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I've got a little itch… down there. Would you mind?
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide guidance on which vintage Grand Seiko auctions on Yahoo Japan might be of interest to collectors. I also detail those “dodgy” listings that you need to avoid.
What you will notice is that this isn’t just a simple list of auction listings - in discussing the merits (and demerits) of the listings I often branch off into a bit of background that I hope will be useful in helping you to learn some of the nuances of collecting vintage Grand Seiko.
For those paid subscribers who are reading one of these newsletters for the first time, you can access the archive of all the previous newsletters on the Substack website (or the iPhone and Android apps).
Going forward, I will be unlocking these newsletters a week after sending them out to paid subscribers. The main benefit is of course alerting paid subs to the auctions that they might be interested in bidding on (and avoiding), but I feel the educational value post-close of the auctions is only fair to share to all.
Important note for UK and EEA subscribers -
Yahoo Japan is now actively blocking connections from the UK and the European Economic Area due to the prohibitive costs of adhering to the GDPR regulations for a relatively small number of users.
To get around this for the purposes of this newsletter, links to the auctions detailed will be provided through one of the Japanese proxy companies - FromJapan.
Whilst I have been a customer of FromJapan for many years, I do not receive any benefits from using these links.
the Grand Seiko guy is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
As per usual, I will commence with the good guys - welcome Mr Craig!
For those readers outside the EU (or those in Europe who use VPN’s to access Yahoo Japan), I would encourage you to click through to the actual Yahoo Japan listing to check out listings rather than just rely on the FromJapan links that I provide here.
The reason is that this week Yahoo Japan have rolled out new functionality that enables automatic zooming on the image when you roll your mouse over it.
As can be clearly seen when taking advantage of this new feature, the 4522-8000 in this listing is in great condition with a really sharp case and a clean dial. Certainly it’s one of the best examples to turn up in a while, so if you’re after one of these, be prepared to have to put up quite a fight for it.
Well this is weird.
In last week’s newsletter, I made a mistake in a description for another example of this reference that was also sold on a bracelet not intended for it (thanks again to Jacky for pointing out the error in my write-up), and that was sold with a box.
When I saw this listing, my immediate assumption was that it was the same watch relisted again, but no - this is a completely different example. Of the same reference. On a bracelet that was not intended for it. And with a box.
Not wanting to repeat my error of last week, rather than relying on my memory, I examined the images very carefully and cross-referenced back to Anthony Kable’s great article on the vintage Grand Seiko bracelets.
This time around, I can confirm that the bracelet is a genuine vintage Grand Seiko bracelet, XAB271 - the exact same bracelet that I thought last one’s was - that was originally intended for another reference (the 6156-8000 “Special”).
So we almost have the same situation that I thought we had last week, but with a genuine GS bracelet and the wrong box. The “Hi-Beat 36000” on the inside of the lid of the box indicates that this box is meant something from either the 45GS or 61GS series (the 56GS series calibers run at 28,800bph).
There is one glaring issue with this watch though that can be seen in the above screenshot. The medallion has been removed and either replaced or re-stuck down. I am almost certain that it is an original medallion and not a modern reproduction though. Medallions on vintage Grand Seikos should always align with the caseback markings as per the following image -
The added value in this listing is in the box and the bracelet. That is especially true if - as it looks to be the case in the final photo - the auction also includes the outer white card box.
One of the great things about collecting vintage Grand Seiko is that it is possible to put together collections at many different price points. Whilst certain references are now commanding prices in the $100,000 ballpark, it’s still possible to pick up beautiful examples of vintage pieces for under $1,000.
For many reasons, one of the most popular “starter” references is the 5646-7010, seen here in its silver sunburst dial variant (the more common examples of this reference can be found with the matte white dials).
There appears to be a slight stain between the four and five indices, but if you check all the photos, the parallax shows that this actually seems to be a mark on the crystal, and a read of the description confirms this, although we need to be very careful with the Google translation! -
“Dirt around 3:00 and 4:00 is something on the windshield (I dropped it after taking the picture).”
No, he didn’t drop the watch - that’s a mis-translation for removing it! A better translation - as is usually the case - is provided by DeepL.
“The scratches around 3 and 4 o'clock are from the windshield (I removed them after taking the picture).”
Hmm. Although I guess the best translation is actually a combination of both of those - come on AI translation, there’s still work to be done here!
The case looks to be in superb condition, but as with all examples of the 5646- references, unless explicitly stated in the description that the day/date mechanism is working, assume it is not, and that you will have to have that addressed at a service.
A couple of weeks ago I featured another example of this reference that ended up selling for 314,000 Yen which I would suggest was a great pick-up by the winning bidder.
This one though you need to be a little more careful with. Unfortunately it is listed by the seller who only provides four photos for every watch he sells, and with this reference the thing to always look out for is degradation of the dial around its periphery.
Here we can see that there does appear to be some minor issue at the edge of the dial between the 8 and 10 indices, and with much of the dial periphery not visible in any photo, in my view this one is a little risky to chase.
What is worth mentioning though is that the issues are confined to the very edge of the dial - possibly just what we see above - and they won’t be as grating to the naked eye as they are in highly magnified images.
Sometimes when these 564x-5000’s turn up, there are more significant issues prominently on the dial such as seen in this example from an auction a few years back -
This will probably be one of the most watched auctions of the week. It’s a pretty decent example of the coveted early dial variant of the 4420-9000, and comes from a reputable seller who presents his listings very well.
The pictures tell the story here - it’s far from perfect (both dial and case have issues), but would make for a great watch to wear, rather than stick in the safe. If you’re patient, a better example will turn up at some point, but it will be a lot more expensive than whatever this ends up hammering for.
One slight caveat to this recommendation - the seller states that the bracelet has been ultra-sonically cleaned, but it should be pointed out that this seller typically refinishes the cases of the watches he sells, so it’s entirely possible the bracelet has been refinished as well.
Having said that, he does a very good job, and there is no doubting the attractiveness of this bracelet (nor indeed many of the watches that he lists).
There is one thing in the description that I don’t fully understand (regardless of whose automated translation service I pick), and that’s “The hook plate at the end has come off”. If anyone can work out what he is referring to here, please do let me know in the comments.
The bracelet is listed as being 16cm in length, so once on a watch should be good for all but the chunkiest of wrists.
Whilst everyone will know that the box on the right is for watches in the 56GS series, I suspect that very few will be aware of the watch that was originally in the box on the left.
Whilst its smaller size might make you think that it’s for something from the ladies 19GS series (and wouldn’t it go great with the green dialed 19GS VFA!), that’s actually not the case.
The 5722-9970 - the Toshiba commemorative reference.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen one of these come up for auction, and you would have to hunt far and wide to find any other photo of it. In fact, the only place I’ve ever seen this before - and the only evidence I have for stating that it’s for the Toshiba 57GS - is because one of the top Japanese collectors posted a photo of this box complete with certificate, guarantee, strap, buckle, and watch on his Instagram feed back in 2021.
There is going to be the mother of all battles to win this auction - can’t wait to watch it!
Last week I highlighted a 6156-8010 that I felt was listed at a very attractive BiN price. Someone here clearly agreed, because the watch sold very soon after the newsletter went out.
This week it’s the turn of a 43999 AD dial that I’m going to be bold enough to say would be a great pick-up at the prompt decision price, which is just 130,000 Yen.
Whilst it clearly could do with a visit to a spa for a clean-up (is that paint on the top left lug? I’ve never seen a dent or scratch look like that!), the watch is in overall really great condition.
It has what looks to be an immaculate dial, a really nice sharp case - with a matching condition caseback to accompany it - and of course that original well worn down crown that you know I love so much on these. The only thing we can’t ascertain is the state of the movement, and the watch is not shown running.
However, parts for the 57GS calibers are plentiful and cheap, and whatever the state of the movement, it wouldn’t be too challenging to get it back up and running (if needs be).
The auction is scheduled to close in a little under 8 hours from my sending out this newsletter. I’ll start the stopwatch when I hit the “publish” button - let’s see how long it stays up for!
It’s not a vintage Grand Seiko, but I like it
To the best of my recollection, this is the first time that an example of 2013’s recreation of the 44GS in 18K gold has ever turned up in an open auction on Yahoo Japan (by “open”, what I mean is that there was no minimum starting bid - this auction started at 1 Yen).
Just 70 pieces of SBGW044 were ever created, and in the rare instances that one does come to the market, they are usually to be found at one of the pawn shops, and listed on Rakuten and/or Yahoo Japan Auctions at a high minimum bid or BiN price.
Currently, there is another example of this reference listed on both Rakuten and Yahoo with a dealer in Nagoya at a price of 2.6 million Yen, and last year an example of the white gold 44GS recreation SBGW043 sold at a dealer in Tokyo for 2.2 million Yen.
Of all the recreations that Grand Seiko have issued over the years, 2013’s of the 44GS are unquestionably my favourites. Unlike with the first Grand Seiko, the 44GS has only been “recreated” on that one occasion (SBGW047 in steel, SBGW043 in white gold, SBGW044 as seen here in yellow gold, and SBGW046 in rose gold), to celebrate Seiko’s 100th year of watchmaking.
Given the emphasis in the modern marketing material on how the current “44GS” case is a “modern reinterpretation” for a “new age”, I suspect we won’t be seeing any more true recreations in the future.
Don’t be put off by that apparent dial flaw in the first image. Subsequent photos show that it’s just a reflection - the watch looks to be in superb condition, and is complete with box and papers and even the commemorative swing tag.
References in the current range with 18K gold cases start at $19,000 (for SBGK006) and go all the way up to $49,000 (for SLGA008). $19K is pretty much the price of the SBGW044 in Nagoya, so there is little chance that this will hammer for anything approaching that.
Personally I would take this watch over any of the modern 18K gold pieces. If you’ve got deep pockets and are interested in this one, the best of luck to you! When thinking of how much to chase it, do note that examples of the stainless steel SBGW047 - of which there were ten times as many produced - are now knocking on the door of 1 million yen, and at launch, the 18K gold recreations were priced at more than 3x that of the steel.
Unsurprisingly our “friend” is back with another of his favourite re-done dials, although the printing on this one isn’t exactly the same as the one featured last week. That one sold for over 200,000 Yen - as long as people keep buying these, he’s going to keep pumping them out.
Be very careful if you’re in the market for a 44GS as there are now some examples of watches with pretty good redone dials turning up.
This is not one of those though, and should be easily spotted now as a poor redial by anyone who is a regular reader of this newsletter.
Obvious re-dial here, which is a shame because the rest of the watch looks good.
Absolutely no idea exactly what this started out as!
Based on the quality of the print of the “Chronometer” text on this one, I’d say that whoever is doing these has really upped their game.
There are plenty of other tells though - the most obvious being the incorrect dial code, which I have no doubt will be corrected at some point now I’ve highlighted it.
As for the rest? I won’t be sharing those.
Redone coloured dial summary
As usual, 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”, and several listings typically appear every week.
This week we have another new colour released which is attracting a lot of interest - I guess if you are into this kind of thing, it does have some appeal!
See you all next week - and don’t forget, if you see a vintage Grand Seiko from any source that you are contemplating purchasing, and would like me to have a look over it for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
the Grand Seiko guy is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.