Introducing The Grand Seiko Spring Drive 9RA2 “White Birch” SLGA009 Watch

Grand Seiko introduces a slightly different Shirakaba model with a super-cool movement.


It feels like I’ve written about this recently. Oh wait, it’s because I have, well, almost. In our Top 10 Watches of 2021 list, the sister of this watch got to position 4. We loved the attention to detail on the dial, the case, the movement and, well, everything really. It could have been first, but we just liked the other watches more. Since reading that (clearly), Grand Seiko has come back with a slightly different version, and I mean really slightly different, but we’ll pick that up later.

The watch features a stainless steel case with Zaratsu polishing. This is a point of contention for me, I’ve seen people use this as a point in their forum-based Top Trumps against Swiss watches, and I can’t think why. It’s not exactly like the Swiss don’t do Zaratsu polishing, and therefore, they’re awful, and the outcome seems the same to me. Where was I? Oh yes, the case measures 40mm x 11.8mm and is definitely what I’d call a smart/casual sports watch. It’s got 100m of water resistance and a stainless case and bracelet, which is the sporty bit covered, but it’s also very restrained and elegant. If you fancied the looks of an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra but wanted something a little more haute, this is a more logical next step than, say, a DateJust.

The dial of the watch is, to my eyes, identical to the watch from last year. It features Grand Seiko’s Shirakaba motif. Shirakaba is the word used to describe the forest of white birch trees that surround Grand Seiko’s workshop, which inspired the dial’s beautiful texture. I mean, can you see why this would be an influence? The Japanese have a word for the effect of scattered sunlight filtering through the trees (komorebi). You can see why the white birch trees around the factory would be an inspiration.

And yet, I feel this is the second-best part of the new watch, as this watch introduces a Spring Drive movement to the picture. A combination of quartz and mechanical movements, the Spring Drive technology fuses the high accuracy of a quartz watch with the convenience of a spring-powered watch (that is, as long as you wear it, it will keep itself running). No batteries that need changing and no tick-tick-ticking, this is about as smooth of a sweep as a seconds hand gets. The calibre 9RA2 features a new frosted finish that looks immaculate, especially with the blued contrast writing, although I still don’t understand why Grand Seiko put their logo on the crystal. It wasn’t needed. The power reserve is 5 days (120-hours), and the accuracy of the movement is between +/-0.5 seconds per day or +/-10 seconds per week. A Rolex fitted with their newest escapement technology is accurate to +/-2 seconds per day.

The watch isn’t a limited edition and is available for $8600, which isn’t too bad considering all the hand finishing going into it.

Visit Grand Seiko here.