It was only a matter of time. Last year, when Grand Seiko unveiled their next generation high frequency movement, caliber 9SA5, it was only available in a pricey gold watch that was hardly a mass market item. A stainless steel limited edition followed, but again, this was a special watch that was not part of Grand Seiko’s permanent collection. Now, about one year after the 9SA5 made its debut, Grand Seiko has introduced the watch that many fans of the brand have been waiting for, a permanent addition to the collection, in stainless steel, and running on the new caliber. Of course, because it’s Grand Seiko, it’s also got a drop dead gorgeous dial inspired by nature, and a few other tricks up its sleeve. Let’s take a look at the all new SLGH005.
While the new movement represents a major technical advancement for Grand Seiko, it’s the SLGH005’s dial that steals the show. It’s part of a long tradition of nature inspired dials, and this one uses the white birch trees (“Shirakaba”) that grow near Grand Seiko’s Shizukuishi studio as a jumping off point. The dial has a texture that is reminiscent of twisting tree trunks, with a fine grain texture visible at close inspection. Looking at this dial, it’s hard not to think of it as a spiritual sequel to the now iconic SBGA211, the Snowflake. Both are white dialed watches that feel uniquely Japanese in the way they interpret the natural world, but perhaps more importantly, they both present as strong showcases for impressive Grand Seiko movement technologies. Many enthusiasts were introduced to Spring Drive through the Snowflake, and it’s easy to imagine that the White Birch will be the standard bearer for the 9SA5 for years to come.
This is also the debut of a completely new case shape for Grand Seiko, which they’re calling the Series 9. It seems to borrow here and there from other Grand Seiko case designs, which shouldn’t be surprising, but definitely has its own identity. The Series 9 label extends not just to the case, but also to the implementation of the watch’s hands and markers, which feature Zaratsu polished facets. The case has been designed with wide lugs and a low center of gravity, which Grand Seiko claims helps keep the watch securely and comfortably planted on the wrist. The case of the new SLGH005 measures 40mm in diameter and is just 11.7mm thick.
We’ve covered the tech behind the 9SA5 in depth at the stories linked earlier in this post, but a quick refresher: the 9SA5 uses a Grand Seiko designed dual impulse escapement to transmit twice the energy to the balance with the same motion. This makes for a dramatically more efficient movement, and accounts for the 9SA5’s impressive 80 hour power reserve. It’s also thinner than previous high frequency movements that Grand Seiko has developed, which should allow for easy wearing watches in a variety of styles for years to come.
The SLGH005, available in March, is not inexpensive – the retail price is set at $9,100. Remember though, this is still a brand new movement, and it represents a significant technological upgrade. New escapement designs don’t grow on white birch trees, after all. Still, for Grand Seiko fans, this is an exciting announcement, and we’re looking forward to getting a chance to see this one in the metal soon. Grand Seiko