One of the key aims of this site is to be a source of information for those who collect vintage Grand Seiko. We don’t just list the watches that we have for sale in the anticipation that customers will add them to their collections – we also list watches that we have never had in stock, along with as much data about those watches as we can glean. The intent is to be a reliable source of information about exactly which references were created by Grand Seiko, and to provide data on those references.
We are confident that currently this site contains the most complete, accurate and detailed information on the historical Grand Seiko references that you will find anywhere.
The Seiko 1972 Special Luxury Catalogue
From the late 1960’s onwards, Seiko would publish two main catalogues each year that were distributed to retailers. These catalogues detailed the full range of product on offer, providing a photo of every watch, along with a brief description and salient details including the price, case material, and other basic information.
In addition to the half-yearly catalogues (originally titled “No.1” and “No. 2”, but later changed to “Volume 1” and “Volume 2”), towards the end of the year a supplement to the second catalogue would be published.
From 1969, Seiko also started to publish one more catalogue – the “Special Luxury Catalogue” that showcased the top of the range models from the collection.
In this article we take a look at the Grand Seiko watches included in the 1972 Special Luxury Catalogue, which featured three “Very Fine Adjusted” references – two of which were making their debut appearance in a catalogue, four watches from the 56GS series, and two from the 45GS series.
There are a total of 60 pages in this catalogue, out of which Grand Seiko is only represented on four. As one would suspect, the catalogue leads off with precious metal quartz timepieces, and it really is worth checking out all the scanned pages in the gallery at the foot of this article to see all of the incredible designs that Seiko were producing at this time.
Notably, this publication features the debut of quartz watches branded “VFA”. It is hard to understate the significance of this move, with no fewer than 11 pages of the catalogue titled “Seiko Quartz VFA”. And how about this for a watch to kick it all off with? –
Not only do we see the introduction of the 3922 and 3923 caliber based Quartz VFA references (eight references in total), but also the earlier 3823 caliber (and newly introduced time only 3820 variant) is now retrospectively being referred to as “VFA”.
We see this both directly on the dial of newly introduced references such as the spectacular platinum (case and bracelet) 38SQ-024, and 18K gold 38SQ-026 –
– and also, whilst not appearing on the dial (yet – it would be added in due course), the two models that had been introduced in the regular 1972 catalogue are now featued on a page titled “Seiko Quartz VFA” –
We mentioned in our commentary on the 1972 catalogue that, following the introduction of the Quartz Astron on Christmas Day 1969, “the ‘quartz revolution’ would take some time to get its batteries fully charged“.
Well, as evidenced by this catalogue, even before the close of the year, all bets were off. Quartz was not just here to stay – it was here to win. And win big.
Unfortunately for those of us with a love for the mechanical vintage Grand Seikos, that meant they would lose. But mechanical Grand Seikos weren’t going to go out without a fight – they still had some life left in them.
Let’s now take a look at those featured in this catalogue.
The 1971 Special Luxury Catalogue featured one example each of the 5645-8000 and 5646-8000 with 18K cases and 18K gold bracelets. Here we see three.
Only one of the watches pictured here made an appearance in the 1971 SLC – the 56GAW-036 pictured at the top of the page. Immediately below it is what initially looks to be the same watch, but as hinted at by the -086 suffix to the catalogue code, it actually has a different dial.
It would seem that, after being on sale for just one year, Grand Seiko decided to update this reference by changing the earlier linen textured dial with a “starlight” one. This catalogue shows the cross-over by featuring both of the day-date variants, but only the newer example of the time and date 5645-8000.
Whilst we have seen multiple examples of the earlier -036 linen textured dial references over the years, we do not recall ever having come across an example of either the date or day-date -086 starlight dial variants.
The final 56GS reference featured in the catalogue is the 5641-5000. It is notable as the only 18K gold cased vintage Grand Seiko without a date, and first made an appearance in the previous year’s Special Luxury Catalogue.
The final 18K gold cased references in the catalogue are the venerable 4520-8010 and 4522-8010, making their tenth consecutive appearance in a Seiko catalogue. And it won’t be their last!
This being a Special Luxury Catalogue, the VFA’s have to wait behind the 18K gold cased watches before they make an appearance.
We discussed in our previous article on the Seiko 1972 catalogue that the sole VFA reference featured in it, the 6185-8021, effectively replaced the earlier 6185-8020 reference. One peculiar oddity regarding the 1972 Special Luxury Catalogue is that we see the earlier watch once more. This is despite the fact that probably close to a year would have passed between the production of the two catalogues.
Quite why it is this reference that is featured here isn’t clear, but there is no mistaking it with its lack of “VFA” printed on the dial, and the Suwa factory logo clearly being applied rather than printed.
This publication was the last Seiko catalogue in which either of the two references that shared the 6185-030 catalogue code made an appearance.
There can be no confusion over the other two VFA’s featured on this page though. They are the 6186-8000’s, available with either silvered or blue dials. These two references used the 6186b day-date caliber (there was no 6186a), and curiously did not make an appearance in any of the 1973 catalogues. They clearly did remain in the range however, as they reappear in the 1974 volume 1 catalogue, and remain featured through to the 1975 volume 2 catalogue.
In the galleries below, we share scans of pages from the 1972 Seiko Special Luxury Catalogue.
(Please note that the scans have been spread across two galleries.)