Affordable Vintage: 1970 Grand Seiko 61GS 6145-8000

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While Seiko is probably best known for their dive watches, they are also masters of creating high-end dress watches. Their Grand Seiko (GS) line made its debut in 1960, and continued until the 1970s (the mechanical Grand Seiko was revived in 1998 and continues production to this day). The most iconic of all the Grand Seiko case designs began as the manual wind 44GS in 1966 , and culminated in the automatic 61GS in 1968. The 61GS line was the result of refinements over the years including technology from the Astronomical Observatory Concours of the late 1960s.

GRAND_SEIKO_61GS_DIAL5Reviewed here today is a 1970 Grand Seiko 6145-8000. The watch was designed by Taro Tanaka, the first graduate of a college design program hired by Seiko. He wanted to design a watch that would “sparkle brilliantly” while on display, one that would compete with the Swiss watches of the time. He came up with a set of rules that would come to be known as the “Grammar of Design.”

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GRAND_SEIKO_61GS_CASE9This meant perfectly flat surfaces and angles for cases, dials, hands and indices. All distortion would be eliminated and the case finish would have a mix of high polish and brushed surfaces, couples with razor-sharp edges. The 6145-8000 is a perfect example of this design philosophy. Brilliant flat surfaces of mirror finish, with sharp lines delineating the different planes. The case is filled in between the lugs and the bezel, making the space squared off. This filled in space has a straight brushed finish for a bit of contrast from the sides.

GRAND_SEIKO_61GS_CASE7The stainless steel case measures almost 37mm wide by 42mm long and 12.5mm thick with 18mm lugs. The screw in case back has a yellow gold medallion with “Seiko GS” in raised letters. The case has such a finely sculpted shape that even the lightest polishing tends to destroy the delicate lines. Sadly, too many of these have fallen victim to polishing and it really diminishes the overall look and feel of the original design. The gold medallion is prone to wear as well, as it’s fairly thin metal.

GRAND_SEIKO_61GS_dial1The dial has a beautiful silver/white finish with radial brushing, and simple faceted steel baton markers. This one has a nice clean date window at 3 o’clock. The 61GS was also available with day/date. The date is quickset via the knurled “GS” signed crown. The steel hands are a simple dauphine style with a black line down the middle of each. The acrylic crystal is flat topped with a crisp edge.

GRAND_SEIKO_61GS_CASE6The movement is one of Seiko’s 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 seconds per day when it left the factory. 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 1960s.

GRAND_SEIKO_61GS_MOVE2

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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 high-end dress watch. Because they were not marketed to the US in the 1960s, 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 high-end Seiko, but once you hold one of these in you hands, you can instantly recognize the inherent quality.

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Christoph (Instagram’s @vintagediver) is a long time collector and lover of all things vintage, starting with comic books when he was a kid (he still collects them). His passion for watches began in 1997 when he was gifted a family heirloom vintage Omega Genève by his step-father. That started him on the watch collecting path—buying and selling vintage watches of all sorts, with a special appreciation for vintage dive watches and Seiko.
vintagediver
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  • Phil Rodenbeck

    This watch is the real McCoy-san. Love how you can trace the design lineage from this to the katana-flanked Anantas. Too bad the current gen got swissified

  • lactardjosh

    You have to point out the impossible angles where the bezel meets the case. Such a fantastic design. These little details are overlooked, but when you really look closely, elevate the watch to a entirely different level.

  • Mike

    Great article, ‘stoph!!

  • sfbaydawg221

    Why always end a Seiko article with “Many people don’t associate high-end with Seiko”? I am sure anyone who knows a bit about watches will know that Seiko makes great watches at every price range, be it mechanical or quartz. Anyone who dismisses Seiko is brand conscious and a phony.

  • Ilya Ryvin

    Man, this watch is gorgeous! it’s one of the few watches right now that I REALLY want.

  • Skybreak

    I bought mine about a month ago, and I love it. The elegance and quality is still there 45 years later, and with little care and maintenance it’ll still be a great watch 45 years from now. The more I read about Seiko and these 61-series watches in particular the more impressed I become. I’m hoping my kids and grandkids will recognise and appreciate how good the Grand Seiko’s are as much I do.

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  • Justin Yates

    I singlehandedly credit this article for my even being aware of vintage Grand Seikos, and just picked up a 6145 manufactured in May 1968 myself. Believe the hype. After almost 50 years the dial has developed a nice champagne patina and even with a few nicks and bumps here and there, it shines brilliantly. Owning this piece has convinced me I need a modern Grand Seiko in my collection. It’s that good.

  • SpiderWeb

    I wanted to get one too. However, does this model or 6146-8000 comes with blue dial variants? I seem to see that quite often on eBay but have not come across any articles publishing such colour of the dial.