New Grand Seiko SLGA009 White Birch Goes Spring Drive

One of the stand out ‘21 releases from Grand Seiko was the SLGH005 ‘White Birch’, a watch that ushered in a new chapter for the storied Japanese brand with impeccable case, dial, and movement execution. Read our hands-on impressions here. The White Birch went on to win the Men’s Watch prize at the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (sorry, ladies, I guess?) and has been a tough catch at GS retailers around the world for much of the year. It’s a hot watch, and it’s a theme that Grand Seiko is revisiting right off the bat here in ‘22 with the release of the SLGA009 White Birch.

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The latest White Birch, referenced SLGA009 will join the existing reference SLGH005 in forming the Evolution 9 collection, which embody the three design principles that define the Evolution 9 Style, which codify the brand’s approach to aesthetics, legibility, and wearability. To that end, the new SLGA009 receives a familiar 44GS inspired, Zaratsu polished case that measures 40mm in diameter and 11.8mm in thickness. The 22mm lug span remains (sigh), keeping an overall similar aesthetic to the SLGH005. 

Undoubtedly, the star of the show with the original White Birch was the dramatic dial. The white base received a subtle vertical sculpt to its surface meant to evoke the Japanese white birch forests for which it was named. The newest model gets a similar motif, however it’s been applied in a more subtle manner, with surface applied texture rather than the peaks and valleys seen on the original. This particular theme is a nod to the Shinshu white birch forest near the brand’s studio.

Original White Birch SLGH005 (left), new Spring Drive SLGA009 (right)

The biggest departure from the first White Birch is the use of the Spring Drive 9RA2 movement, which gets a full 5 days of reserve on tap (which can be tracked via the movement mounted indicator). The movement plates receive a ‘frosted’ finish meant to capture the feel of the Shinshu region in the winter. The blue seconds hand will glide effortlessly and serenely around the dial, all with a precision of +/- half a second a day – all of which should help the wearer experience the same calm as they would were they standing in the middle of that white birch forest in Shinshu. 

The newest White Birch SLGA009 is currently available to order from Grand Seiko for $9,100, with shipping expected to commence in February. That’s the same price as the hi-beat SLGH005 White Birch, for reference. The newest Spring Drive is a regular production watch, and is priced a bit north of the blue dial LE reference SLGA007, which uses the same 5-day Spring Drive movement seen here. Grand Seiko certainly seems to be honing in on their popular models with a second White Birch done within a year of the first – which may come as a bit of a surprise, however should point to a busy year ahead of us for the brand. Grand Seiko.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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