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Why am I Pluto? It's not even a planet anymore!
Well, Uranus is available
For those who aren’t aware of the movie this week’s quote comes from, there’s a hint in the lead photo (and yes - those are my feet)!
I trust everyone will have realised by now from the titles of these newsletters (all quotes from films) and the recommend/avoid section names (the good guy and the bad guy from the film that the quote was taken from) that I’m a bit of a movie fan. By this time next week I’ll have probably been to the cinema at least three times to watch Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part 1. I’m more excited to see this film at the cinema than anything else in the last couple of decades.
First up is a trip to the IMAX theater in Bangkok for what I think may well be the first public showing in the world (the film launches on the 11th here in Thailand - a day earlier than everywhere else I believe). “My mate Phil” shot that insane ramp jump scene from the helicopter, so be sure to look out for his name in the credits if you go see the movie!
“Hey - enough about films already”, I hear you say. But of course - let’s get on with the watches shall we?
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This week’s newsletter features some great, and not so great listings, but more than that, it seems that it has finally dawned on me how to tell whether an early example of a Grand Seiko 62GS started out its life as a Grand Seiko, or as a Seikomatic Chronometer and had a dial swap.
Which just goes to show, you never stop learning!
Read on, for what I think is undoubtedly one of the best selections of “good guys” - in both quality and breadth - that we have had for quite some time, and no fewer than three non-vintage-GS recommendations.
It’s actually pretty rare for an example of the 18K gold cased 6145-8000 to turn up on an open auction without a high minimum bid, so even though this example is far from being in the best condition, I thought it was probably worth highlighting.
The obvious things to highlight are the marks on the dial and the highly polished case. Sadly, it’s just a fact of life that the typical buyer of a watch like this in the 1960’s would have wanted to keep it nice and shiny!
If you are after a truly mint example of an 18K gold cased 614x-8000, or simply want to check out what these cases were like when they were new, then do have a look at the auction for this watch. It’s been listed on Yahoo for several years now. The dealer knows what he has, and I don’t blame him for holding out - one day someone will take the plunge on this one (I have personally handled this watch and it is absolutely stunning). With the USD very strong against the JPY again, and interest in vintage Grand Seiko growing substantially year by year, $12,500 doesn’t seem too bad at all.
It’s such a shame that the dial on this one has that rather obvious stain near the three o’clock index. Without that, it would be a very strong recommendation. With it? Well, it’s still one of the better examples of the first Grand Seiko that you’ll see, has the original crown, and the movement number is in the correct ballpark for a watch that can be dated to May 1963 from the caseback serial number.
Just a lovely clean example of the 5646-7010. It is of course the most commonly found vintage Grand Seiko, but it’s rare to find them in this condition. If you’ve been waiting to pick up a great 56GS, your wait is over.
Although… maybe you might want to read on a little further.
I’m not entirely sure about pairing this with a blue strap, but the important things are that this has a very clean dial (often these turn up with stained spots on their dials), and a superb looking case
I actually have a NOS full set of one of these, and can confirm that the seller is correct in claiming this one has its original caseback protection sticker intact. The case edges do look a little soft, but this could just be down to the photography - it’s not as if the images are very high resolution. It would be very odd for the original caseback sticker to be fully intact had the watch seen a lot of wear (and hence required any polishing), although it is strange that the original buckle has not been kept with the watch.
So yeah - apologies, that’s a little mixed-message there, but it just isn’t possible from those photos to truly see if the case is unpolished. Nevertheless, it is a great example - if you bid on this and win it, you might be in for a very pleasant surprise when it arrives.
The hits just keep on coming this week, and next up is a superb example of the very rare 6146-8040.
It is generally thought that this watch was only ever available outside Japan, but I’m not so sure about that. Whilst it doesn’t appear in any of the Seiko catalogues or issues of the monthly Seiko Sales magazine, there is another mystery reference that isn’t pictured anywhere that I know for a fact was sold at Expo70 in Osaka, and I can’t help wondering whether this reference was also exclusively (in Japan at least) available there?
The watch comes from a seller who has been slowly offloading a collection over the past two or three years now, and whilst there have been a couple of “odd” watches turn up, there is no questioning the originality and quality of this one.
The dials on these can play absolute havoc with mobile phone image processing (I suspect from the mess seen here that this was taken with a mobile), so just for reference, here is what the dial actually looks like -
Good luck to all bidding on this one!
I don’t feature the gold cap 57GS too often in these newsletters, but when a good one turns up, it’s always worth a mention. This is the later variant with the -9011 suffix, and as is the norm for those, has the GS medallion on the caseback rather than the earlier lion medallion found on the -9010.
For a gold cap case, the caselines here remain very strong, and I’m struggling to find a single blemish on the dial.
Not huge demand for these, so they are very good value indeed.
For those who prefer their 57GS’s in steel cases, here’s a lovely honest example of the AD dialed 43999.
The case has softened a little over the years, but those lugs are still very well defined. The case back is in very good condition, with both the lion medallion and the etched on text still remaining very strong.
The dial looks to be very clean, and there’s that all important original crown showing the effect of decades of winding. As you all know, I just love them like that!
430 movement, mid-64 production date - everything checks out. A wonderfully original watch.
The only major downside is that the crystal is not in good shape, and can be quite hard to come by. If you do win this one, you’ll want to either see if you can get the existing crystal polished, or be patient and keep your eyes pealed for part number 300W76GN.
Remember earlier when I said on a listing for a lovely 5646-7010 that you might want to read on further?
Well congratulations for reading on further. They don’t come any better than this one.
From the same seller of the 6146-8040 comes this beauty. No more words required - just take a look at the photos.
Given the earlier featured 43999 AD dial, I was going to skip including this listing (it’s also from the same seller), but it does make a useful comparison. Condition-wise, the earlier listing trumps it, but what’s most interesting about this watch is that despite it having a (very worn down - compare with the watch detailed earlier) 43999 caseback, the dial is much more commonly seen on the later 5722-9990.
This overlap of dials and cases is very common with the 57GS series, and I’ve written about it on previous occasions. The watch here (complete with - you know I’m going to mention it! - a wonderfully worn down original crown) dates from December 1964, and is right in the middle of the transitional period between the 43999 and the 5722-9990.
The earliest example I have a record for in this configuration dates from October 1964, and the latest from March 1965. Throughout this entire period there exist examples with the ‘original’ 43999 AD dial. The earliest examples of 57GS variants with both the 5722-9990 caseback and the 5722-9990 dial date from December 1964.
Whilst no images of the movement are shared in the listing photos, it is most likely to be a 430, but 5722A is also a slight possibility.
Ok this is getting ridiculous. This is now the third (or is it fourth?) time this watch has been listed, bid on, and then canceled at the close of the auction. At this point, I’d probably just recommend ignoring it and moving on, but I thought I’d give it one last chance.
Frankly, every collection of vintage Grand Seiko should have one of the ladies watches in it - even if you’re never going to put it on your own wrist. And yes, I know that even for the female watch collectors out there, this is perhaps considered these days to be a little on the small side, but these 19GS references are absolutely exquisite watches - I have a full set of all the women’s references, and get them out of their boxes to marvel at them at least once a week.
Remember - the 19GS series remain the only watches ever made for women that have movements beating at 36,000bph. They occupy an important - and unique - spot in horological history.
This one is in superb condition, will sell for a song, and I really can’t recommend it highly enough!
Another week, another late dialed 4420-9000 turns up from the same seller again. I have no idea where he’s getting these from, and some of them are certainly to be avoided, but this one checks out all OK.
The dial on this one in particular looks really good, with just a small spot above the “O” in “Seiko” that would either drive you mad every time you looked at the watch, or simply not register after it becoming so familiar.
The case clearly shows quite a few signs of wear, but isn’t overpolished, and at least you don’t have to panic about being the first to put a dent or scratch on it.
Basically, a great example to wear and enjoy. Should do well.
Given the prices these have fetched in recent months, it’s unsurprising to see more of them come to auction. Whether or not there are enough people out there to continue maintaining the very high prices they have been selling for is questionable though. The example featured in last week’s newsletter ended up selling for “just” 31,500 Yen - less than half the price that a similar one had gone for just two week’s earlier.
Last week’s example had some minor damage that may have impacted the desirability - it will be interesting to see whether the closing price for this one lands in comparison to the previous two.
Well, I say 56GS - these is an outside chance this is for the 19GS, but quite honestly I find it impossible to tell from just the photos. Without a side by side comparison, or box measurements, I struggle to distinguish the two in images. There are differences if you get out a tape measure (the watch holder in the 56GS box is centered front to back, whereas that for the 19GS is slightly offset towards the back), but with angled photos such as these it’s practically impossible to see.
The fact that the same seller also has a 56GS certificate for sale this week (this guy just loves splitting things up over multiple lots) certainly would lend credence to the case for this being the 56GS box.
The outer boxes are much rarer than the inner ones of course, so when they turn up together such as seen here, you can expect the auction to be hard fought for - even when the outer box is not in tip-cop condition, as is the case here.
With a starting price of 1,250,000 Yen, it’s not surprising this one hasn’t had any bids yet, but I would expect to see some “action” as when get closer to the scheduled end of the auction (21:09 Tokyo time on Sunday).
A very keen-eyed reader contacted me to say they were pretty sure that this is the exact same watch as featured in the newsletter from May 26th, where it was listed with another seller for 1,388,000 Yen, and didn’t attract any bids). It’s interesting to compare the two lead shots. Here’s the one from that earlier auction -
Amazing the difference shooting with hard and soft light can make, isn’t it?!
But are they the same? Well - it certainly seems that way. Despite the huge difference in lighting (soft lighting can hide all sorts of blemishes), take a close look at the two caseback shots.
First this week’s listing, then the one from May. I’ve highlighted the more obvious commonalities.
It also looks as though the strap is exactly the same (extend a line from under the Stainless Steel text on the caseback to as far as the springbar, and note the very small blemish on the lower strap), and the caseback is in exactly the same position relative to the crown in both listings.
So - good eyes there my friend!
Perhaps with the harsher lighting on this listing - which would make any issues with the case much more apparent - the watch might get some interest this time around.
It’s not a vintage Grand Seiko, but I like it
No listings from dealers this week, so how about a bumper crop of non-GS?!
The Seikomatic Chronometer is about as close to a Grand Seiko you can get, without the reference actually being a Grand Seiko.
Clearly the example here is in absolutely stunning condition, and that case could well serve as a reference point for what “mint” means when it comes to this reference.
I must admit I’ve never really studied this reference in detail. Given the quality of the watch I took a close look at all the images, and for the first time had a look at the movement in one of these. I was expecting it to be the same as that for the Grand Seiko 6245-9000, but in fact there is a rather obvious difference!
Here’s the photo from the auction listing -
And here’s the equivalent Grand Seiko -
Obvious now it’s been pointed out, isn’t it? But in all the time that I’ve been looking at 624x-9000 Grand Seiko’s that I felt were too early to be a Grand Seiko (note that this Seikomatic Chronometer dates to January 1966), it never even dawned on me that perhaps a look at the movement might reveal something.
Sure enough, if I take a look back at an auction for a Grand Seiko 6245-9000 whose caseback indicated production in November 1965, what do we find when we take a look at the movement of that example?
A second example, from the same seller as that one above from November 1965, was auctioned in the same week, and dated from February 1966. I stated in the newsletter that for me that was right on the cusp of what would be acceptable (to me) for truly being a Grand Seiko, and not a Seikomatic Chronometer with a dial swap. And what do we find with the movement for that listing?
So at least now we can rest easy that if someone does ever swap out the dial on this mint Seikomatic Chronometer for a Grand Seiko one, we’ll be able to spot it when it turns up again.
Hopefully though the winning bidder for this watch will be someone who is after the watch for what it is. Seikomatic Chronometers are very collectible in their own right, and I suspect later today (the auction closes Friday evening Japan time), there will be a very hard fought battle for it.
Developed in direct response to the first Grand Seiko, Citizen came out with their own Chronometer in 1962, and - unlike the Grand Seiko Chronometer - it was officially available with both filled gold and stainless steel cases. In addition, whilst the very well heeled could have their Grand Seiko Chronometer cased in platinum, for the Citizen Chronometer they would have to “settle” for a solid 18K gold.
Now I’m going to let you into a little secret that may shock a few of you.
I much prefer the Citizen Chronometer to the Grand Seiko one. It is considerably larger than the Grand Seiko (to accommodate a massive balance wheel), with absolutely superbly faceted lugs.
Like the Grand Seiko, the Citizen had numerous tweaks to its design elements over the years that it was in production, with handset, indices, and caseback all going through subtle alterations. These changes are however nowhere near as well documented as those for the Grand Seiko.
Quite some time back I managed to get a very early full set Citizen Chronometer dating from June 1962. It’s amusing to compare the certificate issued for that watch, with the one issued for the Grand Seiko.
The Grand Seiko certificate details the metrics for passing the “Watch Chronometer” “With mention” standards as being -
Mean daily rate: -3 to +12 seconds
Mean variation of the daily rate: 4.0 seconds
Maximum variation…: 7.0 seconds
Maximum difference…: +/-16 seconds
Variation in rate/degree: +/-0.7 seconds
Rate resuming: +/-7 seconds
- the Citizen rating certificate specifies an “Especially Good Standard” that its Chronometer is tested to -
Mean daily rate: -1 to +10 seconds
Mean variation: 2.2 seconds
Maximum variation: 6.0 seconds
Maximum difference: 12.0 seconds
Variation in rate/degree: +/-0.6 sconds
Rate resuming: +/-5 seconds
It also details one additional parameter -
Difference between flat and hanging positions: +/- 8 seconds
The example featured in this auction listing is not the best - the case in particular has lost a lot of the original sharp finishing, but it is an interesting reference to keep an eye on, and makes a great partner to a first Grand Seiko in any collection.
Here’s a photo of mine, still on its original strap (I’ll put it on the robot over the weekend, but probably not on this strap which as decayed somewhat and might not survive the spinning!) -
I think it’s fair to say that most watch collectors have their main focus area, and then some “slippery slopes” that they venture onto, and sometimes tumble down.
For me, obviously my main focus is vintage Grand Seiko, but I’ve been known to fall down a few slopes in my time. Most notably (all Japanese) - early quartz analogue, early digital, Citizen chronometers, and last but not least, 60’s dive watches.
The last one of these slopes I’ve actually managed to navigate fairly well - I have just three Seiko divers (62MAS, prep-production 6215, and a 6159-7001 that I had a 6185VFA movement hot-rodded into), and a couple of Citizen ones. And that’s as far as I will ever go.
But even for someone who only - if you’ll pardon the expression - dips his toes into dive watches, I know something special when I see it. And this boxed example of a 6159-7001 with both black and orange straps is undoubtedly very special indeed.
I should stress that I’m not an expert in these, and can’t vouch for the authenticity of everything seen here (do your own due diligence or check with a real expert), but it looks good to my untrained eye.
This will be a very interesting auction to follow!
It’s a quiet week for the bad guys this week. Whilst there are other dodgy references listed, they are pretty obvious, and I don’t think anyone reading this newsletter would be fooled by them.
We’ve had quite a run of great examples of the 6156-8040 Special of late, clearly this isn’t one of them.
Bizarrely the person who reprinted this dial for some reason chose to copy the dial layout from a 56GS - maybe the case design caught him off guard?
Clearly by the time he got to the dial code, his mistake dawned on him. But I guess it was just too much effort to go back and re-do the re-done dial “correctly”.
This auction actually closed on Thursday night Japan time (it was only a 2 day listing, so missed the newsletter), but I wanted to include it with this week’s bad guys because it is another example - from the same seller - of the exact same dial reprint, with just the dial codes changed.
Last week’s newsletter included a carved dial one of these reprints - for ease of reference I’ll show it again here -
Not sure about your brains, but mine certainly isn’t as well wired for spotting these redone dials when the watch is side on, as it is when its presented upright. Here’s the image from yesterday’s auction rotated through 90 degrees -
- and the carved logo one rotated…
…and how the “Chronometer” should look -
(The above photo is from a print logo example, but the Chronometer text is identical across all variants.)
Up until recently I would always have considered the account listing both these watches to have been one of the most trustworthy accounts on Yahoo Japan Auctions. Whether he simply hasn’t spotted the issues with these two dials, or whether he is aware of what he is selling, I couldn’t say. What is clear however is that we will need to keep a very close eye on his listings going forward.
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!
I don’t list specific examples of dials like this when they turn up for the simple reason that they are all too common, and should be easy to spot.
However, it is clear that, if we are to take the collector who purchased the watch at his word, there is an unscrupulous dealer of vintage Grand Seiko - I assume outside Japan - who is passing off watches like the ones pictured above as being legitimate.
If anyone knows who recently sold the following watch (link to the original Yahoo auction in the header), please do get in touch with me privately -
Ok so an absolute blockbuster of a newsletter this week… see you again next Friday, and remember - please don’t hesitate to contact me (or use the chat area) if you have any questions regarding a vintage Grand Seiko that you are considering buying. I may not always get back to you as fast as you’d like, but I do try to keep up with all the requests!
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