200-meter water resistance, +/- 10-second monthly accuracy, five-day power reserve, ceramic bezel and a dial reminiscent of the dynamic undulations of ocean waves, all wrapped in “high-strength titanium”: Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Spring Drive Ushio Diver The SLGA023 watch really seems to have it all, and we checked it out for ourselves at Watches & Wonders 2023 to see how it fares in the metal.
In 2020, Grand Seiko launched the SLGH002, a limited-edition timepiece powered by the next-generation caliber 9SA5, and a new design language now called Evolution 9 Style. As Grand Seiko explains: “The goal of Evolution 9 is to take the best elements of Grand Seiko’s design and improve upon it in a way that respects the brand’s history and embraces the future.” Its designer, Kiyotaka Sakai, started working on it in 2017 Develop this new design code and turn the clock back to 1967, back to the original epic 44GS. Like last year, 2023 will also expand the collection with more sporty styles, Sakai added: “I see no reason why we can’t use the Evolution 9 Style approach, which is the pointer and pointer approach and the lower gravity in the center, in the The same is true in sports watches.
The 44GS from 1967 was a rather unremarkable watch – until you saw the shape. It’s as angular, cool, and distinctive as Darth Vader’s helmet, and frankly, many Grand Seiko watches from the past decade have shown a similar approach to case profile design, well before the Evolution 9 Appear. That said, the concept of the Evolution 9 is not just for a single mid-century reference, but also for more contemporary pieces (both formal and sporty). Nonetheless, Grand Seiko seems excited about the “Evo 9” case style, which features arched quarters, pronounced crown protection and faceted treatment with flat brushed upper elements and distortion-free mirrored lugs on the top and sides .
While Grand Seiko prices have been rising over the years—nearly doubling in some cases in the past five years—the quality and sophistication of the Grand Seiko Zaratsu case finishing can hardly match that of the competition, Even over the $10,000 mark. Oddly enough, the bracelet finish is not always the same, as the brand more frequently opts for full brushed bracelets without any polished links, not even the narrow links on either side of the center link. These may seem more technical and purposeful, but, when seen in metal, they rarely, if ever, match the sophistication of the watch heads, which feature smooth ceramic bezels, polished Bezel profile, crown and lug bevels. The SLGA023 is in this configuration, and we can’t help but think a little more bling on the bracelet would have been nice.
The dial of the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Spring Drive Ushio Diver SLGA023 is as much a piece of jewelry as it is a functional part, like its case. Japan’s coastal waters are influenced by the Kuroshio Current, one of the world’s major ocean currents, and the nutrient-rich waters of the Oyashio form one of the most diverse marine areas in the world. It is the dynamic ebb and flow of these ocean currents that the Ushio dial pattern expresses – ushio means tide in Japanese (which is also a name). Grand Seiko has been mastering these crease dials for years – think fan favorites Birch and Snowflake, or the gorgeous Shosho – but with its softer, less processed and more natural patterns, this might just be the best yet one of.
The hands and hour markers of the SLGA023 are coated with LumiBrite, one of the brightest and therefore most interesting luminescent paints used on watches today. The hands are shaped differently, making them easier to distinguish and read, while the hour markers are applied and stand quite high from the plane of the dial, giving this dial its own high-end look. The high-strength titanium bezel is very wide, with blue ceramic inserts inside, and some pretty serious cutouts around its perimeter for a better grip. Only dots are illuminated on the bezel, the rest of the markings are white.
On the wrist, the SLGA023 is big — probably too big, unless you have really wide wrists. Measuring 43.8mm wide, 51.5mm lug-to-lug and 13.8mm thick, the Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Spring Drive Ushio Diver SLGA023 is a chunky dive replica best watches. A decade or more ago, few people would have rolled their eyes at hearing those measurements, but, with ushio taking the big watch trend, Grand Seiko may hope to start rolling out more compact dive watches soon.
On the plus side, the SLGA023 uses all that real estate to pack some serious tech, and is actually some of the best in its class. The Grand Seiko Evolution 9 Spring Drive Ushio Diver SLGA023 is powered by a 9RA5 Spring Drive movement – to learn everything you need to know about Spring Drive’s incredible history and performance, read my post on the subject here authoritative article. The 9RA5 is the latest major development in this technology and the most powerful Spring Drive base movement to date. It is 0.8mm thinner than the 9R6 series (down from 4.2mm to just 3.4mm), but offers an extended 5-day power reserve and features an indicator at 9 o’clock on the dial. Grand Seiko claims that its one-piece center bridge gives it “significantly greater durability and higher transmission efficiency,” and that it still boasts an accuracy of +/-10 seconds per month (also known as the daily maximum tolerance +/-0.5 seconds) per day). Unfortunately, the SLGA023 comes with a solid bottom cover, so you can’t see the 9RA5 inside.
A stunning dial, a beautiful titanium case, and one of the most innovative and high-performance spring-driven movements is exactly what we’ve come to expect from a Grand Seiko. SLGA023 meets all these requirements, but still has some shortcomings. While the market for large dive cheap men watches is still huge, we’d like to see Grand Seiko shift its focus to more compact and therefore less bulky ways to enjoy all this unfiltered horological greatness.