Seiko Magic Lever

Seiko Magic Lever

Seiko Magic Lever

The Magic Lever was introduced by Seiko in 1959 with the purpose of improving the efficiency of the winding system. In other words, it shortens the winding period and allows for a longer power reserve. In comparison to a Swiss style winding system, the Magic Lever is minimalist and requires far fewer parts to accomplish the same task.

The video below shows the Seiko Magic Lever in action.

Seiko Magic Lever

In Seiko’s own words:

“One key point of the Magic Lever is that its shaft is on an eccentric pin that is outside of the central shaft of the rotor. Therefore, the Magic Lever itself always moves up or down regardless of whether the rotor turns clockwise or anticlockwise.” –source

Pawl Lever

You may also see the Magic Lever system referred to as the Pawl Lever. For example, the official Seiko tech sheets for the caliber NH3 series lists this as part 0831 183.

Seiko Pawl Lever Magic Lever 0831 183

Simulation Video

This video also does an excellent job in explaining how the system works:

“This is the autowinding system of seiko watches. It is known as the “magic lever system” since it was built according to the structure of the train wheel system. With this configuration, it allows the ratchet wheel to rotate in a desired direction no matter which direction the oscillating weight is turned. Such design greatly enhances the efficiency of energy saving that is done by converting the kinetic energy from human’s moving to the potential energy storing in the mainspring inside the watch.”

Magic Lever = Non Manual Winding?

No. Although most of the Seiko watches equipped with the Magic Lever have non-manual winding and non-hacking calibers, this is may simply be a coincidence.

The short answer is that many collectors presume that all magic lever watches cannot hand wind. That’s mostly true with exception to 6R15 and other 6R calibers. Either way, the magic lever is so efficient that hand winding is not really necessary, and that’s exactly what Seiko was going for.

Orient Watches

Orient watches also use Seiko’s Magic Lever winding system. The video below does a great job in explaining the differences between this system and a Swiss style winding mechanism:

Seiko movements that DO NOT use Magic Lever:

More Seiko movements use the Magic Lever system than do not, so here is a quick list of Seiko calibers that use a reverser gear train system instead:

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Christian
Christian
1 year ago

Does Seiko still use this winding mechanism?

Ralf
Ralf
1 year ago
Reply to  Christian

Yes.

Christian
Christian
1 year ago
Reply to  Ralf

Thanks! Do you know if it’s used across the entire brand? Like from cheapo Seiko 5 all the way up to Grand Seiko?

Ralf
Ralf
1 year ago
Reply to  Christian

Hi Christian,
Exactly what you said, from entry level to Grand Seiko Spring Drive, the magic lever is alive and kicking: https://www.grand-seiko.com/us-en/special/10stories/vol6/2/

Tim
Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  Ralf

It’s used in the Spring Drive movements, but not the Hi-beats AFAIK…

Ralf
Ralf
1 year ago
Reply to  Christian

Yes, it is used for all their mechanical automatic movements as far as I know. My response with the link to the Spring Drive website is not yet live for some reason. But yes, even spring drive movements use the magic lever, as do Seiko 5s….

D
D
6 months ago
Reply to  Ralf

The 4L25 etc, don’t use magic lever, and some of the top end mechanicals have used reverser gear style winding systems

DAVID JOHN THOMSON
DAVID JOHN THOMSON
10 months ago
Reply to  Christian

Yes. For example the Seiko NH35A movement.

Keith Nelson
Keith Nelson
1 year ago

When I see the pawl lever and the tiny teeth on the transmission wheel, I also feel like this system has a chance to break from looking too fragile. Then I remember the Seiko watches I’ve had over the years that never had any issues despite not being serviced in like 20-30 years. They are tanks!

Erick
Erick
10 months ago
Reply to  Keith Nelson

Same here, I have a Seiko slim watch edition and until now running very good for almost 25 years now. Seiko has it, 5 stars, when in terms of automatics.

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D
D
6 months ago

The Tag-Heuer 1887 also uses the magic lever, as well as Otero.

Tim
Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  D

Probably because the 1887 movt was designed by Seiko… oops!

Bao Wu
Bao Wu
24 days ago
Reply to  Tim

That’s why it’s the best watch Tag ever made haha

Frederik de Haan
Frederik de Haan
5 months ago

I love the Magic Lever, but in these times – in the 21st century though – it is normal to have a winding — and hacking system in ány and évery modern watch. Just my 2 cents …

John Rieley
John Rieley
2 months ago

Maybe, but since the best, traditional mechanical watches are poor timekeepers compared to quartz watches, expecting precise seconds, using hacking, is questionable in my mind. Hacking may provide a false sense of precision, in some manner, for mechanicals. But I do like hacking, and I like mechanicals.

Franck
Franck
5 months ago

Great article!

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Tim
Tim
1 month ago

The 9S85 also uses a Swiss-style winding system. I don’t believe the Magic Lever system can generate enough torque for the GS 8- and 10-beat calibers to wind the mainsprings.

Steven Zuler
Steven Zuler
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

Are the mainsprings that much different on those watches? Am I missing something, because I thought the winding system would not have anything to do with the rest of the mechanics once the tension is in the spring. Unless the spring is much different.

Tim
Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven Zuler

I believe they are – due to the different Spron 610 alloys used in the GS calibers. I remember reading (somewhere) that this was the reason the 9S calibers did not use the pawl lever winding system. For reference, the 9S8X calibers require 30% more torque than even the 9S6X movts! Evidently the torque required in a 28k or 36k movement with 55-72hr PR is greater than that required in a 6R (21k) movt. I… Read more »

Tim
Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

Correction – the hairspring is Spron 610. I think the mainspring is Spron 510 OTTOMH… also a specially developed alloy

Bao Wu
Bao Wu
24 days ago

I was wondering does Miyota have this or something like it in their watch movements?

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