With 2020 marking the 60th birthday of the Grand Seiko brand, we knew there was going to be some timepiece belters hitting the market this year. What we did not expect however, was a new Hi-Beat movement that somehow advances on an already immaculate piece of technology. The Calibre 9SA5 is presented in the stunning 18 carat solid gold Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Edition SLGH002 watch limited to a mere 100 pieces.
The Grand Seiko Hi Beat has become synonymous for its incredible precision and reliability, boasting an extraordinary frequency of 36,000vph which is something that only a handful of watch manufacturers can acclaim they have mastered. To fully understand how the Hi Beat movement works, we recommend reading our guide here but for a quick rundown, the movement works by increasing the rate of frequency and getting a higher rate of precision. However, this comes at the expense of the power reserve and durability of components, so Grand Seiko compensate by using special technologies like their legendary MEMS technology to create a lighter escape wheel and pallet.
So, what’s different with the new Calibre 9SA5? Well, there are three key technical advances that make the difference. The first is the Horizontal Gear Train which solves the one key disadvantage of previous Hi Beat movements, it’s size. Due to the thickness of the Hi Beat movements, we have been restricted with the slimness of case sizes. But the 9SA5 has been reduced by 15% and measures to only 5.18mm thick all thanks to the innovative horizontal layout of the barrel and gear trains. This allows the case of the new Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Edition SLGH002 watch to measure to an impressive 11.7mm in thickness.
The second change comes from the Dual Impulse Escapement, possibly their biggest technological innovation developed entirely in-house by Grand Seiko. The technology allows the escape wheel to transmit power in two directions; in one direction the power is transmitted directly to the balance and in the other it is via the pallet fork. But it is the fact that the wheel transmits energy directly to the balance that completely transforms the efficiency of the movement. Thirdly is the Grand Seiko Free-sprung Balance another new piece of technology which helps ensure the shock and friction resistance of the movement. It makes use of an overcoil with a curved shape chosen after more than 80,000 simulations showed that its performance was optimised in every possible position.
In addition to these three new components the Caliber 9SA5 also features two barrels arranged in sequence to help improve the power reserve. The original 9S Hi-Beat movements have a 55 hour power reserve but the new Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Edition SLGH002 now boasts one of 80 hours. And that’s still not all. The new calibre also provides an instant date change at midnight and the positioning of the winding stem close to the rotor allows the case to sit closer and more comfortably on the wrist.
To match the outstanding reputation of the movement, Caliber 9SA5 is housed within a breathtaking solid 18 carat yellow gold case measuring to 40mm in diameter. The movement is also beautifully exposed through a sapphire crystal case back where you can see some new changes to the finishing of the movement as well. The look is very artisanal with a cut-out rotor and graceful bridges said to be inspired by the shapes of Mt Iwate and the Shizukuishi river near the Grand Seiko studio in Japan. The case is also fitted with wider lugs to ensure the slimmer case sits solidly in place alongside the luxurious dark brown crocodile leather strap and 18 carat yellow gold three fold clasp with push button release.
In typical Grand Seiko fashion, the elegance of the dial on the Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Edition SLGH002 remains a priority with a smooth silver finished decorated with large yellow gold hands and markers. These markers appear to have been slightly enlarged when compared to other models in the collection which could be a subtle nod to the first Grand Seiko watch released in 1960 that also showcased larger indexes and hands. The dial is protected by box shaped sapphire crystal glass treated with an anti-reflective coating and the timepiece promises a water resistant rating of 100 metres.
Due to its limited run of only 100 pieces, and despite its hefty retail price of €45,000, we expect this Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Edition SLGH002 watch to sell out almost immediately on its release in August. But not to worry, Grand Seiko have also assured us that the watch will not be the last to showcase the new movement, so keep your eye out on our website for all the latest updates on new Grand Seiko releases!
Specifications: Grand Seiko 60th Anniversary Limited Edition (SLGH002)
- Case Size: 40mm x 11.7mm
- Case Material: 18 carat yellow gold
- Bezel: Fixed
- Glass: Sapphire with anti-reflective treatment
- Case Back: Exhibition
- Water Resistance: 100 metres
- Movement: Caliber 9SA5 automatic winding
- Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
- Power Reserve: 80 hours
- Accuracy: +5 to -3 seconds per day
- Jewels: 47
- Frequency: 36,000vph
- Dial: Silver with gold hands and markers
- Strap: Dark brown crocodile leather
- Buckle: Three fold with push button release
- RRP: €45,000
- Limited Edition: 100 pieces
- Release Date: August 2020