Discover more from the Grand Seiko guy
Vintage Grand Seiko for Women
For the benefit of those subscribers who have signed up recently, each week I have been publishing a newsletter 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 newsletters have been 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 have been 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 - which is now complete and covers all the men’s watches appearing in catalogues - here.
Vintage Grand Seiko for Women
Now that I have completed my series of newsletters on the men’s Grand Seikos that featured in the old Seiko catalogues of the 1960’s and 1970’s, I need to close things off with a couple of epilogues, the first of which is this article, that serves to provide an overview of the vintage Grand Seikos that were made for women.
I decided to present the women’s watches separately for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it’s a simple fact that the vast majority of those people who collect vintage Grand Seiko, or are simply learning about the history of the brand, will be interested almost exclusively on the men’s watches – women’s watches, regardless of brand, are just not of much interest to most collectors.
But secondly, I of course do recognise that for those people who are interested in ladies watches, it probably makes more sense to group them all together and present them in one single article, rather than expecting the interested collector to bounce around multiple different articles hunting down just a small paragraph of text relevant to the offer for women in each of the catalogues in which they feature.
So without further ado, here are the five watches in the women’s vintage Grand Seiko range, and the catalogues in which they appear.
1964-0010 in stainless steel and cap gold
The first Grand Seiko for women was introduced in the 1969 Volume 2 catalogue at a price of 35,000 Yen, with a movement-case reference code of 1964-0010, and a catalogue reference of 19GS R100.
Initially it was only available with a stainless steel case, and would make a total of four catalogue appearances, featuring in 1970’s volume 1 and 2, and 1971’s volume 1, in addition to its debut appearance.
The scan above is taken from the 1970 volume 2 catalogue, where the stainless steel reference was joined by a variant cased in cap gold, for a premium of 5,000 Yen.
This cap gold cased reference was only detailed in the 1970 volumes 1 and 2 catalogues, and shares both movement-case, and catalogue, codes with the base stainless steel cased watch.
As is so often the case, the catalogue photos do little to convey the beauty of these astonishing references. Here’s an example of the cap gold version of this reference in almost mint condition -
Joining the women’s range in the 1970 volume 2 catalogue, where it made its sole appearance, is the 1964-0020.
Whereas the 1964-0010 had a case that was clearly a derivative of the classic men’s “Grammar of Design” 44GS series, the 1964-0020’s case had a more elegant and, dare I say it in this day and age, feminine design.
1964-0020 with platinum plated case, or is it?
First detailed in the 1971’s volume 2 catalogue, this is a very confusing listing.
With text underneath the “PMP . WR” designation saying “Coming soon”, is a watch that is pictured with the case of the 1964-0020, whose catalogue code would have been 19GS R101.
However, multiple examples of this catalogue that we are aware of have a sticker over the catalogue code - as pictured above, manually altering it to 19GS R100. I have actually pealed off the sticker to double check this on my own catalogue, and 19GS R101 is indeed what was originally printed.
So – we have a photograph of a 1964-0020, detailed with its correct catalogue code of 19GS R101, but the code has been altered.
Why? Well, if we skip to the next appearance of the watch that was intended to be detailed here as “coming soon”, we discover the reason for the manual edit.
1964-0010 with platinum plated case
It would seem that the earlier “coming soon” depiction of this reference in the 1971 volume 2 catalogue was incorrect. Whether the intention originally was to release the watch as depicted, and then a change of mind occurred; or whether the watch we see pictured above was always planned, and someone simply made a mistake in 1971’s volume 2 catalogue we will probably never know.
In support of the above conjecture is that I have never seen a PMP cased version of the 1964-0020 come up for sale. It would certainly be exciting were one ever to turn up though!
But what does become clear by the time we see the launch version of this reference – first pictured correctly above in the 1973 volume 1 catalogue – is that the “PMP” (platinum plated steel) watch is actually based on the “Grammar of Design” 1964-0010 reference.
1972’s Special Luxury Catalogue saw the introduction of the women’s “VFA”. With a movement-case code of 1984-3000, and a catalogue code of 19GS S400, this was the pinnacle of the Grand Seiko for Women range, and whilst, at +/- 2 minutes per month, it was not claimed to be as accurate as the men’s VFA’s, there can be no doubting that it was a remarkable achievement in a watch with such a small movement.
In addition to its debut in the 1972 Special Luxury Catalogue, it made a second – and final – appearance in volume 1 of the 1973 catalogue.
The vintage Grand Seikos for women, whilst – VFA excepted – not particularly collectible compared to the men’s references, do demonstrate the commitment of the Grand Seiko brand back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I believe that not only were these watches the first in the world to put a 36,000 bph movement in a women’s sized case, but also quite possibly the only instance of that ever being achieved. It is worth noting that there have been no women’s 36,000 bph movements in the modern Grand Seiko era.
And that certainly makes it worth taking a look at!
In my personal opinion, it truly is a shame that these remarkable watches don’t get the recognition they deserve. Whilst it is probably not reasonable to expect too many vintage Grand Seiko collectors to wear one of these - the case diameter of the 1964-0010 pictured above is just 24mm after all - I couldn’t recommend strongly enough adding one to your collection simply as an object to admire, even if it is never going to grace your wrist.
To get a sense of just how exquisite these references are, take a look at this YouTube video I did comparing the cap gold 1964-0010 to the 4520-8000 -
As stated at the top of the article, this is the first of two epilogues to my series of articles on the vintage Grand Seiko era based on the historical Seiko catalogues.
The second epilogue will be published in parts over the course of the next few weeks. I will need to break it down into a few newsletters because I will be covering all the vintage Grand Seiko references that - for one reason or another - never made it to the official catalogues. And there are quite a few of them!