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 the Seiko Museum in Tokyo for providing a copy of the 1971 Seiko Special Luxury Catalogue that was used to produce the scans in this article.
The Seiko 1971 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 1969, 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 1971 Special Luxury Catalogue, which featured no fewer than four “Very Fine Adjusted” references, seven watches from the 56GS series, and two from the 45GS series. All but two of the Grand Seiko references featured in this catalogue have 18K gold cases.
We mentioned in our write-up of the Seiko 1971 volume 2 catalogue that it was the last of the Seiko catalogues to feature Grand Seikos before any other reference. In this Special Luxury Catalogue, there are several quartz models featured (both in precious metal and stainless steel cases) that are pictured prior to the VFA’s – a sure sign of just how much disruption quartz was going to be causing over the coming couple of years.
Three of the watches pictured here appeared in the 1970 special luxury catalogue, with two of them – the two steel cased references – also making an appearance in the 1971 volume 2 catalogue.
The new reference, prominently featured in the top left of the double-page spread shown above, is the same 18K gold cased 6185-7000 (catalogue code 6185-046) that first appeared in the 1970 Special Luxury Catalogue, but this time it is also shown on an 18K gold bracelet. The 6185-7000 only appears in these two Special Luxury Catalogues. It had a very short retail lifespan – no doubt impacted severely by just how hard Seiko were pushing their luxury quartz watches at the time – and is extremely rare to come across today.
Apart from a small black and white photograph of the watch that appears in an in-house Seiko publication, we are not aware of a single other photograph that exists of the 6185-7000 on its 18K gold bracelet, and have never seen one offered for sale.
Interestingly, the bracelet shown on the watch would appear to be identical to that which was used on the 5646-7005 that first appears in the 1973 Special Luxury Catalogue. We have an example of this watch for sale on the site, although perhaps it might be prudent for us to remove the bracelet and hold onto it in the hope we can pick up an example of the 6185-7000 VFA at some point in the future.
Pricing wise, the premium for the bracelet on the VFA in 1971 was a mere 140,000 Yen, with the reference with the 18K bracelet priced at 400,000 Yen. When, just two years later, the same bracelet was used on the 5646-7005, the price differential between the leather strap and 18K gold bracelet variants of the watch was as staggering 319,000 Yen. At 500,000 Yen, this made the 5645-7005 the most expensive Grand Seiko of the entire vintage era.
Apart from the 6185-7000 VFA and the 5646-7005 discussed above, only three other vintage Grand Seikos were ever produced with 18K gold bracelets, and two of them are featured on the next double page spread in the catalogue.
The 5645-8000 (catalogue code 56GAC 036) and 5646-8000 (catalogue code 56GAW 036) both feature a case shape that was to be used on other references in stainless steel (to be introduced in the 1972 regular catalogue), but makes its debut here in 18K gold.
Both watches were clearly available for quite some time, as they both also feature in the 1972 Special Luxury Catalogue, and the 5645-8000 also appeared in the first volume of the 1973 catalogue. Intriguingly, the 1972 Special Luxury Catalogue featured two versions of the 5646-8000 in 18K gold case and on 18K gold bracelet. In addition to the linen textured dial that we see here, Seiko also introduced a matte white dialed example as well. This matte white dialed version then went on to appear alongside the 5645-8000 in the 1973 volume 1 catalogue.
It is these little nuances that could make the history of vintage Grand Seiko extremely difficult to understand. Without the knowledge to be gained from researching the catalogues in detail, things would be very confusing indeed! It is precisely for instances such as this that we have invested so much time, effort and expense in acquiring and studying the catalogues.
Making their debut in this catalogue are two more 18K cased watches from the 56GS range – the time only 5641-5000 (catalogue code 56GA 046) and time and date 5645-5000 (catalogue code 56GAC 046).
These two watches would remain in the range for a couple of years. Their relatively small case size – just 32mm wide (excluding the crown) and 40mm tall – means that they are not particularly desirable with collectors today, but they do make for extremely elegant dress watches, featuring hammer-toned cases and snowflake textured dials.
The remaining five Grand Seiko watches featured in this publication all appear in the 1971 volume 2 catalogue that we discussed in our previous article. For the sake of presentation, we will re-group how they are presented in the catalogue – see the gallery at the end of this article for the original page layout.
5641-7005, 5645-7005, 5646-7005
As mentioned, these three watches all featured in the main 1971 volume 2 catalogue. It is a little odd how they are pictured here, as the dial on the day-date 5646-7005 (catalogue code 56GAW 010) clearly appears to be a completely different colour to those on the time and date 5645-7005 (catalogue code 56GAC 010) and the time only 5641-7005 (catalogue code 56GA 010).
Here’s how the same three watches appear in that earlier catalogue –
The reason for the apparent difference in the dial colour is – we believe – simply down to the photography. When seen in the flesh, all these watches have a very similar tone. Here’s a “live” photo of a 5645-7005 that we currently have available for purchase –
The final two Grand Seiko references in this catalogue are also those that have been in the range for the longest period of time of all the watches featured.
The 4520-8010 (catalogue code 45GS 030) and 4522-8010 (catalouge code 45GSC 030) first appeared in the supplement to the 1969 volume 2 catalogue, and would continue to appear in every catalogue, including the Special Luxury Catalogues, right up until 1973’s volume 1. We need to double check, but we suspect this makes them the most featured of all vintage Grand Seiko watches.
Before signing off with the gallery, it would be remiss of us not to highlight the fact that we currently have an absolutely stunning “New Old Stock” full set of the 4520-8010 reference available. Whilst not uploaded to the site yet, we will share here a photo of this incredible time capsule. There is also an unboxing video that can be viewed on your YouTube channel here.
If you are interested in acquiring this piece, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.
In the gallery below we present scans of the front cover, inside front cover, pages featuring Grand Seiko references, and the back cover, of the 1971 Seiko Special Luxury Catalogue.