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 caliberCaliber The caliber ('movement') is the heart and engine of a watch. It consists of a number of interconnected components that work together. Energy is transmitted through the gear train, to the escapement mechanism. The escapement mechanism releases this energy in a controlled manner. This drives the gear train, which ultimately rotates the hands of the watch and keeps time. [More Info], 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 reserveRéserve de marche Also known as Power Reserve. A watch's power reserve refers to the amount of time a mechanical watch can run without being wound. The power reserve of a mechanical watch can vary depending on the size of the mainspring, the efficiency of the gear train, and the rate at which the mainspring releases energy. If a watch has a Power Reserve 'complication' it simply means that the status of the power reserve can be seen on the watch itself (either on the dial or movement side of the watch). [Learn More].
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 skeletonizedSkeletonizing A decorative technique that involves removing some of the material from the movement parts to create a see-through effect, often used on the plates and bridges. [Learn More] rotor showcasing the finely decorated movement beneath.
The significance of this movement though, is the introduction of a new escapementEscapement The escapement is a mechanism in a mechanical watch movement that regulates the release of energy from the mainspring and keeps the watch ticking at a steady rate. The escapement is made up of two main components: the escape wheel and the pallet fork. The escapement is responsible for the ticking sound of the watch, and it ensures that the watch runs at a consistent rate. As the escape wheel rotates forward, it locks and unlocks with the pallet fork, allowing a small amount of energy from the mainspring to be released. This causes the balance wheel to oscillate and the watch to 'tick'. [Learn More] that Grand Seiko calls Dual Impulse Escapement. It enables the escapement wheel to transfer power directly to the balance wheelBalance Wheel The balance wheel is a component of a mechanical watch movement that oscillates at a consistent rate. It receives a small impulse from the pallet fork, which is part of the escapement mechanism. The balance wheel is connected to a hairspring that controls the rate of oscillation of the balance wheel. The balance wheel and hairspring work together to keep accurate time. The oscillations of the balance wheel drive the timekeeping functions of the watch. The balance wheel is a crucial component of a mechanical watch movement. [Learn More] and minimizing sliding friction while going the other way, it goes through the pallet forkPallet Fork The pallet fork is a small lever in a mechanical watch movement that is part of the escapement mechanism. It is connected to the balance wheel and typically has two small, flat pieces called pallet jewels, which sit at the end of the pallet fork. These pallet jewels are also known as pallets. [Learn More]. Similar to the traditional escapement. Both the pallet fork and escapement wheel are made with MEMs (microelectromechanical system) technology, this allows the escape wheelEscape wheel The escape wheel is part of the escapement mechanism. As the mainspring unwinds, it turns the going train gears and rotates the escape wheel. As the escape wheel rotates, it pushes the pallet, which releases a small amount of energy to the balance wheel at regular intervals. This causes the balance wheel to oscillate back and forth, which in turn drives the timekeeping functions of the watch. [More Info] 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 springHairspring The hairspring is a thin spring in a mechanical watch movement that is connected to the balance wheel. The balance wheel oscillates back and forth at a consistent rate, and the hairspring helps regulate these oscillations. The hairspring works by applying a restoring force to the balance wheel, which helps to keep the balance wheel oscillating at a consistent rate. The hairspring is also known as a balance spring. [Learn More]. The previous 9S movements had a flat hairspringHairspring The hairspring is a thin spring in a mechanical watch movement that is connected to the balance wheel. The balance wheel oscillates back and forth at a consistent rate, and the hairspring helps regulate these oscillations. The hairspring works by applying a restoring force to the balance wheel, which helps to keep the balance wheel oscillating at a consistent rate. The hairspring is also known as a balance spring. [Learn More]. 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 barrelBarrel The barrel is a cylindrical container that holds the mainspring. The barrel is connected to the winding mechanism. The winding mechanism rotates the barrel, which in turn winds the mainspring. [Learn More] and gear trains, which is visible under the barrel bridgeBarrel Bridge The barrel bridge holds the barrel and protects it. It serves as a support for the barrel and helps to keep it in its proper alignment with the other parts of the movement. [Learn More].
The bridgeBridges The bridges of a watch movement are the metal plates that hold the wheels and other components of the movement in place. They are attached to the main plate of the movement with screws. Bridges are used to support the balance wheel, the escapement, the mainspring barrel and other elements. Combined with the main plate they are the foundation of any watch movement. [Learn More] 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.