automatic power generating quartz watch, as well as the world's first intelligent analogue quartz watch with alarm, chronograph and timer functions controlled by an IC computer on a chip. I think Q gave one of these whirring gizmos to Jimmy Bond in a Sean Connery era flick.

The Seiko kinetic system exemplifies all that is exalted by geeks. The Arctura Kinetic Chronograph is neither a solar nor battery powered watch.  Instead, there is an oscillating weight that rotates inside the watch as you move around.  A gear train in the watch amplifies these rotational movements 100 fold and transfers the energy to a rotor, which is at the heart of Seiko's Kinetic technology.  The rotor transforms every movement of the oscillating weight into a magnetic charge.  The rotor speed is variable, from 10,000 RPM to, can you dig it, 100,000 RPM—On your wrist. 

Next, the "Kinetic Energy Storage Energy Unit" (every slacker should have one) stores the generated electrical energy and some sophisticated electronics control the voltage and amperage. Somewhere in the midst of all this electrical buzz, a quartz oscillator beats away at a stable 32,768 times a second.

Ultimately, a step motor converts the electrical energy into rotational motion, and via a gear train, the watch's hands finally move in lock step quartz precision.

Whew. Does that make you want to lie down and take a nap, or what?

This is the kind of cool techno-stuff a geek thrives on. Why use a simple battery when you can have all these cool weights, crazed spinning rotors, energy storage units, crystals and gear works? Blown up to room size, this sci-fi fantasy apparatus would make a great stage set for an Austin Powers movie.

When first using the Arctura Kinetic watch, you do have to do a little exercise though, as you have to charge its K.E.S.U. (haven't you been paying attention?) even before you set the time and date.

You charge the Seiko by swinging the watch from side to side approximately 500 times at the rate of twice per second, which for most exercise challenged nerds is best done while lying prostate. Finally, this will start the watch and the second hand will move at one-second intervals.

If you are not yet sucking ER oxygen, swinging the watch another 200 times will reserve approximately one day of power. After your initial swing dance with the Seiko, normal daily movement keeps the watch powered up and running. 

A fully swung up watch will keep ticking away for five months without any further movement or maintenance. After 5 months the watch will immediately starting working again when the watch is picked up and shaken; like when you finally get and up go to the bathroom.

You can also check out what the date is on the watch, as if you still care.


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