Review: the new Grand Seiko Evolution 9 SLGW003

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The Grand Seiko Evolution 9’s new hand wound high beat novelties introduced in WWG 24 were a highlight of the show. Here we bring you our hands on, comprehensive review of the SLGW003 in Brilliant Hard Titanium.

Review: the new Grand Seiko Evolution 9 SLGW003

The Grand Seiko Evolution 9 SLGW003 in Brilliant Hard Titanium will retail at EUR 10,700. The rose gold variant, the SLGW002 is a limited edition of 80 pieces, and has a retail price of EUR 45,900.

The case, dial and hands

The case is typical Grand Seiko. Which is a good thing, as the design is a continuation of the Grand Seiko styling that reaches back to the iconic 44GS in 1967. The principles outlined in the design language is the basis, but the shapes are subtly refined. The watch is very classical, with near perfect proportions. Aesthetically elegant and very pleasing to the eye. Grand Seiko describes this as “charm, elegance, grace, and subtlety one would expect of a hand-wound dress watch.” And we agree. The 38.6mm case is “right sized” by today’s standards and is made of what GS calls Brilliant Hard Titanium. This alloy is exclusive to Seiko, and carries a bright white tonality, instead of the dull grey of titanium. The visual cue is more like stainless steel, perhaps even brighter than regular titanium. But yet, as the case is constructed out of titanium, one immediately feels the lightness on handling. Very pleasant.

Grand Seiko dials have always been quite beautiful, and is a hallmark of their design. On the GS SLGW003, this carries the motif of the bark of white birch. White birch is found around the vicinity of the Grand Seiko Studio Shizukuishi. This bark pattern was first seen on the SBGZ009 from 2023 (and also the SLGH005 which also carries the 9SA5 movement – a very similar movement to the review watch, but with automatic winding), with two key differences. The SGBZ009 (and SLGH005) had a grain which runs vertically, but the SLGW003’s grain run horizontally. This is the first time the bark pattern is represented with horizontal grain, instead of vertical. And the former carries the motif over to the case, whereas the novelty has a more standard finishing of polished and brushed surfaces on its case. Also, the SGGZ009 carried a much more lavish Micro Artist Studio hand wound Spring Drive movement and corresponding higher pricing, whereas our review watch runs a high beat 36,000 bps hand wound movement.

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Also a signature of Grand Seikos is the multi-facet, grooved indices and faceted hands which feature high gloss polish. Of course, the famous Grand Seiko zaratsu finishing is found alongside hairline brushed finishing on the multi-facet case with beautiful curved as well as flat surfaces. These DNA elements remains on the Evolution 9. Coupled with a long, slender blued steel center sweep seconds hand, the dial is an icon of simplicity and beauty. The overall look is one which is monochromatic, but in a very beautiful and elegant way.

The movement: Caliber 9SA4

But certainly the star is the new high beat movement. The movement is a reconstruction of the 9SA5 high beat automatic movement first released in 2020. The 9SC5 in last year’s Tentagraph is also a development over the same base 9SA5 movement. The movement carries the GS innovations of the Dual Impulse Escapement, a free-sprung balance running a hairspring with overcoil, and the horizontal gear train. The key difference between the new 9SA4 and the 9SA5 is the removal of the automatic winding system in the former.

The caliber 9SA4 is a new and features very elegant aesthetics in the bridge layout. This bridge layout is different from the Lépine style layout of the 9SA5 as the center bridge needs to carry the oscillating weight for the automatic winding. But instead is more like a three quarter plate arrangement. With the massive balance bridge remaining in its usual place. And without the rotor blocking, the movement can be admired in all its beauty. The useful complication of a power reserve gauge is displayed on the main movement bridge, and is a nice visual balance to the bridge covering the gear train which also bears the GS logo. And with an 80 hour power reserve, the movement looks “bullet proof”.

As usual with GS, finishing is very high level with an eye to tradition and classical standards rather than virtuoso techniques. The entire movement looks like it glows from within the case back. As Chester Lau has expressed in his commentary, he feels that the 9SA4 is the best looking manual winding movement released by GS to date, with the exception of Credor shared movements. And I agree.

Small details abound on the movement. For example, the click is in the shape of the wagtail, a bird that can be observed in the area surrounding the studio where the watch is made. Photo courtesy of Grand Seiko: uprezzed using Photoshop AI feature.

Competitive landscape

The competitlve landscape of the genre of dress watches which feature high beat manual wound movements is a rather small patch. The most obvious is of course its stable mate, which is the same watch dressed in a rose gold case. The SLGW002 has more gravitas and is more stately. The EUR 49k price tag for only a rose gold case is a high premium to pay. And ultimately for us, we prefer the more discreet Brilliant Hard Titanium version not only for cost reasons, but also it is less showy, and a more technical case material suitable for daily use.

The SLGW002 in rose gold. The watch does look more stately in noble metal, but overall, we feel the titanium SLGW003 offers a better bang for the buck.

The other stable mate propositions are Grand Seiko’s own SBGJ001, SBGJ003, and the SBGJ005, the SBGJ227and the Grand Seiko Diver SBGH257. But these base GS calibers includes a second timezone.

We could consider the Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence as a comparison candidate, but it belongs the genre of luxury sports watches rather than a dress watch category. And also the Chopard beats at 8Hz instead of 5Hz. Or the Breguet 7727, which is certainly a dress watch par excellence, but the movement beats at an even faster 10Hz.

Concluding thoughts

Overall, we feel this is a winner. Especially for the titanium SLGW003, which is price quite competitively at EUR 11k. The watch certainly ticks all the right boxes. Beautiful aesthetics. Immaculate dial and case with excellent finishing. Superb 5Hz movement with a pleasing layout and architecture, also finished very well. For a straight out hand wound dress watch, there is little to compare. Of course the case diameter of 38.6mm and 4.15mm makes for a comfortable wear experience.

Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Specifications

Manual-winding Mechanical Hi-Beat 36000 80 Hours

Caliber 9SA4
Driving system: Manual-winding
Frequency: 36,000 vibrations per hour (10 beats per second)
Accuracy (mean daily rate): +5 to -3 seconds per day
Power reserve: 80 hours
Number of jewels: 47
Diameter: 31.0mm, Thickness: 4.15mm
Watch case
18k rose-gold case and clasp (SLGW002) OR Brilliant Hard Titanium case and clasp (SLGW003)
Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inner surface
See-through case back
Water resistance: 3 bar
Magnetic resistance: 4,800 A/m
Diameter: 38.6mm, Thickness: 9.95mm
Crocodile strap with three-fold clasp with push button release



  1. I have already preordered this piece and can’t wait to receive it. GS knocked it out of the park with this one. A dress watch to rule over all others.