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Last week’s was a blockbuster newsletter for vintage Grand Seiko listings on Yahoo Japan Auctions, and this week a blockbuster of another kind was released at the cinema (go see it - on IMAX if at all possible, it will only be on IMAX until Oppenheimer comes out next week - it’s awesome!).
Will this week’s newsletter continue the trend, or are we in for a disappointing sequel?
Well, unfortunately - spoiler alert - it won’t, and we are.
There is really only one (yes - just one!) vintage Grand Seiko listing with bids on that I can with my hand on heart recommend this week, and even that comes with some caveats. There are however quite a few “interesting” bad guys listed, and hopefully the discussion around those will at least provide some worthwhile content this week.
Given the sparsity of decent new listings to discuss this week, and because I really don’t think it fair to hit the “publish” button after just two hours work, I thought it might be fun to take a look at a few of the recommended listings from last week’s newsletter to see how they fared, so do check out that commentary after the bad guys.
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The 564x-5000’s have certainly gained in popularity since Grand Seiko’s modern marketing machine stated that the dial finish on these were the inspiration for the modern “Snowflakes”. There is absolutely nothing in the original marketing material for the SBGA011 “Snow White” that launched in 2005 to support this claim though, so I rather think it is an example of revisionist history from the brand.
But regardless, it has led to a significantly increased demand for what is are relatively rare references. The time only 5641-5000 is certainly the more sought after one (with some examples now selling on Yahoo for in excess of 500,000 Yen), but there are always plenty of people hunting for the 5645-5000 seen here, so this will probably do well.
A few negatives to highlight though - the crystal is very scratched up and you’ll probably be wanting to get it replaced. Unfortunately I’m not at home at the moment so can’t check the exterior parts catalogues, but a quick look at the Yahoo Auction listing archive doesn’t show a single example of a crystal ever selling with the model references in the description, which is a little concerning.
The second thing to note is the dial. Whilst it fortunately shows very little degrading of the dial coating (degradation which is sadly all too common on these), you will probably notice that the applied SEIKO logo is rather bent. Perhaps this could be straightened out by a brave watchmaker, but there is the risk that in doing so, it could fracture completely.
Finally, regarding the case, I’m finding it quite challenging to assess the state of the case from the photos provided. It almost certainly will have seen some polishing in the past, but whether this has softened up the texture is difficult to ascertain. If you are considering bidding on this, I’d recommend taking some time to compare this one to other images of watches out there.
To start you off, here’s one that I had a while back -
One last thing to note of course is that the listing is just for the watch head - no buckle included. If you are hoping to pick up a buckle in the future, do remember that one will probably cost you in excess of 80,000 Yen to acquire.
Ok so I know in the introduction I said there was just a single watch worth highlighting this week, but I’m going to sneak another one in.
The seller of this watch lists a lot of stock both on Yahoo and Rakuten - having over 10,000 (not a typo) watches listed on Yahoo at the moment. His modus operandi seems to basically be a Dutch auction, in that he lists stuff at relatively high minimum bid prices (which means they attract no bids, and so would never make the newsletter), and then over time gradually (and very slowly) reduces the prices until the product sells.
I always have at least half a dozen of his listings on my personal Yahoo watch list - some sitting there for months at a time until either I get bored of seeing them and I delete them, or they sell.
Now down to a minimum bid price of just 153,780 Yen (including the sales tax), I think this has definitely hit the value-buy level. It’s not the best example you could ever hope to find (I’d probably put it around the 75th percentile - read on for an explanation of what I mean by that), but definitely well worth considering.
If you fancy taking a risk and waiting a few days for an even better deal, I’m sure From Japan will be having their usual 7% off listed prices on Rakuten offer next week starting first thing Wednesday morning Japan time, and you can find it listed on Rakuten through From Japan here.
Do remember that on Yahoo, it’s just a minimum bid price, not a BiN. If you don’t want to wait for the 7% discount, then don’t take the risk of being outbid on Yahoo, simply buy it outright on Rakuten at the fixed price.
I have to admit - this one has me completely perplexed as to why people are bidding so strongly on it. As at the time of writing, the bidding is up to 898,888 Yen, with two more days to go.
I think that someone who is annoyed at these fakes continuing to be listed may be placing fake bids on this to trash the auction (I can assure you it isn’t me!). The current high bidder only has a reputation of 5, which is very low.
What’s peculiar about this particular listing isn’t just the poorly reprinted dial (that we have seen examples of before), nor the case with the fake Chronometer medallion (that is also pretty common).
It’s the movement -
Here’s the 3180 movement as found in the first Grand Seiko -
And here’s the 430 movement as found in the 439999 -
Now I must admit I’ve never tried this, but I suspect a 430 movement (which is, if we simplify things, just a 3180 with an added date module) would not fit into a case for a Grand Seiko First due to the (presumed) extra height required for the date mechanism and display. So probably the movement in the auction listing may well be a 3180 movement whose main bridge has been swapped out for one from a 430 (the interchangeability of the parts should be obvious from the photos above).
/edit (Or possibly that balance cock is also from a 430, and the 3180 we see on it has been added later - it certainly doesn’t look to be exactly the same as the original 3180 example. Maybe it is a full 430 movement afterall!)
What is most odd about this though is the movement serial number, which we can see is 500689.
From my investigation into the 57GS series of watches, with just one exception, all 430 movements found in 43999 watches manufactured in 1963 have movement numbers starting with a 3, and all 430 movements found in 43999 watches manufactured in 1964 and 1965 have movement numbers starting with a 4 (the exception is one rather bizarrely numbered 430 movement in a watch from October 1963 that has a serial number commencing with the digits 04).
It’s only when we start seeing the 5722A movement in watches - the earliest of which dates from January 1965 - that movement numbers start commencing with the number 5.
So in summary, there are some very intriguing aspects to the movement that has found its way into this watch, but there is no doubt whatsoever that the watch itself is a complete fake.
Remarkably this is the 21st time that a fake stainless steel example of the first Grand Seiko has appeared in these newsletters.
A bizarre Frankenstein where a redone dial from a 6156-8000 has turned up in a case from a 6146-8050.
300,000 Yen already for one of these from you know who? The world’s gone mad. Either that, or people are starting to place malicious bids on this guy’s auctions. Let’s see what happens at the close on Sunday.
Grand Seiko 6156-8040
After the recent run of really great examples of this reference, I can’t imagine anyone would be tricked by this one, whose redone dial is somewhat lacking in both quality, and content.
Unsurprisingly, last week’s auction for the exact same watch was cancelled.
When I first caught sight of this auction when I was quickly scrolling through the new listings yesterday, my heart skipped a beat.
But only one.
Sadly, once I’d got over the immediate shock of seeing a regular gold dial and handset in a steel case, I noticed in the next heartbeat that the case wasn’t that of a steel Grand Seiko. Bizarrely, it turns out it’s from a 1967 Lord Marvel.
Clearly an auction to be ignored.
But why my initial excitement?
Well… have I ever told you about this one before..?
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” so be careful out there!
As mentioned in the introduction, given the lack of auctions to recommend this week, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a few of the highlights from last week’s magnum opus to see how they did.
In a world where we are surrounded by news of the doom and gloom of watch values crashing, it’s good to know that in our little niche of a niche, things are looking very much stronger with reference records being set, but that there are also still bargains to be had if you look carefully, think clearly, and are patient.
As far as action goes, this was certainly the pick of the crop last week, with two overseas bidders in a fierce battle that took it from 424,000 Yen (where the third place bidder dropped out) all the way to a close at 900,999 Yen - by a very large margin the most one of these has ever hammered for on Yahoo.
It’s amusing to note that on the first day of the auction two bidders asked the seller if he would be willing to sell it directly for 60,000, and then 150,000 Yen. The cheek of some people!
Very much in the “bargains are still out there to be had” department, this one closed for just 203,000 Yen However, I rather suspect that this would have been heavily influenced by the fact that (according to FromJapan at least) the seller refuses bids from proxy services, and so the auction was limited to those able to bid with Japanese accounts (which basically means, those living in Japan!). That rather obvious dial stain also kept the price subdued I’m sure.
This lovely clean and sharp example of the most common vintage Grand Seiko out there ended up closing for just 62,000 Yen, which is an absolute steal for the winner - congratulations to whoever picked this one up.
I tend not to look at judging watches on a scale out of 10, but more on a percentile of the “population” of examples out there. This one would certainly be around the 95th percentile - i.e. its condition is better than 95% of all other watches of the same reference that I’ve seen.
When you consider that a 5646-7010 around the 50th percentile of the population would still sell on Yahoo Japan for around 50,000 Yen, there is clearly - in my mind at least - a lot of upside for this one!
Although I’ve personally paid considerably more for a couple of examples of this reference (both full set NOS), I think 490,000 Yen is actually the most anyone has ever paid for one of these on Yahoo - and it didn’t have its original buckle either.
As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, it was a little difficult to tell from the photos whether or not this case had ever been polished or not. Given the fully intact original caseback protection sticker, there was the chance that it had not, but there was quite a risk in making that assumption.
It looks like it did sell to an overseas buyer, so if it was someone here, fingers crossed for you and I hope the watch exceeds your expectations when it arrives. I remain strongly of the opinion that these references are massively undervalued, and remain great buys still, even as the prices are rising.
Boxes and papers don’t - or at least, really shouldn’t - add as much value to sets of most 56GS references as they do to watches from earlier vintage Grand Seiko series for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the boxes are far more commonly found than the earlier ones, but more importantly, the certificates are completely generic, and not tied to a particular watch by either the movement or caseback serial number.
This means that anyone wanting to put set for a 5645-7010/11 together can simply pick up the box and papers separately.
Just as examples, a certificate as seen in this set sold yesterday for 13,500 Yen, and the set of inner and outer boxes featured in last week’s newsletter closed for (a very reasonable, I must say) 15,588 Yen.
Whether or not the boxes and papers included in the listing were the ones with which the watch originally came is impossible to say, but it really doesn’t matter - in any instance such as this, one could never prove it one way or the other. What matters is that they are the correct items for the reference, and we at least have some sense - for this reference - as to how much value we should perceive a set to have over just the watch itself.
What matters most importantly of course, is the condition of the watch. And here we are talking about the 99th percentile. Or more accurately, the 99.9th.
The auction ended up closing for 209,000 Yen, which is a record for this reference on Yahoo Japan (blue dialed examples, and examples of the 5646-7010/11 have sold for more). I chased it up to around 150,000, but it was always going to sell for more than that given a 5646-7010 in similar condition - but without box and papers - had sold (to me) for 142,010 Yen just a couple of weeks earlier (I had genuinely missed the listing for this watch which was why it wasn’t included in the newsletter - it only came to my attention after the newsletter had gone out, and a subscriber contacted me to ask why I had not included it!).
At “just” 3x-4x the price of a 50th percentile watch, my view is that there is even more (relative) upside to watches of this quality than the 5646-7010 discussed above. Certainly I wouldn’t even consider letting the 5646-7010 I just acquired out of my hands for anything less than $4,000. Sure - that day may be a very long way off, but I’m happy to look after the watch until it comes around!
The 6186-8000 featured last week at a minimum bid of 1.25M Yen didn’t sell, and the watch has been automatically relisted - same link as before.
They weren’t vintage Grand Seikos, but I liked them
Finally in the review of last week’s auctions, the two non-vintage Grand Seikos that I listed performed pretty well. The minty Seikomatic Chronometer ended up closing for 252,000 Yen, and the stainless steel Citizen Chronometer went for a respectable 183,000 Yen.
The better condition steel Citizen Chronometer that was listed after the newsletter went out - and that I mentioned in a chat thread - closes tonight. Bidding is much stronger for this one, with it currently standing at 228,000 Yen. From Japan report that the seller does not accept bids from proxies, but I suspect this is because they might have had issues with the seller previously, as a subscriber reports that you can bid on the lot using Buyee, which I know is a lot of subscribers’ proxy service of choice. Good luck if you’re chasing it!
So yeah - not much to recommend this week, but I hope the discussion on the dodgy listings and around some of the watches that I featured last week made up for it!
See you all next week - hopefully things will pick up again.
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