The spirit of Shizukuishi, birthplace to all Grand Seiko mechanical watches, lies in the beautiful nature as seen throughout the small and humble town in Northern Japan. Whether it be the ridged Mount Iwate, the peaceful streams and rivers, or the slumbering forests in the area, Shizukishi is an enchanting and scenic region of Japan.
Grand Seiko captures this spirit and embodies it in the form of watchmaking, paying tribute to the nature near the hometown of their studio and Grand Seiko’s brand philosophy, The Nature of Time. Early 2021 led to the introduction of a new timepiece, the Grand Seiko White Birch SLGH005. With the introduction of this new model, the studio pays tribute to the plethora of impressive white birch trees found in the northern prefecture. This model was greatly admired by fans and collectors and received the distinct honor of winning the Men’s category overall at the Grand Prix D’Horlogerie De Genève.
The tribute to the white birch of Iwate prefecture’s winters is a beautiful expression of The Nature of Time. Starting this September, a new color variation can be acquired exclusively through the Grand Seiko Boutique Online. The SLGH011, known as the “Green Birch,” will become available for sale as a new take on the birch found in the new Evolution 9 collection.
The deep green dial expresses the white birch forest as seen in summer, surrounded by lush green amongst the white stalks. The press patterning to create the impressive texture for the birch models requires a high amount of impact when pressing the brass dial base that is only 0.5mm thick. The dial is pressed seven times instead of using such a high force to create this depth for the pattern. Most dials can be pressed only once to create a suitable texture, but not the dial for the birch. Pressing creates the deep texture, and the green color is added with numerous layers of coatings. The clear coating is thicker than other models, adding even more depth. The color is nearly indescribable, with darker settings making the dial appear black, yet the dial comes alive once in the sunlight. Greens ranging from deep forest green to a near teal color are present, but the amount of light, angle, and distance from the dial contribute to what the eyes perceive.
Expanding on the Evolution 9 collection, the hands and hour markers used on the SLGH011 are part of this collection’s newly established design code. The hands were made distinct, and easy to distinguish the hours from the minutes. As found on the first Grand Seiko from 1960, a short and broad hour hand and long slender minute hand that reaches far to the outermost part of the dial are used. To enhance legibility, the hour hands end is shaped to the exact width of the innermost part of the hour markers, creating a seamless flow from one to the other. Craftsmen and women delicately curve the second and minute hand to ensure the highest possible legibility.
Each hour marker is formed by diamond cutting, giving a perfectly flat mirror finish that gleams even the smallest amount of light, enhancing its legibility. Compared to the “White Birch” SLGH005, the “Green Birch” SLGH011 has horizontally grooved flat top surfaces, instead of mirror-finished, to capture light and create a higher contrast to the dark dial.
The new era design code that established the Evolution 9 Collection makes for an entirely new feel for Grand Seiko without deviating from the brand’s values. Of course, accuracy, legibility, and beauty remain uncompromised. With this new collection, each of those traits can be enhanced to meet the never-ending pursuit of the ideal practical watch.
The thinner profile of Evolution 9 was made possible due to the slimmer caliber used, 9SA5. Also, because of this caliber, the crown now resides in a lower position, closer to the wrist, creating a lower center of gravity and a higher sense of balance when worn. The wide 22mm lug width and bracelet also contribute to achieving this goal, with the five-piece link bracelet thicker and flatter. The bracelet is a hairline finish on the top surface, creating a sportier look. Yet, the edges retain bevels and beautiful sparkle, as you would find from the distortion-free mirror polishing achieved by Zaratsu polishing.
The case itself is formed from cold forging and Zaratsu polishing. This complex case design was based on the principles of the signature 44GS design from 1967 but evolved for the modern world. The most important trait is the interplay of light and shadow based on a Japanese sense of aesthetic. The many sharp intersecting planes of the case’s design combine alternating hairline and mirror polishing, again aiming for a lightly sportier appearance for a watch created for everyday wear. The highly faceted bezel with box-shaped sapphire crystal combines a modern and vintage feel. With a hairline finish on the top surface of the bezel, this creates a unique look for Grand Seiko as it is a very rare trait amongst the brand.
Like its predecessor, the “Green Birch” utilizes the finest caliber produced by Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi. The Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours 9SA5, introduced in 2020, is the new pinnacle of Grand Seiko mechanical movements and features many firsts, not just for Grand Seiko but also for the watch industry overall.
The newly developed Dual Impulse Escapement has received significant attention, and rightfully so. The delivery of direct impulse to the balance wheel, which includes an indirect delivery of energy to the balance, improves energy transmission in an ultra-efficient format.
Of course, the large balance has been reformatted with the Grand Seiko Free-Sprung Balance that incorporates a unique overcoil, developed after 80,000 simulations. Due to the research behind the many varying shapes of overcoils, the new Grand Seiko Free-Sprung balance allows for an easy adjustment of isochronism via a rotatable stud at the end of the outer terminal curve. This is something never before achieved in watchmaking.
Twin Barrels, winding and unwinding simultaneously allow for the high torque output required with a 36,000 BPH movement and the long power reserve of 80 hours, the highest achieved at 36,000 BPH. The addition of the newly designed horizontal gear train allows for the energy transfer from the barrels to the balance in a slimmer amount of space, ensuring that the gear trains’ height does not exceed that of the barrels and their respective ratchet wheels.
The new Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours Green Birch SLGH011 will be available exclusively at Grand Seiko Boutique Online and will become available as of September 1st, 2022, for $9,100.