Earlier this month, Grand Seiko unveiled SLGH005, their third Series 9 model (and the first slated for continuous production) powered by the new 9SA5 caliber. Inspired by the white birch trees surrounding Studio Shizukuishi, SLGH005 followed on the heels of 2020’s SLGH002 and SLGH003, both limited edition models celebrating the 60th anniversary of Grand Seiko. With 2021 marking the 140th anniversary of Seiko, the company founded by Kintaro Hattori, today Grand Seiko is unveiling the newest Series 9 model, this time a limited edition honoring Hattori’s spirit and vision.
The case of reference SLGH007 measures 40mm across and just 11.7mm thick, and that latter number takes into account the vintage-inspired box-shaped sapphire crystal. The case is rated to 10 bar, giving it ample water resistance for all sorts of activities. A see through screw case back offers a look at the stunning caliber within, but more on that in a bit.
Being that this is a special anniversary timepiece, the case of SLGH007 is crafted from Platinum 950, the first Series 9 case to do so (SLGH002 is 18k yellow gold, and SLGH003 and SLGH005 are stainless steel). Elaborate finishing is difficult to execute on platinum, and that is especially true with the Series 9 case, which boasts complex geometry and a mix of hairline and high-polished surfaces.
Grand Seiko is certainly no stranger when it comes to making dials inspired by nature, but this is the first time the brand has executed wood grain in such a literal way. To that end, this texture is not press patterned in the way that many Grand Seiko dials are, but the effect is instead achieved through a delicate engraving technique. Contrasting the organic texture are the highly geometric indexes and hands emblematic of the Series 9 design language, which, when paired with the dark dial, offer excellent legibility.
Note the star symbol right over the six o’clock marker on the dial. That special maker is a Grand Seiko tradition that goes back to the very first Grand Seiko timepiece from 1960. It indicates that the indexes are solid gold, as well as the GS letters, the calendar frame at three o’clock, and the buckle on the strap.
The 9SA5 caliber inside the SLGH007 has gotten many accolades since its release in 2020. It’s an entirely new movement from Grand Seiko that was developed over the course of 9 years. It runs at 36,000 bph and has a precision rate of +5 to -3 seconds a day. Though this isn’t Grand Seiko’s first foray into producing high frequency movements, the 9SA5 caliber boasts a number of important innovations that are responsible for its impressive accuracy and 80-hour power reserve versus the 55 hours of Grand Seiko’s 9S8 series Hi-Beat calibers. Among these innovations are the Dual Impulse Escapement, Grand Seiko’s Free-Sprung Balance, the Grand Seiko Overcoil, and the Twin Barrels, as well as MEMS manufacturing for additional components to ensure greater efficiency.
The aesthetics of 9SA5 feature notable changes from the rest of the 9S series. The striping pattern here is known internally at Grand Seiko as Shizukuishi River Stripes, and it is intended to have a more matte finish than what one would see on the rest of the 9S series calibers. Despite the subtler appearance, the finish plays beautifully with the highly polished beveled edges surrounding each bridge. You will also notice that blue screws make a return here. These screws aren’t painted or chemically treated, but are thermally blued.
SLGH007 comes paired with an elegant black crocodile strap with matching stitching, and it’s fitted with a three-fold clasp featuring a push button release.
Case: Platinum 950
Dimensions: 40mm in diameter x 11.7mm in thickness
Movement: 9SA5 Hi-Beat 36000
Availability: Limited edition of 140 and available at select Grand Seiko retailers worldwide in July 2021