Few brands can currently compete with Grand Seiko in terms of dial design and finish. The Japanese brand's wide range of nature-inspired textures, from freshly fallen snow to cherry blossoms and lion manes, has won it fans all over the world, and its latest release introduces a tranquil new concept to the series. Aside from an intricate new dial texture and a subtly cool colorway, the new Grand Seiko SLGH005 introduces a new case and dial design standard for the brand, which stays true to the brand's roots while refreshing the look for the future.
The Grand Seiko SLGH005 has a 40mm stainless steel case with razor sharp faceting around the lugs, mid case, and bezel, which is punctuated by fine vertical brushing and the brand's signature Zaratsu polishing. The lines of the case are shared with 2020's limited edition SLGH002, but the SLGH005 introduces the case concept in a standard production stainless steel guise for the first time. The SLGH005 has a sapphire display caseback and is water resistant to 100 meters, much like its limited edition gold stablemate.
The dial of the Grand Seiko SLGH005 is inspired by the landscape just outside the brand's studio in Shizukuishi, Japan, as is the case with many modern Grand Seiko designs. The delicate white dial surface echoes the white birch trees that flank the design studio in this scenario. The birch bark's wavy, striated texture is transformed into a fluid interplay of deeper, gouging waves and troughs, complemented by a smaller grainy texture throughout. The blue central seconds hand highlights the white finish's cooler tones, while also evoking memories of the Grand Seiko "Snowflake" dial and its color scheme. The handset and indices of the SLGH005 take design cues from the SLGH002's Series 9 design. In the initial photos, the dial has a more militant futuristic feel to it thanks to the wider, blunter, and heavily lined approach to the classic Grand Seiko combination of dauphine hands and wedge indices, while remaining immediately recognizable as Grand Seiko. The date window at 3 o'clock, on the other hand, obstructs the dial surface, and a no-date choice will likely be a fan favorite.
The in-house 9SA5 automatic movement powers the Grand Seiko SLGH005. The 9SA5 was first introduced in 2020 and includes a range of patented features such as the brand's exclusive dual impulse escapement and free sprung balance systems. With an accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day and a large 80-hour power reserve at a smooth 36,000 bph beat pace, the output is strong. Grand Seiko's finish is ornate, with polished chamfers and stripes along the bridges, perlage on the baseplate, and a heavily brushed skeleton rotor. The organic forms of the bridges are also references to Grand Seiko's natural surroundings, echoing Mt. Iwate's silhouette and the Shizukuishi River's contour as it flows by the brand's studio.
The SLGH005 is paired with a polished stainless steel three-link bracelet by Grand Seiko. This bracelet style is a popular pairing for fans of the brand, with the distinctive Seiko character lines flanking the center links and a two-button butterfly clasp.
The Grand Seiko SLGH005 is a solid first salvo in the brand's 2021 release schedule, adding a modern design language to the brand's regular production models and introducing an intricate new dial concept. Starting in March 2021, the Grand Seiko SLGH005 is available through Grand Seiko boutiques and select registered dealers.