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 1971 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 1971 No. 1 catalogue.
1970 closed out with no fewer than 40 distinct mens’ Grand Seiko references available – 31 that were detailed in the volume 2 catalogue; 5 references featured exclusively in the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue; and the four references that marked the introduction of the first watches from the 56 GS series in the volume 2 supplement.
1971 showed a significant drop in the number of references featured, with just 27 men’s watches appearing on its pages. Logically, one may think that this was a sign of the impending introduction of quartz references produced in volume – after all, over a year had passed since the debut of the Quartz Astron on Christmas Day 1969 – but in actual fact, as we shall see in the next article, there is a jump back up to 35 references in volume 2’s catalogue of this year.
What is evident if one compares references available over this time period is that the 61GS series was being phased out and replaced by the 56GS series, with references from the former being dropped from the catalogue at a faster rate than those from the latter were being introduced.
The only “regular” 61GS references that survived the cull were the cushion-cased 6145/6-8020 models that were featured on pages 2 and 3 of the catalogue. All other 6145 and 6146 caliber models – 11 in total – were dropped.
But the first catalogue of 1971 wasn’t going to become a ghost town for the 61GS series, because taking pride of place at the top of page one were three references from a sub-series making their premier appearance on the scene, the “Specials”.
6156-8010, 6156-8000, 6155-8000
With no VFA’s appearing in this catalogue, the three watches pictured above were the top of the line steel cased Grand Seiko watches available. Presented as “fine adjustment devices”, the Specials sat between the regular Grand Seiko Standard and the VFA’s, being regulated to an accuracy of +/- 3 seconds per day. Other differences to the regular 6145 and 6146 movements were that both day and date could be quick-set from the crown on the 6156, and the day wheel was dual language, with either Japanese or English selectable.
Considering the significant improvement in accuracy over the regular 6145/6 watches (the Grand Seiko Standard was -5/+8 seconds per day), these watches provided remarkable value for money, at just a 13,000 Yen premium over the 6145/6-8000 equivalents. For the next step up to the VFA’s, the price doubled.
The most expensive Special – the 6156-8010 pictured first – featured a hardened stainless steel case, and a faceted crystal, at a premium of 15,000 Yen over the price of the 6156-8000.
5646-7010 Cap Gold
The bottom half of the first page includes the 18K gold cased 5646-7005 that makes its first appearance in a regular catalogue (it was first introduced in 1970’s Special Luxury Catalogue). Next to it is a new reference – the 5646-7010 in Cap Gold case. It joins its steel-cased variant that first debuted in the supplement to 1970’s second catalogue, for a premium of 8,000 Yen.
5645-7010 Cap Gold
On page two, we find the final reference that makes its debut in this catalogue – the cap gold cased variant of the 5645-7010, which once again is available at an 8,000 Yen premium over the price of the equivalent steel-cased reference.
The remaining watches featured all carry over from the 1970 volume 2 catalogue and are shown in the gallery below.
In total, this catalogue features 7 references from the 61GS series, 8 from the 56GS series, and 12 from the 45GS series.
In the gallery below we present scans of the front cover and pages one to five of the Seiko 1971 catalogue volume 1.