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The Seiko 1971 Number 2 Catalogue
For the benefit of those subscribers who have signed up recently, each Tuesday or Wednesday I publish an article featuring scans of vintage Grand Seikos that appeared in the Seiko catalogues of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
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.2 catalogue
I noted in my previous article on the first catalogue from 1971 that the number of references featured in the range took quite a dip compared to what was available at the end of 1970. The primary reason for this decline was that the 61GS series references were being dropped from the presented range faster than they were being replaced by watches from the 56GS series. This of course doesn’t necessarily mean that the range on offer to the public in the shops saw any dramatic overnight decrease in breadth, as no doubt stock of the discontinued references would still be available at retail for some time after it was no longer possible for the retailers to place orders for them.
The 35 men’s Grand Seiko references featured in this catalogue represents the highest number offered in any single Seiko catalogue of the vintage Grand Seiko era. This catalogue is also notable as being the last of the vintage catalogues to lead with Grand Seiko.
Those two facts are not unrelated, as from 1972 onwards the quartz revolution – instigated by Seiko themselves with the introduction of the Quartz Astron on December 25th 1969 – started to take hold.
As with all newsletters in this series on the Seiko catalogues, I will be focusing on what changes there were compared to the previously issued catalogue. In this instance, every men’s Grand Seiko reference that appears in the 1971 volume 1 catalogue also features in this publication; six new references are introduced; and two references that featured in the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue, but that were missing from the first 1971 catalogue, make reappearances.
Two VFA’s, and a Special on a bracelet
The first page of the catalogue leads with two of the crown jewels of the entire vintage Grand Seiko era – the “Very Fine Adjusted” watches, or “VFA’s” for short. Neither watch featured here is actually making its catalogue debut.
The first one – 6185-8020 (catalogue code 6185 030) – actually is making its fourth catalogue appearance, having debuted in the 1969 Special Luxury Catalogue, and then appearing in both the second volume, and Special Luxury Catalogue of 1970. Why it was dropped for the 1971 volume 1 catalogue will probably forever remain a mystery.
The second VFA – confusingly with the same 6185-8020 movement-case code (catalogue code 6185 050) – is making just its second appearance, having debuted in the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue.
Of the four “Specials” accompanying the VFA’s on page 1 of the catalogue, all but the one pictured on the lower left of the page were introduced in the previous catalogue. The watch pictured, with a movement-case reference of 6156-8000, identical to the watch next to it except for the fact it is offered on a stainless steel bracelet for a premium of 3,000 Yen.
Occasionally one sees other “Special” references also on this bracelet, but it should be stressed that the bracelet was only ever shown in a catalogue on the 6156-8000 reference.
However, the 1972 Seiko Watchband Catalogue details this bracelet as being available as a separate item, and mentions that it would fit both the 6155- and 6156-8000 references. The page from that catalogue featuring the bracelet (with catalogue code XAB271) is reproduced below.
Note that despite the HSS cased 6156-8010 being in the range at the time this watchband catalogue was issued, it is not mentioned as being a watch that the bracelet was designed for.
5646-7010 on bracelet
Just a single reference on page two of the catalogue is “new”, that being the 5646-7010 – first offered in the 1970 volume 2 supplemental catalogue on a leather strap – now available with a steel bracelet. Again, as with the Special on the previous page, the additional cost to for the bracelet was 3,000 Yen. On a leather strap, the 5646-7010 is almost certainly the most commonly found vintage Grand Seiko reference today, but it is extremely rare to come across one that retains this bracelet.
As with that for the 6156-8000, this bracelet can also be found in the 1972 watchband catalogue, albeit at almost twice the price if bought separately, compared with the premium if bought on the watch.
It’s not until we turn to page four that we finally come across what can be regarded as truly new references.
For the first time in the history of the vintage Grand Seiko era we are presented with watches that are based on an automatic time-only caliber. The 5641-7005 (solid 18K gold case) and 5641-7000 (brushed stainless steel case) are two of only three references that would use the 5641 movement.
We have seen this case design before - in the supplement to volume 2 of the 1970 catalogue, it was introduced with the date, and day-date 5645 and 5646 movements in steel cases, and in the 1970 Special Luxury catalogue, their 18K gold cased counterparts debuted.
With all six variants of this case design appearing in this catalogue, it’s a shame that those responsible for the publication’s layout didn’t see fit to present the watches together on a single page. An opportunity sadly missed five decades ago, but one that can be addressed today with a bit of Photoshopping -
4520-7000 (cap gold case), 4522-7000 (cap gold case)
The final two new references featured in this catalogue are variants of existing watches from the 45GS series.
Retaining the same movement-case codes as their blue and white dialed steel-cased equivalents, the time only 4520-7000 (catalogue code 45GS 020) and date 4522-7000 (catalogue code 45GSC 020) are strikingly designed watches with cap gold cases. Sadly, they are very hard to find in good condition these days – presumably they were not particularly popular designs at the time, and many seem to have had very tough lives since, so I make no apologies for sharing this studio shot of a beautifully preserved example -
This is the sole catalogue in which these references are to be found.
As mentioned at the top of the article, this was the final catalogue from Seiko to feature Grand Seikos at the beginning of the publication. From 1972 through to 1975, we will see a rapid decline in the number of Grand Seiko watches in the range as quartz starts to take over. But next week, there is one more catalogue from 1971 to detail.
Below are presented scans of pages one to six of the Seiko 1971 number 2 catalogue.