Seiko caliber VK63 SII

What is a Meca-Quartz Movement?

What is a mecaquartz watch?

Mechaquartz or meca-quartz typically refers to a chronograph watch movement that uses quartz technology for the main timekeeping functions of the watch, with a mechanical module for operating the chronograph – giving it a smooth sweeping like motion (similar to an automatic watch) and a snap-back style return to zero when resetting the chronograph. That is why these are often called hybrid movements – but is a hybrid movement different than a mecaquartz? Is a Seiko Spring Drive a mechaquartz movement? Let’s find out…

Before we continue, it should be noted that “mechaquartz” is not an official branding term used by Seiko or other manufacturers (Seiko is not the first and only brand to have mechaquartz movements, although today they are the most discussed).

At this point it is a community term designated for watches that either:

  • Both mechanical and quartz in design, with functionality that resembles a mechanical watch.*
  • A quartz movement that functions like a mechanical watch (such as having a sweeping seconds hand).*

While Seiko may not be the only company that has movements that check either of the boxes above, they have two lines of movements that do:

  • VK – Premium Chronograph Series
  • VH – Sweep Second Quartz Series

VK Premium Chronograph Movement:

Starting with the VKXX series, its relation to the mechquartz label comes from its Instant Zero Reset function.

In Seiko’s own words:

“VK premium chronograph movements are developed with the Three Pointed Hammer mechanism (once exclusive to our mechanical movements) to achieve the Instant Reset Function, a signature feature of mechanical chronographs.” -Source: Seiko/TMI official movement catalog, 2020 (page 2)

Seiko Mechaquartz Three Pointed Hammer

Based on this description, it makes sense if the first type of watches that comes to mind when discussing mechaquartz are the VK chronographs. You may find yourself thinking of how you can convert one of these movements to have a constantly running sweeping seconds hand. Well, no need for that because Seiko already thought of that with their caliber VH31 – a 3-hand caliber with central sweeping seconds hand.

But is the VH31 really a mecaquartz movement?

This can be a divisive topic in watches, and there may be some mechquartz purists out there who only want VK series watches to be blessed with the mechaquartz label, but a portion of the community has already staked their claim that the VH is also a mechaquartz movement.

Those who are adamant that the VH is not a mechaquartz, may have formed their opinion based on the marketing language Seiko/TMI uses to describe the VK series: “Quartz chronograph with mechanical action”, which isn’t clear if they are referring to the sweeping motion of the chronograph seconds or the instant zero reset motion. However, adding a little clarity, Seiko also uses the word mechanical to describe the VH series:

In Seiko’s own words with reference to the VH Sweep Second Movement:

“Centre second hand moves stably in 1/4 second increments, resembles mechanical movement” -Source: Seiko/TMI official movement catalog, 2020 (page 2)

Seiko Mechaquartz Vh Sweep Second Hand

Resembles mechanical movements, making the VH series just as worthy of the MECHAquartz categorization. This is also how the sweeping chronograph hand on the VK series works.

*These are not Caliber Corner’s official definitions, but one that become commonly used in the watch community, for example, even by brands using the VH31. While you may see comments on this site stating it is an error or flaw in the article, such comments should refer back to the many examples of reviewers, brands, and collectors using the term in this fashion.

To summarize:

  • No official definition of the term by the manufacturers.
  • “Mechanical” used to describe the two lines.
  • Open to interpretation by the community.

How does mecaquartz work?

So if the “mecha” in mechaquartz is not so much for the actual mechanical aspect of the movement, then it is more for the appearance of how the movement functions.

Disassembly of a so-called mechaquartz movement presents a gear train, but non-mecha quartz movements also have a similar gear train. The gears are needed to move the analog hands. Digital quartz = no gear train needed, duh.

Taking the VH series movements as an example, they have a typical quartz frequency of 32,768Hz, but what makes it appear to have a sweeping seconds hand is a stepping motor that rotates (oscillates) four times per second. This is also where we get the beat rate of 14,400 vph, which is equivalent to a 2 Hz mechanical watch. (4 beats per second x 60 seconds x 60 minutes = 14,400)

Ultra high frequency movements also have a sweeping seconds hand, but are not as commonly referred to as mechaquartz by the watch community. This terms seems to have planted itself in the Seiko realm more than anything – perhaps because of Seiko’s use of the word mechanical when marketing their VH and VH calibers.

What is the correct spelling of mechaquartz?

Mecaquartz, mechaquartz, meca-quartz, mecha-quartz… are all used interchangeably, just pick one. There does not appear to be an official spelling outside of the top sites showing up on Google search for this topic (Caliber Corner being one of them). In fact, this type of movement is mostly associated with the Seiko calibers listed below, but even Seiko does not appear to use any form of this term on their website or in their marketing material (if you see them using it, please share below).

With that said, Caliber Corner is going with “Mechaquartz” as the official spelling from now on. It just makes the most sense as a combo of the words mechanical and quartz.

Pros of a mechaquartz movement:

A huge advantage that mechaquartz calibers offer is that they provide the accuracy and overall dependability of a quartz movement. Another advantage for watch designers is that they are much slimmer than a traditional mechanical movement.

Disadvantages of mecha-quartz movements:

An obvious disadvantage of mechaquartz is that they are battery powered.

Also, a major disadvantage of mechaquartz chronograph watches is that there is not hidden feature to reset the stopwatch hand to zero. One of the great things about quartz chronograph movements is the ability to reset the chronograph hand to zero after a battery install. Sometimes this can be a game of figuring out the correct crown/pusher sequence, but when you do, it can be quite satisfying! Mechaquartz movements do not share this ability. Since the stopwatch functionality is mechanically driven, the related hands cannot simply be reset via button sequence programming in the circuit board.

Also, replacing the chronograph hand on the VK series can be a problem. So much so that Seiko recommends installing a new hand if you remove the original one, rather than putting it back on. This is due to the torque of the return-to-zero action.

Then how do you reset mechaquartz chronograph hands to zero?

As mentioned above, unlike most quartz chronograph movements which have a setting coded into the circuit board (usually accessed by a certain sequence of crown position and button pushing), mechaquartz are more mechanical in nature. Similar to misaligned hands on an ETA caliber 7750 or other mechanical chronograph movements, most times the only remedy to get the hands back to 12:00 is to remove them and install them again in the correct position. One should also figure out what caused the hands to out of alignment in the first place – did the watch come like that from the manufacturer (low QC)? Was it dropped? Is it loose?

Caliber Commentary:

From wornandwound:

But it’s Seiko we have to thank for taking the meca-quartz idea and making it their own at a price that doesn’t cause a squeal. The cals. VK63, 67 and 83 are powering all sorts of watches from the likes of Autodromo to, well, Seiko.

…Sneak a look inside and you’ll see that the VKs use proper levers, hammers, wheels and heart pieces. Push the top button and you get a crisp, mech-style snick and the chrono steps off smartly, ticking in 1/5 sec increments—just like a mech. Push the stop button at 4 o’clock and you get the same crisp, mechy snick as the chrono stops. Press it again and the hand snaps straight back to 12. If I hadn’t let you in on the secret, you might just think you had an auto on your wrist.

Autodromo uses the Seiko caliber VK63 movement in their Prototipo model and calls it a “true mechanical reset chronograph.”

Here is what they say about it:

…Powered by an innovative Seiko hybrid meca-quartz movement, the Prototipo features a sweep second hand and instant chronograph reset thanks to internal mechanical linkages shared with Seiko’s in-house automatic movements. Prototipo delivers the reliability and precision of a quartz watch, with the crisp pusher feel and visual delight of a mechanical chronograph.

Dan Henry uses the VH31 in some of their watches, and here is how they describe it:

“Meca-quartz Seiko Japan cal. VH31 with smooth sweeping motion seconds hand (14.400 VPH)”

 

Popular mecaquartz calibers*:

*Depending on your definition, of course 😉

Some watches that use mecaquartz movements:

  • Seiko SSB Series
  • Techne Sparrowhawk 2
  • Helgray Meca-Quartz Chronograph
  • Autodromo Prototipo
  • Mercer Brigadier
  • Red Line Fast Track
  • Dan Henry 1975
  • Wolbrook Skindiver WT Mechaquartz
  • Add your watch to the comments below…

Quick video action:

Seiko/TMI 2020 Movement Catalog (pdf):

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Nisse Hult
Nisse Hult
4 years ago

Also the Nezumi watches uses the hybrid meca-quartz movement VK63 from Seiko.
https://www.nezumistudios.com

David
David
3 years ago

They are ok…I own one. But I do not like the fact that there is not a full time ful size sweep second hand.

Staf
Staf
10 months ago
Reply to  David

There are more than one full time sweep hand. Casio MTP series, most bulovas and the vh31.

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[…] third collection widely popular among the buyers is Bellwether. It differs from other lines for the mecha-quartz movement that uses quartz oscillations for the primary timekeeping and mechanical movement for the […]

Ian Watson
Ian Watson
3 years ago

The Soviets also had a meca-quartz, calibre 3055 usually found on a particular range of Ukrainian made Luch’s and highly desirable pieces as surprisingly for a Soviet make the quality was very high. Its a very sweet looking movement and surprisingly robust too but resources on rebuilding and servicing are almost non-existent.

Argatar
Argatar
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Watson

Many very-early quartz movements were what we now consider mechaquartz.

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Ian Watson
Ian Watson
2 years ago

Still yet to find a decent priced Seiko branded one, have added a further two Pulsar VK63’s this week bringing my total to 11 as I went for every colourway of the VK63-X001 WRC limited editions and I found a very unusual rose gold and black velvet dialed VK63… just had to have one of them 😀

Wibowo PR
Wibowo PR
2 years ago

mechanical purists : anyway, spring drive is meca-quartz

Terry
Terry
1 year ago
Reply to  Wibowo PR

Yes it is. Although there is no battery in the spring drive as the movement produces it’s own electrical current to excite the quartz. It does so by moving a magnet. Excellent accuracy and a sweeping second hand. A brilliant but also very logical improvement.

I have a 25 year old Breitling Chrono Jetstream that uses a Piguet mecaquartz movement that does essentially the same thing but relies on the battery to power both the quartz and the chronograph functions. Old technology but more accurate than most mechanical watches I believe.

Lord Voltano
Lord Voltano
8 months ago
Reply to  Wibowo PR

Spring Drive is an “automatic mechaquartz”. Powered by an automatic mechanical mainspring, regulated by a quartz crystal.

Dave
Dave
2 years ago

I’d like to add one to my collection one of these days; just waiting for the right one.

Robert Dianadanna
Robert Dianadanna
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave

I pulled the string on the Pagani Design moon watch. Haven’t snagged it yet. In transit. Excited.

Argatar
Argatar
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave

I got the Pagani Design 1644 Panda as my beater watch 3 years or so ago for working on my car going to the beach etc. It’s been used and abused yet is in great shape. Just scratched a bit on the polished bits. Sapphire crystal and ceramic bezel are, of course, scratch-free and so are the brushed parts with the naked eye. The Seiko movement is still going as strong as the first day I got it despite suffering a terrible drop a year or do ago. Got mine for 60 incl shipping. Can’t reccomend them enough.

ptw1953
ptw1953
4 months ago
Reply to  Argatar

I agree. I have the Pagani 1644, and the Pagani1676. Excellent watches, as are all my Pagani watches. Finishing is as good as any of the Certina, Tissot or Omega watches I have. Timekeeping is spot-on. So many dickh**ds who talk them down, when review them, are talking utter sh*te…

johnnyjohnny
johnnyjohnny
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave

try the Wolbrook skindiver mechaquartz. a superb watch for just over $200. i also have the automatic version which is several hundred dollars more. it’s a great historical reedition of their 60s/70s diver, except with all steel case, uni-bezel, domed sapphire crystal, good lume and even a lumed bezel pip, screwdown crown. if you want to try a mecha this is probably the best one out there.

F/22
F/22
2 years ago

Brew watches

BloominCookie
BloominCookie
2 years ago

I purchased a Dufa watch a year or two back that is driven by a Seiko mecaquartz. I thought it was interesting as this is Not a chronograph watch and they powered it with mecaquartz. I don’t care very much for Quartz watches–This one beats 6x/second, so the second hand does glide along, slightly choppy but nothing close to the second-to-second jolt you get with Quartz.

Jon
Jon
2 years ago

Invicta Aviator Model #22529 uses VD57 movement. Got one sent to me by mistake. I ordered a subaqua limited edition with Ronda r150. Hahaha They told me to keep the Aviator for the mix-up. My r150 is on its way.

Mike
Mike
1 year ago
Reply to  Jon

I love invicta customer service

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schilviu
schilviu
1 year ago

I owned for abt. 10 years an ORIENT Cbronograph coded HFAE-18. It has also alarm function and «dual time». It has a subdial with two hands(hour/minute), used for setting alarm and afterwrds as dual time. I called it „The dragon with seven tongues“ because this watch, actually has SEVEN hands: three central(hour/min/sec), one for chronograph minutes, one for current seconds, and anther two for alarm/dual time. Central second hand is used for chronograph, having 5bps.
For resetting the central.second hand, it is necessary to pull the crown once and repeatedly push «Start Chrono» button, until the hand reaches 12:00 position.

MKR
MKR
1 year ago

UNDONE

Dave M.
Dave M.
1 year ago

Are the Seiko VK reliable? I heard the hard shock of reseting the hands on VK64 can sometimes make the hand loose, or misaligned upon reset. I had a VK63 and every time you reset the hand it would be off to the right or left of center.

Also, what do you mean hands can be misaligned after battery reset? Do you need to remove and reinstall hands on VK movements every time you have to change the battery? What causes them to be misaligned?

Argatar
Argatar
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave M.

Unless there is some serious internal damage, the hands should always stay in the same spot, regardless of battery change or reset button. If your hand was off in multiple places then thats bad. Mine has always been 0.5s to the left because thats how it was installed. It goes there everytime i reset and stays there after a battery change. The train of gears will always go back to their own default position and its up to the one who installs the hand to make sure it lines up. Depending on the brand and their QC or maybe in-house… Read more »

Jeff E.
Jeff E.
1 year ago

Mechaquartz movements are all hype imo.

Jumbotron
Jumbotron
1 year ago

Find in Pagani Design and many other Asian microbrands.

They are known to be notoriously reliable and the few I own all are.
As w the other commentator, I too cannot stand a choppy single beat quartz
so Seiko has really filled that gap well here imo.

-PD Daytona
-Chameri (King Seiko homage)

Stevotron
Stevotron
1 year ago
Reply to  Jumbotron

I opted into the startup Höglund (homage to Dan Henry,) and it has performed admirably! The pushers are snappy and satisfying, and the red sweeper stops pauses incrementally every 5th second, on the button. After watching my quartz chrono sweep slowly around the track to 12, it was a shocker to see the Hög jump like a rabbit back home. Additionally, it’s 2 mil larger; so, easier on my peepers. I love it, at 50% of the cost.

dhvshog.png
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Sam
Sam
10 months ago

Certina DS-2. In my opinion the best meca-quartz watch right now. Swiss made, and with an crazy fast chonograph hand. I own 1. Its great!

Sam
Sam
10 months ago
Reply to  Sam

PreciDrive movement

Delfosse
Delfosse
8 months ago

Spinnaker Hull California Chronograf SP-5092

Ramo
Ramo
6 months ago

The Steeldive 1903 Pilot uses the Seiko VH31 movement. It’s my favourite EDC.

Bert shaft
Bert shaft
5 months ago

Pumpleton

Dave M.
Dave M.
5 months ago

The La Touraine Cartographer uses a meca-quartz movement, the Seiko VK64 to be exact.

https://la-touraine.com/products/cartographer

Vivian
Vivian
5 months ago

If only Seiko had created their VK mechaquartz movements with an oscillating weight to power the movement (much like kinetic movements) instead of having to rely on a battery. Changing the battery is probably the most major inconvenience of quartz watches and it would have been nice if Seiko had done away with that.

GreatArtiste
Member
4 months ago
Reply to  Vivian

They have in the Grand Seiko line. It’s called Spring Drive and the least expensive model currently on Amazon is $4400. The most expensive one I’ve seen is $27k. No batteries to replace. Take a look at them, if you can afford it, lol. My 24 year-old Kinetic had its capacitor replaced about 10 years ago. When it died this year, I replaced it with an upgraded rechargeable battery last month. The power reserve went up from 7 days to 4 months, similar to a solar watch. Not too shabby. It still ticks at 1/sec.though.

James
James
3 months ago

Great explanation, I’ve just started hearing mecha-quartz mentioned on YouTube channels but had no idea what it was, I now do, thanks CC

Harold
Harold
1 month ago

My AV1-8 uses Machaquartze as does my Invicta Pro Diver and my Seiko Coutura solar powered chronograph. I much prefer the sweeping motion of the seconds hand to the typical “dead-beat” of most quartz watches. I wish they were all mecaquartz. Thank you for the article. Please show the actual gear assembly in the movement in another article.

Jorge Robles
Jorge Robles
1 month ago

I understood that Meca-Quartz was ONLY applied to the instant return-to-zero ability in chrono movements that use a mechanical module for the chronograph and a quartz module for keeping time, and not to to just simple 3-hand quartz watches. When I explain my friends, that is what I tell them, and show examples of different quartz chronos coz I have the ones with the Seiko VK-63 movement (MecaQuartz) and the V-175 (Non-MecaQuartz). Both of them have the seconds hand motion similar to a mechanical watch, but only the VK-53 has instant RT0 function. The V-175 has a long circular motion… Read more »

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