On the block – 18

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

In this week’s “On the block”, rather than pick a single listing from each of the three main channels for purchasing vintage Grand Seikos from Japan – that is, Yahoo Japan auction, Rakuten, and individual dealer websites – I’m going to highlight three listings all from Yahoo Japan auctions that will be very interesting to watch over the weekend.

All three listings are for examples of the very first vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer, often referred to simply as the “First”, or alternatively by the reference number of its movement, the “3180”.

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

For the first time that I can remember, this week on Yahoo Auctions there are examples of Printed, Carved and Applied “Grand Seiko” logo dials. All three auctions close Sunday evening Tokyo time -if you have the money, this is an amazing opportunity to pick up a complete set of 3180’s within just a couple of hours bidding.

Or is it?

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On the block – 17

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.

I aim to publish a new post in this category each Friday, highlighting a vintage Grand Seiko of interest from each of the three main channels for acquiring these pieces from Japan – Yahoo auctions, Rakuten, and individual dealers’ websites.

Grand Seiko "First" - 3180
Grand Seiko “First” – 3180

Demand for the first vintage Grand Seiko has clearly increased substantially since the Baselworld 2017 release of the re-creations of the original watch as limited editions in platinum, gold, and steel.

Prior to Baselworld, prices for the “3180’s” had been steadily increasing, with good examples of the applied logo dials selling for up to 200,000 Yen.

Since Baselworld though, prices have sky-rocketed. And I don’t think it’s hard to understand why.

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Vintage Grand Seiko dial layouts

As I write this post, there is a lot of buzz around from people anxious to see what Seiko reveal at Baselworld tomorrow (Thursday 23rd March). The top rumour this year is that there is going to be a significant change to the dial layout on Grand Seikos.

There are three dial elements that are common across the entire modern Grand Seiko range (except for certain historical re-issues, for obvious reasons) – at 12 o’clock you will find the text “SEIKO”, and at 6 o’clock there is the “GS” logo above the gothic “Grand Seiko” text.

The Grand Seiko community has been very active in discussing what might be revealed tomorrow, and some interesting Photoshop mock-ups have been shared as people try to second guess what the change (if any!) will be. Following a discussion on one of the forums, I thought it was an appropriate time to summarize how the dial layout changed during the course of vintage Grand Seiko lifespan.

I will only be focusing on the three major elements on the dial – the Seiko text, the Grand Seiko text, and the GS logo.

So without further ado, onto the history lesson…

Grand Seiko Chronometer/”First”/3180 – all models

Grand Seiko Chronometer
Grand Seiko Chronometer

Continue reading “Vintage Grand Seiko dial layouts”

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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