The watch: Grand Seiko’s new “White Birch” SLGH005
The single best thing about this watch: No need to go outside anymore: the piece distills all the beauty nature has to offer into its thicketed white dial.
The backstory: Mechanical timepieces have often found success by taking design cues from fierce racing cars and fighter planes. Grand Seiko, the high-end sister to Seiko founded in 1960, has repeatedly drawn inspiration from natural beauty to design its watches instead. The brand’s most beloved watch is known to collectors as the Snowflake: the fuzzy dial is designed to look as welcoming as untouched snow. The company has also recently released the Tōgè, which translates to “mountain pass”—naturally, it featured a “racing green” dial featuring what look like thin branches sprouting from the center. This new SLGH005’s shadowy white dial owes its design to the white birch trees that grow around Grand Seiko’s Shizukuishi studio. The white-birch inspired design is right in the brand’s wheelhouse—this is a watch that would be instantly recognizable as a Grand Seiko even if it didn’t bear the brand’s logo.
This watch matters in the world of watches because: Last year, Grand Seiko tinkered with its movement and put in a new balance wheel and escapement (the part of a watch that keeps everything moving at a steady rate and creates the familiar ticking sound). While new tech is great, it’s what that new piece of machinery does for the appearance of the watch that really matters. Altogether, the new movement is slimmer, which in turn allows the watch to be thinner and to sit more snugly on the wrist. Up to this point, that new, more elegant movement only appeared in too-dollar special- and limited-edition watches like the $43,000 SLGH002 and the SLGH003, which was kept to only 1,000 pieces.
The release of the SLGH005 marks the first time this movement is appearing in a regular-production model at regular-production prices. ($9,100, but hey, these are luxury watches we’re talking about.)
Hey, outdoorspeople: Lately, it’s become trendy to embrace the natural splendor of our world. Gucci and The North Face teamed up at the end of 2020 to cap a banner year for gorpcore. Grand Seiko has been there since the beginning, arguing that going outside is nice but doing it with a really great watch on is even better.
Where and when to buy it: The SLGH005 will be available from Grand Seiko starting in March.