When Grand Seiko launched the SLGH005 White Birch, it felt like the start of a new chapter for the brand. Though technically it wasn’t the first watch in the new Series 9 case, nor the first with the new 9SA5 80-hour hi-beat caliber with in-house dual-impulse escapement (so many hyphens…) it was the first regular production model, so it seemed more real. This is the version we’d be seeing on the wrists of GS enthusiasts on IG and, slowly but surely, in person as well. It represented a new line for the brand that sits a bit higher than others, though below the “masterpieces,” yet firmly positioned in luxury territory.
But when launched, what really stole the show was the dial. Reminiscent of their iconic Snowflake, but entirely its own thing, it mixed a unique texture with a silvery-metallic color, and perhaps an even more dramatic flair than we’re used to. The peaks and valleys of the rippling birch texture were higher and lower, creating deep shadows and sharp highlights. Along with a new case that dances between Zaratsu polish and hairline brushing, a bolder handset, and remarkably complex dial furniture, it felt like Grand Seiko turned up to 11.
Of course, this was all in pictures, so the question remained, what is it really like in the metal? After spending some time with the watch, I can safely say that it meets or exceeds my expectations, at least in terms of design, finishing, and pure style. The Series 9 case is essentially everything you’d want to find in a modern Grand Seiko case, all at once, executed with the utmost taste.