Word in the ether was you'd lost your memory.
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.
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I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a pretty quiet week this week. As I think most of you will know by now, when I sit down to write this newsletter I order the listings in the Grand Seiko Yahoo Auctions category in descending order of the number of bids, and then go through them selecting the good and the bad.
Obviously during the course of the week I’m keeping an eye on things (I actually check every single auction that gets listed in the parent Seiko category), and I don’t recall many standouts. Let’s see how we do…!
First up is an example of the rare cap gold “Special”, the 6156-8020. This reference was only ever listed in the range in 1972, where it appeared in both the regular, and Special Luxury, catalogues for that year.
In a busier week I may have skipped including this one given the rather average condition of its case, but it’s a rare enough reference to highlight (on average, perhaps one of these turns up a month), the dial looks to be in superb condition, and it comes from a reputable seller.
It’s worth remembering that unlike the regular 61GS day-date movements, the 6156 has a dual language day wheel, and both day and date can be quickset (the operation of which is confirmed in the listing’s description).
I have a feeling we saw something very similar to this recently, and fortunately now all it takes a is a quick check of this article -
- to discover that just a couple of weeks ago I featured an example of the time only 4520-7000 with a similarly patinated dial.
Whilst there are only three images provided in the usual gallery, if you scroll down the listing you will see that the seller has embedded several more images in the body of the description, which means we can see that this one still retains nicely defined case edges and the brushing on the upper case flanks.
Ideally you’ll be wanting to replace the crystal (part number 300V05GN), but it’s actually quite a rare part, so perhaps finding someone who could polish the existing one might be a more realistic option.
If, like me, you missed out on that superb example of this reference that featured in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago, you might be tempted to go for this one.
Whilst sadly not supplied on its original bracelet, the watch otherwise does look to be in very good condition indeed - although, as is usual with this seller, we only get four photos to assess the watch by.
One thing that might put you off is that scratch near the 8 o’clock index - it’s a bit of a punt, but I’m pretty sure that’s on the crystal and not the dial, because in the lead photo it looks like we can see it reflected in the rehaut -
- and perhaps we can just see the crystal scratch in this side view -
- but yes, I am pushing it a little there!
If you do decide that you’re happy to take this one without the bracelet, find a good strap for it, because the bracelet (XQB220) does not turn up very frequently. Although, read on…
The very next featured listing (it has the same number of bids currently - 9 - as the 6156-8040 above) may very well be that missing bracelet. It’s even from the same seller. Is it possible they separated the bracelet from the watch and listed it separately?
Checking Anthony Kable’s essential reference guide to vintage Grand Seiko bracelets, we can see that the links and end links certainly look to be correct. Unfortunately, the seller doesn’t provide any photos of the inside of the endlinks, where the part number is stamped.
The general design of the bracelet links that we see here is common for a number of different bracelets, but note that the bracelet here widens quite substantially as it reaches the lugs, so it’s not XQB070; XQB040 has the part number stamped on the clasp (not the case here); XQB240 has curved endlinks; XQB040 is stamped on the clasp.
And that’s them all covered off!
So - yes, this is XQB220, and it is the bracelet for the 6156-8040.
Go for it!
Got a 56GS? Buy this and you’ve got yourself almost a full set!
Two things tend to happen to examples of this amazing reference because for some reason they really seem to get knocked about a bit!
Firstly, the cases get polished, second the crystal gets scratched.
Although there are only three photos provided here (come on - really? Make an effort!), what we can glean from them is that whilst the crystal is pretty scratched up, the case looks to be very sharp. Obviously it has some dings and scratches, but I’d take a case like this over one that had been refinished any day of the week.
The downside is of course the crystal - it’s pretty scratched up, and I really wouldn’t recommend trying to polish those scratches out because it just softens up the faceting and ruins it.
The original crystal for this reference (300V66GC) is quite hard to find, but there is a third party one (at least, going by the packaging I’m assuming its third party) listed on a BiN right now for 14,800 Yen.
In the past, I was under the impression that the crystals for the Grand Seiko and those for the King Seikos were not the same, because I’d seen examples of the GS listed with crystals that were clearly cut differently to the originals. Having checked a parts guide from 1974, I can confirm that indeed the part is the same after all.
Whether the crystals that turn up that are cut differently are these third party ones like the listing linked to I simply do not know. I actually have a couple of original NOS 300V66GC’s spare, so if you do end up going for this watch and pick up that third party crystal, do let me know - it would be very interesting to check the measurements of it.
There are a couple of bracelets listed at the moment that close today, and currently have no bids. Clearly everyone is sitting back and watching and hoping to nab them for the minimum bid price in the last minute.
Good luck with that! Here’s the first, an XQB040, with a minimum bid of a very reasonable 15,000 Yen (although note the applied GS on the clasp is no longer attached).
And here’s the second, which is a bit of a mystery.
I think that this is XQB240, but without the correct endlinks. From one of the photos it seems clear that the bracelet is to fit a 17mm lug width, and the 5646-7030 is the only vintage reference that has 17mm lugs.
If anyone has any further thoughts on this one, do let me know in the comments below!
Two vintage Grand Seikos at Loupe This
Online auctioneer Loupe This has a couple of listings for vintage Grand Seiko this week that definitely deserve keeping an eye on.
First up is this absolutely superb example of a 4520-8000 in cap gold, complete with inner and outer boxes, swing tag, and price ticket.
Whilst there is no challenging the stunning condition of the watch, I’m a little suspect regarding some of the accoutrements that accompany it. Whilst the price ticket is correct for this reference, I’m not convinced that the swing tag or inner box is.
The inner tag is marked “Hi Beat”, and not “36000”, which is what I would expect to see with a 45GS - such as in the example pictured below -
Similarly, the box is the generic box most often seen with the 56GS series, with no “Hi-Beat 36000” embroidered between the GS logo and Seiko text.
Given this watch was manufactured in February 1969, fully 18 months prior to the introduction of the 56GS series, I honestly think it unlikely that it would have originally sold with the generic non-36000 tag and box that we see with full set 56GS’s.
Having said that, it is the case that the reference was sold up to 1972, so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the box and tag came with the watch. Whilst there are differing views on this subject, with some believing that all regular GS references moved over to using the generic boxes following the introduction of the 56GS series, it remains my personal preference to find these with the 36000-marked versions - and most definitely for the earlier production examples such as this one.
One final question is regarding the buckle. If you check the article I wrote on the vintage Grand Seiko buckles, you will notice that there are no contemporaneous Seiko published sources that show this reference on this buckle. This buckle is however shown on 61GS references (with 452x-8000’s pictured alongside) in the November 1969 issue of Seiko Sales.
As mentioned in the first of my articles on the vintage buckles, no fewer than three different buckles - including the design seen here - are pictured on the straps of 61GS references in the course of less than a year. It is perfectly possible that - even though there are no images to support the theory - this buckle was also used on early 45GS references.
Having said all that, I would not want the questions over the accessories to detract from the watch itself, which is about as good an example of the reference you could ever hope to find. If you wanted to “fix” the issues, it wouldn’t be too challenging. The 36000 inner box turns up on Yahoo quite frequently and tends to sell in the $200-$300 range (you won’t be needing the outer box, so watch for just the inner to surface), and the swing tags turn up every now and then as well.
The only things you could wish for that this watch is missing would be a fully intact caseback sticker (a detail that is starting to gain a lot of focus in recent times), and the correct matching numbers certificate (the certificate for this watch should have the case serial number on it - a generic certificate would not be correct).
The second vintage Grand Seiko to be featured on Loupe This is an example of the highly collectible 4420-9000. Whilst the most sought after variant of this reference is the earlier “Diashock” dial one, there’s still a very healthy market for examples of the more common dial with the Daini logo under the Grand Seiko text.
The presented watch is certainly one of the better examples of a 44GS that you would expect to find, although the case does have a few minor marks, and there is a little softening of the case edges.
Whilst the strap won’t be original (these were sold on black straps), the buckle is certainly the correct design, although it is impossible to tell from the photo whether it is an original one or a modern reproduction. But honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about it whatever the case.
Another highly recommended watch. It will be interesting to keep an eye on Loupe This to see if they feature more vintage Grand Seikos in the future.
A very odd combination of parts from various different references come together in this strange listing!
And, err… that’s it for the bad guys this week!
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.