Discover more from the Grand Seiko guy
This is where my jurisdiction ends.
And this is where mine begins.
They say that you wait all day for a bus, and then two come along at once.
There are a small handful of vintage Grand Seiko references that have not turned up on Yahoo auction listings in the two years that I have been writing these newsletter. Remarkably, within the space of a couple of days this week, two1 examples of what is arguably one of the most highly sought after references were listed!
There are also some other cracking auctions this week, and an occasional feature - a watch listed at a dealer - makes a return featuring a vintage Grand Seiko from an unlikely source!
It’s a very busy week, so read on…
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It’s pretty rare for an 18K gold cased example of the 614x-8000 to turn up on an open auction, where bidding starts at just 1 yen, but that’s what we have here.
Although only listed on Wednesday, and still having 4 days to run, bidding has already passed 400,000 Yen. The watch is listed by the seller who shifts a lot of product, and who only provides four photos for each listing. With close to 1,600 watches currently listed this week, it’s not hard to understand why the dealer only has time for a few quick snaps of each watch, but it doesn’t help when evaluating the product.
Here it is quite challenging to work out the condition of the case. If we look at the top lugs, it looks like they are very soft and have suffered some extensive polishing over the decades, but if we look at the bottom lugs, they appear to be significantly sharper.
This is unfortunately one of the risks you have to take when buying remotely from Yahoo, especially if the watch has not been well presented, as is always the case with this company’s listings.
Away from the case, the dial looks relatively OK, with just a few minor stain spots around the edge.
Personally, if I were after one of these, I’d give this a pass, but they rarely come up on open auction, so I felt it was worth mentioning.
Although this one has the wrong crown (yes, even I can spot this one!), and the print on the dial shows some bleeding, I still think it’s worth including because the case looks to be very crisp.
One point of interest about the watch is the movement number. Almost every SD dialed 43999 that I’ve seen with caseback serial numbers indicating manufacture in 1963 have movement numbers that commence “30”, and all examples I’ve seen that was manufactured in January 1964 have movement numbers starting “40”. 3 for 1963 production, 4 for 1964 - pretty clear there, no?
Here we can see the movement number starts “04”. Most peculiar, but I have seen one other similar example (it’s not the same watch - I double checked) - also from October 1963 as this one is - with an “04” movement.
The movement numbering is probably destined to remain for all time yet another of those Seiko mysteries, but I certainly wouldn’t let it put me off. If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions as to what might be behind this, do share in the comments!
We have seen so many faked examples of this reference over the last couple of years (we had one just last week), I was beginning to wonder if a legitimate one would ever turn up. But this week there are two! Unfortunately neither of them are in what I would call “great” condition, but this is by far the better of the pair, and well worth considering.
Examples of the first Grand Seiko with the print logo dial are extraordinarily rare, with the two listed this week meaning that finally the number that have turned up on Yahoo Japan in the last decade breaks into double digits.
There have been numerous suggestions over the years as to why these exist - one popular theory is that they were made to make up for the shortfall in yields from the carved logo dial manufacturing process; another (oft repeated, but provably incorrect) suggestion is that the earliest watches were made with printed logo dials, and then Seiko moved to the carved dials.
What can be reasonably determined from research into the examples that have turned up is that the print logo dials only (legitimately) appear on watches manufactured in the first quarter of production of the reference - April through June, 1960.
Unfortunately with this listing there are no photos provided of the inside of the caseback, nor the movement, so there is no way to check the serial numbers. Suffice to say, the case serial should start with either 04, 05, or 06, and the movement number should start 60.
One other rather obvious issue with the watch is that the caseback medallion is missing. This is a surprisingly common issue with watches from the first quarter’s production - no fewer than four of the print logo dial first Grand Seikos that I’ve seen in the past have missing medallions. This makes number 5.
Whilst for many people (myself included for a long while), it’s the carved logo dialed variants that hold most appeal aesthetically, over time I have come to prefer the printed logo for its simple, restrained presentation.
I doubt there are two words more likely to excite those who pour over listings of vintage Grand Seiko on Yahoo Japan than “dead stock”. Ok, maybe “caseback sticker” would come a close second?
They go hand in hand though really - you’re very unlikely to come across a watch with an intact caseback sticker that has ever been worn, and the very definition of “dead stock” implies that if the watch was produced with a caseback protection sticker when it left the manufacture, it should still be intact.
It is important to recognise that the term doesn’t mean the same as “new old stock”. Strictly speaking, something that is said to be in “NOS” condition should be exactly as you would find it, were you to jump in a time machine and go raid the shop’s stockroom. “New old stock” should come with all boxes, papers, swing tags, etc, and be in absolutely mint original condition - not a single mark on the case, no sign of aging whatsoever on the dial.
I don’t believe there is any question whatsoever that this listing deserves its “dead stock” description. It would require closer examination of the strap to determine if it was ever put on a wrist, but it ticks every box required to qualify.
Bidding is up to 200,000 Yen with a couple of days still to go, and I rather suspect there are quite a few people waiting in the wings and biding their time to get involved with the bidding on this one. Sunday evening is going to be very interesting indeed.
Just one thing that is slightly odd - that “Chronometer” swing tag. It seems hard to believe that Grand Seiko would still be shipping watches with any chronometer branding as late as this watch is dated to (the caseback indicates production in March 1967). But I wouldn’t let that concern anyone. See you at the finish line for this one!
(oh - there’s another example of this reference that is just a few hundred serial numbers away, and also closing on Sunday night. It’s in pretty good condition - assuming the dial code is intact and it’s just the crystal blocking it - and will be an interesting “marker” to establish the price differential for something in dead stock condition.)
Although typically collectors like to acquire examples of the 614x-8050’s on their original bracelets (when new, they were only ever sold on bracelets, and never on straps), the condition of this one is good enough that I think it deserves a strong recommendation.
Whilst the case does show quite a few signs of wear and tear, it is in extremely sharp condition - up there with the best I’ve ever seen on one of these in fact.
The original crystal has a few chips around the edge, but from the photos provided does not appear to have any major scratches on the surface (something that is very common on these due to how many times they would have got knocked as the wearer didn’t fully appreciate just how high of the wrist that crystal sat!).
If you’re not too concerned about wearing one of these on a bracelet, this one comes highly recommended.
Late dial 44GS’s are appearing all over the place this week (and there’s another one coming up later!). For those who haven’t yet seen it, I’ve just had a case back from the master lapinist Kamil in Poland who has rescued a case for me that had been very poorly repolished in Japan. I’ve posted a video to my Instagram account showing a side-by-side comparison of that reconditioned case against an unpolished service case that still has its caseback sticker intact, and it makes for very interesting viewing.
The watch appearing in this listing looks to be in superb condition. The dial would appear to be immaculate, and the case is in superb condition. Yes, it has a few minor dings and scratches, and yes, it’s almost certainly had some gentle “attention”, but it’s certainly up there with any other example that I’ve featured in the newsletters.
If you’re looking to add one of these to your collection, this is about as good as you could hope to find and enjoy wearing (without getting into silly territory for watches that would be considered by many to be “safe queens”).
Well, I did promise you two of these this week!
This one has several distinct advantages over the earlier listing, but sadly there is one significant downside.
First the good news - the original caseback medallion is present and correct; we have photos of the inside caseback and movement showing a case serial number of 0411365 - dating the watch to the first month of production, April 1960 - and a movement serial number of 600642. As a point of reference, the earliest movement number I’ve ever seen was 600045.
Sadly though, the dial has clearly seen better days. Much better days.
Don’t worry about that plethora of what look like circular scratches - those are actually stress fractures in the crystal, and not on the dial (nor indeed are they scratches on the crystal surface). But do worry about many of the other flaws that are obviously on the dial itself, the most worrisome area of all being between the four and six indices.
As for the marks around the ten and eleven indices -
- that arc around the ten index is a shadow from a crystal flaw, but unfortunately the thick black scratch either side of the index at eleven is on the dial.
It is verging on the upsetting to see the watch in this condition, because of course it truly is all about the dials with these. With a more positive hat on though, isn’t it just fantastic that the watch has survived all these years despite its very obvious flaws, flaws that may well have tempted many other owners to have discarded watches in similar condition, or perhaps have them broken down for spare parts?
So no, on reflection I’m not going to be sad about this one. I’m going to be very thankful that it has survived, and trust that the next owner continues to cherish and enjoy it.
In a week where there are several watches that can be expected to close for pretty significant prices, it’s great to be able to include a lovely example of one of the most common vintage Grand Seiko references.
Whilst this one is not in perfect condition, regular readers will know by now that I just can’t resist highlighting examples of the 564x-7010 whose dials have patinated, and who wouldn’t want to check the time on multiple occasions throughout the day on a watch with a beautiful dial as seen here?
Two added bonuses with this one - firstly, as can be seen, the watch includes the original (or at least, the correct) buckle. Secondly, the description confirms the quickset day/date and also regular daily rollover of the day/date are functioning correctly, which always provides some piece of mind with the a watch in the 56GS series, whose day/date changeover mechanism is prone to failing.
That doesn’t imply the watch might not need a service of course, but that goes for pretty much any watch bought from Yahoo.
Oh my goodness.
Did I say there were two print logo dialed Firsts this week? Well, I was wrong - this got listed last night, and I’ve only just come across it in the course of going through the listings to write this newsletter.
Three in a week. To say my gabber was flasted would be an understatement.
Unfortunately this final example combines the negative aspects of the earlier two listings, with a dial showing even more damage, a missing caseback medallion, and images of neither the inside caseback nor movement to check the serial numbers.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what these all close for. Would your desire for a print logo dial first stretch to the extent that you’d be prepared to compromise this much on quality to acquire one - albeit at what will probably be a pretty low price?
Discuss below please!
Not the best choice of lighting to shoot a watch, that’s for sure, but at least there are sufficient images from enough angles to establish that this is a very nice example indeed of the reference, with a superb unpatinated dial (we’ve seen in the past how these can change over the years), and a lovely sharp case with traces of surface oxidation that show that nobody has attempted to “polish it up” in many a year.
It’s not a vintage Grand Seiko, but I like it
Citizen’s first digital watch dates from 1974 - a little behind Seiko - and has a few fascinating features that are worth highlighting.
Firstly, those digits in the bottom right of the display are not the running seconds, it’s the date. The watch can display running seconds, but you have to hold the crown in to view them, where they take over the section of the display usually reserved for the date.
The day is rather ingeniously displayed by having a series of LCD bars over printed days of the week. Each day, one of these bars is clear so you can see the print underneath, whilst the others stay black to cover up the text that needs to be hidden.
There is a recessed pusher in the case at about “eight o’clock” that allows the resetting of the seconds. Push it in in the first 30 seconds of the minute, and the watch will reset to the start of that minute. Push it in in the second 30 seconds of the minute, and the watch will reset to the start of the next minute.
It’s an absolutely genius design to allow perfect resetting of the time with a single button push, and is commonly found on both Citizen’s digital and analogue quartz watches of the era.
The final intriguing design element is that you can actually conserve the battery’s energy - and thus extensively prolong the time between battery changes - by turning the crown one step clockwise, which turns off the LCD display. This is a feature that is particularly useful for anyone who is interested in the early days of digital watches and has a large collection of them!
I think I’m right in saying that this reference was originally produced in three variants with different coloured inserts - blue, as seen here, green, and black. Or at least, those are the three different colours I’ve managed to track down and add to the collection!
The watch on offer here dates from October 1974, and is on its original bracelet, which is always a nice bonus, and the blue is certainly the rarer of the three colourways.
I’ll be following this one closely, and will be sure to snap it up if things don’t get too heated!
One of the things that has always fascinated me is how different dealers choose to present their wares.
Anyone who has way too much time on their hands and watches my watchdxb Instagram stories (which I very much consider to be throwaway observations of little consequence, and not anything to be dwelled on for longer than they took to create) might have seen some of my past rants on the way companies such as Hodinkee or Watchbox photograph their watches. How anyone can make a buying decision on their second hand product based on the images provided is, to me, quite remarkable, but it does go to show that there is a big market out there of watch collectors who are quite happy to buy watches without getting a full sense as to the condition.
Other companies, and A Collected Man is a great example, shoot their product in a way to evoke an emotional response from the viewer, rather than fully convey its condition. This listing for a £750,000 Roger Smith is a perfect example, with the majority of (the admittedly beautifully shot) images crafted to convey the feelings one might get from owning the piece. But you could hardly claim that - even with the “product” shots at the end - you are presented with images that present the condition of the watch.
Wind Vintage I am sure will be known to pretty much every reader, but I believe this is the first time that they have featured a vintage Grand Seiko on their pages, and I have some observations.
Firstly, regarding the presentation of the watch, 70% of them show the watch on the wrist. Wrist shots are great of course, but it is impossible to present the entirety of the condition of a watch with wrist shots.
The watch is described with a total of 54 words. That’s fewer than half the number of words than I use in the second paragraph of this section. And those words, along with the photos, are basically all his potential customers have to go on in order to make a purchasing decision.
My suspicion is that the vast majority of Mr Wind’s customers do not own a vintage Grand Seiko. Whether Wind Vintage are “dipping their toe” into vintage Grand Seiko to see if it an avenue worth further exploration, or perhaps just looking to shift on a watch taken in trade (or possibly on consignment), I have no idea.
Some context perhaps is required. These are a few choice words from Mr Wind on vintage Grand Seiko from a podcast a while back -
“I would say about why I haven’t really purchased them is you know not knowing the market precisely but more importantly not knowing the exact specifics of what I’m buying. Many of these watches to my understanding they almost all were sold in Japan originally, almost exclusively for the Grand Seikos, so I’m not really finding them from original owners. I bought King Seikos before, I’ve bought tons of Seikos from original owners here in the US, but I’ve never seen an original owner Grand Seiko watch when I was at Christie’s or just as an independent dealer, and that’s one way, as you buy more of something, you understand what’s correct or not, so my sense is many of the watches might be kind of Frankenstien watches or modified-improved.”
This watch was originally listed at $4,900. Shortly after I highlighted it in my Instagram stories (with no commentary other than the word “Interesting”), the price was dropped to $3,900 - I’m sure this was just a coincidence though and in no way was the price cut a result of my sharing a link to the listing.
Personally I would love to see vintage Grand Seiko get more recognition from the “established players” amongst watch dealers. Yes, it would perhaps have the negative impact of significantly increasing demand, and hence the prices we all end up paying, but there is a long-term upside to that as well of course.
My concern though is that - on this evidence at least - the big dealers simply don’t have the intellectual bandwidth to invest time into learning about the watches. One simple Google on this reference would have brought up the example of the early dial 4420-9000 with box and paper that sold at Phillips a couple of years ago.
Had Wind Vintage spent just a few moments looking over that listing, perhaps the following errors would not have been made.
The reference number is 4420-9000, not 4420-9090. This is repeated twice, so no, it can’t be simply put down as a typo.
If you’re going to make the ultimate claim that a watch case is unpolished, you’d better be prepared to back it up with images and ideally video that prove that.
It is not paired with the original strap.
The outer box is incorrect.
The inner box is incorrect.
The manual is incorrect.
The swing tags are incorrect.
It is very concerning to me that a dealer with the reputation of Mr Wind would present a watch - any watch - to his customers with so many errors.
Surely they deserve better?
First up from the bad guys this week is the representative listing from the chap who makes an appearance pretty much every week with “redone” dialed watches.
This SD dialed 43999 currently has the most bids of all his listings and so gets featured, but remember that there are always more. Do check out the account responsible for this listing and be extremely wary of anything listed by it.
There are redone dials you can spot from a mile off, and this is one of them. You don’t even have to waste any time clicking through from the thumbnail in the Yahoo category listings to know to give it a pass!
Always interesting to see one of these turn up - I sold one myself just recently (which rather frustratingly got damaged in transit and so is back in my hands to see if it can be repaired).
The -9010 dial variant of the 6246-9001 exists in both stainless steel and cap gold versions. As with so many “tweaked” references from Seiko, its reason for existing is not clear, and subject to some conjecture. My personal thoughts are that the watch was introduced to test the market’s reception to Grand Seiko moving away from polished handsets and indices which we see introduced in the successor to the 62GS series, the 61GS.
The example presented here looks to be in very good condition (quite honestly, it’s in better condition than the one now back in my hands!), although the case has softened up over the years.
There is a big caveat though that explains why this listing is with the bad guys, and it is only clear from an answer the seller has given to a question that someone asked -
Which translates to something like “The dial and movement are glued together due to some bending/breakage.”
I suspect that might make servicing the watch rather challenging!
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” (once again, there seem to be a lot of these listed this week) so be careful out there.
Ok that’s it for this week - the newsletter has taken up rather a lot of time this morning, and I’ve got to head out, so no time for a proof-read. Hopefully not too many typos/errors, but feel free (nay, I encourage you!) to highlight any you come across!
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