As part of the Watches and Wonders 2024 releases from Grand Seiko, here we have the Grand Seiko SLGW003 and SLGW002. These are two new additions to the Evolution 9 collection. This is Grand Seiko’s newer design language that, while rooted in the 44GS, aims to push the brand forward. Today, Grand Seiko adds two new models to the lineup, both powered by the new caliber 9SA4.

We get one addition to the standard collection in Brilliant Hard Titanium, the SLGW003. Additionally, there is the 18K rose gold SLGW002, a limited edition of 80 pieces. Let’s have a look at these new watches from Grand Seiko.

The new caliber 9SA4 inside the Grand Seiko SLGW003 and SLGW002

Grand Seiko introduces a new caliber for this year’s Watches and Wonders. Technically, though, it isn’t completely new. This caliber 9SA4 is based on the existing automatic caliber 9SA5. Grand Seiko connoisseurs will recognize the architecture and many of the specs. The significant changes are the removal of the rotor and automatic winding system as well as the addition of a power reserve indicator on the backside of the caliber.

Note that the press samples feature stamped calf straps, but the actual watches will come on real crocodile straps

The twin-barrel layout remains, providing a royal 80 hours of power reserve. Grand Seiko’s Dual Impulse Escapement also made its way through the rebuild. Some of the bridges are redesigned, resulting in a hand-wound caliber that looks like it was initially conceived that way.

Like the automatic 9SA5, the hand-wound version is accurate to within -3/+5 seconds per day. Perhaps the most admirable feature of this family of calibers is its high beat rate of 36,000 vibrations per hour. That results in a smoothly sweeping seconds hand, about as close as you can get to a Spring Drive caliber. It is especially impressive when you consider the great power reserve.

Grand Seiko SLGW003

Other specs of the Grand Seiko SLGW003 and SLGW002

The Grand Seiko SLGW003 and SLGW002 are technically identical except for their case material and minor aesthetic details. Both measure a crowd-pleasing 38.6mm across by 9.95mm thick, with a 20mm lug spacing. The thickness, specifically, will be met with enthusiasm. It is enabled in part by the hand-wound caliber. I am sure the 3-bar water resistance also helps as it allows for thinner walls.

Grand Seiko SLGW003

The SLGW003 is made of Grand Seiko’s Brilliant Hard Titanium. This Grand Seiko proprietary alloy is supposedly twice as hard as steel and correspondingly more resistant to scratches. It also takes Zaratsu polishing particularly well, inspiring the “Brilliant” in its name. This model comes on a black crocodile strap with a folding clasp. The limited-edition SLGW002 is made of 18K rose gold and comes on a brown crocodile strap with the same clasp executed in rose gold.

The “Birch Bark” nickname of these models quite obviously comes from the dial texture. You get a silvery metallic texture reminiscent of the trees that have inspired Grand Seiko dials before. The SLGW002 features rose gold markers on the dial, which the 8-pointed star at 6 o’clock confirms. Like the sigma signs of old, this indicates the use of gold on the dial.

Grand Seiko SLGW003 pocket shot

Initial impressions of the Grand Seiko SLGW003 and SLGW002

I had the chance to try on these new Grand Seiko watches. I can state that these are quite impressive. They wear fantastically due to the great proportions and curve of the case. Of course, Zaratsu finishing always helps convey a luxurious vibe and impression of great quality. I am a big fan of Grand Seiko’s simpler watches, and these certainly fit the bill. The refinements that the brand is famous for are best appreciated in a minimalist context if you ask me.

The birch dials aren’t my favorite. The metallic silvery surface always comes across as slightly tinny compared to other Grand Seiko textured dials. This is purely a personal aesthetic preference, though, as the dials are expertly crafted, just as you would expect.

The one thing that would cause me to have some doubt about instantly recommending these is the price. The regular-production model comes in at €11,700. That is over 2.5 times the price of my SBGW231, which offers, say, 70% of the charm of this higher-end model. The 80-piece SLGW002 limited edition comes in at €49,500. This also seems steep compared to other Grand Seiko models, like the stunning Spring Drive SBGY026 in rose gold. That model is almost as rare, limited to 100 pieces, and costs €28,900.

Closing thoughts

Of course, the comparisons above aren’t entirely fair. These new models are part of the Evolution 9 collection and feature significantly more intricate case finishing than my two examples from the Elegance collection. Furthermore, the Hi-Beat calibers are at the top of the food chain for Grand Seiko movements. I would have intuitively rated Spring Drive higher, but that is not correct. Still, Grand Seiko is certainly not aiming for the budget-conscious collector with the new SLGW003 and SLGW002.

Grand Seiko SLGW002

Setting prices aside, these are two beautifully executed dress watches in typical Grand Seiko fashion. They provide precisely what you want when looking for a GS, and they provide it in spades. You get the intricate shapes, the rich textures, the beautiful caliber, and top-notch surface finishing.

Both models will be available from August 1st. The limited-edition SLGW002 will be available only through Grand Seiko boutiques.

What do you think of the new Grand Seiko SLGW003 and SLGW002 watches? Let us know in the comments below!

Watch specifications

Evolution 9 "Birch Bark"
SLGW003 / SLGW002
Silver "Birch Bark" with applied indices
Case Material
Brilliant Hard Titanium (SLGW003) / 18K rose gold (SLGW002)
Case Dimensions
38.6mm (diameter) × 9.95mm (thickness)
Box-type sapphire
Case Back
Brilliant Hard Titanium or 18K rose gold with sapphire crystal
Grand Seiko 9SA4: manual winding, 36,000vph frequency, 80-hour power reserve, 47 jewels, twin barrels, Dual Impulse Escapement, -3/+5 seconds per day,
Water Resistance
Black crocodile (20mm width) on titanium folding clasp (SLGW003) / Brown crocodile on 18k rose gold folding clasp (SLGW002)
Time (hours, minutes, seconds) and power reserve indicator (on back)
€11,700 (SLGW003) / €49,500 (SLGW002)