Shirakaba Beauty: Grand Seiko SLGH005
Witness the beauty of the white birch in the Grand Seiko SLGH005, the latest incarnation of its nature-inspired timepiece.
For all the watchmaking prowess (both technical and aesthetic) Grand Seiko possesses, one of its strengths lies in the ability to capture the fleeting beauty of seasonal Japanese landscapes and translate them into beautiful creations. The recently announced quintet of Grand Seikos at the Seiko 2021 Summit are perfect examples — Kintaro Hattori’s tribute piece has tree rings set on its dial while the four-piece Seasons GMT collection features various sekki influences. We will definitely visit those pieces in later editions but the honour of the first Grand Seiko we cover for 2021 is reserved for another watch, announced just before the summit, the Grand Seiko SLGH005 “White Birch”.
Inspired by shirakaba or the white birch forests native to the northern region of Grand Seiko’s Shizukuishi studio, the craftsmen translate and transpose the forest’s arresting summer and winter beauty onto the SLGH005 dial. The dial features a series of barkpatterns, which we suspect are hand-finished even though it is not mentioned (confirmation will come in later issues). While not apparent in pictures, examining the watch in person will reveal the nuances and subtleties of the dial as it reflects light.
The styling of the watch is known as the Series 9 Design signature. It will take centre stage in future Grand Seiko Heritage collections, evoking memories of the beloved 1967 44GS edition. Thick hands and distinct faceted indices provide legibility while Grand Seiko’s inimitable Zaratsu mirror polishing alternates with subtle hairline finishing for the case to radiate a quiet glow.
On the back of last year’s debut, Grand Seiko’s much lauded mechanical calibre 9SA5 with a dual impulse escapement, freesprung balance, horizontal gear train and slender overall profile makes an appearance in the SLGH005. Greater energy efficiency in the movement allows the power reserve to be bumped up to 80 hours despite it being a high-beat calibre (5 Hz).