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Black Is The New Black: Hands-on Review Grand Seiko SLGA013 vs Grand Seiko SLGH017

Both black, both nearly identical in dimensions, both the latest iterations of their respective collection. But both also pleasantly very different. It’s Heritage vs Evolution 9. It’s Spring Drive vs Hi-Beat. It’s GS vs GS. It’s your wallet vs wallet.

Editor’s note: This Hands-on Review of the Grand Seiko S SLGA013 has been photographed with the assistance of J Farren-Price Sydney. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here. This is NOT a sponsored post.

Grand Seiko SLGA013

What is it

Before Grand Seiko released the SLGH017 last July, they preluded their black dialled extravaganzas with the stunning Grand Seiko SLGA013. Given they both feature textured black dials, it’s hard to believe these are very different until you see them in person side-by-side. 

This Heritage Collection 550-piece limited edition Grand Seiko SLGA013 retails for 14’195 AUD, is powered by the latest Spring Drive movement, and features the brand’s Ever-Brilliant Steel — GS informs that it is the “world’s most corrosion resistant steel” — case measuring 40mm x 12.1mm. 

Grand Seiko SLGA013


Grand Seiko has made it very clear: not only do they fantasise about every single shade and texture of the wondrous nature found in Japan, they are also masters of dial execution. But with the likes of the Grand Seiko SLGA013 and SLGH017, the brand also proves that a simple old black dial can be interpreted in various ways, each vying to be more remarkable than the other. 

The Grand Seiko SLGA013 is also released to celebrate the 44GS 55th Anniversary (alongside the SLGH009 which is an excellent alternate for those who prefer the same styling but in a more versatile blue and with a different Hi-Beat movement).

Grand Seiko SLGA013

Who is the Grand Seiko SLGA013 For 

The Grand Seiko SLGA013 is perhaps best for those who would like to amass an envious GS collection that features variety within similarity. And also for those who couldn’t get their hands on last years’s Grand Seiko Heritage 140th Anniversary Limited Edition SLGH007. 


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Grand Seiko Online Boutique

Grand Seiko SLGA013

Basic Specs of the Grand Seiko SLGA013

The Grand Seiko SLGA013 is powered by the brands trump card movement tech, aka the Spring Drive. This particular model features the calibre 9RA2, which is an automatic 5-day power reserve hybrid movement that makes use of a traditional spring-driven movement paired with Grand Seiko’s electronic technology that functions without batteries or other external power sources. 

The way this works is that even though the mainspring — as used in traditional mechanical watches — drives a series of gears as in any other mechanical watch but GS incorporates the use of a rotor that is connected to the end of these gears that generates a small electrical charge that activates an electronic circuit and quartz oscillator. 

© 2022 Seiko Watch Corporation

The Spring Drive 5 Days Calibre 9RA2 features 38 jewels and provides an accuracy of ±0.5 seconds per day (±10 seconds per month). This latest iteration of the movement features a slimmed down profile courtesy the Offset Magic Lever system designed to reduce the thickness by 0.8mm, and is decently decorated with frosted plates and bridges upon which the blued screws contrast nicely.

We also saw these movements in the ‘day-time version’ of the Grand Seiko SLGH017, aka the White Birch SLGA009.

In comparison, the SLGH017 is powered by the ‘pure’ mechanical Hi-Beat movement calibre 9SA5 that measures 31.6mm in diameter, 5.18mm in thickness, and beats at a frequency of 5Hz. This dual impulse calibre comprises 47 jewels, offers an 80-hour power reserve thanks to two barrels arranged in sequence, and has a stated accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day (mean daily rate). 

Grand Seiko SLGA013
Grand Seiko SLGA013 on 16.25cm wrist

Grand Seiko SLGA013 – The Hands-on Experience 

The Grand Seiko SLGH017 features a 40mm x 11.7mm x 47mm titanium case with an evolved body architecture called the “Series 9 Design”. This is a development of the 44GS case style, which the Grand Seiko SLGA013 is celebrating the 55th anniversary of. 

Grand Seiko SLGH017 Evolution 9 Night Birch 13 1024x683
Grand Seiko SLGH017 on 16.25cm wrist

The Grand Seiko SLGA013 features a very similar 40mm x 12.1mm x 47.4mm steel case, but the design is different with boarder lug profile but slimmer lug interhorn spacing (of only 19mm as compared to 22mm of the SLGH017). 

On my 16.25cm wrists, I found that courtesy the shape of the case, the interhorn spacing and the way the lug shoulders dramatically taper inwards, the surface treatment — the bracelet on the Grand Seiko SLGH017 is all matt and I personally prefer the polished and brushed mixture as found on the SLGA013 — of the bracelet, and the architecture of the dial, the Grand Seiko SLGA013 fits a bit better (and smaller).

Grand Seiko SLGA013

I did speak about this in the detailed Grand Seiko SLGH017 as well, that the larger interhorn spacing stops the Grand Seiko SLGH017 from fitting on my slim 16.25cm wrists as nicely as the SLGA013 (with its same 40mm diameter case but lesser 19mm lug interhorn spacing).

Out of the two dials, I personally prefer that of the Grand Seiko SLGA013. It’s the less photogenic of the two to be honest, but in person, that smooth zig-zag styling is far more three-dimensional than that of the tree-bark lines on the SLGH017.

Grand Seiko SLGA013

There is lot more to the dial than what simply meets the eye on first glance: the more pronounced peripheral minute track and the polished bezel makes the dial look bigger and more readable; the golden accents found in the branding and the seconds hand on the Grand Seiko SLGA013 elevates not only the legibility but also brings in a very subtle touch of bling; the date window is also more rectangular, and the appliqué indices are on a healthy diet, both removing the blockiness of the SLGH017. 

As a side note, they are both water-resistance to a 100m and feature screw-down crowns, but the crown on the Grand Seiko SLGA013 is bigger, and provides with a better grip. 

On the whole, I just prefer the way the dial catches the light on the Grand Seiko SLGA013. 

Grand Seiko SLGA013

The Grand Seiko SLGH017 to its credit does feature a fairly curved case-band profile that takes the natural arc of my wrist. Visually, even though I prefer the Grand Seiko SLGA013, I reckon the SLGH017 will have a better fit in the long run. Being more imposing from a distance,  the Grand Seiko SLGH017 is also a good option for those who like to show-off a bit too.

So if you can’t get both and have to choose, which one is the best for you? 

Grand Seiko SLGA013

The SLGH017 features an interpretation of the earthly tree-barks as seen at night. The Grand Seiko SLGA013 according to the brand represents “the elliptical orbit of the stars as they move across the heavens and it captures the serene passage of celestial time with its flowing, unbroken lines”. 

Hmm, heaven or earth? 

Whichever you favour, one thing is assured – with them strapped on your wrist, you are creating your own heaven on earth.

Grand Seiko SLGA013

That’s All Folks!

Both black, both nearly identical in dimensions, both the latest iterations of their respective collection. 

Both also pleasantly very different. 

Grand Seiko SLGA013

It’s Heritage vs Evolution 9. It’s Spring Drive vs Hi-Beat. It’s Limited Edition vs regular production. It’s orbit pattern of the stars vs the texture tree-barks. It’s night vs night. It’s GS vs GS. It’s your wallet vs wallet. Bottom line, Grand Seiko has gone ahead and done what every watch collector’s bank balance dreads: both the Grand Seiko SLGA013 and Grand Seiko SLGH017 can co-exist in one collection.

Black is the new black. 

Grand Seiko SLGA013
Grand Seiko SLGA013 (r) and Grand Seiko SLGH017 (l)

To find out more about the Grand Seiko SLGA013 and other Grand Seiko timepieces, please head to their website here, or visit their authorised retailer J Farren-Price Sydney at 80 Castlereagh St, Sydney (02 9231 3299). All images unless otherwise stated are ©WatchYaGonnaDoAboutIt. 

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