That grand Seiko is one of the most interesting realities in its price range is now a matter of course, but the continuous evolution of the brand leads many of us to want to try, understand and touch the new watches firsthand.
On the occasion of Watches and Wonders, we had the pleasure of being able to try out different innovations of the Evolution 9 line. This line originates with the famous white birch and substantially evolves the grammar of design into something more modern, while keeping intact the fundamental lines of Grand Seiko and its heritage.
Grand Seiko Diver SLGA015
But let's go in order and start with the new SLGA015, the new diver of the Japanese company. Grand Seiko brings the new Spring Drive 5 Days movement to this case as well. We had seen the launch of the 9RA5 movement on a much more important diver in terms of size, but the Japanese brand has decided to make many fans happy by offering us this case with an updated caliber. Once put on the wrist, you immediately realize the incredible quality that Grand Seiko has achieved in all these years of hard work, starting from the case entirely made of titanium, but with a truly high degree of finish. The peculiarity that amazes is just how this brand is able to refine every single component of its watch. Nothing is left to chance and everything is worked to create a beautiful and perfect surface.
The dimensions, on paper, are important because we are talking about a 43,8mm in diameter (considering the shoulders), a lug to lug of 51,5mm and a thickness of 13,8mm. I specified “on paper” precisely because once put on the wrist, probably thanks to this fantastic dial and the immense work done on the finishes, it seems to wear a watch that is large, but balanced. Compared to different chronographs, diver, gmt of other brands, here I feel a better fit. Obviously we are talking about a technical product, but more than versatile in terms of proportions on the wrist, also thanks to the lightness of the high intensity titanium which makes it 30% lighter than the classic steel.
The New GMTs
Let's then move on to the two models that surprised me most, and that as a lover of the brand, immediately made me turn on a light bulb on a future purchase. I want to tell you about the two new GMTs. If at first glance they may seem like two simple GMTs, here we have two small wonders.If talking about the diver I had mentioned an excellent fit, here we are far beyond. Once worn, again thanks to the lightness of the titanium and the quality of the watch itself, we have a super balanced and comfortable product to wear.
Let's start with the "simplest": reference SBGE283. A beautiful sports watch with a glossy black dial, combined with all the characteristic features of the finishes of indexes, spheres that only GS can offer us. Being simpler than its brother in white color, from this watch you can admire the finishes of the case more. As we already know, Grand Seiko is second to none in this respect. I have already expressed this thought of mine, shared mostly by many enthusiasts, namely that to have this degree of finish you need to have a much larger portfolio if we leave the Japanese seas. Having so many degrees of finish, all of this transitions between satin and shiny parts, immediately makes the middle case rich and leaner than it really is. A very expensive game, especially considering that the Zaratsu finish is handmade.
But if the quality of the casing is praised on the black, in the white one it is the dial that overwhelms. In addition to the typical features of the GS cases and shapes, we have a dial that is the pure essence of the Japanese brand's savoir-faire. The reference SBGE285 is a White Birch GMT.
To explain the finish of this dial in words, think of that of the White Birch, but lighter and less "carved". Combine these hands and indexes filled with luminescent paste now and you have one of the most intriguing sports watches on the market in front of you. I will be repetitive, but the degree of sheen, of purity of the components machined by GS is amazing. We are talking about € 8500 for a watch with an in-house movement, with one of the most innovative technologies on the market, combined with an amazing aesthetic quality. Within these new GMTs we have the previous Spring Drive series, with 3 days of power reserve, and an accuracy of about + or - 15 seconds per month.
The brother of the White Birch, SLGA009
Speaking of White Bitch, of GMT, I had the opportunity to try other products of the Evolution 9 line in the Grand Seiko Hub. One of those that surely intrigued me the most is a product that GS had already presented before Watches and Wonders 2022 but that I had the pleasure of wearing and shooting. I'm talking about the new SLGA009. In White Birch's sibling Spring Drive.
There is little to say, it is simply the pure essence of Grand Seiko's tempo solo. The combination of nature and aesthetics is perhaps the peculiarity that makes this brand unique. He has always been able to create objects capable of immediately evoking sensations related to nature. Between this Spring drive version, with the new 9RA2 caliber inside, and the entirely mechanical brother, I find this new square that is more balanced or better, more suited to my taste. The mechanical White Birch has a much more accentuated finish, but here it is much thinner, less invasive and more suitable for those looking for a particular object, but “less charged” in the finish. The case is the same as the hi beat brother, but we have a completely different caliber. If the White Birch had amazed you, this is, at least for me, even better.
The Chronograph: SBGC 249 & 251
We come to the end and I will tell you about the new chronograph, a product that did not convince me before, now with these new aesthetic features it can certainly offer us a more sober and versatile design. In fact we have an important change on the case: unlike the previous references we have an evolution on the side of the keys and the crown that help to streamline the case and make these giants of the Grand Seiko house dress better.
Watches that are certainly important on the wrist, but thanks to these new shapes, I find them more balanced and comfortable to wear. We are still talking about chronographs over 45mm, but the technology used, the visible column wheel in a spring drive caliber and the finishes so high make it possible to put aside the wearability. Once again it was chosen to use titanium and we find two colors, of which the blue one is a limited edition of 700 pieces, made for the 15th anniversary of the birth of the spring drive chronograph. Certainly important watches, but they know how to offer something that can hardly be found elsewhere.
And that's kind of what I like most about Grand Seiko. Being able to be exclusive without necessarily having to live by those dogmas and limits that we find in today's Swiss watchmaking. Grand Seiko does not want to surprise others with a product that is a status, but wants to give the owner an experience that goes beyond any other type of luxury watch. It is the beauty of the finishes, the obsessive attention to detail that makes these watches extremely attractive for true watchmaking enthusiasts and more and more Grand Seiko is confirming its great quality.