Every time I look at a Grand Seiko, I fall in love a little bit more. The way they pair mechanics with stylish design in every time piece is just magnetic, all woven together with the brand’s cultural story. A watch that sums up all these complex elements perfectly, at least on paper, is the Green Birch SLGH011 that was launched earlier this year. But how does it stack up in the metal?
Picking it up, the first thing worth pointing out that it is always worth seeing a watch in person before you buy it. Cameras might have improved dramatically in the last decade but pictures on the internet will never do justice to the richness of colour to be found on watches. And in the politest way possible, Grand Seiko’s product imagery has never been the highest quality, failing to do justice to the brilliance of the green on the SLGH011’s dial.
In terms of its pattern, the dial is simply a recolour of the SLGH005 White Birch. A design inspired by the trees that can be seen from the Grand Seiko workshops in Shizukuishi and Shinshu. The careful texturing that creates the layered effect of bark is practically unrivalled by any other brand. Yes, there are others who have demonstrated similar skills in engraving and guilloché, but in the niche of replicating natural phenomenon none stand up to Grand Seiko.
On the flip side, I wish they were slightly more experimental with their cases. 40mm stainless steel with a faceted design and Zaratsu polishing is a great recipe, but it’s one we’ve tasted many times at this point. That’s why the relaunch of King Seiko is so exciting because it brings fresh impetus to modern Seiko as a foil to Grand Seiko. All of which is to say the feel of the SLGH011 on the wrist is familiar and comfortable but not revolutionary.
Inside the SLGH011 Green Birch is the 9SA5 automatic, hi-beat calibre with 80-hour power reserve, which was also used in the SLGH005. When the White Birch version was originally launched a lot of people were asking for a Spring Drive variant and that patience was eventually rewarded with the SLGA009. Both calibres are great but only the hi-beat played a part in the SLGH005 winning the Men’s Award at the GPHG 2021, so it feels right that it’s that movement used here.
It may just be a new colourway, but it still shows Grand Seiko on top form. All for the cool price of £8,500 for pre-order ahead of its September release date.
Price & Specs:
- Model: Grand Seiko Green Birch SLGH011
- Case/dial: 40mm diameter, stainless steel case, green birch dial
- Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
- Movement: In-house mechanical hi-beat calibre 9SA5, automatic with manual winding, 47 jewels
- Frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz)
- Power reserve: 80h
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
- Strap: Stainless steel bracelet
- Price/availability: £8,500, available 1st of September 2022
More details at Grand Seiko.