With all due respect, M, sometimes I don't think you have the balls for this job!
Perhaps. But the advantage is, I don't have to think with them all the time.
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide guidance on which vintage Grand Seiko auctions on Yahoo Japan might be of interest to collectors. I also detail those “dodgy” listings that you need to avoid.
What you will notice is that this isn’t just a simple list of auction listings - in discussing the merits (and demerits) of the listings I often branch off into a bit of background that I hope will be useful in helping you to learn some of the nuances of collecting vintage Grand Seiko.
For those paid subscribers who are reading one of these newsletters for the first time, you can access the archive of all the previous newsletters on the Substack website (or the iPhone and Android apps).
Going forward, I will be unlocking these newsletters a week after sending them out to paid subscribers. The main benefit is of course alerting paid subs to the auctions that they might be interested in bidding on (and avoiding), but I feel the educational value post-close of the auctions is only fair to share to all.
Important note for UK and EEA subscribers -
Yahoo Japan is now actively blocking connections from the UK and the European Economic Area due to the prohibitive costs of adhering to the GDPR regulations for a relatively small number of users.
To get around this for the purposes of this newsletter, links to the auctions detailed will be provided through one of the Japanese proxy companies - FromJapan.
Whilst I have been a customer of FromJapan for many years, I do not receive any benefits from using these links.
As is the norm now, I will commence with the good guys.
The first Grand Seiko with raised logo dial
This is a particularly lovely example of the first Grand Seiko. Having seen many hundreds (actually probably thousands) of these over the years, my eyes are particularly attuned to the quality of the printing on the dial.
I’m sure there are many different reasons behind the varying print quality that one finds - the skill of the individual doing the work; the viscosity of the ink; the wear of the tampon (the little balloon that picks up the ink from the metal plate, which is called…) or cliche; and finally of course, how the print has aged over the years.
The printing on this dial is about as good as I’ve ever seen, with pretty much perfect weight and clarity. The dial does show some minor staining, but in this case I’d be happy to overlook that considering the quality of the printed text and Suwa logo (one tip on this - note how finely printed the compass logo is, particularly with reference to the negative space within it).
Case-wise, this is pretty much what you would expect to find for a well looked after example of this reference, and the good news is that all the details of the watch (serial numbers, handset, dial code, crown and caseback medallion) are correct.
The icing on the cake is the seller reports the watch has just been serviced, so you should be able to buy with confidence that it will provide you with years of worry-free wear.
Just about as highly recommended as they come - good luck!
Grand Seiko 5646-7010
I have to admit I’m quite surprised at just how high the bidding has got on this one already, with a couple of bidders pushing it very close to 200k at the time of writing, and with a day still to go.
No doubting it’s a superb example of the reference, and with the bonus of being supplied on its original bracelet (stated to fit up to an 18cm wrist).
I suspect there isn’t much further to go on this one, but it will be interesting to see what it finally closes for.
Grand Seiko 5641-7000 Toshiba commemorative
There’s always interest in the Toshiba commemorative Grand Seikos - issued to employees of the company who had completed 25 years of service.
Starting with the 5722-9970 in 1965, there is a run of these every year, all the way up to the watch in this listing. No doubt somewhere out there is a collector who has all nine!
The 5641-7000 in its regular production is not what I would call the most covetable of vintage Grand Seikos, but it is a very attractive piece nonetheless, and this Toshiba variant without question increases the desirability considerably.
The watch offered here looks to be in superb condition with what looks to possibly be an untouched case, and a very clean dial. What a great buy it would be for anyone whose birth year was 1973!
Grand Seiko 6146-8010 “Arabesque”
There are a couple of “Arabesques” up for grabs this week, but this is the one to consider carefully.
Oddly the vertically faceted crystal is not straight, but that should be an easy fix at service time and is about the only negative thing to highlight regarding the watch.
Unsurprisingly, there is considerable interest in it already, with bidding already up to 360,000 Yen a day prior to the auction closing.
Note that the bracelet - whilst appearing to be legitimate (I’m pretty sure it’s XQB040 for the 564x-7010) - is not correct for the watch. The 6146-8010 was never sold on a bracelet, and it’s clear from the photos that this is not a good fit.
Grand Seiko 6186-8000 VFA blue dial
Although the criteria for inclusion in this newsletter is an active auction with bids, I couldn’t not highlight this one.
Listed with a minimum bid of 1.3M Yen, and a buyout price of 1.5M Yen, I have to admit my finger has been hovering over that “Buy it now” button pretty much since it was first listed earlier in the week.
33 registered accounts are watching the auction on Yahoo, and it wouldn’t surprise me if one of those is hoping to nab it at the last minute for the minimum bid price. But honestly, given how promptly VFA’s are selling recently when advertised by the Japanese dealers (and featured in this newsletter), it wouldn’t surprise me if this ends up getting bought out. It really is that good.
It’s not a vintage Grand Seiko, but I like it
Seiko 9983-8000 Twin Quartz Superior
If you needed any evidence that people are just as interested in the watches that brought an end to the Grand Seiko vintage era as the vintage Grand Seikos themselves, look no further than the fact that 78 people have this listing on their watch list.
As a “dead stock” example of the +/-5 seconds per year 9983-8000, it’s no surprise to see the interest, and that bidding is up to 102,000 Yen already - this deserves to go a lot higher than that.
Whilst it is complete with its original swing tag and instruction manual, note that the box is not correct, and the seller is not pretending it is (note he describes the box as being “cosmetic”). If you really wanted to get closer to the correct set, and end up winning this, drop me a line because I have a spare box, and I’m maybe we could work out a mutually agreeable price for it!
Seiko SBAD001 Impact hand wound quartz
Ok so here’s a bonus extra listing in the “INAVGSBILI” section - how could I not include a super condition and crucially running example of the 8T23-8020 “Full Charge Signal”.
If you’re not familiar with this piece, it hails from 1986 and is an analogue quartz timepiece with a rechargeable battery/capacitor.
That you recharge by manually winding the crown. Three minutes winding gives you (if the battery/capacitor hasn’t degraded) about three days reserve of power. But boy is that winding laborious and even bordering on painful!
Absolutely insane, utterly fantastic, and one of the most fascinating technological cul de sacs in the history of horology.
You can read more about the technology in a super article written by Anthony Kable over at Plus9Time.
There are actually plenty more interesting quartz and digital listings this week, but that’ll do for today’s newsletter or I’ll have to rename this Substack!
Grand Seiko 43999 SD dial
The more observant reader might have noticed something missing from last week’s newsletter, but this week our “friend” is back with a vengeance.
I will simply highlight the auctions from this seller without comment as we’ve seen all of these before - if you’re a new subscriber, I do encourage you to look through the previous newsletters as there is a wealth of information there, including how to spot the “tells” on these pieces. Usual advice remains - avoid like the plague.
Grand Seiko 4420-9000 late dial
Grand Seiko 5722-9990
Grand Seiko 6155-8000
Grand Seiko 6156-8000
Redone coloured dial summary
As usual, 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”, and several listings typically appear every week.
Wish I worked at Toshiba for 25 years 😅
I may bid on the 6186 blue, but I’m certainly not selling any VFA into this 10k nonsense