Three Reasons to check out the White Birch in person, which you can now do at the boutique in Sydney (rejoice) Three Reasons to check out the White Birch in person, which you can now do at the boutique in Sydney (rejoice)

Three Reasons to check out the White Birch in person, which you can now do at the boutique in Sydney (rejoice)

Fergus Nash

Attention all Grand Seiko fanatics, admirers, or just plain curious creatures! The long anticipated SLGH005 ‘White Birch’ is finally starting to land in Grand Seiko boutiques in Australia. The rate at which these watches sold out from preorders is really quite remarkable, proving that Grand Seiko are no longer an underrated gem of luxury timekeeping. And also proving that the Snowflake (reference SBGA211)  has a new sub-zero hero to contend with: the frosty rivulets of ice that comprise the White Birch dial.


The Grand Seiko boutique in Sydney has the watch on display to view and try on in the metal, which we highly recommend you do. Availability of the model for sale can be checked at the time. Having all had the pleasure by now, the Time+Tide team can concur on one point; this is a watch you must see in person. Grand Seiko’s online renders simply do not come close to capturing the watch’s multi-dimensional charm, especially the zaratsu polishing, which in renders has nothing to reflect back! In addition to the simple fact that Grand Seiko models all look better in the metal, here are three reasons to make the time to seek one out, wherever you are. As stated above, if you’re in Sydney, things just got significantly easier.

GPHG Award Winner

The SLGH005 ‘Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours’ as the brand call it, won the Men’s Watch Prize at 2021’s edition of the Grand Prix D’Horlogerie De Genève – one of watchmaking’s most prestigious awards. There has been the requisite controversy around this year’s GPHG winners, however, this gong is one occasion when a judged decision does accurately reflect the attitude of the general population. Its victory in the broad Men’s Watch Prize category shows that it isn’t just a pretty face, and it succeeds as a holistic watch experience from case, to movement, to bracelet and dial.

New Series 9 case and bracelet

The case design of the White Birch isn’t just a one-off, but actually the archetype for a brand new Grand Seiko range that will continue to expand in the coming years. It’s known as the Series 9, and it incorporates all of the favourite elements that collectors adore about the brand. The lugs are short enough to fit many varied wrist types at 47mm, and the 40mm diameter shows off a solid amount of that Birch-style dial given its thin bezel with brushed and Zaratsu-polished surfaces. The bezel around the screw-down caseback is also quite thin, giving an expansive look at the ambitious 9SA5 movement, that offers 80 hours of power reserve at the high-beat 36,000 vibrations per hour.

Dial needs to be seen in the metal

Just like the case of Grand Seiko cases, the renders cannot do this dial justice. Yes, I have spent a fair bit of this article arguing that the White Birch isn’t just special for its dial. But, let’s be fair, ultimately the dial is what we watch fans obsess about most. The White Birch nickname may not be official, but it was certainly helped along by Grand Seiko’s description of the dial, saying it was inspired by the white birch trees that grow near the Shizukuishi studio of the Grand Seiko artisan watchmakers. The silvery shimmers and the carved grooves truly come to life when dynamic lighting gets involved, and seeing the blued seconds hand sweep smoothly across the dial in it’s Hi-Beat but not Spring Drive manner is an important connection to the mechanical heart of the watch, for those who don’t see any romance in “perfection”.