Grand Seiko is a brand known, above all, for immaculate finishing and quietly incredible engineering. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, it has elevated this reputation with a brand-new movement including stunning design and its own take on the co-axial escapement. This is offered in the stunning new Grand Seiko SLGH002.
Released as the jewel in the crown of the (numerous) 60th anniversary releases, the Grand Seiko SLGH002 is designed as an utterly exquisite demonstration of what the future holds for this Japanese luxury brand. In this aim, it is offered in a limited run of 100 pieces in 18k yellow gold.
A Stunning Re-Design of a Grand Seiko
However, the case of the Grand Seiko SLGH002 shows its worth with far more than simply precious metals as it is endowed with an evolution of the brushed and polished sides and bevels which have characterised this brand’s contributions. A particularly stunning component of the overall design is the use of vertical brushing down the bezel to match the lugs. This accentuates the fact that, as a supremely accurate 100-metre water resistant watch, it can be used every day.
“Consider this the application of Grand Seiko’s spectacular ability to innovate the same race as the finest Swiss and German movements.”
Alongside the elegant case is a dial which shares in the objective of redesigning the quintessential style of Grand Seiko. The SLGH002 has a warm-silver sunburst dial with applied markers in gold to match the case and hands. Both the markers and the hands are notably thicker than is typical of the brand: a choice to add modernity to the design. As you would expect, both the hands and markers are impeccably edged, polished and detailed.
Calibre 9SA5: The Future of Grand Seiko Automatic Movements
This may sound ungrateful considering the clear work invested into the design of the watch but, in the face of the movement’s importance, it is of minimal long-term consequence. The movement used inside the Grand Seiko SLGH002 is the calibre 9SA5 — an all-new movement in the premium 9S range. Consider this the application of Grand Seiko’s spectacular ability to innovate the same race as the finest Swiss and German movements.
As headline specifications, this new 9SA5 delivers a 5Hz beat rate equivalent to their high-beat offerings along with an 80-hour power reserve. With this longer power reserve, it is also 15% slimmer than the closest high-beat movement from Grand Seiko thanks to using two spring barrels in series rather than a single larger one. As an additional perk, this may also provide a more even power delivery.
The innovation present goes, it must be said, far beyond spring barrels as the escapement is a brand new design. Produced with Seiko’s MEMS technology which has yielded lighter parts for a few years thanks a to a process not dissimilar from 3D printing, the escapement in the SLGH002 uses the principles of George Daniel’s Co-Axial Escapement.
Applying the same pushing force (rather than the friction-rich sliding force of a traditional lever escapement) in one direction and allowing the balance wheel’s return spin to provide energy in the other direction, the Dual Impulse Escapement is less radical than the Co-Axial Escapement. However, it still uses three pallets and gives the same result of enhanced efficiency.
As seen in the top tier of European watchmaking, this movement introduces an overcoil balance spring which is designed specifically for Seiko’s applications. It is shaped by hand to give isochronism irrespective of the amplitude of the balance wheel’s rotation and thus gives consistent timekeeping irrespective of the power level. In a similar move towards elements more commonly associated with Swiss or German watchmaking, the balance wheel is secured by a balance bridge whilst it is also free-sprung and is regulated through the movement of four peripheral masses. An unseen detail yet one which is to be expected from top-end watches is the addition of an instant date change as a replacement for the slower changed of older Grand Seiko watches.
Aesthetically, this automatic movement is rather different to the norm from Grand Seiko. Normally known for an exquisite level of detail but relative austerity to the uninitiated, this movement is very different. It is adorned with a ring of large, thermally blued screws whilst bevelling gives serious detailing. As was seen on the highest-end Spring Drive movements in recent years, the bridges have been designed to emulate the silhouette of Mount Iwate and the Shizukuishi River. These are both geographical features around the workshop which will produce this watch.
These watches will initially be offered in a limited run of 100 pieces but it is clear that this movement will appear elsewhere in the range in coming years.
Availability: 100 pieces priced at ¥ 4.5M (before taxes) which is c. £33,000
- Dimensions: 40mm x 11.7mm
- Material: 18k Yellow Gold
- Crystal: Sapphire Crystal
- Display: Sunburst silver dial / Raised chapter ring / Applied yellow gold markers / Faceted yellow gold hands / Applied yellow gold date window at 3 o’clock
- Water Resistance: 100m / 330ft / 10 ATM
- Movement: Grand Seiko 9SA5: Time & date (with instant change) / Automatic & manual winding / 5Hz, 36,000 vph, 10 ticks-per-second / Double spring barrels for 80-hour power reserve / Dual Impulse Escapement / Free-sprung balance / Overcoil balance spring