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.
Please click on the following link for an index to all articles on Seiko catalogues from the vintage Grand Seiko era.
The Seiko 1969 no. 2 supplement 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.
In this article we take a look at the watches included in the 1969 No. 2 catalogue supplement – note that the supplement did not detail the full range on offer, it only included additional references that were added to the range already detailed in the regular volume 2 catalogue.
The immediately obvious thing to note about the Grand Seiko content in this catalogue is that there were a lot of new models introduced. Despite “only” being a supplemental catalogue, it actually features 11 new references that were additional to the range presented in the volume 2 catalogue that had been published just a few months earlier.
Including the 16 references in that earlier catalogue, the Grand Seiko range now extended to no fewer than 27 distinct watches – that’s very close to three times the number of references that were available at the beginning of the year. Clearly 1969 was a very busy year for Grand Seiko!
There are two significant aspects to the models introduced here. Firstly, following on from the introduction of the 4520/2-7000 references in volume 2, we see further experimentation in both dial and case design, with several references flat out ignoring the fundamental tenets of the “Grammar of Design”; and secondly, for the first time for Grand Seiko, we see references offered on steel bracelets.
Existing references now offered on stainless steel bracelets
Of the 11 new references, four are models that we have already seen, but now are offered on a stainless steel bracelet.
Looking back to the main 1969 volume 2 catalogue, we can see that the premium charged for the bracelet examples of these 6145/6-8000 references was just 3,000 Yen. It is worth noting that this bracelet very rarely surfaces these days, and on its own is worth several hundred dollars. Caveat emptor though – following Anthony Kable’s excellent article on vintage Grand Seiko bracelets, the market has woken up to the existence of these, and sadly there has been at least one example of a frankensteined bracelet (yes, really!) being put together from disparate sources. If you are interested in acquiring an example of this bracelet, insist on seeing the stamps on the inner surface of the end links, as pictured on Anthony’s site.
The remaining watches in this catalogue can be put into three groups.
Two new solid 18K gold cased references from Daini
First up, we have two new offerings from Daini in the 45GS range –
These two watches, with the catalogue code 45GSC 030 equating to the movement/case code 4522-8010, and the catalogue code 45GS 030 equating to movement/case code 4520-8010, are unlike any Grand Seiko previously released.
They joined the 18K 6145/6-8000 references that were detailed, but not pictured, in the previous catalogue at the very top end of the Grand Seiko offer. Along with the 6145-8030 reference also introduced in this catalogue, there were now no fewer than 5 different solid 18K gold cased Grand Seikos in the range.
We currently have examples of both of these references available for purchase on the site –
Our example of the Grand Seiko 4520-8010, pictured above, is available for purchase from here.
Our example of the Grand Seiko 4522-8010, pictured above, is available for purchase here.
Both watches feature the same solid 18K gold case with a linen-textured finish. This case was actually also the exact same one that was used for the legendary 4520-8020 Seiko Astronomical Observatory Chronometer (“AOC”), although the case backs are of course different.
You will on occasion come across examples of the AOC with display case backs, and in our view these are almost certainly AOC’s that have – sadly – at some point in their lives had their cases melted down for the gold value, and then, later, had their dials and movements re-cased in 4520 cases. Since the case backs are different between the watches, and it would be extremely difficult to fabricate a “correct looking” case back for the AOC, a custom display case back is used instead.
A new solid 18K gold cased reference from Suwa
Not to be out-done in the style and bling departments, we also see a fabulous new reference from Suwa introduced in this catalogue.
The 6145-8030 is one of your author’s absolute favourite references, and a very rare one at that. Considering the amount of work that must have gone into the hand-hammered case and stunningly textured dial, it is remarkable that it was available for “just” 160,000 Yen.
Sadly now sold, although in very good hands, here is a photo of the example we had in stock earlier in the year.
And we could hardly leave this reference without posting a photo showing the detail in that incredible dial –
Suwa are visited by aliens, or “I’ll have some of whatever he’s smoking”?
One can’t help but to wonder where the inspiration came from for the design of the final four new references introduced in this catalogue.
The 6145- and 6146-8020 references feature what must surely be the most outlandish case design of any Grand Seiko from any era.
Pictured above is the only example from this set of watches that we currently have in stock, and it is in absolutely incredible condition. You can find more photos of the watch at its listing here, but suffice to say we don’t believe it has ever been on a wrist – it is that good – and we have never come across another example of any of these watches in such immaculate condition.
Now seems as good a time as any to publish additional photos of this reference not previously shared on this site –
What is interesting – and not immediately obvious from the catalogue shots – is that whilst, as can be seen in the above photos, the upper and lower portions of the 6145-8020 case have a radial brushing, and the sides are smoothly polished, all facets of the 6146-8020 cases are smoothly polished.
All four of these watches are getting very hard to find these days – presumably the design was just a little too “out there” for tastes at the time and not too many were sold. Sadly, on those rare occasions that they do turn up, they are often in very poor condition, and frequently missing their original – and unique to these references – bracelets.
Another interesting thing to note, and as can be seen in our example, is that the dials on the white dialed variants develop a radial patina over time. The degree of patination depends very much on how much exposure to (presumably) UV radiation the watches have had, but we have seen examples where the dial has gone completely back towards its periphery.
Whilst “only” a supplement, this catalogue actually turns out to be one of the most interesting of all the ones we have detailed to date. It dramatically expanded the Grand Seiko range by introducing no fewer than 11 new references, including 3 in solid 18K gold cases; both existing and new references for the first time being made available on bracelets; and some very bold and dramatic designs that still grab the attention even 50 years on.