To VFA, or not to VFA. That is the question.
In an article written earlier this year for Watches by SJX – “A Detailed History of Grand Seiko V.F.A., the Pinnacle of Japanese Chronometers” – the author detailed the 11 different Grand Seiko VFA references that were on sale from 1970 through to 1975.
The first four VFA references, three from Suwa-Seikosha and one from Daini-Seikosha were first introduced in the January 1970 edition of the Seiko Sales newsletter that was distributed to retailers, and the scans of the two pages featuring those watches can be seen below.
Of particular interest regarding these four references is that unlike all the VFA’s that followed them, none of them actually say “VFA” on the dial.
In this article we will provide an update on the first two VFA’s pictured above – the 6185 014 and 6185 024 (with movement case codes respectively of 6185-8000 and 6185-8010.
Our first example of a 6185-8010, that has been listed on this site for some time now, is pictured below –
Earlier this year, we picked up a second example of this reference, but with one intriguing difference.
This second example has “VFA” proudly printed on the dial above the applied Suwa Seikosha logo –
We cannot find any pictures from historical Seiko publications that show this watch with the VFA print on the dial, however, a detailed search of previous examples of the references that have come to the market shows a pretty even split between watches with and without VFA on the dial.
For the 6185 014 (6185-8000) reference that comes on the bracelet, we are aware of two examples being sold over the last few years – one had VFA on the dial, the other didn’t.
For the 6185 024 (6185-8010) reference that comes on a leather strap, we are aware of six examples being sold over the last few years (including the two presented here). Of these 6 examples, three have VFA on the dial, and three do not.
So – what to make of this?
Our first thoughts were that perhaps there were two batches of dials used during the brief production run, one batch with the VFA print, and one batch without it. Whilst this is possible, a study of the known serial numbers of four of the 6185-8010 references would suggest that it is probably not the case.
In our two examples pictured above, the watch with VFA on the dial has a serial number 8D0163, and the one without VFA on the dial has a serial number 8D0204. (8D identifies the watch as being manufactured in December 1968, and the last four digits indicate the manufacturing order within that month). However, we also know that the watch with the serial number 8D0269 has VFA on the dial. A summary of the watches with known serial numbers is below –
8D0163 – VFA
8D0204 – no VFA
8D0217 – no VFA
8D0269 – VFA
It does seem unlikely that Seiko would have produced some with VFA on the dial, then some without, and then some with again. Having discussed the matter with a number of experts, we currently believe the most likely scenario is that the dials with VFA printed on them were service dials, possibly made available to customers on-request following the launch of the later VFA references.
This theory is supported by the fact that we have managed to track down the sale of a single example of a NOS condition dial from one of these references (the 6185-8000 and 6185-8010 both used the same dial) with VFA printed on it.
Below is a more detailed shot of the printing on the dial.