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Grand Seiko Introduce Evolution 9 ‘Genbi Valley’ Hi-Beat Limited Edition with Shattered Crystalline Pattern Dial

Grand Seiko Genbi Valley SLGH021G

It’s been a hot minute since we’ve seen a new entry in Grand Seiko’s Evolution 9 collection. The last major addition was the Tentagraph over a year ago and it’s been even longer since the latest version of the most popular model, the Birch. While we’re still waiting on a new Birch, for Watches and Wonders 2024 Grand Seiko have released a hi-beat Evolution 9 limited edition with a brand-new textured dial called the ‘Genbi Valley’.

Jumping straight to the dial, it features an incredibly intricate crystalline pattern of jagged and irregular shapes. It has the appearance of raw, unrefined jade that’s been arranged into a shattered mosaic. It’s breathtaking in its precision and detail. The green colour is inspired by the titular Genbi valley, a thriving river valley with lush forests near Grand Seiko’s Shizukuishi studio and which has been the muse for green Grand Seikos for several years. However, those previous watches have never had anywhere near this level of textured detail.

Grand Seiko Genbi Valley SLGH021G
Grand Seiko Genbi Valley SLGH021G

Interestingly, it’s not the first dial like this we’ve seen in recent times. The GPHG awarded Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans features a very similar pattern across its dial in gold, which Brette describes as a dragon scale design. I think that appellation works for the Grand Seiko as well, although a jade dragon is typically more of a Chinese motif than Japanese.

Beyond the new dial, this is a fairly straight and narrow interpretation of the Evolution 9. The Grand Seiko ‘Genbi Valley’ SLGH021G has a 40mm diameter case in Ever Brilliant Steel (Grand Seiko’s steel alloy with a brighter colour than regular stainless steel and improved corrosion resistance) with the characteristic shapes of the collection. Notably the lugs feature strong angled facets that give the piece a modern, quasi-sporty look – which is the point because the Evolution 9 bridges the gap between the heritage collection and the sport collection and is representative of modern Grand Seiko learning from its heritage and pushing forward.

Grand Seiko Genbi Valley SLGH021G

The hands and hour markers are similarly sharp and facetted. One of my favourite details of the Evolution 9 compared to models like the 44GS is that the time and date models don’t feature power reserve indicators interrupting the flow of the dial. I also think the blue of the seconds hand feels particularly appropriate on the Evolution 9 ‘Genbi Valley’ because it represents the river running through the valley’s heart.

Grand Seiko Genbi Valley SLGH021G

Speaking of hearts, the beating heart of this watch is the hi-beat calibre 9SA5. It’s a very well-regarded movement backed up by an 80-hour power reserve, +5/-3 seconds per day accuracy and of course the 36,000vph frequency. It’s one of the movements that people point to in the debate about whether Japanese horology is on par with the Swiss.

Grand Seiko Genbi Valley SLGH021G

The Grand Seiko Evolution 9 ‘Genbi Valley’ SLGH021G is priced at £9,750 with only 1,000 pieces being produced. There is a lot of competition when it comes to nature inspired textural dials from Grand Seiko so deciding whether you prefer this to the Snowflake, Birch, Mt Iwate or any of the other amazing design is no easy feat. On the whole, I think it will be very, very popular.

Price and Specs:

Model: Grand Seiko Evolution 9 'Genbi Valley' Hi-Beat
Ref: SLGH021G
Case: 40mm diameter x 11.7mm thickness, stainless steel
Dial: Green textured dial inspired by the colours of the Genbi valley landscape
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Grand Seiko calibre 9SA5, automatic, 47 jewels
Frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz)
Power reserve: 80h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
Price: £9,750, limited to 1,000 pieces

More details at Grand Seiko.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.