On the block – 11

A weekly series of posts highlighting interesting Grand Seiko watches on the market

“On the block” is the section of the website where I share some examples of vintage Grand Seikos currently available on the Japanese market.

This week returns to the normal format of highlighting one watch available from each of the three main channels that it is possible to remotely source watches from Japan – Yahoo Japan auctions, Rakuten, and websites of individual dealers.

To discover how to remotely acquire watches from these channels, check out my article on Zenmarket on the “Buying from Japan” page of this site.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a bit of a tendency for me to highlight watches towards the top end of the price range of vintage Grand Seikos. I thought this week it would make sense to find some good examples of more readily available pieces on the market that are not so expensive as those featured recently, and that would make great starter pieces for anyone looking to build a collection.

As usual, I will be using photos of watches from my own collection to illustrate what is available, but do of course click through the links to check the specific details of the watches being sold.

Grand Seiko 5722-9991
Grand Seiko 5722-9991

Yahoo Auctions

The first watch I’m featuring this week is an example of one of the earlier vintage Grand Seikos – the 5722-9991.

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Grand Seiko SBGA129

And last, but my no means least, for #macromonday, what I think it probably the most incredible detail on the Grand Seiko SBGA129 of them all – the minisculely raised platform on the top of the hour marker. I’m not entirely sure just how small the step is, bit it’s without a doubt the smallest perfectly detailed feature of any watch I’ve shot to date.
No other manufacturer that I’m aware of even attempts something like this.

Quite remarkable.

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Grand Seiko SBGA129

Next thing to focus on regarding the finishing of the Grand Seiko SBGA129 is the dial texture. Similar to that of the famed “Snowflake” SBGA011, or SBGA125 “Blizzard”, and yet still unique. It is worth remembering that this dial was created for a limited edition of just 369 watches.

And what about that printing? Or another demonstration of perfect – and it truly is perfect – “Zaratsu” black polishing on the logo? Or the structure of the grey second hand?

Everywhere you look, finishing of a quality that you would be hard pressed to find in a watch from another brand costing not just 10x, but even 100x the $5,000 these watches are now changing hands for.
But I’m saving the best until last. Stay tuned for the final post in this #macromonday series, coming up in a few hours time…

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On the block – 10

A weekly series of posts highlighting interesting Grand Seiko watches on the market

The vintage Grand Seiko market. This week, specifically focusing on that for the Grand Seiko “First”, or “3180”.

Astute followers of this blog (I’m sure there must be one of you out there!) couldn’t have helped but to notice that last week I didn’t publish an “On the block” article.

This was simply because there weren’t sufficient new – and interesting enough – pieces that had come to the market to make an article worthwhile. Yes – I am only looking for three pieces a week, one from Yahoo Auctions, one from Rakuten, and one from a dealer’s website, but there really does seem to be a scarcity of good vintage Grand Seikos out there.

I had a couple of thoughts for what to write up – one was a simple report on the fate of the three Yahoo auction pieces I’d featured the previous week; and the other was to highlight previously featured pieces that were still available, but in the end decided to give myself the week off!

Grand Seiko "3180" logo variations
Grand Seiko “3180” logo variations

This week’s post will be about the 3180 – a watch so crazily hot right now, that one of the pieces I had intended to feature actually sold overnight. But I’m still going to discuss it as I think helps to explain the buying options you have when looking for one of these watches.

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Grand Seiko “First” Chronometer dial logo variants

For #GSWednesday, a look at the three different ways that the Grand Seiko logo was represented on the dial of the Grand Seiko “First” Chronometer.

It is widely accepted that the earliest dials had printed logos. The printed example shown at the top here is actually from my stainless steel 3180, the provenance of which is unconfirmed (a deep dive into that will be coming in due course). You are about as likely to come across a printed dial regular (filled gold) 3180 as you are to find a hen having recently been for a check up at the dentist tucking into the droppings of a rocking horse. If you have one you are considering selling, do not hesitate to contact me.
Next up, in the middle of this composite image, is the most recent arrival to my collection – a wonderful example of a carved logo dial. The carved logo dialled watches are found with cases dating from 1960 and 1961. It’s worth remembering that these logos were carved by hand. No programmable CNC machines in the early 60’s!
Whether apocryphal or not, the legend goes that too many dials were ruined by mistakes in the hand carving process that Seiko moved to a dial less prone to ruination due to manual error, and started using applied logos.
Regardless, over the last year or so, I have probably seen something in the order of 50-100 examples of an applied logo 3180 for every carved logo.

An example of an applied logo dial can be seen in the bottom of the image.
As should be clear from the above commentary, applied logo 3180’s are very common compared to printed and carved logo examples. But don’t take from this that there are lots of them out there. There are not – certainly not in good condition. In a single month, if I’m lucky I see maybe one example of an applied logo 3180 the I would be happy to own.
Right now, it seems that everyone is after good examples of the very first vintage Grand Seiko. It’s hardly surprising – this is a truly iconic watch of the 20th century, and it seems that of late, demand for them is greatly outpacing the supply.

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