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The Seiko 1972 Special Luxury 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 1972 Special Luxury Catalogue
In this newsletter I take a look at the Grand Seiko watches included in the 1972 Special Luxury Catalogue, which featured four “Very Fine Adjusted” references – three of which were making their debut appearance in a catalogue, four watches from the 56GS series, and two from the 45GS series.
There are a total of 60 pages in this catalogue, out of which Grand Seiko is only represented on four.
As mentioned in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago on the Seiko 1972 Catalogue, I will be keeping watch on the presentation of quartz watches in the catalogues right up until the final appearance of Grand Seiko, because it provides a very useful context for just how rapidly quartz was taking prominence.
Let’s just briefly recap how we got here.
1970’s Special Luxury Catalogue was the first to feature quartz watches, with three references shown - the two Quartz Astrons, and the mythical 36SQC011.
At the tail end of the following year, the 1971 Special Luxury Catalogue expanded the quartz offering to seven references - three in 18K gold cases, and four cased in stainless steel.
I don’t believe scans of the pages in the 1971 SLC featuring quartz watches have ever been shared before, so here’s an exclusive -
(My thanks to the Seiko Museum in Tokyo for permitting me to scan and share their copy of this catalogue - if anyone has an original of this catalogue in mint condition and is willing to part with it, please do get in touch. I will pay a considerable amount of money for it, and indeed for the 1969 and 1970 SLC’s.)
One of these days I will get around to writing up a full article on all the early quartz references from Seiko - it is a fascinating subject. Do let me know if it is something you would be interested in. Maybe once I’ve finished this series of the catalogue based history of Grand Seiko?
Because things are about to get a little crazy in 1972’s SLC, one final reminder that the most expensive watch in the entire Seiko range at the beginning of 1969 was priced at 48,000 Yen.
Whilst I won’t be covering the whole catalogue in this article (sadly there is no gallery function on Substack, so it’s a little unrealistic to drop 60 photos at the end of the newsletter), it’s worth checking out the first few pages, leading with this -
What an absolute stunner! I’ve never seen an example of this reference come up for sale. Whilst the price is remarkable at 880,000 (but wait until you see what’s over the page), the most interesting thing about the watch is those three letters on the dial under Seiko - “V.F.A.”.
Reference 39SQC-037 herald’s the start of use of the “Very Fine Adjusted” moniker for quartz watches. In this single catalogue, more quartz VFA’s are launched than mechanical VFA’s will ever exist - 14 in all.
The VFA’s presented in the catalogue spanned both Daini’s 39-series movements, and the 38-series from Suwa.
The first of the Suwa VFA’s can be found on the third page of the catalogue.
I have never seen an example of the first watch on this page for sale nor in a collection - the platinum cased, lapis lazuli dialed 38SQ-024 sold for a staggering 2.6 million Yen.
People comment today on how Grand Seiko are moving up-market with both their offerings and the way they price them, but it is nothing compared to the moves Seiko made at the start of the seventies.
Oh, and that other watch featured on the page - the 38SQ-026 ? Here it is in all its glory -
To the best of my knowledge, pictured above this the sole example of this reference in existence today.
OK, that’s enough quartz for now. Let’s take a look at the Grand Seikos that feature in the catalogue, after all, that’s what you came for!
It’s not until page 21 in the catalogue that we find the Grand Seikos making an appearance.
The 1971 Special Luxury Catalogue featured one example each of the 5645-8000 and 5646-8000 with 18K cases and 18K gold bracelets. Here we see three.
Only one of the watches pictured here made an appearance in the 1971 SLC – the 56GAW-036 pictured at the top of the page. Immediately below it is what initially looks to be the same watch, but as hinted at by the -086 suffix to the catalogue code, it actually has a different dial.
It would seem that, after being on sale for just one year, Grand Seiko decided to update this reference by changing the earlier linen textured dial with a “starlight” one. This catalogue shows the cross-over by featuring both of the day-date variants, but only the newer example of the time and date 5645-8000.
The starlight textured dialed variants are substantially rarer than the linen dialed ones. In fact, at the time of originally writing this article for TGSG website, I’d never seen one, but subsequently I was very fortunate to acquire an example of the 5646-8000. As is always the case, the catalogue photo really doesn’t do the dial justice.
And here is a shot of the linen textured dialed 5645-8000 for comparsion -
The final 56GS reference featured in the catalogue is the 5641-5000, which first made an appearance in the previous year’s Special Luxury Catalogue.
Rounding out the 18K gold cased references in the catalogue are the venerable 4520-8010 and 4522-8010, making their tenth consecutive appearance in a Seiko catalogue. And it won’t be their last!
This being a Special Luxury Catalogue, the VFA’s have to wait in line behind the 18K gold cased watches before they can make an appearance.
I discussed in the earlier newsletter on the Seiko 1972 catalogue that the sole VFA reference featured in it, the 6185-8021, effectively replaced the earlier 6185-8020 reference. One peculiar oddity regarding the 1972 Special Luxury Catalogue is that we see the earlier watch once more. This is despite the fact that probably close to a year would have passed between the production of the two catalogues.
Quite why it is this reference that is featured here isn’t clear, but there is no mistaking it with its lack of “VFA” printed on the dial, and the Suwa factory logo clearly being applied rather than printed.
This publication was the last Seiko catalogue in which either of the two references that shared the 6185-030 catalogue code made an appearance.
There can be no confusion over the other two VFA’s featured on this page though. They are the 6186-8000’s, available with either silvered or blue dials, and are making their first catalogue appearance.
Although I will be writing up the catalogue appearances of the ladies Grand Seikos in a separate article later, it is worth mentioning that this catalogue also debuted the 19GS S-400 - the Ladies VFA. Interestingly, it is not on a regular page of the catalogue, but rather featured on a separate card that it is inserted into a pocket in the inside back cover.
No gallery this week - if I put 60 images here it would probably break a number of inboxes - but you can find every page of this catalogue scanned and uploaded to the original article on TGSG website.