Grand Seiko Introduces the Heritage Hi-Beat “White Birch” SLGH005

A patterned dial and regular production.

Originally as 60th anniversary limited editions in gold and then steel, the Grand Seiko Heritage Hi-Beat now joins the catalogue as a regular-production model – the Heritage Hi-Beat “White Birch” SLGH005. Notably, despite being a standard model, the SLGH005 has a fancy, patterned dial.

As is typical of Grand Seiko, the dial is inspired by the local landscape – the striated motif on the dial takes inspiration from the forest of white birch, or shirakaba (白樺), that grows around the brand’s recently-opened workshop in Shizukuishi, located in the northernmost province of Iwate.

Initial thoughts

The SLGH005 is a handsome watch with a clean design that’s livened by the dial pattern. I’ve yet to see this in the metal, but Grand Seiko’s stamped dial patterns are usually attractive and always well done, and I expect this to be the same.

In fact, this is arguably more appealing than the earlier limited-edition version, even though the watch is essentially identical. The monochromatic colour – save for the blued steel seconds hand – has a light, clean look, which is helped by the reduced text on the dial; the designers did away with “automatic” at six o’clock.

Priced at US$9,100, the SLGH005 is fairly priced, costing a little less than the launch limited edition. It is, however, an example of the steadily rising price of the average Grand Seiko. They remain, by and large, reasonable buys, but no longer the strong value propositions in the past.

Wood grain

Covered in an irregular vertical pattern matched with a granular surface, the SLGH005 dial reproduces the texture found on the trunks of the white birch trees around Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi, which retain their distinctive white bark over the changing seasons.

Aside from the dial, the SLGH005 is identical to the earlier models with the same calibre. The steel case is 40 mm in diameter, with the 9SA5 movement visible through the back. It’s a high-frequency automatic with a balance wheel that runs at 36,000 beats per hour, or 5 Hz. More importantly, the 9SA5 also features the proprietary Dual Impulse Escapement that operates more efficiently than the conventional lever escapement.

The SLGH005 itself is an example of Series 9 Design, a style that will define future models in the Heritage Collection, according to Grand Seiko. It’s characterised by fluted hour markers, wide lugs, and a relatively flat case.

The 9SA5

Key facts and price

Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours “White Birch”
Ref. SLGH005

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

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

Strap: Steel bracelet

Availability: From March 2021 at Grand Seiko boutiques and retailers
Price: US$9,100; or 950,000 Japanese yen

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