After introducing a new high beat haute horology movement that would serve as the platform for a new generation of watches to celebrate its 60th anniversary earlier this spring, Grand Seiko now presents the Ref. SLGH003 with a blue shimmering dial and a steel stainless case and bracelet.
To recap, the Ref. SLGH002 mentioned in the first sentence of this article was a limited edition of just 100 pieces. It had an 18K yellow gold case and a new design was very Grand Seiko but featured subtle changes in-line with the evolution of the brand. The case profile was only 11.7 mm now thanks to a slimmer movement, which really was the star of the show. The new automatic movement, the 9SA5 caliber has three key features never seen before on Grand Seiko models.
The movement features a new escapement that riffs on the direct impulse escapement. The escape wheel transmits power directly to the balance eschewing the lever escapement of conventional movements. However, unlike the co-axial escapement, the direct impulse happens only in one direction of the balance wheel’s motion. When the balance wheel moves in the opposite direction, it transmits the impulse through a pallet fork like in traditional movements. Grand Seiko calls this a Dual Escapement. This innovation results in greater energy efficiency.
The balance wheel also uses an overcoil hairspring as opposed to the more conventional flatspring. The overcoil’s curve is shape by hand and was decided after more than 80,000 simulations with the result that its performance is optimized in every possible position. The big benefit to the user here is isochronism and better resistance to shock and friction.
The new caliber is also 15 percent slimmer than existing in-house high beat movements, thanks to the innovative horizontal layout of the barrel and gear trains. In addition to these three new components, Caliber 9SA5 has other features that contribute to its extraordinary performance. Two barrels, arranged in sequence, enhance the power reserve, the date change was virtually instantaneous and the positioning of the winding stem close to the rotor allows the watch to sit closer to the wrist.
Caliber 9SA5 has a precision rate of +5 to –3 seconds a day and a power reserve of 80 hours. The movement is as beautifully finished as it is efficient. The balance bridge’s curving outline is inspired by the shapes of Mt. Iwate and a bend in the Shizukuishi River that runs near the studio where the watch is made.
As mentioned, the design of the steel Ref. SLGH003 is identical to that of the yellow gold SLGH002. It has wide lugs and is topped by a box-shaped sapphire crystal. While the majority of the case has a brushed finish, the wide faceted bezels sport mirror-polished sides. The characteristic blue dial has the Grand Seiko logo, facetted indexes and a date window at 3 o’ clock. The characteristic dauphine hands have been redesigned just like in the SLGH002, the hour hand is wide now and has a groove running through the middle.
The watch is paired with a matching steel bracelet, the folding clasp has an 18k gold badge carrying the Grand Seiko initials. Limited to 100 pieces, the watch will be available from December this year and is priced at €10,000.