Since there are over 40 pieces in the collection, it makes sense to break this “state of the collection” write-up over several articles. Each post will cover a specific movement – or set of movements – from the vintage Grand Seiko releases, and include photos of the watches I have that utilise that movement.
Whilst I don’t intend these articles to provide a comprehensive and thoroughly researched scholarly history of vintage Grand Seikos, I will share some knowledge on the pieces that I have picked up over the course of the last year. If I get anything wrong, please don’t hesitate to let me know!
The 61GS series started production in 1967, running all the way through until 1974.
With seven different movements, there are as many calibers being utilised within this single series as in all earlier series combined. Not only that, but numbering over 40, there are more individual 61GS watch designs than existed across those earlier series (the Grand Seiko First, 57GS, 44GS and 62GS).
Given the extent and diversity of the 61GS series, it is not feasible to discuss all the examples from my own collection in a single post, and as such, I will be splitting the write-up of the 61GS over two separate articles.
This first one will cover the seven watches currently in my collection that utilise the 6145A and 6146A movements. The difference between these Suwa produced movements can be inferred from the last digit of the movement number. As discussed in article on the 62GS, from that series onwards, a movement number from Suwa ending in “5” indicates a date complication, and those ending with a “6” have a day-date complication.
The second article will cover the watches utilising the 6155A, 6156A, 6185A, 6185B and 6186B movements.
If you compare the above image with the first one in this article, you will notice two things. Firstly, that there is clearly a huge difference in the design of the two watches – and secondly, that neither of them look anything remotely like any of the previous models.
There is tremendous variety in the 61GS series.
The first pictured watch, the 6145-8030, with its fascinating hammered 18K gold case and beautifully textured “starlight” dial, was actually the model that initially drew my attention to vintage Grand Seiko back in 2015.
These watches come up for sale very rarely. The one that I saw advertised in 2015 on a Japanese dealer’s website was long gone by the time I had realised in what direction my collection was heading. I only came across a single piece for sale in the whole of 2016 – and I bought it as soon as I saw it. Right now, as this article is being written, another one has come to market with a dealer in Japan. If it’s still available tomorrow for this week’s On the block article, I will detail it there.
As should be evident from their model numbers, both the above watches utilise the 6145A movement – an automatic “hi-beat” movement that runs at 36,000bph, with a date complication. Both pieces were manufactured in August 1969.
The earliest watch I have using a 61GS movement hails from 1967, and is much more traditional in its design –
Again, as with earlier series, we see an evolution in the text on the dial of the 61GS models. These very early 6145/6-8000’s have a dial marked with “SEIKO”, the “GS” logo, “GRAND SEIKO”, and the Suwa factory logo. Although not impossible to track down, they are in short supply, and so do fetch more on the marketplace than a similar later version of the same watch, which would have the markings “SEIKO” and “AUTOMATIC” on the upper portion of the dial, and the “GS” logo, “HI-BEAT”, “36000” and Suwa logo on the lower portion of the dial.
The above photo shows a cap gold version of a 6146-8000 from May 1969 with this later “Hi-beat” dial (note – these are almost certainly not original hands).
As far as I can ascertain, there are something in the order of 30 different variations of 61GS using the 6145 or 6146 movements. It’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever collect them all!
Case variants are numbered -8000, -8010, -8020, -8030, -8040 and -8050.
There are steel, cap gold and 18K gold versions of the traditionally designed -8000. 18K versions are actually quite easily available on the marketplace, with asking prices starting at around $4,000, but to date I have not added one to the collection.
It didn’t take much time before Seiko got completely out of sync with their case and dial numberings. Early “Grand Seiko” dialed -8000’s have dials marked -8000, with the later “Hi-beat” dials marked -8010, and cap gold variants -8020. After that, it gets rather messy.
Still on the -8000 case version, there is a “cross-dial” version with raised 3D indices that is rarer and eagerly sought after. It’s dial is numbered -8030.
The -8010 variant I believe only exists as a 6146 day-date version. One of the rarer watches in this series, it has what is referred to as an “Arabesque” dial, with a graphic printed around the “GS” logo. It also marked the introduction of “faceted” crystals to the Grand Seiko range. Despite all these differences, the dial remains numbered as -8010. You see maybe a dozen or so of these models come up for sale each year, but I’m still looking for one in excellent condition.
We saw an example of the -8020 cased watch earlier – a very elaborate cushion-shaped case, with chunky hands and indices.
This case design was available with both movement options, and with either white or dark grey dial colours. As for the dial numbering?
Well I can only assume that that made sense to someone at the time!
As can just be made out in the first photo of the 6145-8030 if you look closely, its dial is numbered -8050. As for the 6146-8030, there would appear to be two dial versions of the steel hammered cased watch. One with a “starlight” dial similar to the 18K gold 6145, and one with a silvered dial. The silvered dial variant has a -8020 dial number which is also used on a completely different watch, the 6146-8000 cap gold version pictured earlier.
I’m not sure what the dial number is on the starlight dial 6146-8030. If anyone knows, please do leave a message in the comments.
Next up – the 6146-8040. This watch has an oval shaped case with a starlight dial. I’ve been looking for one of these for ages – they are pretty rare – but have only come across examples in poor condition.
The final case variant is the -8050. It is available with both movement options and with multiple dial colours (white, green, grey and blue).
Dial number? -8070. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it!
Here’s the green dial version, which has a faceted crystal.
I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with the faceted crystal versions. I have seen examples of green, grey, and blue dialed versions of the 6145-8050 with faceted crystals, and green and black variants of the 6146-8050 with faceted crystals. Were all eight versions of the -8050 available both with or without faceted crystals? I’d love to know..