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 export catalogues
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.
One of the enduring mysteries of the vintage Grand Seiko era is whether or not Grand Seiko models were ever made available outside of the Japanese domestic market (“JDM”) that these catalogues served. Not only are there references – such as the 6146-8030 and 6146-8040 – that make no appearance in any of the JDM catalogues or Seiko Sales newsletters, but recently an extremely exciting discovery has been made of a reference number 6146-8009 that clearly was made for an overseas market. More to come on that reference in a later article.
It was the discovery of the above reference that spurred us to make a visit to the Seiko Museum in Tokyo to see whether or not we could find an evidence of Grand Seikos being sold overseas in the vintage era. Following a request to view export catalogues from the vintage Grand Seiko era, we discovered the existence of Grand Seiko references in three different publications.
Seiko Export Catalogue 1966
Whereas almost all of the regular JDM catalogues are fully bound, the export catalogues that we were able to view at the museum were comprised of loose-leaf pages in lever-arch binders.
It would appear that Seiko issued new “full” export catalogues every two years, and then provided supplemental inserts as new references were released. This explains why the watches shown on the following scan appear in the 1966 catalogue –
From left to right, the three references featured in this catalogue are the 4420-9000 (early “Diashock” dial variant), the 5722-9991, and the 6246-9000. Respectively, those watches first debuted in the JDM catalogues 1967 volume 2 supplement, 1966 supplement, and 1968 volume 1 (note – although the 6246-9000 was first detailed in the 1967 volume 2 supplement, it was represented in that catalogue by a photo of the Seikomatic Chronometer).
Clearly a 1966 catalogue would be must too early to feature the 44GS and 62GS shown here, and indeed the page that we found these watches depicted on was in a “supplemental” update to the primary catalogue.
Interestingly, the 6246-9000 is depicted on a unique bracelet that does not appear in any of the JDM catalogues. All three references are listed as being available in stainless steel only, whilst for the domestic market they all were produced with both stainless steel and cap gold cases. Additionally, the 62GS was also produced as the date-only 6245-9000 variant.
Seiko Export Catalogue 1968
For the 1968 catalogue, all three Grand Seiko references that were featured in the earlier catalogue spanning 1966-1967 were dropped, and we see the introduction of the 61GS series.
The watch featured is the 6146-8000 in cap gold, with the early “Grand Seiko” dial variant. This watch made its first appearance in the JDM 1968 volume 2 catalogue.
Turning to the next page in the catalogue, we see a different black and white photograph of a 6146-8000, with the reference codes provided for both stainless steel and cap gold variants of the model.
We should note that this is not the same reference as the 6146-8009 that we pictured earlier in this article, as that watch has the later “Hi Beat 36000” dial variant without the Grand Seiko text.
The accompanying text beside the black and white photograph indicates that the stainless steel 6146-8000 was also available to order on a bracelet with the code B015S.
Seiko Export Catalogue 1970
The third and final example of a vintage Grand Seiko appearing in an export catalogue that we were able to find was a single photo of the 6146-8000 – this time with the later “Hi Beat 36000” dial variant – on a bracelet.
We can only assume that this is the B015S bracelet mentioned in the earlier 1968 catalogue. Note that the overall design of the bracelet is the same as that depicted on the 6246-9000 in the 1966 catalogue, although with different end-links. As with that on the 6246-9000, this bracelet does not make any appearance in the JDM catalogues.
So, as is often the case when performing research, we set out to try to answer one question – could we find examples of the “believed” export-only models in the export catalogues – and ended up uncovering even more mysteries!
We believe from examining these (and other) export catalogues held in the archives of the Seiko Musuem, that presented here is the full extent of vintage Grand Seiko representation in those catalogues.
One question we cannot answer is whether or not any overseas distributor of Seiko ever actually placed orders for vintage Grand Seiko references. The closest we have come to discovering the potential offering to the public of Grand Seiko outside Japan is an advert in 27th March 1970 issue of The Straits Times newspaper in Singapore that depicts a 6146-8000. Unfortunately for copyright reasons we are unable to share a scan of that advert here, but it is interesting to note that the bracelet on which the watch is depicted is not the B015S shown in the 1970 export catalogue.
The Seiko distributor for Singapore at the time was Thong Sia, who also distributed Seiko products across other South East Asia territories such as Malaysia and Hong Kong. Given the lack of information available from Seiko in Japan, we suspect the final answer as to whether or not vintage Grand Seiko references were ever distributed outside the domestic market will only ever come if we are able to turn up examples with original sales receipts, or the archives of a company such as Thong Sia are ever made available for research purposes.
If anyone reading this article has good contacts at Thong Sia, or is in possession of a vintage Grand Seiko complete with its original purchase receipt (or filled in guarantee card) showing it was sold outside Japan, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line!