Grand Seiko Collector's Guide


The World’s Best

The original Grand Seiko watch and the line of watches that followed would be a game-changer for the Japanese watch maker. The Grand Seiko range would prove that Seiko was capable of producing quality watches that could compete with and even exceed those produced by Swiss watch manufacturers.

Before the introduction of Grand Seiko, high-end watch consumers did not think highly of the company despite Seiko producing quality watches and bagging awards.[1] The Seiko  Crown and Chronos movements both were at the peak of Japanese technology, but  the Grand Seiko, turned it from an inferior watch manufacturer to a major player in the luxury watch market.

The “grand” moniker would be significant for this change. It mirrored the company’s goal of creating “the best luxury watch in the world.” In 1960, the company’s Suwa division was tasked to create the best watch it could possibly make at that time.[1]

Grand Seiko at the Olympics

The timing of the Grand Seiko’s introduction to the market also proved crucial to its success. The Grand Seiko Chronometer Cal. 5722 was introduced in 1964, the year Tokyo hosted the 18th Olympiad.[2]

Seiko served as the event’s official timer. The company brought simple countdown chronographs with Cal 5718A movements and mono-pusher chronographs with Cal 5717 and Cal 5719 movements.[3]

Because of its successful participation at the Olympics, Seiko finally gained international respect and credibility.

Seiko as the official timer of the 1964 Olympics

Seiko is the official timer of the 1964 Olympics

Vying for Highest Accuracy

The 1964 Olympic Games was only the beginning of Seiko’s quest to leave a permanent mark on the high-end watch market. The company entered the Grand Seiko into the Neuchatel chronometer testing from the year the watch was released until the trials ended.[1] The Neuchatel observatory rated and ranked the movements that it tested, making it possible to see which ones were most accurate.

When Seiko first joined the international competition, it placed 144th. Three years later, in 1967, Seiko moved into the top 10. When the testing stopped in 1968, Seiko was running for first place. Rumor has it the testing ended so Neuchatel could avoid declaring Seiko as the winner in the Swiss chronometer competition. [1]

Undeterred, Seiko joined the equivalent Geneva competition in its quest to win first place. This time around, it wasn’t disappointed. Its Grand Seiko watches ranked 4th to 10th places, making the line’s movements among the most accurate in the world.[1]

Production  

Production of the Grand Seiko line ran for 12 years.  The first Grand Seiko was produced on December 18th 1960 while the last one was made in 1972.[4]

The Suwa Seikosha division produced most of the Grand Seiko watches, except for the 44GS, 45GS, and 45GS VFA movements, which were created by its Daini Seikosha division. The two companies were Seiko’s subsidiaries which produced one brand to improve technology and hedge risk amid tough competition. If one experienced problems in production, the other would simply increase production. Suwa Seikosha became Seiko Epson Corporation, while Daini Seikosha became Seiko Instruments Inc.[5]

Seiko started manufacturing its first-generation Grand Seiko 3180 model in December 1960 at the company’s Suwa factory in Nagano prefecture in central Japan.[4] A total of 36,000 units of the first generation watch were created.

The 57GS movement followed in 1963 with 81,000 units manufactured.[5]

Afterward, Seiko produced the 44GS and 62GS movements. Released in December 1967, Seiko created 36,000 units of the 61GS line.[6] This was followed by the 45GS, 45GS VFA, 19GS, and 19GS VFA movements from 1968 toward 1970. Finally, Seiko released the last model in this line, a mechanical 56GS, in 1972. [4]

Design

Seiko’s design concept for the Grand Seiko was to create the “ideal watch,” which meant “nothing less than the best luxury watch in the world.”[7, 8] For the company, this meant the Grand Seiko should have its own unique style that would resonate with the high-end market. Specifically, Seiko wanted the Grand Seiko’s style to suit both casual and formal attires.[9]

When the original Grand Seiko watch was created in 1960 by the company’s Suwa Seikosha division, its focus was on quality mechanics. [10] It wasn’t until 1967 when the 44GS movement was released that the “Grand Seiko Style” by designer Taro Tanaka would from then on define the style of the series as well as all future Seiko products.[10]

The Grand Seiko range is also highly valued for its craftsmanship, particularly the traditional way in which the watches are created.[11] Every Grand Seiko watch was polished by hand using the“Zaratsu” technique. This is a traditional way of polishing that Japanese watchmakers use to create watches that have a mirror finish with no distortion. [9, 12]

Classics Revived in Limited Editions

The 1967 44GS movement, or “The Grammar of Design”, was so iconic that in 2013, Seiko released a limited edition watch based on it, the Grand Seiko 44GS. The replica or remake was powered by a manual 9S64 movement that closely mimics the original.[3] The limited edition model had two variants, one was the same as the original (700 units stainless steel) and the other came in white, yellow, and rose gold (70 units each).[13]

The Grand Seiko Historical Collection 62GS was another classic revival. The collection included four limited editions: stainless steel with 600 units produced and three gold variants - yellow gold, rose gold, and white gold - with 100 units each.[14]

The original Grand Seiko 3180 was produced in replica, model number  SBGW033, and  1300 units were produced.

Variations

Although “Grand Seiko” is the name given to the entire range, it could also refer to the original Cal. 3180 model when speaking of particular variations within the range.

The first Grand Seiko  

The 3180 Model

Grand Seiko 3180

L to R: Seiko’s first GS, the 3180; Cal. 3180 movement; an early GS with carved characters on the dial; GS 3180 back case with the lion logo

The 3180 model was based on the “Crown” movement, which featured 25 functional jewels at 18,000 bph and was hand wound.[18]  It was the first chronometer grade watch manufactured in Japan and was based on an internal Seiko standard and certification. As such, it had the “Chronometer” label on the dial and a lion logo on the case back.  The model number was J14070.

The initial accuracy rate of the 3180 model and the first Grand Seiko standard (-3 to +12 sec/day) was that of the Basel Observatory Chronometer standard at the time, and when this was changed to -1 to +10 sec/day in 1961, the second Grand Seiko standard changed to a slightly different 11 second range (-3 to +8 sec/day). [53,54]

Most of the cases were made from 18k gold-plated (80 micron), although platinum cases were also produced.[5, 52] Rarely, stainless steel cases existed, with the lion symbol on the case back, but with chronometer under, rather than Grand Seiko above.[51,56] It had a snap-type back lid and was non-waterproof. The crown of this model was coarse knurled.

This below is a relatively rare first model 3180 with a carved dial.

Grand Seiko: Early Grand seiko with carved dial

The first Grand Seiko with carved dial

The initial characters on the dial were either printed black, or the carved characters as in the image above. This was later changed in 1961 to applied characters in relief as engraving was error prone and inconsistent. This is the most commonly found dial.[50]

The case back featured an embossed lion with the words Grand Seiko, and the inside case back was engraved 14K Gold Filled J14070  GS.

Above is a Stainless Steel model [56]

Inside case back was engraved Stainless Steel J14070  GS.

The 57GS Model

Grand Seiko 57GS

The 57GS “Self-Dater” variations (from left to right): 5722-9990 with AD Logo, 5722-9990 with out AD logo, 5722-9991 also known as the “Calendar Model”, and 5722-9011 in gold

The 57GS “Self-Dater” introduced in 1963 was the only other model that featured “Chronometer” on the dial. After its introduction, Seiko stopped using the label and started implementing the Grand Seiko Standard.[23]

Grand Seiko Timeline

A timeline diagram will show the overlap between models, with an overlap in production between all models.

The 57GS “Self-Dater” was so called because it had a quick set date mechanism. It was the first watch to use a date complication.[3]

The 57GS had four variations: 5722-9990, 5722-9010, 5722-9011, and 5722-9991.  The most common variations are the 5722-9990 and the 5722-9991 models which succeed one another. The 5722-9010 and 5722-9011 are successive gold cap models.

The range’s first model, however, was the Grand Seiko Taiyo 43999 with the 430 movement. The watch features a matte pearl silver sunburst dial, steel baton markers, and steel dauphine hands. The model also has a distinct aperture for the date - a silver steel window frame - at the 3 o’clock mark.[45]

Sunburst dial, and AD symbol

The crown is coarse knurled, although this changed to fine knurled later in the production run.  The image above (and first image on the header) shows a three-pointed star inside a triangle, which is the Applique Dial (AD) symbol. It indicates that Seiko used an applique for the logo rather than printing it on the dial, a technique which wasn’t exclusive to Grand Seiko watches.[45]

Grand Seiko Movement

Seiko 57GS’s 430 movement and case back with the lion medallion.

The 430 movement was a step up from the 3180 movement in the first Grand Seiko model.

All models of the 43999 have the Chronometer inscription on the dial and have the lion medallion on the case, a Seiko symbol of chronometer grade.

As can be seen above, the Cal. 430 movement 43999 was cased in a heavily lugged stainless steel case with threaded case back and is waterproof to 50 meters.

As the Cal. 430-43999 model was phased out it overlapped with the Cal. 5722 model. The 5722A was the first generation of 5722 which was produced in 1965. The movement operated at 19800 bph. The watch featured the Chronometer label on the dial, while the 5722B had a fine-knurled crown. Both featured the “W SEIKO” imprint on their crowns.[45]

Later in the production run, when the word “Chronometer” was removed from the dial, the case back also changed. The lion medallion was removed, and the case just featured GS. This did not necessarily mean Grand Seiko model but that the Grand Seiko Standard of movement had been utilised.  There is overlap between the dials with and without Chronometer, and case backs with and without the lion medallion or GS medallion.

Later versions of 5722 did not retain the Chronometer dial legend due to the lack of independent Commission Internationale des Controles Chronometriaues (CICC) certification facilities in Japan.   The model initially used the second Grand Seiko standard of -3 to +8 sec/day introduced in 1961 [53].

By 1966, the GS Standard was implemented on all Grand Seiko watches, setting a higher level of precision and reliability than any yet achieved by Seiko and even higher than the International Chronometer standards.

Today, the Grand Seiko standard remains higher than today’s chronometer standards involving more tests in more positions and more temperatures.

The model is more commonly called the 5722-9990 model (pictured above - 2nd image) and can have a coarse knurled crown or fine knurled crown. It mostly has a lion medallion case back.

Grand Seiko Movement - 5722A

This 5722-9990  model does not have the AD logo, and the movement was engraved 5722A. Both the 430 and 5722A movements were called “tadpole” movements.

Grand Seiko Toshiba 25th Anniv model

A rare Toshiba 25th anniversary with 5722B movement, the lion medallion and a fine knurled crown.

The 5722B model (third image on heading) generally dispenses with the word “Chronometer” and is known as the Calendar model.  The model number is 5722-9991. The caseback is the GS medallion.  It had GS Standard official approval and operated at 19,800 bph. It also featured coarse knurled and fine knurled crowns.

Grand Seiko 5722B

This has rack and pinion regulation, not tadpole regulation.

Grand Seiko: An Early GS model

An early GS which was a crossover from a KS, GS on the face but with a KS back

The 5722-9010 model was a gold cap version of the 5722-9991. This model is rare and the case back reads GC.

Grand Seiko 5722-9010

The 5722-9010 gold cap model with the lion medallion back

The 5722-9010 pictured above was a more heavily gold plated model. The variant below is another gold cap version with white dial and gold markings. This has the GS back and reads CAP GOLD. 

Grand Seiko 5722-9011

The 44GS Model

Grand Seiko 44GS

King Seiko Chronometer (4420A) 44GS Grand Seiko (4420B) and the 4420 - 9990 Gold cap

Daini Seikosha released the 44GS in 1964 as a King Seiko Chronometer initially, but because of its appeal and growing reputation as an accurate chronometer in 1966, it became the 44GS Grand Seiko.

Taro Tanaka, Seiko’s first hired graduate of a College Design Program came up with design rules which eventually came to be known as the “Grammar of Design” at Seiko. He wanted Seiko watches to sparkle brilliantly when on display and without any distortions.

The rules were:

  1. Perfectly flat surfaces and angles for cases, dials, hands, indexes
  2. Two Dimensional faceted curves for the bezel
  3. All distortion should be eliminated from the dial, hands, indexes and case, the finishing of the dial and case should be a mirror finish so it shines and sparkles
  4. No more round cases, a unique case design
Grand Seiko: King Seiko
King Seiko chronometer back Model 4420-9990

Only Grand and King Seiko watches benefited from this design as the new case design required very expensive and labour intensive polishing and finishing. This is what makes the 44GS so special along with it being the first Grand Seiko made by the Daini factory and the first time the GS logo appeared at 6 on the dial.

The difference in Movement between 44GS Grand Seiko (4420B) and the King Seiko Chronometer (4420A) is the control device for the second hand. The case design was changed to emphasize the beauty of a straight line. This formed the basis of later models, 45GS and 61GS.

Production was limited and models are rare.

The back lid is a screwback type and it guaranteed 50 m depth waterproof.

Short lug or pillowcase style and only stainless steel models of this type were produced. No date facility.

Grand Seiko 44GS Movement

The 4420A movement for the King Chronometer (left) and the 4420B for the 44GS Grand Seiko (right)

The 62GS Model

Grand Seiko 62GS

The 62GS and its four variations (from left to right): 6245 - 9000 and 6245 - 9001 both with day complications; 6246 - 9000 and 6246 - 9001 with day/date complications

By early 1966, the Grand Seiko line would have two manual-wound chronometers, the Self-Date 5722 and the no-date 44GS as seen above. With the Japanese’s exclusion from eligibility for a COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) certification, Seiko would later on have to rebrand this model that would become the 62GS.

This Grand Seiko model was originally called the Seikomatic Chronometer and housed an automatic movement, the calibre 6200, introduced in 1966. Seiko was forced to drop the word “chronometer” as a result of the Swiss COSC's appeal to the watch manufacturer’s self-certification of chronometer ratings.  These Seikomatic Chronometer models were the 6245 - 9000 model which is pictured above on the left with a  day complication and the 6246 - 9000 model which is day / date.

These had Chronometer and Seikomatic Diashock 35 Jewels on the dial and Chronometer 35 Jewels engraved on the movement rotor.

Both of the  Seikomatic chronometers  had a back case reading Seiko within a lion medallion, and these models are commonly referred to as Lion Medallion models to distinguish them from the 62GS.

The rebranded Seikomatic Chronometers were then launched in July 1966 as the 62GS and came in two models: the 6245-9001 and the 6246-9001.

The 6245-9001 had a 35 jewel automatic movement and featured a date complication while the 6246-9001 had 39 jewels with both date and day complications. Both models oscillated at 19,800 bph. In terms of design, these new models were considered to be on the high-end side with its bezel-free case construction, a mirrored, multi-faceted case, and Grand Seiko’s highly-regarded “Zaratsu” polishing. It is distinguished by a flush-mounted crown at 4 and a contoured case.  The crown position was at 4 and “hidden” to emphasise that the watch was automatic and did not need a winding crown.

Grand Seiko 62GS

This is the 6245 - 9001 model with a faceted case

This line had four variations: 6245-9000, 6245-9001, 6246-9000, and 6246-9001.   The models 6245-9000 and 6246-9000 are not Grand Seiko models, but are closely related, and are known as Lion Medallion models.

 Grand Seiko 62GS

The 6245 - 9001  dispenses with Chronometer and Seikomatic and  has GS and Grand Seiko badging.

 Grand Seiko 6245-9001 movement

The engraving Chronometer has been removed from the rotor.

The 6245 -9001 has the GS caseback but some lion casebacks may exist as part of the transition from the 9000 model.

Grand Seiko 6246 - 9000 back

The 6246 - 9000 model (see third image on header) is again branded Chronometer and for this model Seikomatic was written in script. Also, the word “Chronometer” is inscribed in its rotor. The model has the lion medallion caseback.

 Grand Seiko 6246 - 9001

This has Chronometer on the rotor.

The 6246 - 9001(pictured above, fourth image) has GS and Grand Seiko badging, but some models carry the lion medallion on the back, despite the dial clearly being Grand Seiko.

A gold cap model below with GOLD CAP and the GS medallion on the case back.

The 61GS Model

Seiko 61GS

Seiko 61GS basic models: 1) 6145A, 2) 6146A, 3) 6185A, 4)6155A, 5) 6156A, 6) 6185B, and 7) 6186B

Another line of automatic watches, the 61GS family, featured higher alterations and were called “Automatic Hi-Beat.” These watches came out in the late 1960s and had the Seiko 6100 movement at 21,000 bph. The 61GS has 20 variations: 6145-8000, 6145-8020, 6145-8050, 6146-8000, 6146-8010, 6146-8020, 6146-8030, 6146-8040, 6146-8050, 6185-8010, 6185-8020, 6185-8021, 6185-7000, 6155-8000, 6156-8000, 6156-8001, 6156-8010, 6156-8020, 6156-8040, and 6186-8000.

V.F.A (Very Fine Adjusted) models boasted accuracy of one minute per month for the first two years of ownership

The seven  basic 61GS models were as follows:

6145A (1968-1970) – GS standard official approval, date only
6146A (1968-1970) – GS standard official approval, day/date

There were 36,000 watches produced for these two models, in line with the 36,000 bph engineering in the movement.

6185A (1969-1972) – V.F.A., date only
6155A (1970-1973) – GS Special standard official approval, date only
6156A (1970-1973) – GS Special standard official approval, day/date
6185B (circa 1972-1975) – V.F.A., date only
6186B (1972-1975) – V.F.A., day/date

The movement is one of Seikos finest, a 25 jewel automatic hi-beat that operates at 36,000bph, made at their Suwa factory. It can also be wound manually, and has a hacking feature. It is finished to a high level, with a nicely decorated rotor. The 61GS movement achieved the Seiko internal GS standard approval, which was adjusted to be within -3/+6 sec/day when it left the factory. The Special standard watches on the other hand achieved +/- 3 sec/day.  It is based on the 61 SeikoMatic 5 movement, and was engineered with technology developed from data from the Astronomical Observatory Concours competitions that Seiko did extremely well in during the late 1960’s. 

6145-8000

The early 6145-8000 model had Grand Seiko written on the silver dial which was marked 8000TAD at 6 o'clock.   The movement was marked 6154A and both GS (sometimes) and Grand Seiko on the rotor.    There was a gold cap version of this model also.

Later models had automatic under Seiko and also dispensed with Grand Seiko and had Hi Beat 36000 instead, and 8010TAD at the bottom of the dial.   The rotor was marked Seiko

 

Grand Seiko 6145 - 8000

The 6145 - 8000 was a date only model. The stainless steel model had 8010TAD on the dial and 8000 on the case.

Grand Seiko 6145 - 8000
6145 - 8000 versions, from left to right: Gold cap version which had 8010TAD on the dial and either STAINLESS STEEL or CAP GOLD and a medallion on the case; Gold plated version which had 8015TKT on the dial and 18K on the case back which was flat and had no medallion; and Cross-patterned version with different raised index markers and 8030 on the dial.
Grand Seiko 61GS
Another cross-patterned version of the 6145-8000

6145-8020

The 6145 - 8020 was a pillowcase style with curious rectangular hands. The case was similar to the Astron, but with a more rectangular style. (On December 25, 1969, Seiko marketed the world’s first quartz watch, the Seiko Quartz Astron).

Grand Seiko 6145 - 8020

6145-8020 in different dial colours

 

6145-8050

Grand Seiko 6145-8050

The 6145 -8050 had only the words Hi-beat on the dial, not the 36000 (bph)

This was the only calibre 61 Grand Seiko to feature a green dial. The hardlex crystal could be faceted.

The 6146 - 8000 was the day date version of the 6145 - 8000

6146-8000

The early 6146-8000 model is similar to the corresponding 6145 - 8000 model and had Grand Seiko written on the silver dial which was marked 8000TAD at 6 o'clock.

 

Later models have Automatic, Hi-Beat and 36000 on the silver dial dial which reads 6146-8020TAD

 Grand Seiko 6146-8000

Grand Seiko with box

Grand Seiko 6146-8000 Gold Cap version Gold cap version above with GOLD CAP on the case back.

Below is the cross dial version, with different raised indexes, and the dial reads 8030TAD

Grand Seiko 6146 - 8010 

6146 - 8010

 

The 6146-8010 has a faceted crystal with a sapphire faceted crystal, and engraving around the GS marking on the dial.

6146 - 8020

The 6146 - 8020 is shown below with rectangular case, and was produced a variety of dials, including a tea stained colour. Hands were baton style on some models with different indices, and line minute divisions.

 Grand Seiko 6146-8020 Rectangular

6146 - 8030

The 6146-8030 below is an Astron style golf ball dimpled version with an 18K yellow gold case.

Grand Seiko 6146-8010 Astron style 

6146 - 8040

The 6146 - 8040 has a rare starlight dial 

6146 - 8050

This model had a hard steel casing and faceted crystal and various dial colours. These models have different indexes, more baton like hands and do not carry the 36,000 on the dial.   The case is shared with the VFA model.

Grand Seiko 6146-8050

6146-8050 and its dial colour variations (White, black, and blue)

6185 - 8010

VFA movement.  These models were put together by master watchmakers using selected parts and were accurate to +/- 2 sec/day.

Considered the best 61GS, the V.F.A. model had a Mean Monthly rate of +/- 60 seconds over the first two years. This translates to an accuracy of +/-2 sec/day compared to an ordinary 61GS at -3+6 sec/day.  

Characteristic of this model is : no VFA on the dial, a palladium case, no GS on the case back and thin pencil hands.

Grand Seiko

6185-8020

 Grand Seiko 6185 - 8020

6185-8020 (pictured above): First model has VFA on the dial, indexes which are short, close to the dial, and long thin hands. Second model has high raised indexes, and shorter hands as the hands are level with the indexes. Maybe this represents the transition to the 6185B from the 6185A. Also shown in the image above is the watch’s VFA movement.

Grand Seiko 6185 - 8020

A 6185-8020 model without the VFA wording on the dial

6185 - 8021

 Grand Seiko 6185 - 8021

Grand Seiko 6185-8021

6185 - 7000

A 18K  gold model, with linen cloth finish to the dial.   Marking on the dial is 7000TKT, and the caseback has no medallion.

 

6155 - 8000

Rated accurate to +/- 3 sec/day, and has “Special” written in gold on the dial.  The 6155 is a day model.

Elongated bar indices and thin hands like VFA model above make this a very elegant watch. 

Grand Seiko 6155 - 8000

6156 - 8000

The 6156-8000 is the day/date version of the 6155-8000

Grand Seiko 6156-8000

6156 - 8001 

Grand Seiko 6156-8001

6156 - 8010

The 6156-8010 SPECIAL is made of HSS (Hard Stainless Steel) and has a 3 sided faceted sapphire crystal as shown in the images below: 

Grand Seiko 6156-8010

6156 - 8020

This was a GOLD CAP version marked SPECIAL in gold.

6156 - 8040

No lugged case, with a brushed finish.   Medallion case back.

Grand Seiko 6156 - 8020

 

6186-8000

This model had the 6186B movement, and is very rare selling for $10,000 to $20,000.

The feature of the watch, apart from the movement, is the deeply recessed dial, with tall indices.

 


 

 

Grand Seiko Parts 

The 45GS Model

Grand Seiko 45GS

Another line with the “Hi-Beat”  branding  followed the 61GS line  featured the hand wound Seiko 4500 movement. The late 1960’s manual timepieces had improved to 36,000 bph and thus were called “Manual Hi-Beat”.  Eleven variations are included in this line: 4520-7000, 4520-7010, 4520-8000, 4520-8010, 4520-8020, 4522-7000, 4522-7010, 4522-8000, 4522-8010, 4580-7000, and 4580-7010. The 4520-8020 is the only watch in the series to be Astronomical Observatory Chronometer Officially Certified.

The 45GS is one of the Grand Seiko models that housed the movement developed by Daini Seikosha at the astronomical observatory Concours. The other GS models that benefited from the technology were the King Seiko Chronometer and the King Seiko.

In 1968, Daini Sheikosha submitted 103 entries of its cal. 4520 to the Neuchâtel Observatory for chronometer certification. Swiss observatory chronometry trials were considered important and prestigious events in the watch industry at that time. These high beat movements ran at 36,000 bph as with the other prize winning chronometers. Of these 103 watches, 73 passed as observatory chronometer certified and the 4520-8020 is one of these 73.    

In 1969 and 1970, a further 180 cal. 4580 movements were submitted and 153 passed as observatory chronometer certified.

All 226 certified models were made available to the public.[55]

 

The calibre variants were:

4500   KS
4502   KS
4520A – GS standard official approval, No date
4522A – GS standard official approval, Date
4580 – V.F.A., Date
4520A – Astronomical Observatory Chronometer official approval, No date

The first model in the series is the 4520 - 7000.

The 4520A series did not have a date, and this model had a “folded” case.

It came in both Gold Cap and stainless steel with black, navy, pearl white and linen look dials.

The stainless steel model is shown below.

Grand Seiko 4520-7000


Other variants include a black - dialled and navy - dialled versions and a gold-capped version with linen dial.

 Grand Seiko 4520-7000 Black and Gold variants

4520 - 7010

This is again the no date 4520A movement in a more oval shaped, rounded case.

 Grand Seiko 4520-7010

4520 - 8000

Short lugged case which also came in Gold Cap.

Grand Seiko 4520-8000 

 

4520 - 8010

Unique case pure gold model.

Grand Seiko 4520-8010

4522 - 7000

The next model in the 45GS  date series is the 4522 - 7000

The 4522A calibre models had a date complication.

This came in stainless steel and gold cap with a variety of dials, white satin, black, and a cream linen look.

The case was a turtle shape with a “fold” at the lugs.

Grand Seiko 4522-7000

Grand Seiko 4522A (from left to right): Stainless steel cap variant, Gold cap version with linen dial, Stainless steel cap version with black dial

 

Stainless model with linen dial

4522 - 7010

This has a more rounded case and is a rarer model.

It was called the  “Linear Beauty”, and has very thin hands.

First GS with sapphire glass.

Grand Seiko 4522-7010

 

4522 - 8000

A more traditional short lugged case.

Grand Seiko 4522-8000

4522-800 in stainless steel and gold cap versions

4522 - 8010

Grand Seiko 4522-8010

This model has a hammered surface in 18K yellow gold.

4520 - 8020

This is a Chronometer certified model with a silver linen woven dial.  Very rare as only 123 were produced. Many of those which passed the Neuchatel standard and then were sold to the public had daily deviation of +/- 0.175 sec/day[55].

Grand Seiko 4520 - 8020

4580 - 7000

This model is an extremely rare VFA watch and very difficult to produce, and kept an accuracy of +/- 2 sec/day and +/- 60 sec/month for 2 years.    Between 1969 and 1970 Seiko sold only 153 Cal 4580 watches as 4580-7000 or 4580-7010.[55}

Grand Seiko 4580-7000

The 4580-7000 with black dial and the Daini symbol

4580 - 7010

Grand Seiko 4580 - 7010 

Grand Seiko: King Seiko 4580 VFA

A very rare 4580-7010 VFA

The 19GS Model 

Grand Seiko 19GS

Another line of GS watches, the 19GS, is dubbed as the “Grand Seiko for Women”. Produced in the late 1960s to the early 1970s, the 19GS has three variations: Cal. 1984 VFA grade L4A, Cal. 1964 grade L3A, and Cal. 1944 grade L2A. The last 4 in the model number indicates no date.

Grand Seiko 19GS

The Cal 19 Hi-Beat was the first ladies size mechanical watch worldwide to run at 36,000 bph. It is shown below beside the Lord Marvel, the first Seiko watch to run at 36,000 bph.

Grand Seiko Cal 19 Hi-Beat 

The 1944 - 0012 model does not carry Grand Seiko and is sometimes dubbed a Queen Seiko.

Grand Seiko 1944-0012

1944 - 0020

This model was produced in 1969 and carries the CHRONOMETER designation, the first Japanese ladies model to do so.

 

1964 - 0010

This model has dauphine hands similar to the 62GS, and carries GS on the dial and caseback. Other models with pencil hands were produced.

Grand Seiko 1964-0010 

1984 - 3000

Grand Seiko 1984-3000

Below is a ladies GS model found on the Grand Seiko website but without a model number, somewhat similar to the 6245 GS :

Grand Seiko Hi Beat

The 56GS Model

Grand Seiko 56GS

Finally, the last line, 56GS, was often referred to as “Ultra Thin”. It includes 18 variations: 5641-5000, 5641-7005, 5641-7000, 5645-5000, 5645-7005, 5645-8000, 5645-5010, 5645-7000, 5645-7010, 5646-5010, 5646-7010, 5646-7000, 5646-7005, 5646-7011, 5646-7020, 5646-7030, 5646-7040, and 5646-8000.

Suwa Seikosha Co: 25jewels : Automatic

  • 5641 A -- GS standard official approval. 28,800bph. 25j NO DATE
  • 5645 A -- GS standard official approval. 28,800bph. 25j DATE
  • 5646 A -- GS standard official approval. 28,800bph. 25j DAY/DATE

Most of the 56GS production process was automated beginning in the 1970s. The precision level suffered as a result of this transition, with a decrease in movement speed from 36,000 bph to 28,800 bph. The reliability level, on the other hand, increased and some people even consider the 28,800 bph to be the best speed for a watch movement, with its balance of maintenance, reliability and precision. As these were mass produced, it is easy to get maintenance parts for the 56GS even now, 40 years after its production, making it the most reliable of all the Grand Seiko models produced in the past.  A slightly less finely tuned calibre 56 movement was also used in King Seiko and Lordmatics.

5641-5000

 

Hammered 18K yellow gold  tonneau case with gold dial above and champagne dial below in brushed or bark pattern.

 

5645 - 5000

This was the date model of the model above, same style, and both gold and champagne dials.

Grand Seiko 5645-5000 

5641-7000

A turtle shaped case was used for this model.

All these 7000  and 7005 models had the Seiko GS medallion in gold on the back.

Dials are various, silver white, black, dark blue.

Grand Seiko 5641-7000 

with 5645-7000 and 5646-7000 being the day and day/date versions.

5645-7000

Grand Seiko 5645-7000

Grand Seiko 56GS 

5646-7000 

Grand Seiko 5646-7000

5641-7005 

Model  5641-7005 is the gold version with a linen dial, no date.

Grand Seiko 5641-7005 

5645-7005 

5645-7005 is the date version

 

5646-7005 

5646-7005 the day/date version (pictured below). The case is marked 18K, gold filled.

Grand Seiko 5646-7005 

5645-5010

A square or tonneau case, with either stick indices or roman numerals with a mottled dial.

 Grand Seiko 5645-5010

5646-5010

The day/date 5646-5010 is similar to the above model.

Grand Seiko 5646-5010

Black face and Gold Cap version, Roman Numeral Version, and the 5456-5010 caseback with the GS logo

5645-7010

This is a more classical shape, with thin bar indices, thin hands.   Dials varied, silver, white, black and navy.   Gold cap models existed.

 

Grand Seiko 5645-7010 

5646-7010

Day/date version of the model above.   Similar dial variations.

Grand Seiko 5646-7010

A gold cap version with white dial

5646-7011

Silver and more rarely white dials

Grand Seiko 5646-7011 

5645-8000

Date model, pillowcase style with straight ends, no lugs.

This photograph shows clearly one of the design features of the 56GS.  The hour hand has a thin black line down the center, and the second hand does not have a hole for mounting.

Grand Seiko 5645-8000 

5646-8000

Day/date model with pillowcase style, 35mm diameter.   The bezel and the sides of the case are polished but the lug sides of the pillowcase has a brushed finish.    A grey linen dial model is shown in the centre below. Off white dials also existed.  The strap is made of small cubes.

Grand Seiko 5646-8000

An 18K Gold model above which did not have the GS medallion.  Dial marked 8000TKT.

5646-7020

A pillowcase model with tall indices.  The case is polished with a central fold line.  Only in a green dial.


Grand Seiko 5646-7020

The crystal has a 9 facet cut.

5646-7030

Grand Seiko 5646-7030

The 5646-7030 has pencil thin hands and also had a Gold Cap version.  The dial is sand finished and has 5646-7040T written on it at 6 o'clock.

5646-7040

A Stainless steel watch with Arabic numerals.  The bezel not polished and has a sand finish, while the dial has a variegated finish and reads 5646-7050T.

Grand Seiko 5646-7040 

In all, the Grand Seiko series has 58 main variations. These feature different cases, case shapes, case-back and medallion, movement, dial, dial badge, crown imprint, and crown placement.

Movements

Seiko started with a manual movement for the Grand Seiko before releasing the series  first automatic watch. The series used both mechanical and quartz movements.[15] The Grand Seiko had a total of 22 movements.

The first Grand Seiko featured a hand-winding movement CAL. 3180 at 18,000 bph, 25 functional jewels, and a hairspring that was developed in-house.[16]

The hand-winding movement continued with the Self Dater line which has 35 jewels. The line featured two movements, CAL. 5722 A and 5722 B. The former is 18,000 bph based on Seiko’s internal chronometer declaration, while the latter is 19,800 bph with GS standard official approval.

In The Grammar of Design, Daini added a hand-winding movement, CAL. 4420 B, set at 18,000 bph. [3] The movement was also used for Daini’s first King Seiko.

The 62GS or Self Winding was the first Grand Seiko manual chronograph. It had two movements (CAL. 6245 A and 6246 A), 26 jewels, and was set at 18,000 bph.

The 6200 movement was replaced by the much-faster Automatic Hi-Beat (36,000 bph), featuring a self-winding Seiko 6100 movement (CAL. 6145 A, 6146 A, 6185 A, 6185 B, 6155 A, 6156 A, and 6186 B) which had a power reserve of 46 hours or almost two days. However, creating the movement entailed too much labor so the company mechanized it the following year. The movement was used again in the 1975 Seiko 6159A movement and 6159B for a 600m diver. [3]

The Seiko 4500 movement (CAL. 4522 A, 4580/VFA, 4520 A) that powered the 45GS line was created to replace Daini’s 4440. [3] It is also the same movement in King Seiko 45KS. [3]

The 19GS family had a hand-winding movement (CAL. 1984 VFA grade L4A, CAL. 1964 grade L3A, and CAL. 1944 grade L2A), but the 56GS line (CAL. 5641, 5645 A, and 5646 A) that followed featured a self-winding Seiko 5600 movement.

Finally, the last GS line 56GS (CAL. 5641 A, 5645 A, and 5646 A) had a self-winding Seiko 5600 movement that first appeared in the 1968 Lord Marvel. Backed with 47 hours of power reserve, it was the movement of other watches until 1976, including the King Seiko 56KS, Seiko Duotime, Seiko Chronometer, and Lord Matic timepieces. [3]

[table id=10 /]

Complications

Some watches of the Grand Seiko series have complications, but the original GS launched with none. So did The Grammar of Design, the Grand Seiko for Women, Manual Hi-Beat CAL 4580/VFA and CAL. 4520, and the Ultra Thin CAL. 5641 A.

The first complication was introduced in the Self Dater line, with CAL. 5722A or “Taiyo”. The Self Daters, and the rest that followed, featured a date indicator, except CAL. 6246 A,. 6146 A, 6156 A, 6156 B, and 5646 A which had Day/Date indicators.

Dials[17-40]

The many variations in the Grand Seiko series can be characterized by their dial colors, dial badge, stick markers[41], and case-back medallion, among other things. The series, however, lacks lume[42] and subdials[4].

Dial Colors

The original Grand Seiko CAL. 3180 came in two dial colors, plain white and silver sunburst. The latter is prominent from in the 57GS, 44GS, and 62GS lines.

Watch collectors should note that model 6145-8050 has a green dial color which is rare. Models 6146-8020 and 4522-7000 with a black dial, 6146-8040 with a starlight dial, and 6146-8050 with a blue dial are also rare specimens of this series.

Hands

Grand Seiko watches consistently had dauphine hand style, but later on, Seiko added obelisque and index/fils. The latter two were introduced in the Automatic Hi-Beat GS watches and lasted until Seiko ended production of the vintage GS line.

Model 6146-8030 is also said to have gold-plated hands.

Dial Badge

The dial badge features a specific set of words and special logos, some of which are distinct to a specific line, movement, or model. Here are the highlights.

The “Grand Seiko” moniker can only be seen in the Grand Seiko CAL. 3180, in 62GS CAL. 6245 A, 61GS CAL. 6185 A and CAL. 6185 B, and in models 6186-8000, 4580-7000, and 5722-9990.

Meanwhile, the “Chronometer” marking is only sported by four  models: Grand Seiko CAL. 3180, 5722-9990, and 6245-9000 and 6246-9000 in transition.

“Diashock” is featured in the dial badge of the first GS through the 62GS line.

The 61GS and the 56GS lines have the Suwa logo, while the 45GS line has the Daini logo. Also in the 61GS movement, Seiko started to use “Hi beat” on the dial, which signified that the watches had higher frequency of beats than the average watches available during that time.[14]

Manual Hi-Beat model 4520-8020 is the only watch in the entire series to have the inscription “Astronomical Observatory Chronometer Officially Certified” in its dial badge. The Daini logo and “Seiko” also appear in the watch’s face.

The entire 56GS line is characterized by a dial badge that has the Suwa logo and the words “Seiko,” “Automatic,” “GS,” and “Hi beat.”

Cases[17-40]

The Grand Seiko series cases measured 31-38mm x 40-44mm, excluding crown. They are screwback and have “water-resistance to 50m depth” or “water-proof” (44GS and 19GS) inscribed on them.

Seiko started out making the cases round, but introduced cushion in model 6145-8020. It also used tonneau in models 5641-5000 and 5645-5000, while models 5645-5010 and 5646-5010 had square cases.

Material

Seiko initially started using a stainless steel case for its watches and only added gold details later on. From the first Grand Seiko to the 62GS line, Seiko used a pure stainless steel case. It also used stainless steel for its 19GS and 19GS VFA.

Toward the end of the series’ production, Seiko started to feature gold cap or gold plating. A total of eight variations of the 61GS, 45GS, and 56GS families included either of these features, including 18-karat gold for models 6185-7000, 4520-8010, 4520-8020, 5641-5000, 5641-7005, 5645-5000, 5645-7005, and 5646-700. Three models, 6146-8000, 6156-8020, and 4520-7000, feature a gold cap. Meanwhile, 6145-8000 is available in gold and stainless steel.

Case-back Medallion

The original Grand Seiko CAL. 3180 and the three models that followed (5722-9990, 5722-9010, and 5722-9011), as well as 6246-9000, all featured a lion emblem. Seiko used the emblem to denote “chronometer-grade.”[43]

All the rest featured “GS”, except CAL. 6185 A, CAL. 6185 B, CAL. 4580/VFA, and in models 4520-8010, 5641-5000, 5641-7005, 5645-5000, 5645-7005, 5645-5010, and 5646-7005.

Crown Imprint

Although most models were unsigned, a number of watches in the Grand Seiko range had crown imprints.

The original Grand Seiko CAL. 3180 had “S”, while the 57GS movement had “w seiko”. The 44GS, 61GS, and most of 45GS and 56GS movements had Original signed “GS”. Model 4520-7000 featured “G”, while models 4520-8020 and 5646-8000 were unsigned. Meanwhile, model 5645-5000 featured “GS” and the Japanese flag.

Also notable is the crown placement in model 6245-9000, which is set at 4 o’clock.

Crystal and Bezels

Only three models have crystals and bezels in the entire Grand Seiko range. Both belong to the 61GS line. Two models, 6146-8030 and 6185-7000, sport gold-plated bezels. The former also features a plexi glass crystal instead of acrylic, which Seiko mainly used for its watch glass. Another model, 6146-8010, comes with a sapphire crystal.[44]

Recommendations

Watch collectors have to understand that the Grand Seiko range is a luxury line with only limited quantities produced. It is considered to be Seiko’s  signature watch. As such, prices of these watches today typically run near or in the thousands of dollar range, depending on condition.[45,46]

Start With

The Grand Seiko range is noted for its accurate movement. The least accurate among the GS watches has a higher rating than “almost every other brand’s best”,[11] which is great for collectors. Watch enthusiasts who want to start their own Grand Seiko collection can basically pick any of the many variations available. They would still end up with a very accurate watch.

However, for those unsure which model to pick, the original Grand Seiko (Cal. 3180) and the Hi-Beat watches (Cal. 6145A, 6146A, 6155A, 6156A, 5641A, 5645A, and 5646A) are great places to start.

Something Different

Those looking for something more unique should go for those models with the rare dial colors, case-back medallion, shape, or crown imprint.

As a refresher, GS model 6145-8050, 6146-8020, 4522-7000, 6146-8040, and 6146-8050 all feature rare dial colors. Meanwhile, models 5722-9990, 5722-9010, 5722-9011, and 6246-9000 are the only Grand Seiko watches with the lion emblem. Model 5645-5000 is the only one to feature the Japanese flag in its crown imprint, while models 5641-5000 and 5645-5000 have tonneau cases and models 5645-5010 and 5646-5010 have square cases.

The Grail

Those looking for the most valuable GS watch should look no further than “The Grammar of Design” (44GS Cal. 4420B). This is the model that’s most remembered when talking about the Grand Seiko line. The watch’s design is even called the “Grand Seiko Style”, and Tanaka’s design is so iconic that all Seiko products that were released afterward emulated it. This is a certified must-have for any watch collector.

In design, construction, finish and quality, the 61GS easily compares and stands tall with any of its contemporaries. While the Omega Constellation, Rolex Oyster Perpetual and Longines Flagship might garner more attention, the Grand Seikos are just as good in all aspects if not better. Vintage Grand Seikos represent an amazing value for a hi-end dress watch. Because they were not marketed to the US in the 1960’s, they can be more difficult to find these days than their Swiss counterparts. That said, they can be had with patience and perseverance. A nice example of a 61GS can be found anywhere from $800 to $1500 depending on condition and seller/market. I know that many people dismiss the notion of a hi-end Seiko, but once you hold one of these in you hands, you can instantly recognize the inherent quality. They are a classy, well designed, engineered and executed watch, true high art horology.

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

References:

  1. http://www.ablogtowatch.com/love-grand-seiko-timeless-luxury-watches-explains/
  2. http://vintageseikoblog.blogspot.com/search/label/Grand%20Seiko
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  6. https://monochrome-watches.com/seikos-affinity-to-hi-beat-movement-part-one/
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  11. http://www.ablogtowatch.com/love-grand-seiko-timeless-luxury-watches-explains/
  12. http://www.grand-seiko.com/about/
  13. http://wristreview.com/?p=3194
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  15. http://www.timelessluxwatches.com/reviews/quick-guide-all-grand-seiko
  16. http://museum.seiko.co.jp/en/history/milestone/heritage/index.html
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