Grand Seiko 43999

The Grand Seiko 43999 was the second watch to be released in the historical Grand Seiko collection, following on from the success of the “First”, or “3180”. The 43999 was – I believe – the first Grand Seiko to be officially identified by its model number. What is interesting though is that it is considered to be the first of the 57GS series, despite the fact that the models starting with 57– weren’t released until well after this came out. Presumably then, at the time, this could not have been considered to be a 57GS series watch.

Is this a recent misclassification of this watch? Does it deserve to be considered as its own “43GS” series? Purely on the basis of contemporaneous evidence, personally I would argue that it does.

What is also interesting about the 43999 is that it came in at least two dial variants, and possibly more. This particular example, from August 1963, is from the earliest type – the “SD” at the end of the dial identification number standing for “Special Dial”. This indicates that the hour markers are made from solid gold – 14K or 18K depending on which source you believe.

Later examples of this model have dials marked “43999TD”, and you will also find quite a few on the market marked “5722-9990T AD”. Whether or not the latter are original, I have no idea. They could well be re-dials since that dial is also found on watches with the 5722A movement.

What I do know having spent the better part of this year collecting vintage Grand Seikos is that there are a few sites out there that people very often consider as the “gospel” on Grand Seiko history, that I have discovered actually contain multiple errors or omissions. Simply, I don’t know who to believe on these matters any more!

As mentioned on an earlier post, one fun fact (at least, I think it’s a fact!) is that the 43999 is the only Grand Seiko in history to have “Made in Japan” on the dial.

The SD variant that you see here is very hard to find in decent condition these days, and I was very happy to pick this example up recently, although my hunt for a full set NOS 43999 SD continues!

Detail of the dial marking coming later.


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