We know this is a big year for Grand Seiko as it celebrates the 60th anniversary of Grand Seiko and the SLGH002 is probably my favorite from all the watches so far. First introduced in 1998 with the 9S mechanical caliber, Grand Seiko has made some serious updates with the new 9SA5 that is both more accurate and thinner at same time while also increasing the power reserve.
While I’m impressed with the new movement inside, which we will discuss in detail. The aesthestics of the watch case and dial reminds me of vintage Grand Seikos from the early days. To me, this watch is a great combination of past and future.
While the gold case is attention grabbing at first sight, upon closer inspection, it is true to Grand Seiko’s DNA with the brushed side profile and top of the lugs while the beveling is smoothly polished. While the top of the bezel is polished, the sides are brushed evenly, show casing the level of workmanship.
Even though the watch is only 11.7mm tall, the lugs taper down nicely to allow the watch sit low on the wrist. And being Grand Seiko, this watch is rated to 100 meters of water resistance, although I highly recommend against taking this beauty in the pool, especially on a nice leather strap.
The dial is a silver sunburst with 18K gold applied indexes and dauphine hands. Each of the applied index is polished with multi-faceted edges while the indentation in the middle is brushed. Being Grand Seiko, the date window also receives a frame with 18K gold and also sharply defined angles. The hour and minute hands are also gold and brushed with sharp edges. Just under 12 o’clock is the applied GS logo with the fine print Grand Seiko underneath. The star above the 6 o’clock signifies that the dial is special dial, either made of precious material or the applied indexes are made of gold.
As mentioned earlier, Grand Seiko released this watch with a new hi-beat movement running inside with the new 9SA5 caliber. Doing away with the large rotor from years past, this caliber has a skeletonized rotor showcasing the finely decorated movement beneath.
The significance of this movement though, is the introduction of a new escapement that Grand Seiko calls Dual Impulse Escapement. It enables the escapement wheel to transfer power directly to the balance wheel and minimizing sliding friction while going the other way, it goes through the pallet fork. Similar to the traditional escapement. Both the pallet fork and escapement wheel are made with MEMs (microelectromechanical system) technology, this allows the escape wheel and pallet fork to be lighter and operate with lower inertia, resulting in more efficiency.
In addition, this is the first time any Grand Seiko or Seiko uses a free sprung balance and receives an overcoil balance spring. The previous 9S movements had a flat hairspring. The shape of the curve was decided after running 80,000 simulations to optimize performance. According to Grand Seiko, this can improve isochronoism, so the watch should maintain its accuracy even at low power reserve. This new caliber also receives two barrels, which increased the power reserve by 25 hours from 55 to 80 hours. It is also thinner by 15% due to new horizontal layout of the new double barrel and gear trains, which is visible under the barrel bridge.
The bridge decoration is inspired by Mount Iwate and the Shizukuishi River that runs near the studio where the watch is made. Last but not least, while the current Grand Seiko movements has an agonizingly slow date change, this new movement has an instantaneous date change!
Being a limited edition, only 100 will be made and comes with a price tag of $43,000 and expected to be released August 2020. While I tend to avoid anything gold due to the attention it receives, I really love the aesthetics of this watch and all the amazing updates it receives. One can only hope the movement will be trickled down to other watches later down the line.