If I had to sum up my collecting year I would say I have focused even more on vintage watches in 2020 while bifurcating the collection into a Seiko-only historical collection and a general everyday wear collection. (Allen and I discussed this split at length in Podcast Episode #41.) A significant trend for me was purchasing more watches directly from individuals on Instagram and fewer from Japanese dealers whose prices definitely rose in 2020. In terms of the vintage Seiko pieces, I went older and smaller in 2020.
The Sadly Departed
The first significant watch to exit the collection this year was my 1970 King Seiko 5625-7000. I hold the KS 7000 case shape as my all time favorite Tanaka design and a 70s Japanese dress watch which is usually my bag so it was a bit of a mystery to me why I did not wear it more often. Furthermore this was a good example and accurate to+/- 2 seconds per day.
I suspect it was a case of the right watch at the wrong time. At the beginning of the year I was definitely more focussed on sport watches. The King Seiko found a home in Allen’s collection as his birth-year Seiko so it did not stray far.
Next was the exodus of dive watches. I knew in March that the Seiko SPB143 62MAS-alike was coming later in the year so I sold my existing Seiko dive watches in early summer to make room for the SPB143. Ironically an SPB143 never made it into the collection but my SRP775 Turtle and several SKX 031/033s exited stage left regardless. I came to the conclusion that I only needed one water resistant watch for swimming. I doubt this conclusion will stay valid in 2021 but we shall see.
Next to leave the collection were two vintage 6139-600x yellow-dialed Pogues. What started in 2019 as an expansionist acquisition policy to buy every unmolested Pogue I came across at a good price, ended up in 2020 seeming a touch excessive so some duplicates needed to be disposed of. I kept a couple of examples in the daily wear collection and if you were to open some of the drawers in my workshop, you may possibly find some more.
2020 inevitably saw the disposal of a few watches I found myself simply not wearing anymore. For example, I really liked the ridiculously busy dial, domed crystal and slide rule bezel of my SNA411 Flightmaster. However, the squat tuna can shape and short lugs meant I rarely wore it. Couple this with the a mechaquartz movement that never enthused me meant it no longer sits in my watch box at the end of 2020.
The limited edition SRPC13 also left in 2020. It was a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)-fueled impulse purchase when I saw the watch listed at a time I knew regular channels were sold out. I wore it fewer than 10 times, the oversampled retro UFO case always felt too large at 44mm.
In terms of trends, 2020 has seen me wear smaller pieces more often. This has lead to fewer outings for my sports watches and an increased emphasis on dress watches. The pandemic has ensured I have absolutely nowhere to go to justify wearing these dress watches to so my appreciation is purely aesthetic since I certainly have no function for them.
So on to the Purchases…
An increased appreciation of the original finishes on vintage Seiko cases has meant trying to search out the very best examples for the collection. My Lord Matic 5216-8020 LM was such a purchase. I was looking at an online Japanese dealer’s website for vintage Grand Seiko models, when I saw this ‘lesser’ Lord Matic. Even in the online photos, I was able to discern that this Lord Matic looked spectacular. I was happy to pay the dealers moderately inflated price for such an example. Upon arrival, the watch was not a disappointment. Everything about the watch was still crystal clear and sharp, as if it had been made yesterday. Even now, months later when I open my watch box, it still positively glows in its newness.
The birth year, birth month itch was scratched this year with the King Seiko 5725-7060 Chronometer, one of the few models of GS/KS that were made in any real numbers in Feb 1971. This King Seiko also has its original Zaratsu finishing, just like the Lord Matic and it is just incredible to me that 50 years ago these watches were finished to a quality that is hard to find now and will cost multiple thousand dollars.
One new watch that arrived in 2020 and serves both the historical and everyday collections is my 1968 5740-8000 Lord Marvel. It forms and important part of the historical collection since it’s Seiko’s first 36000 vph movement and was one of their longest running if not the longest running model in their history. It also features in the everyday wear collection because it is a terrifically accurate and practical watch. This particular model still seems under-rated and under-appreciated in the vintage Seiko collector world. I suspect it is just too conservative stylistically for many.
The historical collection gained some earlier pieces this year as I started acquiring pieces from the 50s and early 60s to compliment the mainly 70s pieces I had at the beginning of the year. The collection gained two 50s Seiko Marvels, a Seiko Cronos, an early Champion and a relatively rare charcoal-dialed Seikomatic Weekdater from 1966.
Now while that mint Lord Matic was certainly a highlight in a crazy and varied collecting year, my top purchase was without doubt my 1968 Grand Seiko 6145-8000 61GS. This watch ticks every box for me. The Grand Seiko level of finish is there and apparent in the quality of the dial, hands and markers. The watch is currently running within 2s per day with good amplitude demonstrating just how good those old Seiko movements were back in the day. I daresay I could get it close to 0s per day with some regulation From a historical perspective, the 61GS is not the most desirable or the rarest model. However, it does have a reliable and fully featured movement as well as that classic Grand Seiko Grammar of Design styling that in my opinion makes this watch timeless.
Forecasts for 2021
Looking ahead to what 2021 may hold for my collecting, I predict my continued focus on vintage Grand Seiko and the movements that lead to that brands development, so specifically, the Seiko Marvels and the Seiko Crowns of the 1950s and the early Grand Seikos of the 1960s. I would also like to add one or two more King Seikos in 2021.