Grand Seiko Introduces the 60th Anniversary Hi-Beat SLGH003

Steel and powered by the 9SA5.

Grand Seiko has progressively introduced a diverse line up of watches to mark its 60th anniversary, ranging from a remake of the vintage 3180 to the heavily jewelled 8 Days to the T0 Constant Force Tourbillon, while also opening the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi production facility. Now the brand has finally reached the last of it anniversary watches with the Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Caliber 9SA5 Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours SLGH003.

Although the 60th anniversary watches are numerous, the most significant was the Hi-Beat 80 Hours SLGH002, which was powered by the newly-developed 9SA5, the first of a new generation of movements that will underpin the Grand Seiko collection. The SLGH002 was available only in 18k yellow gold and correspondingly pricey, but now the movement is available in the all-steel SLGH003.

Initial thoughts

From the perspective of being a more affordable version of the yellow-gold SLGH002, the SLGH003 is appealing. It’s still an expensive watch – the retail price is US$9,700 – but a lot less than the US$43,000 of the gold model.

But from the perspective of it being one of several anniversary editions, many of which share the same dial colour, it is less appealing. That is especially so given that the 9SA5 movement will inevitably be made available in regular-production models that will probably cost a bit less.

So if the colour and design is a big draw, then the SLGH003 is a buy. If not, just wait for the next one.

Anniversary livery

The SLGH003 has the same blue and red palette as the other more affordable 60th anniversary watches, which means a metallic blue dial with a red seconds hand. In terms of design it is nearly identical to the SLGH002 in yellow gold, with the same wide hands and hour markers. The steel case is 40 mm by 11.7 mm high, a typical size for a Grand Seiko.

Although the case and bracelet are steel, the clasp is inlaid with an 18k yellow gold emblem, a detail specific to the anniversary watches. The other anniversary watches feature a gold medallion on the case back, which is not possibly on the SLGH003 because of its display back.

And the display back is necessary because of the 9SA5 movement. Representing the future of Grand Seiko calibres for a long time to come, the 9SA5 is a high-frequency movement running at 36,000 beats per hour, or 5 Hz, while boasting a longish, 80-hour power reserve.

The 9SA5 visible through the back of the SLGH003

More significantly, it has two key features conceived for more stable and precise timekeeping. The first is Grand Seiko’s patented Dual Impulse Escapement, which relies on both indirect and direct impulses on the pallet lever, as well as lighter, skeletonised parts produced by MEMS, a lithgraphy technique that deposits metal to form a shape, in order to operate at a much higher efficiency than a conventional escapement.

And the balance wheel is Grand Seiko’s own proprietary free-sprung design that features four recessed, adjustable weights for regulation, and is fitted to an overcoil hairspring.

Although the 9SA5 in the SLGH003 is mechanically identical to the movement in the all-gold SLGH002, it does away with the blued steel screws found on its gold counterpart.

The adjustable-mass balance wheel and Dual Impulse Escapement

Key facts and price

Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Caliber 9SA5 Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours
Ref. SLGH003

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 11.7 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 9SA5
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 80 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet

Limited edition: 1,000 pieces
From December at Grand Seiko boutiques and retailers
Price: US$9,700; or 1 million Japanese yen

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