Inside Grand Seiko: The Evolution Of The Spring Drive Movement

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Spring Drive is one of the most widely known of all the innovations created by Seiko in its entire history – but perhaps also the most misunderstood. This is partly because nothing like Spring Drive exists anywhere else in modern watchmaking: a watch regulated by a quartz oscillator, but one which is driven by a mainspring, has a completely conventional gear train, and has no battery. 

It’s easy to confuse Spring Drive with another technology: autoquartz movements, which are also made by Seiko in their Kinetic line of wristwatches. A Kinetic watch is a standard quartz watch, with a twist: it has a mechanical rotor that powers a tiny electrical generator, which, in turn, tops off the rechargeable battery in the watch. In every other respect, however, the Kinetic is a standard quartz watch (albeit one with a battery that needs replacing only infrequently). And, as in every other quartz watch, the hands of a Kinetic watch are moved by a stepper motor, with a seconds hand that advances in one-second jumps.

When you look at a Spring Drive watch, the first indication you have that you’re not looking at a conventional quartz watch, or at a conventional mechanical watch, is the seconds hand: a Spring Drive seconds hand sweeps smoothly around the dial in continuous motion, rather than advancing in discrete steps. Even in a mechanical watch, the seconds hand moves in jumps, rather than smoothly, as the seconds hand’s motion is linked to the action of the escapement (the seconds hand jumps forward every time the escapement unlocks).

Here’s how Spring Drive works. The mainspring of a Spring Drive watch drives a standard gear train. At the end of the gear train, there is a small disk – the Spring Drive glide wheel. At the center of the glide wheel is a small permanent magnet, which turns in between two tiny electromagnets connected to wire-wrapped coils; the glide wheel acts as the rotor of an electrical generator. A quartz timing package connected to the coil system monitors the speed of rotation of the glide wheel, and feeds electricity back to the electromagnets, which exert a braking force on the glide wheel – just enough to keep the glide wheel rotating exactly eight revolutions per second. Since the glide wheel turns smoothly, the entire gear train advances with a smooth, continuous motion – visible in the gliding movement of the seconds hand, which is the signature of Spring Drive.

Spring Drive movements must be made to a very high degree of mechanical precision, and a great deal of research was necessary, over many years, to develop circuits that were efficient enough in power production, as well as low enough in energy consumption, before Spring Drive could be introduced. Here we dive deep into Seiko’s struggle to turn a great idea into a working and refined reality.

Top photo: (bottom right) an early prototype from 1982; (top right) a second prototype from 1993; (left) a third wristwatch-cased prototype.

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Discover the Revamped Cocktail and Underground Bar in Vienna


Architecture firm Büro KLK completed the design of the Krypt Bar, an underground social gathering spot in Austria. During the renovation on an ancient heritage building from the late 18th century on Vienna’s traditional Berggasse Street, a bricked-up staircase was found.

The staircase led to a 12 meters (39 feet) deep, second cellar with approximately 250 square meters (2,690 square feet). Located between Votivkirche and Sigmund Freud’s apartment, this cocktail and underground bar is an architectural gem. Historical investigations showed that it was a semi-legal establishment in the 1950s and ’60s during Vienna’s flourishing jazz scene.

Once inside, you begin your journey through a narrow entrance door that leads to a first-level basement, containing the cloak room and a mirrored vestibule. Take the staircase directly to the impressive 7 meter (23 feet) long main bar. Several alcoves, a hidden booth, the smallest art gallery in Vienna and secret hallways surround this centerpiece and give the impression of a surreal venue out of its time.

The whole static structure plus the ventilating pipes and further installations were clad in composition gold. The floor plate is covered with a layer of Italian black marble. The cladding of the bar counter was cut out of a massive block of Sahara marble applied in a mirrored pattern, and the counter plate was crafted out of a massive European walnut. Information by Studio Büro KLK; photography by David Schreyer.

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djay Pro 2 brings algorithms and machine learning to DJing

A.I.D.J.? The next-generation djay Pro 2 for Mac adds mixing and recommendations powered by machine learning – and more human-powered features, too.

When Big Data meets the DJ

The biggest break from how we’ve normally thought about DJ software comes in the form of automatic mixing and selection tools. One is powered by machine learning working with DJ sets, and one from data collected from listening (Spotify).

Automix AI is a new mixing technology. And hold on to your hats, folks, if the “sync” button was unnerving to you, this goes further.

When we say “A.I.,” we’re really talking machine learning – that is, “training” algorithms on large sets of data. In this case, that data comes from existing DJ sets. (Algoriddim tells CDM that was drawn from a variety of DJs, mostly in hip-hop and electronic genres.) Those sets were analyzed according to various sonic features, and the automixing applies those to your music. So this isn’t just about mixing two different techno tracks with mechanical efficiency – it’s meant to go further across different tempos and genres.

It’s also more than matching tempo. Automix AI will identify where the transition occurs, decide how long the fade should be, and apply filters and EQ. So, if you’ve ever listened to existing Automix features and how clumsy they are with starting and stopping tracks, this takes a different approach. Algoriddim explains to CDM:

The core of this tech is finding good start and end regions for transition between two songs, while also respecting the corresponding sound energies and choosing an appropriate transition accordingly (e.g. most likely EQ or short filter transition if you have two high energy parts of the song for the transition)

Then there’s “Morph” – which Algoriddim argue opens up new ways of mixing:

This actually goes beyond what a regular DJ can do with two hands. Morph not only syncs the songs but seamlessly ramps the changed tempo of the inactive deck to its regular speed as the transition progresses. E.g. in the past if you had a hip-hop song at say 95 BPM and an electronic track at 130 BPM, syncing the two and making a transition would leave the new track in an awkwardly rate changed state (even with time-stretching enabled). So as the transition starts, both songs (in this example) would be playing at 130 BPM but as we are doing a simultaneous tempo “crossfade”, the hip-hop track ends up being back at 95 BPM at the end of the transition. This ensures the tracks always play at their regular tempo and these types of mixes sound very natural, allowing for seamless cross-genre transitions.”

Also impressive: while you might think this sort of technology would be licensed externally, the whiz kids over at Algoriddim did all of this on their own, in-house.

On the Spotify integration side, and also related to automating DJing tasks, “Match” technology recommends music based on BPM, key, and music style. Existing Spotify users will be familiar with some of this recommendation engine already. Where it could be good for producers is, this means there’s an avenue by which your music gets exposed by algorithms. And that in turn is potentially good news, if you’re a producer whose music isn’t always charting the top of a genre on Beatport.

These “autopilot” features are all under your control, too: you can choose which parameters are used, choose your own tracks, switch it off at will – as you like. Or you can sit back and let djay Pro run in the background while you’re doing something else, if you want to let the machine do the DJing while you cook dinner, for instance.

Pro features, for humans

Okay, so at this point, djay Pro 2 may sound a bit like this:

But one of the disruptive things about Algoriddim’s approach to DJ software is, it has simultaneously challenged rivals both among entry level and casual users and more advanced users at the same time.

So, here’s the more “Pro” sounding side of this. Some of these are features that are either missing or not implemented quite the way we’d like in industry leaders like Serato and Traktor.

A new audio engine with master AU plug-ins. A rewrite of the engine now allows high-res waveforms, post-fader effects, higher-quality filters, plus the ability to add Audio Unit plug-ins as master output effects.

Integrated libraries. iTunes, Spotify, and music in the file system / Finder are now all integrated and can be viewed side-by-side.

Integrated library views bring together everything on your local machine as well as Spotify.

Smart filters. Set up dynamic playlists sorted by BPM, key, date, genre, and other metadata. (Those columns are available in other tools, but here you get them dynamically, a bit like the ones in iTunes.)

Keyboard Shortcuts Editor. There’s a full editor for assigning individual features to custom shortcuts – which in turn can also map to custom hardware or the MacBook Pro Touch Bar.

CDJ and third-party hardware support. Whereas some other players make their own hardware or limit compatibility (or even require specific hardware just to launch, ahem), Algoriddim’s approach is more open. So they’re fully certified by Pioneer for CDJ compatibility, and they include 60 MIDI controllers in the box, and they have an extensive MIDI learn function.

More cueing and looping. Version 2 now has up to eight cue points and loops, with naming, per song. (I recently lauded Soda for adding this.) You can also now assign loop triggers to cue points.

Single deck mode for preparation. Okay, some (cough, again Serato) lock you into this view if you don’t have authorized hardware plugged in. But here, it’s designed specifically for the purpose of making set prep easier.

Accessibility. VoiceOver support makes djay Pro 2 work for vision-impaired users. We really need more commitment to this in the industry; it’s also been great to see this technology from Algoriddim showcased at Apple’s developer conference. If you’re using this (and hopefully CDM is working well with screen readers), do let us know.

New photo / still image support.

And it does photos

Back to less club/pro features, the other breakthrough for casual users, weddings, and commercial gigs is photo integration. Drag and drop photos or albums onto the visual decks, and the software will make beat-matched slide shows.

The photo decks also work with existing, fairly powerful VJ features, which includes external output, effects, and the like. You can also adjust beat sync.

Still image support builds on an existing video/VJ facility.

Plus a no-brainer price

The other thing that’s disruptive about djay Pro 2: price. It’s US$49.99, with an intro price of US$39.99, on the App Store.

You’ll need Spotify Premium for those features, of course, and macOS 10.11 or later is required.

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The post djay Pro 2 brings algorithms and machine learning to DJing appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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Up-Close Images of Jupiter Reveal an Impressionistic Landscape of Swirling Gases

Juno is NASA’s project focused on bringing a deeper understanding to Jupiter and the processes that might have governed our solar system’s creation. The spacecraft was launched in 2011 to explore several facets of the planet’s composition, including its atmosphere, magnetic force field, and dense cloud coverage.

This series of close-up photographs was taken by Juno within the last year, and is a dazzling diverse display of the planet’s gaseous composition. Swirling blue and brown clouds appear like impressionist paint strokes across Jupiter’s atmospheric surface, a spectacle which is constantly shifting into new optically charged formations.

You can see more images taken with Juno’s high-tech cameras on NASA’s website, and submit your own processed images from Juno’s raw image files on Mission Juno. (via Twisted Sifter)

     

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Happenings: Come Celebrate The Swatch Sistem51 HODINKEE Vintage 84 Tonight In New York City

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A couple of weeks ago we launched the Swatch Sistem51 HODINKEE Vintage 84 – and we were truly blown away by the response. The initial stock sold out in less than three days, and the waiting list has only been building since then.

To celebrate our very first collaboration with Swatch, we are hosting a get-together in New York City tonight at the Swatch Times Square boutique and we would love to see you there. Most of the HODINKEE team will be there along with Swatch Creative Director Carlo Giordanetti and all the Swatch watches you can imagine. This of course includes the Sistem51 HODINKEE Vintage 84, which will be available for purchase in-store. Supply is limited though, so you’ll want to act quickly.

Please RSVP here and we look forward to seeing you there!

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Happenings: Come Celebrate The Swatch Sistem51 HODINKEE Vintage 84 Tonight In New York City

Swatch hero.jpg?ixlib=rails 1.1

A couple of weeks ago we launched the Swatch Sistem51 HODINKEE Vintage 84 – and we were truly blown away by the response. The initial stock sold out in less than three days, and the waiting list has only been building since then.

To celebrate our very first collaboration with Swatch, we are hosting a get-together in New York City tonight at the Swatch Times Square boutique and we would love to see you there. Most of the HODINKEE team will be there along with Swatch Creative Director Carlo Giordanetti and all the Swatch watches you can imagine. This of course includes the Sistem51 HODINKEE Vintage 84, which will be available for purchase in-store. Supply is limited though, so you’ll want to act quickly.

Please RSVP here and we look forward to seeing you there!

Source: http://ift.tt/1IiKaDm

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