Suffice to say, when you take out the title of Watch of the Year, you’d be forgiven for resting on your laurels, but thankfully, Japanese horological icon Grand Seiko is doing anything but. Less than six months after the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours topped the men’s category at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève awards, Grand Seiko has revisited the classic piece. Inspired by the beautiful white birch trees of the Hiraniwa Plateau in northern Japan, the new and improved SLGA009 Spring Drive 5 Days Calibre 9RA2 has arrived, seemingly just to turn our cheeks green with envy.
A stunning evolution of the brand’s watchmaking prowess, Grand Seiko’s 2021 Hi-Beat was praised for its blend of good looks and function, as powered by the impressive Calibre 9SA5. At the time, Akio Naito, President of Seiko Watch Corporation describe the piece as the pinnacle of Grand Seiko’s endeavour, remarking the release “exemplifies Grand Seiko’s never-ending pursuit of watchmaking excellence in every aspect”. True to word, the brand has kept up the pace with the SLGA009 Spring Drive 5 Days Calibre 9RA2.
From a visual perspective, Grand Seiko claims the new piece captures the atmosphere of a white birch forest, while also paying homage to the forests of Shinshu, the spiritual home of all Grand Seiko Spring Drive watches. Featuring a delicately textured dial and a tempered blue seconds hand, the White Birch has an innately ‘frosty’ detailing, which is characteristically visible through the sapphire case back.
Peer a little closer and you’ll note the bridge lines and hole edges are diamond-cut to reflect light from all angles, in very much the same way precious gems are faceted. Throw in the tempered blue power reserve indicator, which adds add a quiet sparkle and the Calibre 9RA2, which delivers a power reserve of up to 120 hours and is accurate to ±10 seconds per month, and you’ve got a sequel that could very well be better than the original.
But as much as this is a new and improved version of last year’s triumph, the piece marks a bold new step in Grand Seiko’s history. While it stays true to the Grand Seiko Style, which sprung up in 1967 with the celebrated 44GS, it also births the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Style. Described as a ‘new grammar of design’, the latest releases will capture that essence of beauty and legibility, before elevating them with a Zaratsu polished, distortion-free mirror finish delicate hairline finish and lower centre of gravity for the case.
Priced at AUD$13,595, the Grand Seiko ‘White Birch’ Spring Drive (SLGA009) will be available at the Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected retail stores worldwide in February 2022.