For this week’s “On the block”, where I highlight three interesting vintage Grand Seiko’s on the market in Japan, I’ve selected two watch from Yahoo Japan auctions – both of which you may be able to obtain for a bargain basement price, given that they have some mechanical issues; and one from an established dealer.
For those of you not familiar with how to purchase from Japan (very nearly all sellers there will not ship overseas), do check out my detailed article on ZenMarket.
Yahoo Japan auctions
We start this week with one of the very last vintage Grand Seikos released – the 5646-7040.
The 5646-7040 is one of the rarest of the late vintage Grand Seikos – perhaps just a couple turn up on Yahoo Japan auctions per year.
Every example I have seen, where the serial number has been visible, was manufactured in June 1973, and all the serial numbers have been within 1,000 units of one another – this was clearly a very short production run, with the watch only ever featuring in the 1974 editions of the Seiko dealer catalogues.
It’s a fascinating watch, and is unique amongst the entire vintage Grand Seiko range with its Breguet-like Arabic numerals – a feature that was revived in the modern era exclusively for the Wako limited editions (a few of which I have available in the For Sale section of this website).
There is one available this week on Yahoo Japan auctions which you can view here. Of the five examples of this watch that have been listed on Yahoo in the last couple of years, two had significant moisture damage on the dial. The dial on this particular watch looks good, and frankly I wouldn’t let the slight damage to the caseback medallion put you off.
Note that the seller does describe this watch as “junk”, and if Google Translate is on form today, it would seem there is some issue with adjusting the day and/or date with the crown – with these movements, both should be quick-adjusting with the crown pulled out one stop (clockwise for the day, anti-clockwise for the date). Nevertheless, I suspect that is something that could be fixed by a competent watchmaker if you know one.
Chances to buy this model in good cosmetic condition are few and far between, although it does have to be said that historically they haven’t attracted too much attention. With bidding currently at 53,000 Yen, and closing in a little under 7 hours from the time this post is published, it will be an interesting one to watch, since no doubt a lot of people will pass it by due to the mechanical issues. If you have a friendly watchmaker, it’s probably worth the risk going for it.
Staying with late 56GS series pieces, this week’s pick from a Japanese dealer is the 5646-7030.
The 5646-7030 was I believe possibly the very last vintage Grand Seiko model ever to be manufactured. My particular example, pictured above, dates to July 1974, and is the youngest watch in the collection.
Unlike the 5646-7040 detailed earlier, the -7030 remained on sale through 1975, and is indeed one of only nine Grand Seikos to be featured in the second edition of the 1975 catalogue – the last one to feature Grand Seikos.
Unlike the 5646-7040, these watches are fairly common and relatively easy to pick up. Hardly a month goes by without at least one being available on Yahoo.
This watch features a wonderful textured dial, not too dissimilar to that found on the modern “Blizzard” SBGA125.
Available currently with Antiwatchman is a very good looking example of this watch for 80,000 Yen. This may be a little above what you might hope to pick one up for on Yahoo, but you of course have the peace of mind of purchasing from one of the most reliable dealers in Japan – not to mention the fact that you may have to wait some time before an example of similar quality becomes available on Yahoo.
One thing to note with this watch is that the lug width is only 16.75mm, not the far more common 18mm that you find on most vintage Grand Seikos. Obviously given its age this doesn’t come with the original strap (this watch was never originally available on a bracelet), so you will need to take that into consideration.
Yahoo Japan auctions
Back to Yahoo for the final selection this week, since there is nothing new to highlight on Rakuten (although there are still some stunning pieces available that have been featured in previous columns).
Oft-featured seller chanson5033 has a particularly nice example of the above pictured watch – the Grand Seiko 6156-8010 “Special” – available this week, in an auction that closes on Sunday evening Japan time.
You need to read the auction description carefully with this one as it would appear – again, if Google Translate is doing a decent job – that there is a problem with the date function.
However, my view is always that what’s most important is that the watch is aesthetically original and sound – any (?) mechanical issue should be able to be addressed by a watch maker.
Complete with its original faceted glass, bidding is still only at 29,000 Yen, and if you’re prepared to take the risk and assume you can get the date wheel issue addressed, this could end up being quite a bargain for someone.
Caveat Emptor – 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. However, it would be remiss of me not to highlight that this week’s article features watches from three sources all of whom I have purchased from previously, and all of whom I believe to be 100% trustworthy to deal with.