Grand Seiko Chronometer “First” with the 3180 movement. Early version with carved logo dial.
Realised today that I’d not done a “proper” shot of my recently arrived early carved dial Grand Seiko Chronometer “First”. So here it is!
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.
Before the comparison, let’s just have a really, really close look at the engraving. There has never been a shot of this dial as detailed as this before.
I swear these things are like buses. You wait all year, and then two turn up at once!
Grand Seiko “First” Chronometer with carved logo dial and “mountain” hands.
It’s in the case holder for a good reason – I wanted to shoot all three logos types (printed, carved, and applied) in the exact same position with the exact same lighting for a crazy macro comparison. That will be coming up later today…
A few people have asked for a shot of the entire vintage Grand Seiko collection, so here it is!
A write up of the vintage Grand Seiko watches in my collection that utilise the 3180 movement
Between now and the end of the year I will be posting articles on my collection of vintage Grand Seikos.
Since there are over 40 pieces in the collection, it makes sense to break this write-up over several articles. Each post will cover a specific movement 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!
This first post will – naturally – detail the first Grand Seiko, which uses the 3180 movement.
Above is pictured my 3180, which was manufactured in 1963. The first Grand Seiko was originally released in December 1960, and the watch above is pictured with the 3rd issue of the Seiko dealer news magazine which featured the launch of the watch.
It is interesting to note that there were several iterations of this watch over the course of its lifetime, with different dials, hands, logos and lion medallions.
Time for another #macromonday crop from an earlier post. This time it’s the turn of the first Grand Seiko in stainless steel. I’m aware of the existence of 4 other examples of the 3180 in stainless steel, but this one I believe is the only one of the to have a printed logo, rather than engraved.
As has been mentioned previously, the provenance of these SS pieces is unclear. They would certainly seem to be “genuine” pieces, but quite how and why they came into existence is a mystery.
Interestingly, the retail gold-filled first Grand Seiko also has logo variations. The very first watches had printed logos like this one, followed by engraved logos, and then finally applied logos (see my shots of my 3180 for an example of the latter). Unlike my modern Grand Seikos, this is most definitely not for sale!
Grand Seiko 3180 in Stainless Steel.
Two of the first model of Grand Seiko. Often referred to as the “3180” which is the calibre number.
On the right, the regular model in gold. On the left, the extremely rare and somewhat mysterious stainless steel version, the provenance of which is certainly up for some debate.