Grand Seiko Releases a New Manual Wind ‘White Birch’

by Mario C

Always at the forefront of elegance and innovation is Grand Seiko, who for Watches and Wonders 2024 has debuted a new ‘White Birch’ reference, complete with a new movement.

Grand Seiko has always been one of those brands that occupy a bittersweet space in my mind: Somewhere between ‘on the radar’ and ‘out of reach.’ it’s like the Breaking Bad of watch brands – you know it’s something that will appeal to you, you’ve heard mostly great things about it, but somehow always on the back burner. However, you can’t deny that what comes out of Grand Seiko represents some of the highest levels of craftsmanship in the world.

White Birch Titanium (SLGW003)

For Watches and Wonders 2024, Grand Seiko is out to maintain its reputation, with the release of the SLGW003 and the limited edition SLGW002. While the nature-inspired design and use of rare materials shine through in their own right, it is in the movement department where GS has truly chosen to spread its wings.

White Birch Rose Gold (SLGW002)

In 2024, introducing a manual wind watch movement seems frivolous. It’s a world where automatic movements reign supreme, so manual winding can appear impractical and outdated. Yet, for enthusiasts of Grand Seiko and true watch connoisseurs, this couldn’t be further from the truth. For those who already own manual wind watches you can probably attest that, while a bit tedious, the ritual of winding a watch is one of life’s simple pleasures. On a deeper level, it allows for a more personal connection to the watch, resulting in what Grand Seiko calls “a deeper connection with time’s natural flow.” In my opinion, I just find it satisfying to be able to ‘breathe life’ into my little machine.

Encapsulating that gratifying feeling is the new Grand Seiko Cal. 9SA4, a thorough redesign and reconstruction of the Cal. 9SA5. Like its older brother, the 9SA4 is a mechanical Hi-Beat movement, beating at 5Hz/36,000bph with a remarkable 80-hour power reserve. The redesign, however, has left it without its rotor. While seemingly disadvantageous, this permits a less obstructed view of the movement and a 1mm thinner profile than the 9SA5, all while joining the annals of history alongside GS’ other manual wind, hi-beat calibres of the 60s, 70s, and today.

White Birch Rose Gold (SLGW002) – Close up dial details

The design chops you know and love from Grand Seiko are apparent in this model, too. It must be hard for a GS designer to go outside their studio in Shizukuishi, as the beauty of the nature around them must be so inspirational that they, perhaps begrudgingly, have to step back inside to sketch a new dial idea. The dials in these timepieces are inspired by the white birch trees that grow around the studio, with their pattern capturing the enchantment of the birch trees with stunning dimensionality and refinement.

White Birch Rose Gold (SLGW002) – Open case back showing In-house manual wind Cal. 9SA4

Grand Seiko didn’t just redesign the movement; they also went back to make changes to parts of the case design. Everything from slimming down the indexes, narrowing the lugs, and even balancing the timepiece’s centre of gravity have all been considered, allowing for a sleeker, dressier, and more understated yet still extravagant profile. It’s only furthered by the two case materials: brilliant hard titanium, a Zaratsu-polished material that allows the watch to shine bright and sparkle, or 18kt rose gold, a decadent metal that I’m sure as watch enthusiasts we’re all too familiar with. If you’re after the latter, you must be fast – when they release in August, there’s only 80 models available.

Final Thoughts

At Watches and Wonders 2024, many pieces shine and sparkle, but they must all contend with the brilliance of these new Grand Seikos. The debut of the new ‘White Birch’ reference, featuring a fresh movement, delivers craftsmanship of the highest calibre – a signature of Grand Seiko’s ethos.

The Cal. 9SA4 this year is a surprise, but a welcome one, as you don’t see a lot of manual wind movements these days, so for one to pop up is always nice to see. They are focussed on redesigns, showcasing their mechanical prowess whilst further refining the profile of their watches. Whether in brilliant hard titanium or luxurious 18kt rose gold, these timepieces stand alone as excellent dress watches held to meteoric standards.

References: White Birch Titanium (SLGW003)/White Birch Rose Gold Limited Edition of 80 (SLGW002)


  • Case Material: Brilliant hard titanium (SLGW003) 18k rose gold (SLGW002)
  • Dimensions 38.6mm diameter, 9.95mm thickness
  • Dial: ‘White Birch’ dial with blue and titanium or rose gold accents
  • Movement: In-house manual wind Cal. 9SA4
  • Beat Rate: 5Hz/36,000bph
  • Power Reserve: 80h
  • Water Resistance: 30m (3bar)
  • Crystal: Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inner surface, see-through case back
  • Strap: Black or Brown crocodile strap with brilliant hard titanium or 18kt rose gold clasp

Australian RRP: $15,950 AUD (SLGW003), $67,200 AUD (SLGW002)

Availability: Both models are available for purchase starting August 9, 2024. The rose gold limited edition is boutique only, while titanium is both boutique and authorised dealers worldwide.

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