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.
We are deeply indebted to Anthony Kable of Plus9Time for providing the scans of the 1970 Seiko Special Luxury Catalogue that are used in this article. Anthony knows more about the history of Seiko than we’ve had hot dinners, and we strongly encourage our readers to visit his site to learn more about all things Seiko.
All but two of the watches featured in this catalogue are available for purchase from this site. Below are direct links to the relevant pages.
The Seiko 1970 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 1970, 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 watches included in the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue, which featured no fewer than four “Very Fine Adjusted” references, alongside two 18K gold cased watches from each of the 45GS and 56GS series.
Of the eight references featured in the catalogue, three had made previous appearances in the 1970’s volume 2 catalogue. These three watches were the 6185-8020 VFA (6185A movement), and the 4520- and 4522-8010 18K gold cased models.
With five brand new references introduced here, the total number of men’s Grand Seikos in the range at the end of 1970 numbered no fewer than 40 distinct watches.
The Grand Seiko 4580-7010 VFA
The stand-out vintage Grand Seiko introduced in this catalogue is also the least expensive watch in the catalogue – the 4580-7010 VFA. Despite it’s relative affordability (at least compared to the other watches featured in this publication) back then, today it is – possibly with the exception of the platinum cased Grand Seiko First – the most sought after vintage Grand Seiko there is. Quite simply, it sits at the pinnacle of the Grand Seiko story – everything Grand Seiko set out to achieve when starting out in 1960 was delivered in this reference, and in our view it hasn’t been bettered since.
It is, to us, quite simply the perfect watch.
Until the discovery of this catalogue by Anthony Kable in the archives of the Seiko Museum in Tokyo, Japan, this reference had not been seen pictured in any Seiko publication of its era. It doesn’t feature in any of the regular Seiko catalogues, nor had it appeared in any of the monthly Seiko Sales newsletters that were distributed to dealers.
Indeed, prior to Anthony’s research, the only mention that we had managed to track down in any contemporaneous Seiko publication was hidden away on page 22 of the 1971 Seiko pocket diary. These diaries were available to order on request only, and of course as with most diaries, would probably have been discarded at the end of the year and so are extremely rare to come across. We actually consider this diary to be one of the most precious pieces of history in our library.
There in the middle group of references (the vertical text on the left hand side translates to “Special Luxury Goods”), listed beneath the 45GSN (Seiko Astronomical Observatory Chronometer) and the 6800 (Ultra-thin Dress Watch), can be found entries for the 6185 and 4580 caliber VFA’s.
With the diary intended as an educational reference tool for sales staff, the accompanying text alongside the pricing of the watches details the three key selling messages for the VFA’s.
- That they are ultra-high precision timepieces, pursuing accuracy in a mechanical watch to the limit;
- They are assembled and adjusted only by the very best watchmakers, and then go through very strict inspection procedures; and
- As much attention has been given to the design of the watches as statement pieces as has been given to ensuring their “super high” accuracy.
Until the discovery of the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue, this diary provided the only corroborating evidence for the list price of the 4580-7010 VFA.
Our example of this reference is without question the finest to appear on the market in recent memory, and comes complete with its original inner and outer boxes, VFA swing tag, price ticket, and even original cleaning cloth – all of which can be seen accompanying the watch in the photo below.
Before moving on to discuss the other new references introduced in this catalogue, it would be remiss of us not to use this opportunity to share one more photograph of the 4580-7010, and that being one showing the remarkably beautiful movement that is hidden away behind the solid caseback.
The 61GS series VFA’s
Of the other three VFA’s to be featured in this catalogue, we have already mentioned that the 6185-8020 (6185A movement) had featured in the earlier 1970 volume 2 catalogue.
Pictured alongside that watch are the two new references – the 6185-7000 (catalogue code 6185-046), which is the only example of a VFA to be cased in 18K gold; and the 6185-8020 (6185B movement) (catalogue code 6185-050). As discussed in the author’s article published on SJXWatches, it can be somewhat confusing that there are two VFA’s with the same movement-case code of 6185-8020, which is why we always suffix with the caliber within the watch.
The two watches are however very different in design, as can be seen in the composite photo below.
Like the 4580-7010 VFA, the 18K gold cased 6185-7000 also makes its sole appearance in this publication- it does not appear in any of the regular catalogues, and nor have we found it pictured in any of the monthly Seiko Sales newsletters.
It does however make a fleeting appearance in an Seiko publication titled (we think, based on Google Translate) “Hamazawa”. We believe this publication was purely distributed internally to Seiko staff, since it not only details company news and events, but also new hires, births, marriages, and even holiday snaps from employees. A scan of page 22 from the November/December issue of 1971 can be seen below.
Pictured at the top left can be seen what is clearly the 6185-7000 VFA, but presented on an 18K gold bracelet.
The bracelet looks to be identical to the one that would ultimately appear on a variant of the 5646-7005, but that specific watch didn’t make an appearance for another 3 years, when it debuted in the 1973 Special Luxury Catalogue.
The 6185-7000 VFA is a rare watch as it is, but we have never seen an example pictured on an 18K bracelet prior to the discovery of the image in this internal publication. The description accompanying the photograph states that the selling price for the watch was 400,000 Yen – a 140,000 Yen premium on the price shown for the watch on the leather strap in the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue.
The Grand Seiko 5645-7005 and 5646-7005
Those who read our previous article on the supplement to the 1970 volume 2 catalogue will know that that publication introduced the first watches from the 56GS series. Among those first four references were the brushed steel turtle shaped cased 5645-7000 and 5646-7000.
The 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue introduced solid 18K gold cased examples in the same design.
Although difficult to see in the catalogue photos, as is clear from the image above of the example of the Grand Seiko 5645-7005 that we currently have in stock, the dials on these references have a wonderful linen textured finish.
We discussed in our previous article how we find the pricing difference between closely equivalent watches in the 56GS range compared to the 45GS and 61GS ranges quite surprising, with substantial premiums being applied for the 56GS series references.
Here again we see the same thing. Despite their significantly more substantial solid 18K gold cases, the 4520-8010 and 4522-8010 references also presented in this catalogue are 40,000 Yen less expensive than their 56GS counterparts.
In today’s market however, it is the 18K cased 45GS series watches that are both rarer and more desirable, and so they actually command quite a premium over the 18K cased 56GS series watches. For the astute collector this of course does present an opportunity, as the 5645-7005 and 5646-7005 (when on a leather strap) are actually the least expensive vintage Grand Seiko models cased in 18K gold to acquire today.
The 1970 Seiko Special Luxury Catalogue is a remarkable publication that really does serve to show how Seiko generally, and Grand Seiko in particular, were setting the bars for quality, precision, and style higher than at any previous time in their history. And as we will see in future articles on the subsequent catalogues, they were just getting started.
This catalogue is one that is currently missing from our library, and we will pay handsomely to acquire a copy. If anyone reading this article has a copy that they are willing to sell, or know of one available for purchase somewhere, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Once again, our sincere thanks to Anthony Kable of Plus9Time for providing the scans featured in this article.