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The Seiko 1971 Number 1 Catalogue
For the benefit of those subscribers who have signed up recently, each Tuesday I publish an article featuring scans of vintage Grand Seikos that appeared in the Seiko catalogues of the 1960’s and 1970’s. (Apologies for again being a day late!)
Although based on the articles originally published on TGSG website, these articles will be updated where appropriate with additional knowledge gained in the three or so years since they were first made available.
Additionally, since I now have the complete set of the catalogues, I am able to publish these articles in the correct chronological order - something that wasn’t possible when posting to the main website since, when starting out documenting the catalogues, I hadn’t completed my collection of them.
You can view the previously published newsletters in this series here.
The Seiko 1971 no.1 catalogue
In this week’s newsletter we take a look at the watches included in the 1971 No. 1 catalogue.
1970 closed out with no fewer than 40 distinct men’s Grand Seiko references available – 31 that were detailed in the volume 2 catalogue; 5 references featured exclusively in the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue; and the four references that marked the introduction of the first watches from the 56 GS series in the volume 2 supplement.
1971 showed a significant drop in the number of references featured, with just 27 men’s watches appearing on its pages. Logically, one may think that this was a sign of the impending introduction of quartz references produced in volume – after all, over a year had passed since the debut of the Quartz Astron on Christmas Day 1969 – but in actual fact, as we shall see in the next week’s newsletter, there is a jump back up to 35 references in volume 2’s catalogue of this year.
What is evident if one compares references available over this time period is that the 61GS series was being phased out and replaced by the 56GS series, with references from the former being dropped from the catalogues at a faster rate than those from the latter were being introduced.
Almost all existing 61GS references - 11 in total - were dropped for this catalogue, with just the cushion-cased -8020 references, that debuted in 1969’s volume 2 supplement catalogue, remaining.
But the first catalogue of 1971 wasn’t going to become a ghost town for the 61GS series, because taking pride of place at the top of page one were three references from a sub-series making their premier appearance on the scene, the “Specials”.
6156-8010, 6156-8000, 6155-8000
With no VFA’s appearing in this catalogue, the three watches pictured above were the top of the line steel cased Grand Seiko watches available. Presented as “fine adjustment devices”, the Specials sat between the regular Grand Seiko Standard and the VFA’s, being regulated to an accuracy of +/- 3 seconds per day. Other differences to the regular 6145 and 6146 movements were that both day and date could be quick-set from the crown on the 6156, and the day wheel was dual language, with either Japanese or English selectable.
Considering the significant improvement in accuracy over the regular 6145/6 watches (the Grand Seiko Standard was -5/+8 seconds per day), these watches provided remarkable value for money, at just a 13,000 Yen premium over the 6145/6-8000 equivalents. For the next step up to the VFA’s, the price doubled.
The most expensive Special – the 6156-8010 pictured first, with catalogue code 61GWL 020 – featured a hardened stainless steel case, and a faceted sapphire crystal, at a premium of 15,000 Yen over the price of the 6156-8000.
Which seems as good an excuse as any to share a studio photo of an example of this reference with a beautifully patinated dial.
5646-7005, 5646-7010 Cap Gold
The bottom half of the first page includes the 18K gold cased 5646-7005 that makes its first appearance in a regular catalogue (it was first introduced in 1970’s Special Luxury Catalogue). Next to it is a new reference – the 5646-7010 in Cap Gold case. It joins its steel-cased variant that first debuted in the supplement to 1970’s second catalogue, for a premium of 8,000 Yen.
5645-7010 Cap Gold
On page two, we find the final reference that makes its debut in this catalogue – the cap gold cased variant of the 5645-7010, which once again is available at an 8,000 Yen premium over the price of the equivalent steel-cased reference.
The remaining watches featured all carry over from the 1970 volume 2 catalogue and are shown in the gallery below.
In total, this catalogue features 7 references from the 61GS series, 8 from the 56GS series, and 12 from the 45GS series (all non-VFA 45GS series references carried over from the previous catalogue).
Below are presented scans of the front cover and pages one to five of the Seiko 1971 number 1 catalogue.