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. 2 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. 2 catalogue.
We noted in our previous article on the first catalogue from this year that the number of references featured in the range took quite a dip compared to what was available at the end of 1970. The primary reason for this drop was that the 61GS series references were being dropped from the presented range faster than they were being replaced by 56GS pieces. This of course doesn’t necessarily mean that the range on offer to the public in the shops saw any dramatic overnight decrease in breadth, as no doubt stock of the discontinued references would still be available at retail for some time after it was no longer possible for the retailers to order.
The 35 men’s Grand Seiko references featured in this catalogue represents the highest number of those references offered in any single Seiko catalogue of the vintage Grand Seiko era. This catalogue is also notable as being the last of the vintage catalogues to lead with Grand Seiko.
Those two facts are not unrelated, as from 1972 onwards the quartz revolution – instigated by Seiko themselves with the introduction of the Quartz Astron on December 25th 1969 – started to take hold.
As with all our articles on the catalogues, we will be focusing on what changes there were compared to the previously issued catalogue. In this instance, every men’s Grand Seiko reference that appears in the 1971 volume 1 catalogue also features in this publication; six new references are introduced; and two references that featured in the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue, but that were missing from the first 1971 catalogue, make reappearances.
Two VFA’s, and a Special on a bracelet
The first page of the catalogue leads with two of the crown jewels of the entire vintage Grand Seiko era – the “Very Fine Adjusted” watches, or “VFA’s” for short. Neither watch featured here is actually making its catalogue debut.
The first one – 6185-8020 (catalogue code 6185 030) – actually is making its fourth catalogue appearance, having debuted in the 1969 Special Luxury Catalogue, and then appearing in both the second volume, and Special Luxury Catalogue of 1970. Why it was dropped for the 1971 volume 1 catalogue will probably forever remain a mystery.
The second VFA – confusingly with the same 6185-8020 movement-case code (catalogue code 6185 050) – is making just its second appearance, having debuted in the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue.
Neither reference would appear in a catalogue again.
Of the four “Specials” accompanying the VFA’s on page 1 of the catalogue, all but the one pictured on the lower left of the page were introduced in the previous catalogue. The watch pictured, with a movement-case reference of 6156-8000, identical to the watch next to it except for the fact it is offered on a stainless steel bracelet for a premium of 3,000 Yen.
5646-7010 on bracelet
Just a single reference on page two of the catalogue is “new”, being the 5646-7010 – first offered in the 1970 volume 2 supplemental catalogue on a leather strap – now available with a steel bracelet. Again, as with the Special on the previous page, the additional cost to for the bracelet was 3,000 Yen. On a leather strap, the 5646-7010 is almost certainly the most commonly found vintage Grand Seiko reference today, but it is extremely rare to come across one that retains its bracelet.
It’s worth reflecting before we move on that the four watches detailed above aren’t strictly speaking new additions to the range – the VFA’s appeared in previous catalogues, and the Special and the 5646-7010 are watches that we have seen before, but that are for the first time being offered on a bracelet.
It’s not until we turn to page four that we finally come across what can be regarded as truly new references.
For the first time in the history of the vintage Grand Seiko era we are presented with watches that are based on an automatic time-only caliber. The 5641-7005 (solid 18K gold case) and 5641-7000 (brushed stainless steel case) are two of the three references that would use the 5641 caliber.
The alert reader would have noticed that we have seen this case design before. It is interesting to note that this case design is the only one ever used that was available with time only, date, and day-date movements in the vintage Grand Seiko range – not to mention in both steel and 18K gold variants. It seems a shame that the layout designers of the catalogue didn’t choose to show all six watches together on the same page!
The final two new references featured in this catalogue are cap gold cased variants of existing watches from the 45GS series.
4520-7000 (cap gold case), 4522-7000 (cap gold case)
Retaining the same movement-case codes as their blue and white dialed steel-cased equivalents, the time only 4520-7000 (catalogue code 45GS 020) and date 4522-7000 (catalogue code 45GSC 020) are strikingly designed watches with cap gold cases. Sadly, they are very hard to find in good condition these days – presumably they were not particularly popular designs at the time, and many seem to have had very tough lives since. This is the only catalogue in which they are to be found.
As mentioned at the top of this article, this was the final catalogue from Seiko to feature Grand Seikos at the front. From 1972 through to 1975, we will see a rapid decline in the number of Grand Seiko watches in the range as quartz starts to take over. But next up, one more catalogue from 1971…
In the gallery below we present scans of the front cover and pages one to six of the Seiko 1971 catalogue volume 2.