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.
Seiko News July 1962
Much of the information regarding vintage Grand Seiko references that you will find on this site has come from extensive and detailed research into the official publications that Seiko produced during the vintage Grand Seiko period.
The monthly newsletters that Seiko distributed to their dealers are a vital source of information. They – along with the annual catalogues – not only provide evidence for what actually existed, but can also be a rich source of data about those watches, and often feature articles providing some fascinating behind the scenes articles – articles that perhaps have not seen the light of day since they were first published.
We came across one such article in the July issue of Seiko News from 1962 that we recently acquired, and are delighted to be able to share it with you here.
Above is the first page of a two page article that delves into the quality control and chronometry testing of the only Grand Seiko available at the time – the Grand Seiko First.
We have written extensively about the Grand Seiko First, most notably in an article that detailed the different variants of the reference that existed over its relatively short production lifespan.
The text on the first page of this article explains how the Grand Seiko First is inspected in the same way as the world’s most rigorous and prestigious “Precise Watch Standard Inspection” standards used in Europe. It describes how during the process manufacturing of the watch components, and their construction into a completed watch, many advanced measuring instruments (which we see examples of in the accompanying photographs) are used to check the quality of manufacture.
It also talks of the 15 day chronometric testing procedure that follows on from the strict preliminary quality control inspection, and how that results in every watch being issued with a rating certificate that was provided with the watch when it was sold.
The bottom right of the page shows a tray of 16 Grand Seiko Firsts that are clearly part way through this testing procedure – we can see from the positions of the second hands on the watches that there has been some deviation. It looks as if 12 of the watches (in the first, second and fourth row) are showing almost no deviation from one another, with the four watches in the third row varying from those 12 by no more than a couple of seconds either way.
The strange looking cabinet shown in the top half of the page is where the trays of watches would be put whilst undergoing the testing at the three different temperatures of 4, 20, and 36 degrees Celcius.
The second page of the article shows photographs highlighting some of the specific stages of the production process, with captions for each photo. We provide some basic translations of those captions below –
2 – This photograph shows the watches on tray which has been placed inside the cabinet (that we saw pictured on the previous page) ready for the chonometry testing at different temperatures.
3 – Using an 800x magnification microscope, raw material used in the production of movement components is inspected for defects
4 – Here, remarkably, we see how the recording of the chronometric testing of the watches was carried out. In the very top left of page 1 of the article, we can see what is a 35mm camera mounted on a stand, pointing down vertically at a tray of watches. At the end of each of the 15 days of the testing, the trays of watches would be placed under a camera and then photographed, thus recording the time shown on the dials at the precise moment of exposure.
The lady in the photograph is examining the negatives from this camera to check the performance of the watches.
5 – Movement parts are examined for defects under a 100x projecting microscope.
6 – Completed parts are subjected to various inspections by a varity of instruments, with tolerances as low as 1 micron.
7 – The accuracy of watches is checked in five different positions by a timegrapher, prior to the 15 day chronometry test.
8 – Here we see an incredible shot of a long table at which are sat upwards of 50 watchmakers assembling the watches. The caption explains that the workers wear nylon dust-proof clothing in an air conditioned environment
We now have over 120 different issues of the monthly Seiko News/Sales newsletter in our library and will continue to add articles to the site showing some of the fascinating content they contain.
For anyone with a deep interest in the history of the Grand Seiko brand, this particular article surely must rank up there as one of the most fascinating to discover!
Any readers interested in acquiring an incredible full set example of a Grand Seiko First is encouraged to check out our listing on this site. The prices for all product on the site will be increased in mid-October 2019.