Watches & Wonders 2024: Grand Seiko Evolution 9

Watches & Wonders 2024: Grand Seiko Evolution 9 "White Birch" Features New Manual-Wind Caliber

Grand Seiko, Japan’s elite watchmaking house, commanded the attention of collectors and industry insiders alike at last year’s Watches & Wonders Geneva exhibition with the launch of the Tentagraph, a timepiece containing its first in-house automatic chronograph movement, Caliber 9SC5. In its third year as an exhibitor at the world’s largest watch fair, Grand Seiko has presented another all-new movement, this one in a more understated but no less impressive staging. Here’s what you need to know about the new Evolution 9 Collection dress watches, Refs. SLGW002 and SLGW003, and the in-house Caliber 9SA4.

The high-beat, manually winding Caliber 9SA4 makes its debut inside two new timepieces in Grand Seiko’s elegantly refined Evolution 9 case, which takes its cues from a trendsetting Grand Seiko watch from the past, the Ref. 44GS from 1967. The first hand-wound, high-frequency caliber to join Grand Seiko’s lineup in 50 years, it is also the third movement to join Grand Seiko’s Caliber 9S platform, a family of movements established in 2020 with the launch of the automatic Caliber 9SA5, and continued with the aforementioned Tentagraph movement of 2023. 

Like its predecessors, Caliber 9SA4 offers a frequency of 10 beats per second, thanks to a highly efficient dual-impulse escapement, and carries a power reserve of 80 hours in two barrels. A rearrangement of the gear train and other parts enables the movement to amass this lengthy power reserve with 15 percent fewer turns of the crown than are required to manually power up its automatic predecessor, Caliber 9SA5. The movement’s rate stability is aided by a free-sprung balance and an overcoiled hairspring, and it is tested in six positions at three different temperatures over 17 days to ensure its robustness and reliability.

Grand Seiko has reconstructed nearly 40 percent of the automatic-winding base caliber to give Caliber 9SA4 a distinctive charm of its own, as best exemplified by the manually winding click mechanism, which has been formed in the shape of a wagtail, a bird native to the area around the Japanese city of Morioka, near Grand Seiko’s Studio Shizukuishui, where the watch is made. Through the sapphire caseback in the watch, the wearer can watch the bird-like pecking motion of the click as the movement is wound. Grand Seiko’s watchmakers have optimized the winding mechanism to prevent the unwinding of the mainsprings: the crown stops when the movement is fully wound. They have also tailored the clicking sound for maximum auditory pleasure. Like all Grand Seiko mechanical movements, this one features an elite level of finishing, with a wave pattern on the plates and bridges inspired by Japan’s Shizukuishi River, and a power-reserve indicator incorporated into one of the bridges.

The case that houses the new movement is an understated 38.6mm in diameter and 9.95mm thick, with multifaceted lugs that are narrower than those of previous Evolution 9 watches. In the unlimited edition of the watch (Ref. SLGW003), which joins the collection in August 2024, this case is made of Grand Seiko’s Brilliant Hard Titanium, an alloy that’s brighter than traditional titanium (the brand’s hallmark Zaratsu polishing enhances this attribute as well) and also twice as hard as stainless steel while also boasting exceptional lightness and corrosion resistance. Alongside the titanium version, a limited edition in a rose-gold case (SLGW002) will also make its debut in August. The “white birch” dial on both versions is also a crowd-pleaser, with an elegantly textured surface pattern that takes its inspiration from the bark of white birch trees that grow in northern Japan. The watch in both its iterations comes on a crocodile leather strap with a a triple-folding clasp made of the same material as the case.


Join the Conversation

Patrick H.

Excellent dimensions! My wallet is getting nervous!

David R.

Thanks for the update. Can you clarify how it can be “the first hand-wound, high-frequency caliber to join Grand Seiko’s lineup in 50 years”, at the same time as being “the third such mechanism to join Grand Seiko’s Caliber 9S platform [since] 2020”? Seems contradictory. Thanks.

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