I thought I’d feature this 1962 Grand Seiko that came in recently for a service because I’ve never seen another in stainless steel. As far as I’m aware these were never offered for sale to the public in stainless steel so it’s a bit of a mystery as to why they were manufactured, if you wanted one you had the choice of Gold or if you were lucky and had deep pockets Platinum. There are various theories about whether they were display pieces, working salesman samples or for purchase by Seiko employees. I guess we’ll never know for sure now but what a joy to actually work on one of these! It’s powered by the same calibre 3180, chronometer grade, low beat, 25 jewel movement as it’s precious metal cousins.
It’s been bonanza time for vintage Grand Seikos here at watchbloke towers. This second generation GS calibre 430 had a problem with the hands only being able to be adjusted by rotating the crown clockwise, when turned anticlockwise it felt notchy and the hands didn’t move. The second generation GS’s such as the one featured had a more chunkier case than its predecessor, utilising sharp edges, mirror finishes, flat surfaces and contrasting brushed finishes that created a distinctive appearance. Seikos first designer Taro Tanaka developed this type of design to the classic style that Seiko used on its high end watch which became known as the “Grammar of Design”. This started with the next iteration of Grand Seikos, the 44GS of 1967 but it’s clear the DNA came from the 43999. The calibre 430 movement that powers the watch is a manual wind, 35 jewel, 18,000bph self certified chronometer grade movement featuring a date complication. This calibre was only used in the GS from 1963 to 1964 and was replaced by the calibre 5722 which had a higher beat rate of 19,800. The 430 heralded the last use of a low beat movement in a Grand Seiko.
This lovely Grand Seiko arrived in a non running state, the power couldn’t be wound on so there was obviously a problem with the mainspring or barrel. The Grand Seiko line was introduced in 1960 with the introduction of the calibre 3180 and continued in various guises until 1975 when it took a 13 year sabbatical. The brand was revived with introduction of the Grand Seiko 95SG quartz in 1988. The subject of this article is the original Grand Seiko, a calibre 3180 beauty, a manual wind, 18,000bph, 25 jewel, self certified chronometer grade movement. It was certified internally rather than by the Swiss COSC body, but to standards even more stringent than the Swiss organisation’s. The original Grand Seiko went through a few subtle changes during it’s 4 year life span, notably the distinctive Grand Seiko script on the dial started out being printed directly onto the dial in black, it then went to being carved into the dial and finally applied in gold as in the one featured. The cases were all 14K gold filled (as in rolled gold, a thicker version of gold plating) but a few were produced in platinum. I’ve yet to see a platinum cased example but I do know the owner of the one featured here has one complete with it’s original box and all it’s chronometer certificates. I’m not envious at all 🙂
As mentioned in my previous post I’ve been spoilt with regards to interesting vintage Seikos recently and the subject of this article is no exception. I’ve never seen one of these Queen Seikos in the metal before and was quite unaware that Seiko offered them in platinum as an option! It’s powered by the calibre 1020c movement which was based on the calibre 10. These 1020 movements are manual wind, 23 jewel, 19,800bph beauties and come in a, b or c designations. This watch has the 1020c at it’s heart which is the top end movement capable of full adjustment of the curb pins and micro adjustment of the regulation.
Accutron watches were developed by Bulova in the 1950’s in response to Elgin and Lips introduction of their electric watch. While their watches still retained an oscillating balance wheel to keep time Bulovas Accutron was driven by a tuning fork vibrating hundreds of times a second, meaning the Accutron was the worlds first electronic as opposed to electric watch. The genius engineers behind the miniturisation of the tuning fork concept which had been previously demonstarted in clocks were Swiss born Max Hetzel aided by William Bennett. By the time the Accutron was offered for sale to the public in 1960 the tuning fork was vibrating at 360 times per second and drove an index wheel via a pair of jewelled fingers. Each accutron coil has 8,100 turns of insulated copper wire at 0.015mm diameter which equates to 80 metres per coil! The Accutrons reliability is legendary and can perform flawlessly for decades with only the occasional battery change and service. Due to the unique operation of a tuning fork watch you can actually hear the watch hum whilst it’s running!
The Accutron featured in todays article was a 21st birthday gift for the owner in 1971 and has reliably provided him with time keeping until recently when the calendar mechanism jammed and battery life was down to about 5 months on a fresh cell. It’s powered by the calibre 218 movement.
This Rolex Datejust came in recently in a non running state. The watch has been owned from new by the husband of the lady that bought it in, and unfortunately the crystal had been smashed and replaced sometime ago. The problem was the dial hadn’t been removed to check for any crystal shards that may have made their way through the date aperture and into the movement, needless to say there were some that managed to get through. These eventually worked their way through into the inner workings and it eventually ground to a halt. Rolex were contacted at the time to see what it would cost to repair, I’m not sure what the price was but it was enough for it not to be sent off and it ended up in the back of a drawer! The owner was very fond of this watch and happens to have a significant birthday coming up soon, his wife thought it would be nice to get it resurrected for him in time for the event. What a sensible woman!
As I’ve mentioned it wasn’t running and as you can see from the picture the crown was stuck in the time set position.
I thought I’d feature todays watch because you don’t see too many calibre 8306’s around, this one is in truly fantastic condition and it’s a front loader so I thought I’d explain the different methods available for crystal removal. This watch is branded ‘Business-A’ which was a Seiko JDM marketing campaign in the 60’s and early 70’s to try and make young Japanese businessmen think their life in the cut and thrust world of commerce would only be complete with one of these branded timepieces strapped to their wrist!