Discover more from the Grand Seiko guy
Hope is not a strategy
In recent weeks these newsletters are akin to Beethoven symphonies - the odd ones (those newsletters published on an odd date, like this week’s) are turning out to be significantly greater than the even ones!
This week we have a few full sets - well, watches with boxes and papers - but one of them is not quite what it seems and needs to be given a hard pass.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also an example of a reference with the subtlest of faceted crystals that I’m sure many, many people will be interested in, a 56GS with a particularly intriguing dial, and - for once - our usual suspect doesn’t make an appearance.
No “it’s not a vintage Grand Seiko but I like it” this week, but I rather hope that the regular content will more than make up for that omission.
Please do feel free to share your thoughts in the comments - I really appreciate each and every one of them.
To the listings!
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As if to underline the analogue to Ludwig’s symphonic output, last week we had a rather sad looking 5645-5000, but this week we get a spectacular one.
No bent Seiko applied logo here, and no scratched up crystal either. The seller describes the watch as being “dead stock”, but it needs to be highlighted that it doesn’t come with the original “GS” 18K buckle, rather is being supplied with a regular gold plated Seiko branded one.
I don’t believe the sticker on the caseback is original either, but there’s no denying that the case - like the dial - looks to be in superb condition.
Last week’s one ended up closing for a very cheap 209,000 Yen. This one should do considerably better than that.
We’ve had quite a handful of this final “Special” turn up in recent weeks. This certainly isn’t the best of the bunch, and there is a bit of a risk with it due to the poor quality photos not enabling a good assessment as to the condition, but I’m sure more than one person will be willing to take a bit of a punt on it, and I think whoever walks away the winner in the end will probably be pleasantly surprised when the watch turns up.
For those of you who have been patiently waiting for a really nice example of the first Grand Seiko to turn up, your patience is being rewarded.
There is a lot to like about this raised logo dialed example from January 1963, with the only major issue to point out being the scratch on the dial to the side of the one o’clock index.
Given it’s parallel with the index, I don’t think it would be too disconcerting to the eye when on the wrist, and so I suspect most bidders won’t be discounting their potential bids too much because of it.
All the pesky little details check out correctly for a watch manufactured at this time, and I can see this one doing very well indeed.
Yup - even from that tiny introductory photo it’s clear that this is an example of the highly covetable SD dialed variant of the 43999, that was only in production from August 1963 through to January 1964.
Unfortunately this listing is another example of one where the photos really do leave us wanting more - as with the 6156-8040 above, it’s pretty much impossible to truly assess the condition of the watch - but usually these dials age very well, and even in the very low resolution images, there are hints that the case is in very good condition -
- and so I think quite a few will be after this October 1963 example.
First of the “sets” this week (to qualify as a “set” in my book basically means a minimum of inner box and matching-numbers certificate should accompany the watch) is this 61GS from March 1969.
The watch itself is not in top condition, but it’s case looks to have had only light polishing over the years, and probably - given the copious signs of wear - not for quite some time.
The 6146-8000 is of course a very common reference, and utilises not the most livable-with of movements since there is no quickset for the day (it really can be quite a chore setting the day!), but any example with a matching numbers certificate is always worth a mention, so even despite the number of recommendations this week, it makes the cut.
This one will probably do pretty well as people are always after these on the original bracelets, however it should be pointed out that the case has had quite a bit of “attention”, so take that into consideration and don’t get too carried away if you do decide to have a nibble at it. Bracelet will fit a 19cm wrist though, so…
Plenty of these of late, but this one looks to have a very clean dial (parallax is your friend here - later photos how that rather conspicuous mark near the index at one is on the crystal, not the dial) and a nice sharp case.
I don’t know what the caseback inscription is celebrating, but if you’re not one to be put off by such things, this might just be the 44GS you’ve been waiting for.
Arguably the highlight of the week, and a reference that I know a lot of people have been patiently waiting for to turn up.
I’m pretty sure this is the first one of these to surface this year - a quick check of the index to the Friday newsletters shows that the last one to feature was back in December 2022.
The fact that the dial on this one has developed a very subtle, and even, patina just adds to the charm and desirability of the watch to me.
The only slight caveat is that this is listed by a seller who has a habit of refinishing the cases on pretty much everything he sells (the 6145-8050 above is also from him). However, with this reference having a hardened stainless steel case, if he has “had a go at it”, it doesn’t seem to have fared too badly, and judging by the hairline scratches on the lugs as seen below, he may even have left it as he found it.
This is a watch whose crystal does this -
Just a gorgeous reference, and I anticipate a big battle to land this one!
This is actually a relisting from an auction last week. I had it in my watchlist, but scrolled right past it when putting the newsletter together because I took one look at the main photo and thought to myself “why on earth did I mark that one up”, completely forgetting what what was shown in a later photo -
I’ll come back to what’s shown here later, but for now, let’s take another look at the lead photo in the listing -
Now I have no idea what it was that the seller used to take the photos for his listing, but I would strongly recommend he throws it in the bin.
At first sight, you’d think that was a really poorly reprinted dial. But I’m pretty convinced that what we are seeing here is actually the result of horrendous image processing from (presumably) a phone camera. Oddly enough, clicking through and checking one of the later images, things look decidedly more normal -
It’s still a garbage photo, and of very low resolution, but fortunately that horrific image processing doesn’t seem to have kicked in quite so much with this shot as it did in the lead photo, and - from what we can see here at least - the dial looks to be legit. Not only that, but at least now we can even ascertain which dial variant it is!
One thing that is clear, is that the seller of this listing doesn’t appreciate the significance of what he has, because the only clue as to what is included with the watch and (rather scrappy) inner box is in one very small photo.
Both swing-tags, what looks to be a spare buckle (although I’m pretty sure the one on the strap is the original), and three bits of paperwork.
The Chronometer booklet on top of the paperwork actually doesn’t belong with this set. It’s odd to see it here - either the original retailer of the watch included it in error, or possibly whoever is selling this also has/had another vintage Seiko (57GS, 46999 or 49999) and has mixed up their paperwork.
Underneath that booklet is the correct manual for the first Grand Seiko, and underneath that is the important bit - the certificate.
Now, obviously there is no shot of the certificate, but there is a shot of the movement with the serial number clearly visible. If you are planning to bid on this, I would strongly recommend asking the seller to confirm whether the numbers of the movement and certificate match - it makes a huge difference to the potential value of this set - if they don’t match, the chances of ever finding the correct certificate for the watch are, to quote from a film I’m off to see later today, “near zero”.
Also do ask whether the movement number on the back of the key-shaped swing tag also matches the movement and certificate.
My suspicion - given the seller doesn’t seem to know much about what he is selling - is that everything will match up, but that’s a huge leap of faith to make.
Regarding the watch itself, with the crappy photos it’s hard to be totally sure, but from what we can see, both dial and case look to be in excellent condition.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this write-up, this is actually a relisting of an auction from last week. If I remember correctly, that auction closed for something in the 1.4-1.5 million Yen range. Why it was cancelled I don’t know, but it will be interesting to see what happens this time around.
I’m in two minds as to which the correct section to put this one in is.
Here’s what they usually look like -
The reason that it just about snuck into the top half of the newsletter is that we know for a fact that there are examples of different “prototype” dials for the 564x-5010 series of watches that can be seen in watches at Seiko’s Monozukuri Museum at Suwa. See if you can spot them in Anthony’s write-up of his visit there in 2018.
Obviously there are a lot of questions to be asked about this particular dial (not the least of which is, “where is the minute track?!”), but if this is not from Grand Seiko originally, someone has gone to extraordinary lengths to create it.
One particularly interesting thing to note can be more clearly seen when we spin one of the later photos through 90 degrees -
Note that the “Automatic” font is different to what we see on the regular dial, and in fact this font actually matches that on another odd-dialed example of this reference in my own collection, pictured below -
Honestly - I just can’t make my mind up about the one I have - the odd printing of Automatic has always concerned me, and I haven’t had an opportunity to examine closely the interesting dials at Monozukuri to see if they share the same font.
So certainly the listing on Yahoo this week comes with a healthy dollop of caveat emptor, and I doubt it will go for much (especially considering the rather disappointing case), but it is nevertheless an extremely intriguing watch.
And I’m tempted.
Kicking off the bad guys this week is a listing that from the auction title and first photo makes you go “ooh ooh ooh!”, but that almost immediately turns to an disappointed “oh”.
It’s pretty rare to have such an egregiously cobbled together load of junk as seen here to turn up on Yahoo Japan, so it just goes to show that you do have to keep your wits together and check everything very carefully.
Well, pretty much everything.
First up, it’s worth mentioning that I have never seen an SD dialed 43999 full set on Yahoo, which is why I got pretty excited when I first saw this one. But I realised something wasn’t quite right as soon as I clicked on the link and saw the certificate, the movement number on which commences “51”.
From that - and without even looking at the watch - we can immediately tell that this is a very dodgy listing indeed, because no 43999 SD dialed watch should turn up with a 51 movement number.
In the 57GS series of watches, from the data I’ve collected so far, it looks as if there is a very tight (although not perfect) alignment of movement numbers and case serial numbers, and with just one (very odd) exception, all 1963 - as per the caseback serial - SD dialed 43999’s that I have in my database have movement numbers commencing with the number 3, and all 1964 SD dialed 43999’s have movement numbers starting with a 4.
This correlation continues with the 1964 and 1965 manufactured AD dialed 43999’s - all those from 1964 have movement numbers starting with a 4, and almost all those from 1965 have movement numbers starting with a 5.
There is no 57GS of any nomenclature in my database manufactured prior to January 1965 with a movement number starting with a 5.
So we know right off the bat that there is a major issue here with this set.
What about the watch itself?
Fake caseback protection sticker. Ugh - is this going to be a thing now?
November 1964 production date - so it’s not even a redone original dial, but a completely faked up one.
There are no shots of the movement - if it matched the certificate, I don’t doubt for one moment that the seller would have included a photo, but suffice to say, you won’t (legitimately) find a movement number starting with a 5 originating in a case indicating production in November 1964.
The icing on the cake is in the description -
“In addition, since it has been appraised and is definitely a genuine product, please bid with confidence.”
This one tingled the spidey-senses. Something not quite right about that dial. Let’s take a closer look -
And here’s a genuine one for comparison -
The dial on this one should be immediately suspect due to the thickness of the print. Note on the image below how little “dead space” there is within the SD compass symbol -
- when compared to a legitimate dial -
The other thing to look closely at is the “J” in Japan. Can you spot what’s wrong?
My suspicion is that rather than this being a completely reprinted dial, what we’re actually seeing here is a dial that has been “touched up”. Regardless of exactly what has been done to it though, it’s definitely one to avoid.
Redone coloured dial summary
I close with the usual reminder to steer clear of any vintage Grand Seikos with coloured dials similar to the above. This is not a comprehensive photo - there are many references that get this “treatment” so be careful out there!
the Grand Seiko guy is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.