Friday, February 6, 2015

Hodinkee: A Vintage Grand Seiko Chronometer Wristwatch With A Bargain Basement Estimate


Hodinkee, the world's leading online wristwatch magazine, published a report on a Grand Seiko 5277 Chronometer offered for sale on Antiquorum's Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces 2011 auction in New York.








The good thing is that a second generation Grand Seiko chronometer has made it into Antiquorum's Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces auction to be held in New York tomorrow.

The bad: well, let's see if we can spot the mistakes in their description:

SEIKO - GRAND SEIKO - CHRONOMETER Grand Seiko GS Seiko, Japan, No. 514855, case No. 5500504, Ref. 5722-9990. Made in the 1970's. Fine, center seconds, water-resistant, stainless steel wristwatch with date and a stainless steel Seiko buckle. C. Three-body, polished and brushed, screwed-down case back with embossed gold logo, inclined bezel, sapphire crystal. D. Matte silver with applied steel faceted baton indexes, outer minute track, aperture for the date. Steel dauphine hands. M. Cal. 5722A, rhodium-plated, 35 jewels, straight-line lever escapement, monometallic balance, shock absorber, flat balance spring, index regulator, hack mechanism. Dial, case and movement signed. Diam. 37 mm. Thickness 11 mm.

This particular chronometer was manufactured in May 1965 (serial no.5500504, case number 9990, caliber 5722A, acrylic crystal), and succeeds its immediate (and almost identical but infinitely more collectible) predecessor, the "Olympic" 1964 cal. 430/43999 Grand Seiko Chronometer. For more information on the significance of the 43999 and 5277 caliber chronometers, please visit my blog post at: http://vintageseikoblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/reflections-on-1964-cal-43043999-grand.html

I would consider this a good investment for 1000USD, although a similarly priced 1964 production 43999 is more collectible and should be considered a better investment.

Actually, the 5722 is not that rare, and appears relatively frequently on eBay and Yahoo!Japan. Going prices seem to hover around the 1000-1500USD mark. It will be interesting to see the final price, but I'm personally not expecting it to go for more than the estimate. Things to look out for are condition of the medallion (often missing or damaged), the correct crown and possible redials. I'm surprised Antiquorum does not show the caseback and movement, perhaps one needs a subscription to view these? It is very rare to see an original bracelet and buckle, and I have yet to see one offered with original papers and box, although there was one on Rakunen some time ago IIRC. Again, personally, I would pay a premium for a cal.430/1964 caseback because of the historic link to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the pivotal importance of this event in Seiko's development.

It went for 2125USD, well over estimate. The WWII B-Uhre mentioned in Hodinkee's earlier post went for their estimates or below, despite their coverage. It will be interesting to see if their coverage and the very appearance of a vintage second generation GS chronometer on Antiquorum heralds a new era of popularity for vintage GS'. In a couple of years people may very well be looking back to the good old days where a vintage GS chronometer could be had for under 3K!

Now, why would Seiko be appearing on Antiquorums Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces auction in the first place - is it because vintage GS are now considered Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces in their own right, following the expansion of the line from Japan-only to global... or is there a conscious movement afoot to create this perception among buyers. If so, what (and who) could the drivers of this movement be?