The Grand Seiko SLGH013 — Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In!
In 2018, I bought my first and only Grand Seiko watch, the SBGJ201. With its 44GS style case, high-beat movement, and spectacular dial, it was the perfect Grand Seiko for me. Even the later White Birch, Night Birch, the Nature collection, the SBGW, and the SBGY series, however beautiful they were, did not make me rethink my choice. Another famous quote, “the best is yet to come,” was always in my mind when I saw a new Grand Seiko release. Until now. Meet the SLGH013.
Grand Seiko SLGH013
This week, we received the new Grand Seiko SLGH013 here at Fratello HQ. When we opened it, we all gathered around and fell silent. It was a surreal thing to witness. It was not only the striking light blue dial that left us speechless but also the changes to the case. For the new SLGH013, the 44GS-style case has become drastically thinner.
Whereas my SBGJ201 has a thickness of 14mm, the new SLGH013 measures 11.7mm thick. My SBGJ201 has an additional GMT hand, yes, but the new generation of movements (9SA5) makes it possible for Grand Seiko to utilize slimmer cases.
Melting snow on Mt. Iwate
When it comes to the dial, the ever-eloquent Grand Seiko poetry society explained it properly. The light blue dial has a texture that should remind you of the snow that starts to melt in spring on Mt. Iwate. This is the 2,000m-tall mountain that can be seen from the Grand Seiko Shizukuishi manufacture, where all of the brand’s mechanical watches are made.
Ever-Brilliant steel alloy
But it’s not just the dial and the 9SA5 movement that makes the Grand Seiko SLGH013 special. It is also the special alloy that the brand has used for the stainless steel case and bracelet. Grand Seiko refers to this as Ever-Brilliant Steel, and it is very resistant to corrosion. This is indicated by a PREN (Pitting Resistance Equivalent Number), which is 27.1 for regular 316L stainless steel. Ever-Brilliant steel, however, is 1.7 times more resistant to corrosion, with a PREN value of 46.07. In comparison, the PREN of 904L, or Rolex’s Oystersteel, is 35. This number or value should not be confused with the alloy’s hardness (indicated in Vickers) or scratch resistance. The use of the Ever-Brilliant steel on a Grand Seiko Heritage watch is a first, though.
As always, the Japanese manufacture is incredibly proud of its polishing technique, known as “Zaratsu”. It refers to the machines used for this mirror-like polishing technique made by Gebrüder Sallaz. Zaratsu is simply a Japanese transliteration of the Sallaz name. The large, flat surfaces of the 44GS-style case have been polished according to this technique, and you’ll find that objects reflected in those surfaces will not show any distortion.
The polished surfaces of the 44GS-style design are the main reason I fell in love with my SBGJ201 and prefer this case design over the others. With this new, thin Grand Seiko SLGH013, it just got even better. The 40mm × 47.2mm × 11.7mm case sits nice and flat on the wrist, and I find it does even more justice to the 44GS design.
The 9SA5 Hi-Beat movement
I already briefly touched upon the movement, the Grand Seiko 9SA5. The brand introduced this caliber in 2020, exactly 60 years after the first Grand Seiko watch appeared. Grand Seiko built this movement from completely scratch without using another of its movement as a starting point. One of the most impressive parts of this caliber 9SA5 is its escapement, the all-important regulating organ of a watch movement.
The new 9SA5 has a very energy-efficient escapement and uses a new free-sprung balance especially designed for this caliber. It retains its precision for longer and is more resistant to shock and friction. Grand Seiko kept it all very thin, resulting in a movement that is 15% slimmer than the other 9S Hi-Beat calibers and yet with an increased power reserve of 80 hours instead of 55. You can find an in-depth analysis of the 9SA5 movement here. The Grand Seiko SLGH013 has a sapphire case back with quite a large aperture so you can enjoy observing the beautifully finished 9SA5 caliber.
Grand Seiko SLGH013 dial and hands
Going back to the light blue dial with the “melting snow on Mt. Iwate” motif, you will find that the applied hour markers and hands are crafted with the same utmost precision and care as in the other Grand Seiko watches. It’s the signature of the Japanese manufacture. There’s no luminous material on the dial and hands, as you’ve probably noticed already. And as I’ve explained in other articles about some of the Grand Seiko watches, it isn’t really necessary either.
The Zaratsu-polished hands and hour markers can reflect light even as it gets dark. I’ve often been amazed by how well I was able to read the time on my SBGJ201 in low-light conditions. The icy motif on the dial looks incredibly nice and is even noticeable from quite a distance. I explicitly mention this as the Mt. Iwate dial on my Grand Seiko only becomes properly visible from up close.
Price and availability
I think that the Grand Seiko SLGH013 is one of the best releases I’ve seen since the Mt. Iwate and the Snowflake. Although many of the other introductions have all been something special or interesting, this SLGH013 seems to be spot-on, combining everything that makes Grand Seiko so grand.
The Grand Seiko SLGH013 will be available in October with a retail price of €9,300 / US$9,500. Let us know what you think of this new Grand Seiko release in the comments below.
For more information, visit the official Grand Seiko website. Follow me on my IG account as well @rjbroer.
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