In the realm of horology, we get to know about the launch of new variants or movements, but, in 2020, Grand Seiko (GS) did someslimg unforeseen — it introduced a whole new escapement, called the Dual Impulse Escapement. Then, in 2021, Grand Seiko released the SLGH005 White Birch watch, featuring its latest high-beat movement, Caliber 9SA5. This movement operates at 36,000 beats per hour, which in turn allows for increased accuracy and a smoother sweep of the second hand. Needless to say, GS prefers to stay a step ahead of competitors. The decision to create a luxury-focused range of timepieces was driven by Seiko's desire to compete with Swiss watch brands that have been dominating the high-end market.
The ‘White Birch’ timepiece has all the right elements in one strong package. As the name suggests, it is inspired by the White Birch tree forests of Japan. The watch is being produced at a mass level. This means the timepiece maker is confident about the performance of not only the new movement, but also the Dual Impulse Escapement, which is here to stay.
Let’s now look at this high-performance timepiece more closely. The watch comes in a 40 mm stainless steel case, which is a classic dimension for a performance-oriented watch, and a slim caseband. The SLGH005 variant feels modern, with perfectly brushed, polished surfaces and lugs that seem to be integrated in the bracelet. The dial isn’t all white, but it's more like a metallic silver, which ensures an appealing contrast with the overall look of the watch.
The monochromatic watch comes with bar-shaped applied hour markers and faceted and bevelled hands that are sharp on the edges. The only element that breaks the monotone is the blue-steel second hand. Grand Seiko’s logo takes pride of place at 12 o’clock while there is a white-background, black numeral date window at 3 o’clock. Since the watch doesn’t have any luminous material or coating, it may be difficult to view time in low light conditions or at night.
The signature Grand Seiko ‘Zaratsu’ polishing is super luxurious. The new in-house automatic movement with manual winding capacity, Hi-Beat Caliber 9SA5, is definitely a notch above the existing calibers. With the new Dual Impulse Escapement, the movement is slimmer at 28.4 mm and offers 80 hours of power reserve, making this watch’s accuracy range from +5 to -3 seconds per day.
The 9SA5 Caliber has actual anglage as well as a stainless steel skeletonised oscillating weight. This lets the wearer see a lion’s share of the movement through the stainless steel caseback with the lion emblem, the bridge of which has a gently curving outline inspired by the shape of Japan’s Mt. Iwate. Other updates include a free-sprung, adjustable mass balance, an overcoil balance spring, a balance bridge for better fine adjustment and shock resistance.