Except if you’ve been away for the past year, you should well be aware that the watch that created most discussions in 2021 for Grand Seiko was the so-called White Birch or Hi-Beat Automatic SLGH005. Launched in March 2021, this watch introduced a new design language with a stunning silvery-white textured dial and evolution of the brand’s case shape, as well as a movement packed with mechanical innovations, including the brand’s new Dual Impulse Escapement. Extremely well received, it made some noise. For 2022, the brand is now presenting the Spring Drive version of this watch, the reference SLGA009, which also marks the debut of the Evolution 9 collection, an evolution of style, mechanics, legibility and wearing comfort.
First, the brand is debuting today, with this new watch, the Evolution 9 collection. Under this name, the brand gathers all its recent introductions equipped with the automatic calibre 9SA5 and its Dual Impulse Escapement, as well as this new SLGA009. This thus includes the SLGH005 White Birch, the SLGA007 Minamo, the SLGH002 60th Anniversary and SLGH007 Tree Rings. But it goes beyond just new mechanics. With Evolution 9, the brand launches a new design philosophy that combines nature inspirations for the dials and a new design language for the case and dials. Legibility has been reinforced with bolder hands and indexes. The cases have been redefined, with new proportions, slimmer profiles, repositioned centre of gravity and wider bracelet, a flat dial/crystal and a curved profile. The Evolution 9 collection is explained here.
Following the success of the automatic SLGH005 White Birch, the brand is now releasing its Spring Drive sister under the reference SLGA009. And if at first sight it looks like GS has just changed the movement, there are subtle updates to be seen on multiple aspects of the watch. The case remains almost identical, being in line with the style defined first by the SLGH002 and being the base for the Evolution 9 collection. It still measures 40mm in diameter, with a height of 11.8mm (11.7mm for the automatic SLGH005). The shape, as well as the combination of Zaratsu polished and brushed surfaces, is identical with the new bezel design and curved profile. The steel bracelet also might be identical even though it looks slightly different in the press images you can see in this article – something to be confirmed when going hands-on with this new SLGA009.
The most notable evolution can be seen on the dial. If it retains the same overall style and inspiration (trees found near the Hiraniwa Plateau in northern Japan), the White Birch SLGA009 adds a redesigned texture to the silvery-white colour. Other elements, meaning the bold faceted hands with multiple finishes and the large applied markers, remain identical too. The watch has a classic time-and-date display and, a great evolution brought by the new movement inside, the power reserve has been moved to the back of the watch and doesn’t break the clean look of the dial anymore.
Powering the White Birch Spring Drive SLGA009 is the calibre 9RA2. It is based on the movement introduced in 2020 with the Grand Seiko Professional Diver 600m SLGA001. Using the brand’s hybrid Spring Drive technology, which capitalizes on the benefits of quartz regulation and the beauty and “perpetuity” of an automatic watch, it is a strong upgrade over previous movements, such as the 9R6x architecture. It improves all elements – size, performance, decoration and functionality – and set a new standard for any spring-powered watch. The movement is slimmer and yet packs 5 days of power reserve (vs. 3 days in the past) with dual barrels. It also features a much faster date mechanism and even better accuracy (±0.5 seconds per day). The Calibre 9RA5 also has enhanced rigidity and shock resistance thanks to the new layout of the gear train. Finally, the decoration has been redefined with frosted plates/bridges contrasting with the blued screw and the diamond-cut edges. And the power reserve is now discreetly visible on the back. More details about the movement in this article.
Availability & Price
The Grand Seiko Evolution 9 White Birch Spring Drive SLGA009 will be available at Grand Seiko Boutiques and selected retail stores worldwide as of February 2022 and is part of the permanent collection (non-limited). It is priced at EUR 9,500.
For more details, please visit www.grand-seiko.com.