Grand Seiko 6185-8010

Price on application

The 6185-8010 VFA – “VFA” stands for “Very Fine Adjusted” – has the right to be the grail watch in almost any vintage Grand Seiko collection. One of three VFA’s introduced to the market in the second half of 1970, it has a remarkable part-hammered case constructed from a palladium-silver alloy. These three early VFA’s used the 6185a calibre and were produced in very small numbers.

The watch was marketed both with and without an accompanying bracelet, with the bracelet version of the watch not having the hammered case. Price for this version was an eye-watering 170,000 Yen, with the version on the bracelet commanding a premium of no less than 80,000 Yen. When compared to the steel-cased 6185-8020, that was available for “just” 100,000 Yen, one can only come to the conclusion that this palladium-silver alloy was extremely expensive to create!

Of all the 61GS VFA’s, the -8010 is by far the rarest. So few appear on the market these days that one can only guess that it was a tough sell to convince the customer the premium for the exotic alloy was worth it.

In the past three years we are aware of only two instances of this reference changing hands. This watch was one of those, and it is close to impossible to guess when the next one might turn up.

Overall the watch is in excellent condition. The case does show some signs of tarnishing in places, which is a lot more apparent in the provided images than it is when viewed in regular light – we do deliberately photograph our watches to highlight any possible flaws, rather than to hide them. Almost imperceptible to the naked eye is that the applied Grand Seiko text, along with the second hand, show signs of degrading. It must be stressed though that this is significantly more evident in the images than when you view the watch itself. Finally, on the case back the stamped text is not as clear as it perhaps once was.

The example for sale here presents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire this grail watch. Once it’s sold, it could be a very long time indeed before we see another.

This watch was serviced in March 2018, comes with a 1 year guarantee (refer to the FAQ page for details), and is currently running at -15 seconds per day on a time grapher in the dial-up position.

SKU: 1071 Categories: ,

Description

The 61GS series started production in 1967, and sales continued right through until the end of the vintage Grand Seiko era in 1975.

With seven different movements, there are as many calibers being utilised within this single series as in all earlier series combined. Not only that, numbering at 51 distinct releases, there are more individual 61GS watch designs than existed across those earlier series (the Grand Seiko First, 57GS, 44GS and 62GS).

As such, it isn’t really feasible to provide here a detailed overview of all 51 different models that were produced. However, an explanation as to the structure of the movement-caseback codes used in this series – along with a few examples – should suffice to give a high level perspective on the breadth and depth of the range. Information specific to the particular watch on sale will be included in that specific watch’s description that can be found under the price.

Movement codes

The first four digits of the eight digit movement-caseback code identify the characteristics of the movement utilised in the watch, although not – in the case of movements with multiple alphabetic suffixes (such as 6185A and 6185B) – necessarily the exact movement reference itself.

For the 61GS series watches, all produced by the Suwa Seikosha factory, the first two digits, “61”, as with all Grand Seiko references following the 5722-9990, represent the series itself.

The third digit, which for 61GS series will be a “4”, “5,” or an “8” is used to identify the quality of the movement from a chronometry perspective. The higher the number, the more accurate the movement.

“Regular’ 61GS models will be 614x movements, utilising the 6145A or 6146A calibres, and there are a total of 33 distinctly identifiable models. These movements were regulated to the Grand Seiko standard of -3/+5 seconds per day.

In the Christmas 1970 season, Grand Seiko introduced the “Special” 61GS models, which utilised either the 6155A or 6156A calibres. The movements in these watches were regulated to the “Special” Grand Seiko standard of -3/+3 seconds per day. In total, there were 9 distinct watches released utilising these calibres, which can be very easily identified because all of them have the word “Special” on the dial under the Grand Seiko logo. These watches were priced at a 10,000 Yen premium to their equivalent 614x powered models.

Finally, we have the 6185x and 6186x “VFA” movements that were first introduced to the market in 1970. “VFA” stands for “Very Fine Adjusted”, and these calibres were regulated to an incredible -2/+2 seconds per day, with the watches guaranteed to be accurate to within a minute a month for the first two years of ownership. Pricing for the VFA models started at 100,000 Yen.

The final digit in the movement code indicates the level of complication – a “5” indicates the calibre has a date complication, and a “6” indicates that it has a day-date complication. There are no examples of no-date watches in the 61GS series.

All 61GS series movements are 36,000bph automatic calibres.

Case codes

The final four digits of the eight digit movement-caseback code are used to identify the case of the watch. It is important however to note that there does not necessarily need to be consistency here where the same caseback code is used on multiple watches. This can lead to some confusion for the unwary, and it is why you can’t necessarily identify the exact model being referred to just from its eight digit movement-caseback code.

Just to provide a few examples to illustrate this –

No fewer than eight distinct models have the same 6145-8000 code. There are differences between these models both with respect to dial design, and case material. The full list of these models, along with the year of their introduction, and original prices, is as follows –

  • Stainless steel -8000 case; early Grand Seiko marked dial; supplied on a leather strap; 1968; 37,000 Yen
  • Stainless steel -8000 case; later Hi-beat marked dial; supplied on a leather strap; 1969; 37,000 Yen
  • Stainless steel -8000 case; later Hi-beat marked dial; supplied on a bracelet; 1970; 40,000 Yen
  • Cap gold -8000 case; early Grand Seiko marked dial; supplied on a leather strap; 1968; 45,000 Yen
  • Cap gold -8000 case; later Hi-beat marked dial; supplied on a leather strap; 1969; 45,000 Yen
  • 18K gold -8000 case; later Hi-beat marked dial; supplied on a leather strap; 1969; 190,000 Yen
  • Stainless steel -8000 case; Cross dial; supplied on a leather strap; 1969; 37,000 Yen
  • Stainless steel -8000 case; Cross dial; supplied on a bracelet; 1970; 40,000 Yen

Additionally, the same case code may be used across different movements, but the case design itself may not be the same across the different watches utilising it.

  • 6145-8030 has a sold 18K gold case
  • 6146-8030 has a stainless steel case
  • The designs of the cases for the 6145-8000, 6155-8000 and 6186-8000 models are all different

As will hopefully be evident from the watches available for purchase on this site, there is a tremendous variety of design in the 61GS series (with many models totally ignoring some, or even all, elements of the “Grammar of Design”), with watches available across a very wide range of price-points. Both entry-level and grail-level watches can be found in this series.

 

 

Additional information

Model number

Catalogue code

Dial code

Movement

Case Material

Year of manufacture

Dial colour

Indications

Indices

Movement type

Factory

Case diameter

Lug to lug

Internal lug width

Availability

Seiko Catalogues