To the southeast of the Shinshu Watch Studio, where Grand Seiko crafts all Spring Drive watches, is Lake Suwa. This shallow body of water is a recurring source of inspiration for Grand Seiko, its watchmakers, and its designers, lending itself to classic Grand Seiko models like the SBGY007 “Omiwatari” and the limited edition SLGA007.
Lake Suwa Before Dawn
SLGA021 is the latest Grand Seiko watch borrowing from Lake Suwa. Looking upon the dial, one immediately recalls gently lapping waves wafting over wind-swept water. This “Lake Suwa” pattern was initially seen in 2021’s SLGA007. For SLGA021, it is finished in a deep blue that reads nearly black in lower light settings, capturing the look of Lake Suwa just before dawn. Against this dark base are broad markers and hands, all faceted and beautifully finished to emphasize clarity, beauty, and overall legibility.
Introduced in 2020 with SLGH002, Evolution 9 represents the future of Grand Seiko’s design ethos. When the Evolution 9 project’s development began in 2017, the goal was to take the best elements of Grand Seiko’s design language and improve upon them in ways that pay respect to the brand’s history while embracing its future. So, while inspired by the past, Evolution 9 is undoubtedly forward-thinking in its approach, with refinement across the board regarding aesthetics, legibility, and wearability. This is evident from the dial all the way through the case and bracelet design.
The stainless steel case measures 40mm in diameter, 11.8mm in thickness, and 47.6mm in length from the lug to lug. The overall form features a lower profile and center of gravity, ensuring a comfortable fit that considers how the case lays against the wrist and the weight distribution.
The faceted mid-case has broad lugs and a distinct geometry that takes full advantage of Grand Seiko’s Zaratsu polishing and hairline finishing. This contrast in finishing, which can be seen directly along the lugs and bezel, brings the design to life with its dynamic light play. It takes a tremendous level of skill to attain such a high level of finish on a design as complex as this, and it is something that can only be executed by hand.
The bracelet features a five-link design, integrated beautifully against the 22mm lugs. This wider bracelet – which tapers down at the clasp – further contributes to on-wrist stability and the overall contemporary look of the case.
Inside the watch is Grand Seiko Caliber 9RA2, a Spring Drive movement with a 120-hour (5 days) power reserve and an improved accuracy of ±0.5 seconds per day, or ±10 seconds per month. Unlike most Grand Seiko Spring Drive movements, 9RA2 takes the power-reserve indicator off the dial and moves it to the case back side of the watch.
Numerous innovations in the development of Grand Seiko’s 9RA series of movements allowed for an overall slimmer form, here at 5mm. Using dual-size barrels on the same plane makes the extended power reserve possible while keeping the movement thin by making use of the dead space that would occur if the barrels were the same size. Furthermore, the Offset Magic Lever, positioned beneath the rotor, shaves another .8mm off the movement’s height. Lastly, the gear train was redesigned to fit along the central horizontal axis and stabilized with a one-piece center bridge.
Due to this state-of-the-art Spring Drive caliber, the seconds hand glides across the SLGA021’s textured blue dial with the natural flow of time, evoking a placid lake stirred by an early breeze. This latest iteration of “Lake Suwa” in the Evolution 9 Collection will become available at Grand Seiko Boutiques and select retail partners starting in February.