In 1963, the second series of Grand Seiko, the 57GS, was introduced to the market – the so-called “Self-dater”, due to the added date complication.
Broadly speaking, there were three different iterations of the 57GS series over the course of its lifetime, being based on three different movements.
With screw down case-backs – increasing water resistance to a stated 50 meters – in addition to the iterative development mentioned above, this series eventually comprised models constructed from three different case materials. By far the most common are, as would be expected, are the stainless steel versions, but the watches were also available in “cap gold” (steel construction with a thick gold wrap), and the extremely rare and very costly solid 18K gold cases.
Focusing on the stainless steel variants, the first example of the 57GS series was a model numbered 43999, based on the 18,000 bph 430 movement. This was superseded by the 5722-9990 – typically utilising the 5722A movement, and finally the 5722-9991 rounded out the series, with its 5722B movement which now ran at 19,800 bph.
Whilst there are subtle, but easily identifiable differences – most notably in dials, crowns and casebacks – between all three variants, it does need to be highlighted you will come across a lot of “mix and match” examples of these models. Just to illustrate some examples, over the course of the last few years, we have seen all of the following case, dial and movement combinations on the market –
- 43999 case; 5722-9990 dial; 430 movement and 5722A movements.
- 5722-9990 case; 43999 dial; 430 and 5722A movements
- 5722-9990 case; 5722-9990 dial; all three movements
- 5722-9990 case; 5722-9991 dial; 5722B movement
Whether all of these examples came out of the factory in these combinations is almost impossible to know. Most 57GS watches will have been serviced (hopefully!) multiple times over the course of the last 50+ years, and, with many parts interchangeable between the different iterations, almost anything could have happened. An example to highlight this – whilst there are two different crown designs for the 57GS (see comments on individual watches for sale for details), they both have the same part number, so presumably would be considered totally interchangeable to a watchmaker undertaking a service who was not that concerned about maintaining the full originality of the watch.
However, for someone looking to build a collection of vintage Grand Seiko, it probably does make sense to look out for the “pure” iterations of the models –
- 43999 case-back and dial; 430 movement
- 5722-9990 case-back and dial; 5722A movement
- 5722-9991 case-back and dial, 5722B movement
(note – the 5722-9991 dial actually retains the 5722-9990 dial code, however, the dial prints between the two watches are very different)