Last year was a very good one for Grand Seiko. Not only did the brand continue its run of well-received releases, including new sporty GMT references and a couple of stunning dress watches, but we also saw the release of the Grand Seiko SLGH005 “White Birch”. Now in 2022, Grand Seiko has released a fresh expression of the universally loved “White Birch” in the SLGH009, now featuring an iconic Grand Seiko movement.
If you’re a keen member of the watch community, you’ll remember the blend of delight and desire that the Grand Seiko SLGH005 “White Birch” was met with when it was first released. It was sold out in most Grand Seiko boutiques, leading to waitlists around the world, before the SLGH005 went on to win the GPHP prize for best Men’s Watch in 2021 (the first GPHG trophy for Grand Seiko since 2014).
If Grand Seiko is onto a champion with the “White Birch”, it only makes sense that they begin to iterate on its award-winning recipe, and that’s exactly what we’ve got in the new SLGH009. Sure, the case, dial and bracelet will look familiar, but it’s the movement inside that case where the real change is hiding. The SLGH009 is powered by the new 9RA2 Spring Drive movement, with a five-day power reserve and that iconic unstuttering sweep of the seconds hand.
The 9RA2 movement was only first released in August of last year, truly making it the next step in Spring Drive innovation. The movement is assembled by hand in Grand Seiko’s Shinshu Watch Studio, ensuring not only the best accuracy and robustness, but also making it a thing of beauty to look at.
The 9RA2 movement is guaranteed to be accurate to ±10 seconds per month, while its twin mainspring barrels offer an impressive 120 hours (five days) of power reserve. In a first for Grand Seiko, the 9RA2 movement inside the SLGH009 has been executed with a frosted finish to the plates and bridges, in a refreshing departure from the classic “Tokyo striped” finish.
The steel case of the new SLGH009 measures 40mm in diameter, while remaining relatively slender at 11.8mm thick. It was inspired by the brand’s historic 44GS case and has been finished with a blend of brushed and Zaratsu polished surfaces that really catch the eye. Guaranteed to 100m of water resistance thanks to its screw-down crown and exhibition caseback, the case is complemented by a matching steel bracelet.
While the case and movement are both quintessential examples of Grand Seiko watchmaking, the dial is the real drawcard, featuring a similar heavily textured pattern that was inspired by the White Birch trees around the Shinshu Watch Studio. Its silvery sheen is almost pearlescent, offering the perfect contrast for the heat-blued steel seconds hand.
You might have wished that the “White Birch” remained a stand-alone model in the Grand Seiko catalogue, but I for one am glad for the options. It just makes sense that one of the most successful timepieces released by Grand Seiko in recent years is fitted with a Spring Drive movement, a watchmaking technology exclusive to the Japanese firm.
So if you were considering the original “White Birch” in 2021 but never took the plunge, this latest expression of the instantly recognisable design in the SLGH009 could be the one for you. The Grand Seiko SLGH009 “White Birch” is currently available for pre-order from Grand Seiko boutiques and online, with an RRP of $13,595.