For this week’s “On the block”, where I highlight three interesting vintage Grand Seiko’s on the market in Japan, I’ve selected all three watches from Yahoo Japan auctions.
For those of you not familiar with how to purchase from Yahoo Japan (very nearly all sellers there will not ship overseas), do check out my detailed article on ZenMarket that I posted back in November 2016.
This week, we start off with an example of the extremely rare example of a Grand Seiko Chronometer “First” / 3180. As per usual, all images in this article will be of watches from my own collection.
Having recently done an exhaustive search of all Grand Seikos recently sold on Yahoo Japan auctions, I am confident in saying that for only the third time in two years, a print logo dialed example of the Grand Seiko “First” has become available.
I won’t go in to detail here about the different dial variations that Seiko released the 3180 in over the course of its relatively short 3 year sales lifespan – there is plenty of discussion about this elsewhere on the blog.
Suffice to say however, this particular variant is by far the rarest of the three “regular” dialed pieces – the other two versions having their “Grand Seiko” logos carved into, and raised on, the dial.
The one up for auction this week can be found on this rather unassuming listing. Unfortunately, as mentioned in “On the block – 24“, where I covered all 3180’s that have sold on Yahoo in the last three months for over 250,000 Yen, there are “rogue” print dial 3180’s out there that you need to be extremely careful not to fall for.
In this instance however, I am extremely confident that the watch listed is indeed a genuine printed dial. Without knowing the seller, nor having the opportunity to actually examine the watch in person, it is of course impossible for me to absolutely guarantee its authenticity, but I’m happy enough with what I’ve seen to conclude that it is legitimate.
Apart from one glaring problem that I’ll address in a moment, the watch appears to be in excellent condition, with just the expected minor “spotting” on the dial. Don’t be too put off by the marks visible in the second photo in the main body of the listing. Yes, there is a fair sized spot on the dial at around the 57 minute marker (check the first photo for a better indication as to how this actually looks), but those big “splodges” do not appear to be on the dial – based on comparison with the other images, they appear to be scratches on the crystal.
The only major issue with this watch is immediately apparent after scrolling down the listing a little further – the caseback is missing its medallion. I don’t recall ever having seen a genuine first version lion (again, refer to OTB24 for details) spare for sale. Getting hold of one is probably going to be near-impossible.
If it wasn’t for this one major issue, I would expect this watch to set a new record for the price achieved for a filled-gold Grand Seiko Chronometer “First” / 3180 on Yahoo Japan auctions. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the price the watch closes for.
With bidding currently having reached 74,000 Yen, there is a long way to go on this one before the auction closes on Sunday August 6th.
Next up, another early Grand Seiko – this time a 43999, seemingly available with its original chronometer certificate.
NOTE – the example up for sale is not the rarer SD dial version like the one in my collection, but the much more common TD dial.
I think this is the first time I have ever seen a 43999 available with its rating certificate. The listing can be found here. As can be seen from the photographs accompanying the listing, not only does it come with its certificate, but it also comes with the original manual as well.
Unfortunately – as is so often the case – the quality of the photographs in the listing is dire, so it is difficult to get a sense as to the state of the watch. The crown in particular doesn’t look right, but it could well just be a trick of the light. The thing that we can clearly see from the images however is that the case back is in excellent condition, with very little sign of polishing.
The big question though is whether or not the rating certificate matches the movement number. It would make a huge difference to the value of the item if it did, but there is no way of knowing, and it’s unlikely that the seller will open up the watch to confirm one way or another.
So all in all, a bit of a risk this one. However, it could well be worth taking the risk depending on how high the bidding goes. I’m actually quite tempted myself!
Finally this week, there are 2 days and 7 hours to go on what is one of my favourite watches from the entire vintage Grand Seiko range – the 4520-7000 in a cap gold case.
Whilst not as good condition as my example picture above, the watch listed here may well be had for a bargain. The case looks like it’s seen a little too much polishing, the crown is wrong (but relatively easy to source a correct replacement), but it’s just such a great model, and these don’t come up too often in cap gold. I thought for a change rather than listing a piece that is going to be highly sought after for its great condition, it might be fun to list one that has a few issues, but that you should be able to pick up for a bargain!
My standard disclaimer – whilst I personally would be happy to have any of the pieces I comment on positively in my collection, you do need to be aware that there are always risks when you purchase a watch remotely. My recommendation of a watch can in no way be taken as any guarantee as to its condition or authenticity, nor as to the credibility of the individual or company selling it.