Fans of Grand Seiko’s White Birch watch are in for a treat with the release of this hand-engraved platinum edition that takes the birch forest motif beyond the confines of the dial. Enthusiastically received when it appeared in 2020, the silvery textured White Birch or Shirakaba motif has graced the dials of Hi-Beat and Spring Drive models alike. Today, Grand Seiko introduces a high-end platinum edition with a fully hand-engraved case evoking the textures of the white birch forest during winter. Marking the third engraved Masterpiece powered by a manual-winding Spring Drive movement, the Majestic White Birch SBGZ009 is a limited edition of 50 pieces.
Nature is a cornerstone of Japanese culture and a predominant theme at Grand Seiko. Even the settings of the Japanese brand’s manufactures are intentionally studied to inspire the takumi (artisans). The Shinshu Watch Studio in Shiojiri, where Spring Drive movements are made, is located in the Nagano Prefecture, where an expansive forest of white birch trees lies at the foot of the Yatsugatake Mountains. Inspired by the snow-covered white birch forest during winter, Grand Seiko’s master engravers and artisans have recreated the organic texture of white bark on the dial and the case.
The Majestic White Birch
As a member of the Masterpiece family, the case material is precious platinum, and the finishings are executed at the Micro Artist Studio, part of the Shinshu Watch Studio in Shiojiri. Established in 2002, this high-end watch studio aims to produce special editions that excel in horological technology and hand craftsmanship of the highest order.
It’s interesting to note that although the 38.5mm platinum case is entirely engraved by hand, it is first polished using the Zaratsu distortion-free mirror polishing we associate with Grand Seiko’s finest watches. The compact case dimensions are complemented by a thickness of 9.8mm – including the domed sapphire crystal – which is much thinner than many models produced by Grand Seiko, giving it an immediate dress watch appeal. The elegant black crocodile strap further underscores the dress watch character of this edition.
Decorated with a white birch-inspired pattern, the texture on the dial differs slightly from earlier editions; the incisions seem less emphatic than the Hi-Beat (SLGH005) dial but more pronounced than the Spring Drive (SLGA009). The tone of the dial is also more metallic and somewhat duller than the abovementioned models, allowing the engraved case to shine.
To stand out against the background, the applied diamond-cut hour markers and faceted and gleaming hour and minute hands are made of 14k white gold. Alighting perfectly on the minute track, the minute and seconds hands are shaped by hand to achieve a gentle curve. The minute track, the GS logo, the Grand Seiko and Spring Drive inscriptions, and the star at 6 o’clock are not stamped but carved into the dial. In keeping with its refined character, the seconds hand is not blue but grey to match the dial.
Spring Drive calibre 9R02
The reverse reveals Grand Seiko’s finely executed manual-winding Spring Drive calibre. Developed specifically for Masterpiece models in 2019, calibre 9R02 is based on calibre 7R14 but flaunts technical improvements that boost its power reserve. Using the brand’s proprietary Spring Drive technology, which merges the precision of quartz regulation with the beauty and perpetuity of a mechanical calibre, the 9R02 has a dual mainspring structure and a Torque Return System, resulting in the outstanding 84-hour power reserve. The hand-assembled Spring Drive movement is also beautifully decorated with a bellflower (symbol of Shiojiri) over the barrel, hand-finished bridges with brightly polished bevels and fine hairline finishings. An 18k gold plaque on the lower bridge is engraved with the words “Micro Artist”, alluding to the Micro Artist Studio in Shiojiri, where exclusive Spring Drive watches are brought to life.
Availability & Price
The Grand Seiko Masterpiece Hand-Engraved Manual-Winding Spring Drive SBGZ009 Majestic White Birch in platinum is a limited edition of 50 pieces and will be available at Grand Seiko Boutiques in June 2023. The retail price in Europe is EUR 80,000. More information at Grand-seiko.com.