Grand Seiko Introduces The Hand-Engraved SBGZ009 “Majestic White Birch” To Its Masterpiece Collection
Sometimes brands introduce timepieces that only need images to tell the entire story. The new Grand Seiko SBGZ009 “Majestic White Birch” is one of those timepieces. Looking at the pictures, you know this is not a normal release. The fully hand-engraved platinum Grand Seiko SBGZ009 is part of the brand’s special Masterpiece collection and will see a limited run of just 50 pieces. This new Majestic White Birch takes inspiration from a familiar Grand Seiko theme. However, its execution is unique, and it displays the incredible craftsmanship that Grand Seiko puts into its watches.
What defines a horological masterpiece? Is it the technical magic behind the movement, or does it have to do with the watch’s aesthetic presence? Preferably, it’s the combination of both, of course. Upon seeing the new hand-engraved Grand Seiko SBGZ009, the immediate impact comes from its appearance. But you know that Grand Seiko doesn’t just stop there. Grand Seiko’s Micro Artist Studio was responsible for creating this wonderful timepiece that features a fully engraved platinum case. The form takes inspiration from the white birch forest in wintertime close to where the artists behind these pieces perform their magic.
The concept behind the Majestic White Birch
We have seen white birch as the inspiration for previous Grand Seiko releases. The first was the Hi-Beat SLGH005. Then came the SLGA009, a Spring Drive version of the same watch. Both watches feature spectacular dials that evoke the white birch trees in Japanese nature. But the brand took the concept to a new level for the new Grand Seiko SBGZ009 Majestic White Birch — a level beyond what most of us could have imagined
So, what’s the story behind the watch? As always, there is a connection between the watchmakers and the natural environment near where they create these amazing timepieces. The elite craftspeople of the Grand Seiko Micro Artist Studio are responsible for creating this Majestic White Birch work in the Japanese town of Shiojiri. The town is close to a forest of white birch trees at the foot of the North Yatsugatake Mountains. This white birch forest as it appears during the height of winter, blanketed by freshly fallen snow, was the visual inspiration for the creation of this masterpiece. It sounds so simple, but we know that the actual realization takes time and incredible skill. And the results show just that.
The case and dial of the SBGZ009 Majestic White Birch
The watch features a platinum 950 case that measures 38.5mm in diameter and 9.8mm in thickness. As you can see, the case is manually engraved to reflect the great natural beauty of the forest in the wintertime. First, the case receives a full Zaratsu polish to create a distortion-free mirror surface. This then serves as the perfect canvas for the engravers of the Shinshu Watch Studio. The long individual grooves bring to life that specific feeling of a forest of white birch trees.
But the pattern does not stop where the case ends. The silver-colored dial continues the intricate pattern, so the white birch trees define the entire appearance. Compared to the previous Evolution 9 White Birch models, the dial is slightly more metallic. As a result, the light reflecting off of it gives it a slightly different, shinier presence than its peers. But overall, this masterpiece immediately unveils the familiar texture of white birch trees perfectly. There is something special about their layered look that lends itself so well to this extraordinary timepiece.
The level of detail is out of this world
The hour and minute hands and the hand-applied diamond-cut hour markers are made of 14K white gold and brilliantly finished. In addition, the seconds hand is tempered, but not in blue. Rather, it takes on a beautiful gray hue that perfectly matches the dial and case. It creates a monochromatic presence that mimics the white birch tree even more precisely. And the level of detail gets even more impressive. The minute track, the Grand Seiko logo, and all the text on the dial are all carved into it. The precision and level of detail are stunning, and to realize that this is all done in-house is just wild.
The decorated Spring Drive Caliber 9R02
Through the sapphire window on the case back, we can also look at the Spring Drive Caliber 9R02 that powers the Majestic White Birch. This manual-winding movement debuted in 2019. It features an 84-hour power reserve thanks to its Dual Spring Barrel, which, as the name suggests, houses two mainsprings in a single enclosure. The movement is accurate to an impressive ±1 second per day, living up to the understated levels of excellence that Grand Seiko pursues.
On top of that, the movement gets a series of special embellishments. The barrel is decorated to mimic the bellflower, the symbol of Shiojiri. Additionally, the two hand-finished bridges feature high-polished edges, creating a great visual contrast with the “hairline” brushed finish of the other surfaces. The 18K yellow gold plaque on the lower bridge is engraved with the words “Micro Artist” to hint at the fine craftspeople who created the watch. Future owners, however, can change that text if they want to.
Initial impressions of the SBGZ009 Majestic White Birch
The Grand Seiko SBGZ009 Majestic White Birch is nothing short of breathtaking. I love every single detail about this watch, from the perfect 38.5mm size and the hand-engraved platinum case to the impressive movement and that ridiculously beautiful dial. If only I had €80,000 to spend to be one of the 50 happy future owners of this new Majestic White Birch! Usually, I am not the biggest fan of excessively decorated or engraved timepieces. But if a concept is executed like the Majestic White Birch, it transcends its existence as a mere timepiece altogether. This work of art was created by the unique craftspeople working for Grand Seiko. It has been a while since I was as impressed by a watch as I am by this one.
The new Grand Seiko SBGZ009 Majestic White Birch will be available starting June 2023. For more information, visit the official Grand Seiko website.