Twenty twenty-one is a celebratory year for Seiko, which marks its 140th anniversary. Amongst the slew of watches launched for the occasion is the posh but stealth Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary (SLGH007).
Cased in platinum and equipped with new 9SA5 movement, this is one of two platinum watches commissioned for the occasion, but unlike the Masterpiece Spring Drive 8 Days that’s extravagantly set with diamonds and garnets, the SLGH007 is discreet, and even slightly intriguing with its tree ring-patterned dial.
Translating local flora and fauna into dial designs is a Grand Seiko specialty – which it named “The Nature of Time” – typically in the form of a stamped, patterned dial inspired by nature around its factories.
But despite being one of many inspired by similar themes, the SLGH007 manages to stand out. The pronounced grain on the dial is not only new, but also diverges from the usual styling. Most patterned Grand Seiko dials rely on repeating patterns on a smaller scale, while the tree-ring dial has large, obvious figuring that forms a distinct landscape.
And its charcoal-black finish makes it even more special – standing in contrast to the brighter colours Grand Seiko now favours – especially when matched with the platinum case. The result is a watch that’s low-key but stylish, and reminds me of the similarly-dressed Lange 1 “Darth”.
The SLGH007 also has solid mechanics: it’s the fourth Grand Seiko to use the 9SA5, the high-frequency movement introduced last year. Upgraded in all aspects compared to the earlier generation of movements – most notably with a patented Dual Impulse escapement that enhances energy transmission – the 9SA5 promises better timekeeping stability with a longer power reserve. But this has the same version of the 9SA5 found in the more affordable versions of the watch.
Which brings us to the price. The SLGH007 is as desirable as it expensive – the price is a hefty US$59,000. Not only does it evoke the Lange 1 “Darth”, the SLGH007 actually costs a little more than the current Lange 1 in platinum.
That’s a lot, and probably a little too much, by most measures. The premium for the platinum case is substantial, almost seven times the SLGH005, which is the steel model with the same movement. And it’s 20% more expensive than the platinum Eichi II that has a movement finished to a much higher standard by the venerable Micro Artist Studio.
Reverence for nature
During the virtual launch of the brand’s 2021 line up, its spokesperson revealed the motivation behind the dial design of the SLGH007, one of the Grand Seiko’s more original and compelling backstories.
Seiko founder Kintaro Hattori long emphasised the mantra “Don’t run but always keep going”, explaining the brand’s careful development over 140 years, growing across price segments and markets. Seiko’s slow-but-sure progress is comparable to the growth of trees, making the tree-ring decor entirely apt.
The watch also illustrates the brand’s advancement, although the other, more affordable Hi-Beat SLGH models share many of the same qualities. The hands and markers, for example, are wide but finished with nuanced details that improve legibility and aesthetics.
And the 9SA5 now boasts an adjustable-mass balance secured by a full bridge that promises better timekeeping and shock resistance, though it’s a missed opportunity because this is regulated to the conventional Grand Seiko timing standards rather than more stringent criteria.
Add to that the Dual Impulse escapement and twin barrels give it a power reserve of 80 hours, up from the 55 hours of the previous generation, the feature that’s perhaps most useful to the buyer.
Key facts and price
Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Seiko 140th Anniversary Limited Edition
Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 11.7 mm
Material: Platinum 950
Water resistance: 100 m
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Power reserve: 80 hours
Strap: Leather strap with platinum folding clasp
Limited edition: 140 pieces
Availability: At Grand Seiko boutiques and retailers
For more, visit Grand-seiko.com.
Correction February 26, 2021: Twenty twenty-one marks the 140th anniversary of Seiko, and not 2020 as stated in an earlier version of the article.Back to top.