Add eco-drive to the Precisionist movement, add a sapphire crystal, and finally - remove all the ugliness and then I'd say it's a viable poor man's spring drive.
The person responsible for the visual design of the Precisionist line should be fired.
I dunno, the movements are different. They were designed to do different things. Mr M., as he often does, nailed it my book - there's a lot more going on with the Spring Drive than just a way to get the nauseatingly popular "smooth sweeping second hand". I would hope that someone would want to buy a Spring Drive for more than just a "smooth sweeping second hand".
At the same time, I think the Precisionist watches are nice pieces, have nice qualities (pehaps not the nicest of looks, but beauty is subjective) and also happen to, yes, have a "smooth sweeping second hand". If all someone wants is a "smooth sweeping second hand" then, by all means, buy a Precisonist but also appreciate the accuracy, the history of Bulova and how they managed to do it all at a great price point. Thinking of the Precisionist as simply a "poor man's Spring Drive" with a great "smooth sweeping second hand" kinda cheats Bulova.
Saying that a Precisionist is a cheap substitute for a Seiko Spring Drive in order to get a "smooth sweeping second hand" is kind of like saying that a Nissan Leaf is a cheap substitute for a Tesla Model S because you want a "quiet electric engine sound". It may be true but it cheats each product of it's unique qualities and is a simplistic reason to buy a car, or a watch...
I hope that Nissan sells a lot of Leafs and that Bulova sells a lot of Precisionists. I suspect that neither product sales will impact sales of Teslas or Spring Drives (whatever those might turn out to be for Tesla...).
I want Grand Seikos for the design, the quality and the feel of the case, bracelet, dial, hands and yes, movement. I want Spring Drive for the fact it's an automatic and for the accuracy. The fact it sweeps smoothly is secondary to me.
The Spring Drive (and the Swiss HPM which preceded it) use a quartz to control braking of the mainspring mainspring (just like an escapement does). The precisionist just uses multiple 'twiches' per second to appear to be smooth sweeping. Smooth sweeping has been an interesting niche for some of us...
Here is a YouTube I created discussing this phenom.
I think the merits of each watch have been well explained and discussed in this thread, thus far. But the bottom-line is that there are many other attributes that differentiate a couple-hundred-dollar watch and couple-thousand-dollar watch other than the movement and sweep of the seconds hand. But even at that, there is a huge difference between a Precisionist movement and Spring Drive movement that there just really is zero comparison between the two.
I think you have hit the mark. Precisionist offers higher accuracy, a power reserve measured in years rather than days and a substantially reduced price compared to spring drive. Spring drive does offer very fine finishing and design as well a seconds hand that appears smooth. In reality it speeds up and slows down as the quartz crystal, electronic feedback circuit and rotor keep the watch in time.
Apologies for the car analogy, but is a Ferrari 458 cheapened by the existence of a red corvette?
You can purchase a Precisionist for less then $200. which is about the same as the cheapest atomic one you can find.