Although the Grand Seiko line was introduced in 1960, it was Seiko’s release of the 44GS watch in 1967 that definitively established the collection. This is because the 44GS’s design language would go on to define the aesthetics of all subsequent Grand Seiko timepieces, even today, with Grand Seiko now operating as a separate entity from Seiko itself.
In 2020, Grand Seiko updated the aesthetic code set down by the 44GS. The reworked design language, Evolution 9, was conceived to represent the most contemporary form of watchmaking at Grand Seiko. More than this, however, Evolution 9 is now also a standalone collection within the brand’s line-up, with offerings ranging from sporty chronographs to dressier time-and-date watches. The latest addition to this line is the SLGA021, which bears a textured dial inspired by the view of Lake Suwa before dawn.
Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive-equipped watches are produced at the brand’s Shinshu Watch Studio in the town of Shiojiri, some three hours’ drive from Tokyo. To the manufacture’s southeast sits Lake Suwa, a prominent landmark that has long inspired its watches’ designs. The focus this time is on a familiar pre-dawn scenery, when Lake Suwa is still clothed in tranquil darkness. During this period, the gentlest breeze stirs up rippling waves that create an undulating surface bearing various shades of blue, each blending into each other while also playing with the ambient light differently.
It is this picturesque view that the new SLGA021 alludes to, with its dial bearing a textured pattern reminiscent of the lake’s surface. The vignette is made complete by the dial’s midnight blue tone, which captures exactly how the lake looks just before the first rays of sunlight emerge over the horizon.
As part of the Evolution 9 collection, the SLGA021 bears the nine design elements that collectively define the updated 44GS aesthetic. Faceted hands and indices with carefully balanced proportions for improved legibility, a thin case with a lower centre of gravity that sits closer to the wrist, and more widely spaced lugs which better distribute the watch’s weight are just some salient features here. What these elements represent is equally important: an evolution of a legacy that has been similarly codified to reflect Grand Seiko’s watchmaking philosophy.
The 9RA2 calibre that powers the watch parallels this. Its Spring Drive technology is proprietary to Grand Seiko, and gives the SLGA021 an astonishing accuracy of ±10 seconds per month. Visually, the movement also sets itself apart with its perfectly smooth second hand — a result of the hybrid Tri-synchro Regulator that melds the best qualities of both quartz and mechanical movements.
The SLGA021 is cased in steel and sized for the contemporary wearer with its 40mm diameter. Unlike an earlier iteration, the SLGA007, which was limited to 2,021 pieces worldwide, this watch will be part of the regular collection.
Movement: Spring Drive 9RA2; 120-hour power reserve
Case: 40mm in steel; water-resistant to 100m
Strap: Steel bracelet
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