Introducing the caliber NE88, a potential game changer in the watch industry

A brief history of Seiko

Before going into the caliber NE88 bit, let’s talk very quickly about Seiko. Seiko produces a wide range of calibers, from the downright amazing 9S86 to the budget-friendly 7S26.  However, these calibers were made only for Seiko watches.

Enter the NH family, manufactured by Seiko to be supplied to other watch manufacturers, at a lower price compared to their Swiss counterparts. Their latest caliber thus far is the NH35, which is similar to the Miyota 9015, and to some people, the ETA 2824. With the help of rapid technological advancements, it’s no surprise that both Seiko and Miyota have slowly caught up with ETA.

Launch of the NE88 and its effects

In August 2014, Seiko unveiled its latest caliber, the NE88. It is a newly developed automatic chronograph movement to be supplied to other watch manufacturers. It has a beat rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour, a power reserve of 45 hours, a column wheel and vertical clutch built into it, and a three-point hammer.

The column wheel is often found in high-end chronographs, due to the complexity of the manufacturing of the caliber and intensive labour required. Unlike the cam-actuated chronographs, actuation of the column wheel chronograph is incredibly smooth, with no noticeable jerks of the chronograph seconds hand. The smooth action of the hand is achieved because the gearing is lifted in and out of place vertically, and the hand can stop and start precisely where it lays. The three-point hammer resets all chronograph hands to zero instantly when the rest button is engaged.

Apart from in-house chronograph movements, there are not a lot of suppliers out there that sell chronographs as ébauches or as finished movements. ETA is the biggest producer of such movements; for example, the more commonly used Valjoux 7750, Valjoux 7753 or ETA 2894. Due to certain changes in recent years, obtaining those movements can be very costly for watch manufacturers, which translates into higher prices for consumers. Another manufacturer of chronograph movements is Sellita. However, due to low production capacity, they are unable to meet demands of the industry. There are other players out there in the industry, but for various reasons, they are not readily available or favoured. The availability of the caliber NE88 gives manufacturers alternatives to work with, apart from Valjoux or Sellita.

Conclusion

In other words, watch manufacturers are able to produce chronograph watches with greater technical prowess, at a lower price point for consumers when using the caliber NE88. It provides a much-needed breath of fresh air in the watch industry.

The NE88 can be found in the new Vostok Europe Mriya Automatic Chronograph, launched to commemorate Vostok Europe’s 10th anniversary.

For more information on the Seiko 9S86 and 7S26, click here and here respectively.