Featured Grand Seiko Hands-On

Hands-On: Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Mechanical Hi-beat 36000 80 Hours SLGH002
Limited Edition with Maximum Appeal

Grand Seiko celebrated its 60th anniversary earlier this year, and this watch was part of a number of special editions created to mark the milestone. Of all the releases for the anniversary, this was probably the most special one from an enthusiast perspective. This watch introduces the latest and greatest high beat 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] to the watch community.

Upon unboxing, the first thing that grasps my attention is the overall finishing and detail this watch has. This is not unique to Grand Seiko, known for its lavish finishes and particular case designs. Here however, in that gold hue under the morning light on a quiet morning, it felt just a little extra special. Some watch designs just speak to you the second you see one, this is such a design to me.

We have come to expect nothing but the best when it comes to case and detail finishing from Grand Seiko. So it is easy to forget to mention just what you are getting here. The case shape, the different textures and transitions, the angles, all worthy of pause. What stands out most, especially in different light settings, is the proudly brushed bezel, flanked by the polished sides. It’s hard to describe why it looks and feels so special, but it just does. 

The solid gold dauphine hands and the indices are finished beautifully. The textured groove in the middle of the indices adds a real sculpted feature to the overall dial design which perfectly fits the case design. Notice that the indices feature a similar design language in terms of the play between textured and polished surfaces. 

 While we zoom in the finish is undeniably exquisite and indeed unquestionably lavish. Note however that in typical Grand Seiko fashion, from a normal viewing angle no single element screams for attention. 

The calibre is what this particular release is all about. The watch coincides with the launch of a new high beat mechanical caliber, 9SA5. Grand Seiko states that its design and functionality represent an advance as important as the first 9S. This new calibre 9SA5 has been stated to be the foundation upon which a whole new generation of Grand Seiko mechanical watches will be created. 

Most noteworthy would be the 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] which was developed in-house featuring a special free-sprung balance. It enables the escapement wheel to transmit power directly to the balance, leading to an efficiency increase. Grand Seiko clarifies that ‘It is unique in that, in one direction, power is transmitted directly to the balance while in the other it is via 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], as in a traditional escapement’. Extra bonus points are given for the fact that Grand Seiko managed to fit all this in a calibre that is 15% slimmer than the previous high beat caliber. For more technical insight, make sure to read Jeff’s previous article covering the subject right here. 

While the movement in terms of design and finishing is a stunner, you’ll have to take my word for it.. The watch we had for photography featured a dummy movement so no pics included, sorry about that.

On the wrist the watch sits and feels just about perfect. I have a smaller wrist and can’t say I would want this watch any larger but certainly not any smaller either. 

The profile of the case, which is a hair over 13mm in height, is as such that it sits very nicely on top of the wrist. While we are here – note also that Grand Seiko has chosen to maintain the drilled lugs, so very fantastic. And before we head back to the wrist, take in those angles and different textures as well – so very Grand Seiko, so very perfect.

Now, back to the wrist experience. I’m happy to say that on the wrist the watch does not feel top heavy. Top-heaviness is often an issue with modern gold watches, not with this watch. Grand Seiko has somehow mastered the art of case balance and that is also made clear with this case design and the wrist experience.

As it sits on the wrist, looking down on the watch, I have to reiterate – that bezel stands out and in a very good way.  I have taken a shot at low light below, to show just how the bezel manages to bring visual interest to the overall design. That brushed bezel also adds a bit of a sportiness and a (very haute) tool-factor to the design.

While the watch certainly takes some design cues from the past (the hands most noteably) the watch looks and feels entirely modern to me. The wrist presence is that of a modern watch in a very good way. The overall feel here as well, is that while a classic design, thanks to the angular design and the different textures at play this watch is more versatile than a strictly speaking ‘classic’ watch. 

This particular edition is limited to 100 pieces, so we can’t all get one. However, this watch has set the new hi-beat standard in terms of accuracy, reliability and form factor. All to be made available in non limited editions of course. Based on the time spent handling this watch one can only conclude that the future of the Hi-Beat Grand Seiko watches is absolutely golden. 

For more, visit Seikowatches.com.


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