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 1970 no. 1 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 1970 No.1 catalogue.
As we saw in our earlier write-up of the supplement to volume 2 of the 1969 catalogue, over the course of that year, the number of references offered in the Grand Seiko range increased substantially, from just 10 watches at the start of the year, to 27 by the end.
The first volume of the 1970 catalogue features a total of 29 men’s Grand Seiko references – the 27 references already featured in 1969’s volume 2 and its supplement, and just two newly introduced references.
The two newly introduced references actually have the same movement-case reference number of 6146-8010, and are referred to as the “Arabesques” due to the pattern printed on the dial surrounding the applied Grand Seiko logo.
As can be seen, these references were priced at a substantial 50% premium to the regular 6146-8000 references that were available for just 40,000 Yen. The reasons for the premium are two-fold. Firstly, the case was made from a new steel alloy that Seiko called “HSS”, or “Hardened Stainless Steel”. This steel is substantially more resistant to scratching than that used for the cases of the regular models, and many examples of the Arabesques that survive to this day have cases in superb condition, such as the one we have in stock that can be seen below.
As can be seen in the detail case shots on its listing page on this website, the case of this watch is in remarkable condition. Of additional interest is that our example of the Arabesque is actually an extremely rare “Idemitsu” commemorative model that would not have been on sale to the general public. More details about that over at the page detailing the watch.
The second detail about the 6146-8010 that distinguishes it from the regular 6146-8000 reference is that it has a faceted sapphire crystal. As can be seen from the catalogue shots, two differently faceted crystals were available – one that was faceted vertically, and the other that had a pyramidal faceting.
Examples of the 6146-8010 are seen with both types of faceted crystal, and also a non-faceted crystal (as seen on our Idemitsu commemorative piece). Interestingly, the Seiko parts catalogues list just a single crystal reference, which makes us suspect that possibly only the non-faceted crystal was available as a spare part.
Expo 1970 time capsules
One of the little-known facts about the 6146-8010 Arabesque is that it was selected as an object representing “the achievements of our civilisation and the everyday experience of the Japanese people” and two examples were placed in two time capsules that were buried next to Osaka Castle in celebration of the Japan World Exposition 1970.
The design and contents of the two time capsules are identical, with each containing no fewer than 2,098 objects. The capsules were buried one on top of the other, with the upper capsule intended to be first opened in the year 2000, and then once every 100 years after that.
The second capsule is – astonishingly – intended to only be opened 5,000 years after the Expo.
As can be seen from the above photo, it was the variant with the vertically faceted crystal that was placed into the time capsule. In addition to the watch itself, the contents list of the time capsule also mention “Spare parts for mans wrist watch”, so hopefully if there is a problem with the watch when the second capsule is opened in the year 6970, a watchmaker of that era will be able to get it up and running!
Note that the watch is shown on a bracelet – we are unsure as to exactly which bracelet this is, but do not believe it to be representative of what was offered for sale to the public, as all other contemporary photos of the reference show it on a leather strap.
If you are interested in learning more about the time capsules, full details can be found at the following website, from where the above image was taken.
The first capsule was opened as planned in the year 2000, and 173 of the items contained within it were examined. Whether the Arabesque was one of these items we do not know, but it’s good to know that the television was still operational!