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.
Grand Seiko models not appearing in catalogues
Having now completed our write-ups of the Seiko catalogues from the 1960’s and 1970’s that detail the references released in the vintage Grand Seiko era, there is one more task to do – and that is to document the legitimate references that never appeared in a catalogue.
These references can be broadly grouped into three different categories –
- Vintage Grand Seikos that did not appear in the regular catalogues (annual, biannual, supplemental, or Special Luxury), but were featured in other official publications such as Seiko News and Seiko Sales. Examples would include both variants of the 43999.
- Vintage Grand Seikos that appear neither in the regular catalogues nor other official publications (to the best of our knowledge following research to-date), but clearly were available for sale to the public based on extensive examination of the market-place over the last 5 years, and also following consultation with other experts. Examples would include the platinum cased Firsts.
- Vintage Grand Seikos that were commissioned by third party companies, and would not have been available for sale to the general public. Examples would include the Toshiba 25 year service anniversary models.
Each of the seven men’s vintage Grand Seiko series features references that fall into at least one of these categories, and we will structure this article by series, and then by category as per the above three definitions.
Grand Seiko First series references missing from catalogues
In June 2018 we published an article that detailed the eight different dial variants of the filled gold Grand Seiko First.
Of these eight variants, we have only discovered two in print. The earliest official publication to show a Grand Seiko First that we have found is the March 1961 issue of Seiko News, which pictures the early carved dial split-12 index variant.
In addition to the above publication, there is a Seiko brochure that we believe dates from 1962 or 1963 that depicts the common raised logo dial variant. We have included our article on this document in the index of Seiko Catalogue articles, because it is our belief that this brochure did in fact serve as the catalogue for its time.
The image below shows the First as pictured in that brochure.
The gallery below shows photographs of the remaining six filled-gold dial variants of the Grand Seiko First that, to-date, we have not found images of in any official Seiko publication.
In order of presentation, they are –
- Print logo dial
- Early carved logo dial with single piece 12 o’clock index
- Late carved logo dial
- Carved logo transitional dial
- Raised logo transitional dial
- Raised logo AD dial
In addition to the regular filled gold cased Grand Seiko First, there is of course also the legendary platinum cased reference that, we believe, was available only on special order.
Whilst exceedingly rare, because the platinum cased First was available over much of the period that the filled gold reference was on sale, there are multiple variants of it in existence. The photograph below – of three watches from two different collections in Japan – is to the best of our knowledge the only one ever taken to show all three variants that we believe were produced.
From left to right, they are –
- Raised logo AD dial
- Raised logo SD dial
- Carved logo dial
Grand Seiko 57GS series references missing from catalogues
Whilst it is possible that there are additional brochures – similar to the one detailed above from 1962/3 – that were produced prior to the first Seiko catalogue (of this general era) in 1966, to-date we have never come across other examples.
Given the 57GS series debuted production in late 1963, it is unsurprising then that there are several references from this series missing from the catalogues.
Fortunately, the first two references in this series – the 43999 with SD and AD dials – do make appearances in the monthly Seiko News/Sales publication that was distributed to retailers.
43999 SD dial in Seiko News June 1964
Pictured at the bottom left of page 8 of this publication is the SD dial variant of the 57GS series 43999. Although the picture is of low resolution, it can be confirmed that it is the SD dial that is shown by two things – firstly, the SD logo appears on the lower half of the dial, and secondly, the extent of the text around either side of the 6 o’clock marker is that of the SD dial watch and cannot be any other variant. Note that the very first time this reference is featured in an issue of Seiko News is actually February 1964, but we do not have a copy of that issue to scan.
43999 AD dial in Seiko Sales January 1966
The January 1966 issue of Seiko Sales features a six page article on the manufacturing process of the “GSS”, or “Grand Seiko Self-dater”. We have previously published a scan of the entire article, which you can find here.
Interestingly, whilst the back cover of this publication is an advertisement for the 5722-9990, at the top of the first page of the manufacturing process article on page 16, we can see a photograph of the 43999 AD dial. As with the SD dial variant detailed above, we can identify the AD dial from the AD logo in the bottom half of the dial, and the extent of the text that is printed either side of the 6 o’clock hour index.
57GS series 18K gold cased references
In our article on the 1966 volume 1 catalogue, we explained that whilst an 18K gold cased 57GS reference is detailed, we do not believe that the image used is actually that of an actual 18K gold cased model.
Put simply, whilst the catalogue confirms the existence of an 18K gold cased watch, it does not picture one.
We have seen multiple instances of three distinct examples of this watch in the marketplace, although have not ever had one in stock. All three examples have the text “Made in Japan” to the left of the 6 o’clock index, which is what leads us to believe that the watch as pictured in the catalogue scan above is not an 18K gold one.
The three variants of a gold cased 57GS series watch that exist are the following –
- 5722-9000 movement-case reference with Chronometer dial and lion case back
- 5722-9001 movement-case reference with Chronometer dial and lion case back
- 5722-9001 movement-case reference with non-Chronometer dial and GS case back
57GS series Toshiba 25 year service anniversary watches
Japanese electronics company Toshiba had a long-running relationship with Grand Seiko whereby watches would be produced to be given as gifts to employees completing 25 years of service with the company. To date we have identified four separate models that were produced spanning three different Grand Seiko series, although it is possible that there are more out there.
Two of these models are from the 57GS series, and – unlike all other examples of commissioned commemorative watches – were actually given a unique case reference number that is stamped on the inside of the case back. The difference between the two variants is that one is based on the 5722-9990, and the other on the 5722-9991.
- 5722-9970 – based on 5722-9990 with Chronometer dial and, typically, 5722A movement. Commemoration year is marked as either 1965 or 1966.
- 5722-9970 – based on 5722-9991 with non-Chronometer dial and, typically, 5722B movement. Commemoration year is marked as either 1967 or 1968.
Grand Seiko 44GS series references missing from catalogues
Grand Seiko 4420-9990
The cap gold cased variant of the 44GS series – the 4420-9990 – does not appear in any Seiko Catalogue, and nor – despite extensive searching – have we been able to find it detailed in any of the monthly Seiko News/Sales newsletters.
It is a fairly rare reference, and intriguingly, whilst the 44GS series is widely credited as showcasing Seiko’s famed “Grammar of Design”, the cap gold model does not share the same case design as the stainless steel 4420-9000. Rather, it is very similar to the earlier cap gold references from the 57GS series.
Grand Seiko 62GS series references missing from catalogues
The 62GS series references are detailed in two catalogues. The “Number 2” 1967 catalogue (for 1966 and 1967 Seiko didn’t date their catalogues, but simply numbered them 1 for 1966, and 2 for 1967), and the second volume of the 1968 catalogue.
As discussed in articles, whilst the text and description for the watches in the 1967 catalogue detail Grand Seikos, the watches pictured are actually the Seikomatic Chronometers on which the 62GS series was based.
1966 production of the 62GS series can be indentified by the -9000 case suffix and lion case back medallion, and 1967/8 production identified by the -9001 case suffix and GS case back medallion. From the dial side however, the different production is indistinguishable. Therefore, we do make the assumption from the catalogue appearances that both -9000 and -9001 cases can be considered to be represented.
There is however one additional example of a 62GS reference that does not appear in any catalogue nor have we found in any other official publication, and that is a peculiar variant of the steel cased 6246-9001. All examples of this variant that we have encountered have a production date of July 1967.
Here’s the regular example of this reference –
Note that the regular version of this watch has fully polished hands and indices. In addition, the top surface of the hands is flat, whereas the top surface of the indices has multiple angled facets.
And here is a photo of a variant of this reference that does not appear in any Seiko catalogue –
Grand Seiko 6246-9001 with -9010 dial code
We think it is clear what is going on here – a marketing test of a cost-cutting exercise in advance of the introduction of the 61GS series.
Rather than rely on perfectly black-polished hands and indices to reflect light and thus make the time extremely legible, Grand Seiko appear to be trying out what would undoubtedly have been a much cheaper way to accomplish the same goal. Both the indices and the hands have applied black paint on their top surfaces in order to provide contrast with the polished surfaces. The indices have a completely flat top surface, whilst the hands have a much thinner painted top surface, and then the polished surfaces are at an angle (possible there is actually no flat surface at all to the hands, but that is very difficult to ascertain from the available photos).
The watch can also be identified by its unique dial code, which is 6246-9010T AD – the regular dial code is 6246-9000T AD.
Other examples of the 62GS series, along with all references from earlier series, have fully polished hands and indices. Almost all subsequent Grand Seiko models – starting with the 6145/6-8000 models introduced in 1968’s volume 2 catalogue, pictured below, and which replaced the 62GS series, pick up the same dial and index design approach.
To the best of our knowledge, the existence of this 6246-9001 variant has not been fully documented before, and neither has its connection to almost all subsequent Grand Seiko models that would be introduced in the vintage era.
It is an extremely rare reference, and no doubt will become highly sought after by vintage Grand Seiko collectors in the future.
Addendum September 2019
We have now seen an example of this same variant but in the Cap Gold case. The production date is unknown, but we will be doing our best to acquire it.
Addendum October 2019
Here is the aforementioned 6246-9001 with -9010 dial. The production date of this example is May 1967 – the same as the stainless steel version.
Grand Seiko 61GS series references missing from catalogues
There are no fewer than a dozen references from the 61GS series that do not appear in any of the Seiko catalogues.
Seven of these references are featured in the December 1972 issue of Seiko Sales, that we have published an article on previously.
Above is pictured one of these references – the green dialed 6146-8050.
In total there are three similar references with the time and date 6145 movement, and four with the day-date 6146-movement. Scans from the December 1972 issue of Seiko Sales showing these seven models are pictured below.
6146-8050 with white, blue, brown and green dials in Seiko Sales December 1972
6245-8050 with white, blue and green dials in Seiko Sales December 1972
Note that these references are pictured with faceted crystals and on bracelets, which is how we suspect all examples would have been originally sold. It is very rare to come across these references in good condition these days with both faceted crystals and their original bracelets.
Grand Seiko 6146-8030
Grand Seiko 6146-8040
The above watches are two of the most mysterious of all of the vintage Grand Seiko references.
It’s not that they don’t appear in any of the catalogues or monthly newsletters that makes them peculiar – as evidenced in this article, there are other examples of seemingly undocumented references – it’s that when they do appear on the market (which is very rarely indeed), they hardly ever seem to surface in Japan.
It is because of the fact that in almost all the cases that we have witnessed either of these two references becoming available it is from sources outside Japan that we suspect quite possibly these were export models. Whilst we have evidence of Grand Seiko being marketed outside Japan in the vintage era – particularly around the occasions of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1970 World Expo in Osaka – we are not aware of any documented proof existing of the watches actually being sold.
6185-8000 and 6185-8010 VFA’s with VFA printed on the dial
It would appear that both of these references also exist with “VFA” printed on their dials, although these variants have never been found in any Seiko publication.
We discussed the existence of these variants in an earlier article on the site, which you can find here. It is possible that the dials with VFA printed on them were service dials, but we have not been able to ascertain that as a fact.
Addendum October 2019
In addition to the above two references, we have now come across a third example of a VFA with the large print “VFA” added to the dial.
This reference is slightly different to the two detailed above in that, whilst the dial is clearly that from the early 6185-8020 with an additional “VFA” print above the applied Suwa logo, the watch itself is the later 6185-8021. This is the only example of this dial and case/movement combination that we have ever come across. Interestingly, the watch dates from March 1971, which makes it the earliest example of a 6185-8021 that we know of. Possibly it is a true “transitional” piece, where a dial originally manufactured for the 6185-8020 has had the additional print applied prior to being used in a very early example of the later reference.
Grand Seiko 6146-8010 Idemitsu Commemorative
Unlike with the 57GS series Toshiba commemoratives already discussed, the reference commemorating the Idemitsu Foundation’s 60th Anniversary was not given a unique movement-case reference number.
Similarly to those Toshiba watches however, the engraving on the case back didn’t leave any space for the model number, and so that – along with the case serial number – was stamped on the inside of the case back.
We have seen examples of the Idemitu commemoratives with both regular, and faceted crystals. The example that we once had available had a regular crystal, but due to the overall mint condition of the watch, we find it exceedingly unlikely that it originally came with a faceted crystal that somehow got damaged and was then replaced, however it is impossible to state categorically that this is the case.
Grand Seiko 45GS series references missing from catalogues
4520-7010 and 4522-7010 without “36000” text on the dial
As discussed in our write-up of the 1970 volume 2 catalogue, where – as pictured above – the 4520-7010 and 4522-7010 make their catalogue debuts, we see examples of these two references available both with and without the “36000” text on the dial, with the watches lacking the additional line of text seemingly more common.
Fortunately, we are able to confirm the existence and legitimacy of the non-36000 variants because the 4522-7010 without 36000 on the dial is depicted in the Seiko Sales monthly newsletter from May 1971.
Grand Seiko 4522-7010 without 36000 on dial in Seiko Sales May 1971
In the bottom right of page 6 we can see the photo of the 4522-7010 without the 36000 text on the dial. Underneath the photograph is also detailed the 4520-7000 reference (catalogue code 45GS 040).
Grand Seiko 4522-8000 Toshiba 25 year service anniversary
As discussed earlier, from 1965 through to 1968, Toshiba were awarding watches from the 57GS series to employees completing 25 years of company service.
Following the end of the availability of the 57GS series, they moved to using the 4522-8000 reference. We have seen examples of these watches with commemoration years 1969, 1970 and 1971.
Grand Seiko 56GS series references missing from catalogues
Grand Seiko 5641-7000 Toshiba 25 year service anniversary
With the previous based model 4522-8000 used for the Toshiba commemorative making its final catalogue appearance in 1971’s volume 2, the – what we believe to be final – reference used for the 25 year service anniversary became the 5641-7000.
We have seen examples of these watches with commemorative years 1972 and 1973.
Grand Seiko 5645-7000 Idemitsu Commemorative
Update as of May 2019
We recently acquired an example of a previously undocumented reference created for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Idemitsu Foundation. As with the 6146-8010 detailed above, the watch has a custom case back with the commemorative text surrounding the Grand Seiko medallion, and the model and case reference numbers stamped on the inside of the case back.
And that’s a wrap!
This is the final article in a series of 31 that we have published that discuss the vintage era Grand Seiko references in the context of their appearance (or lack thereof) in official contemporaneous Seiko publications.
In total, we have documented 145 distinct vintage Grand Seikos that are “out there” to collect, and although we highly doubt anyone will ever manage to complete the set, we do fully intend to have each and every one of those references pass through our hands eventually.
It has been an absolutely monumental task to complete this mission. The information shared in these articles is the result of many thousands of hours research, along with a significant 5-figure US investment in acquiring vintage Seiko publications and travel to the Seiko Museum in Tokyo for further research.
We undertook this endeavour because we strongly believe that, as interest in collecting vintage Grand Seikos continues to increase seemingly inexorably, there needed to be single “go-to” source of information on the watches.
Whilst of course it is always possible – indeed likely – that new information will be uncovered in the future, right now there is quite simply nowhere else – online or offline – where such a comprehensive and accurate record of the vintage Grand Seiko range exists.
If you believe there are any errors or omissions in the articles, we would be delighted to hear from you.
In closing, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to the following, without whom this endeavour would have been impossible to complete –
- Anthony Kable
- Erik Strickland
- The Seiko Museum in Tokyo
- Yoshihiko Honda
- Kenji Abe
- Tanaka Gensui
- Don Crotty
- Kyoto Shop, Inc
Finally, it would be remiss of us to sign-off without expressing our gratitude to the most important people of all – our customers, who have put their trust in us by purchasing watches from this site for their collections. Without your support, we would quite simply have neither the time nor financial resources required to create these articles.
“The Grand Seiko Guy”