Many people seem concerned about spring drive services, so I thought I would post this. I have had various watches serviced over the years: Patek, Rolex, Omega, all locally in Toronto, but I had never had a Seiko serviced, and as I now have several, I was wondering if I would have any problems when they came due. I have two GS spring drives (an SBGC003 and SBGY003), but this post is about my oldest; a SNR013. So not actually a GS. I bought it in 2007 as I had read about the spring drive movement and was interested in giving it a try. My SNR013 has a 5R66 movement (spring drive GMT). I have read here that this movement is identical to the GS 9R66 movement but has a lower standard of finishing.
The SNR013 has given no problems to date, and has consistently gained 8 sec/mth, which I find entirely satisfactory. As I am in Canada, I contacted the Seiko Canada distributor where I learned that the watch must be posted to them with the on line form filled in and included in the box. So last October I filled in the form, packed my watch and sent it via Canada Post across town to Seiko Canada. I got an email back a few days later to say that watches of this type (she didn't specify spring drive, but presumably that was it) must go to NJ for an estimate and that would cost $100 shipping and needed my approval. I said OK, go ahead. Next day I got another email saying that she had made a mistake and in fact the watch would need to go to Japan for an estimate and that shipping would be $125. Was that OK? I said 'yes'. (She didn't give any reason why NJ was not being used. (Perhaps too busy, or in the dog-house!)
About three weeks later I got another email saying that the watch would need a full overhaul and that the cost would be $520 (all costs are CDN) plus the quoted freight and tax. I gave the go-ahead.
On January 1, my visa was deducted the quoted amount and on January 2 my watch arrived at my door. I had visions of it being left at the door in a box as Amazon tends to do, so I was pleasantly surprised when the Canada Post person had me sign and show ID. It had been shipped directly from Japan to my house. In the paperwork it said that the power reserve indicator had had to be replaced but no direct replacement part was available, so a near equivalent was used. I saw that it was different, but I doubt if I would have noticed it they had not pointed it out. In any case it did not change the aesthetics of the watch, so I have no problem. (Seemed an odd thing to need replaced though.)
On getting it going, everything looked good. I took a look in the back (it has a display back) and was surprised to see an improvement in the movement! It is still my old 5R66, but the two biggest gears which I believe are associated with the main spring and the winding mechanism, and which had a very basic level of finish, were gone! They were replaced with nicely finished gears that look like those I have seen in the 9R66 movements. I don't know the rationale, but either the watch maker decided to take out the parts for aesthetic reasons or (more probably) she thought that these are hard working components, and only had one source (being the better finished ones) of parts to replace them with.
The other thing the watchmaker did was to regulate the daylights out of my watch. As I said, I was happy with the +8 sec/mth performance, but now, having worn the watch every day since it came back on Jan 2, it has not deviated as much as a second (estimate perhaps half a second). It would be interesting to know how this was done: by adjustment, change of crystal, or...
Overall verdict: Very happy. I can now consider sending my SBGC003 (Chrono plus GMT) which I bought in 2010 for it's tune up, probably later this year. This took less time and cost less money than many previous services locally. So durability and serviceability concerns can be laid to rest as far as I am concerned. Hope this was useful.