“Round 2 for the new 9SA5 movement, boys! Meet the Grand Seiko SLGH003!”
So, earlier this year, Grand Seiko released its new 9SA5 movement in a limited edition model dubbed the Grand Seiko SLGH002. Just in case you forgot, that one was only available in a total of 100 units and was priced at US$43,000 (RM178,471). Well, I take it that it’s safe to say the watch isn’t exactly the definition of the people’s champion, then.
Fret not, folks. On October 12 2020, during the Grand Seiko Media Experience 2020 online event, GS revealed the sequel to the 002. Ladies and gents, meet the Grand Seiko SLGH003. Unfortunately, it’s still annoyingly limited (this time to 1,000 units worldwide). However, the upside is that it’s priced at a more affordable point. How much? You’re looking at “just” US$9,700 (RM40,259).
I know, right? Soooo affordable…
I’m no expert but I’m willing to bet that the price drop is all thanks to the implementation of a more “budget” (lol, I know) material in the case construction – stainless steel. The SLGH003’s predecessor’s case was fashioned out of 18k yellow gold, mind you.
“Alright, I’m getting one but I’ll need the juicy details first…”
Let’s get to it, then. Case size is a reasonable 40 mm across and it stands at just 11.7 mm tall. Water resistance is quoted at 100 m. A sapphire crystal sits on top of the dial and at the rear as well. Beneath that crystal up front, the dial is very much Grand Seiko. We get a deep blue dial surface that is sure to play with sunlight brilliantly. Elsewhere, some pop of colour is provided by that red seconds hand and gold ‘GS’ logo at the 12 o’clock mark.
Moving on, the bracelet is also fashioned out of stainless steel but the clasp features an 18k yellow gold GS insignia – a feature I believe that’s exclusive to anniversary models. Guys, correct me if I’m wrong on this. And yes, in case you’re forgetting, this is an anniversary model to commemorate the brand’s 60th birthday (rather birthyear).
Turning the watch over to glance beneath that exhibition caseback, you’d come across the real star of the show…
The Grand Seiko 9SA5 movement.
Now, I won’t go into the nitty-gritty because there’s already a ton of information regarding this revolutionary movement but the keyword you need to know here is “escapement.” With that said, it’s a whole new escapement. With the 9SA5, Grand Seiko has introduced the world to its new ‘Dual Impulse’ escapement. Long story short, this is the third time a whole new escapement has been introduced into a series-production movement in over… 200 years.
The next big thing here is the inclusion of an overcoil balance spring and the absence of a regular… well, regulator. Also, twin barrels contribute to the movement’s pretty impressive 80 hours of power reserve. As for the beat rate? Well, that’s a GS ‘High Beat’ trademark at 5 Hz as opposed to the usual 4 Hz of most watches. Wait. Twin barrels and we end up with a thinner movement?
Yeah, and that comes down to Grand Seiko’s horizontal gear train construction. Here, the barrels and the aforementioned gears are laid out as flatly as possible. Against the older high beat calibres, GS quotes a 15% thinner profile.
So, while I did mention earlier on that the Grand Seiko SLGH003 is a limited edition model, most of us here can take comfort in the fact that it is a whole lot more affordable. Additionally, it’s more accessible (limited to 1,000 units as opposed to 100) to the general public. In conclusion, it’s only a matter of time before the 9SA5 becomes available in a series production model. Watch this space, guys.