Within the world of vintage Seiko, Grand Seiko – distinguished by the “GS” on dial/crown and gold medallion on its caseback, like on this rare full-serviced 1972 Grand Seiko 6146-8050 Hi-Beat Chronometer automatic here – inhabits the top of the food chain, simple as that.
The Grand Seiko 6146-8050 is a fantastic fusion of elements of its elder (and much more expensive) VFA siblings in both design and movements. Per Fratello, “The story goes that this specific model was only produced for two months in 1972. All of the watches that show up for sale are dated April or May of 1972…I love that the 6146-8050 is a combination of ’70s style and Grand Seiko accuracy…In combination with the angular case, faceted crystal, and great movement, this has to be one of the most interesting vintage Grand Seiko watches from the 1970s. As mentioned, these pieces are very rare.”
When it comes to the design – if you hadn’t guessed by now – the GS 6146-8050 is something special. The watch came with the choice of four different gradient dial colors, with the "standard" being a silver dial and also more exotic brown, blue and green dial colors. But that Grammar of Design case? It’s simply fantastic, with its sharp angels combining with round shapes – all working together for an exciting case design.
Grand Seiko – with 51 different models – were simply the most painstakingly designed and exquisite watches made by Seiko, produced by both the Dani and Suwa factories.
The hi-beat 61GS series started production in 1967, full of Grammar of Design awesomeness, with sales continuing through until the end of the vintage Grand Seiko era in 1975, a self-inflicted fatality of the quartz crisis. The high-beat credentials of the 61GS are entirely authentic in that these movements run at 36000 beats per hour or, put another way, 10 beats per second or 5 Hz.
The 61GS was the second generation of Grand Seiko automatic, following the rather short-lived 62GS that dominated from 1966/1967 to circa 1968 (the 62GS was preceded by the Seikomatic 62 Chronometers in 1966 that were identical in all but branding).
Speaking of Grand Seiko design, in the early 1960s, Seiko’s Tanaka created a set of design principles he called The Grammar of Design. In 1962, Tanaka noticed Swiss watches "sparkled brilliantly" and realized the design of high-end Seiko watches could be radically improved through the implementation of "flat and conical surfaces perfectly smooth and free of distortion."
Tanaka’s Grammar of Design was implemented in Grand Seiko and King Seiko lines from 1967 and made these lines instantly recognizable as status symbols in the hierarchical Japanese business world of the 1960s and 1970s. Tanaka’s rules would go on to fundamentally change Seiko’s design language. All surfaces and angles of the case, dial, indices and hands had to be flat and geometrically perfect to best reflect light.
Following this aesthetic, bezels were to be simple two-dimensional faceted curves. And third, no visual distortion from any angle was allowed, and all cases and dials had to be mirror-finished. In “A Journey in Time: The Remarkable Story of Seiko,” Tanaka’s approach to the new style is described as follows:
“He started by creating cases and dials that had a perfectly flat surface, with two-dimensional curves on the bezel as a secondary feature. Three-dimensional curves were not used, as a general rule. He also decided that all distortion should be eliminated from the dial, too, so that it could be finished with a mirror surface. This formed the basis for the new Seiko style.”
This Grand Seiko comes on a leather strap, and with nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.
Hi-Beat 1972 Grand Seiko 6146-8050 Chronometer Automatic
DIAL: Brilliant Grand Seiko-signed starburst dial - no blemishs present on this stunning dial, with its applied hour indices ; matching hour, minute, and second hands.
CASE: Stainless-steel case - in all its Grammar of Design glory - measures 38.5mm x 42mm with sharp case lines and zero evidence of machine polish; gold Grand Seiko emblem on caseback remains intact and in great condition - these are frequently quite worn from wearer sweat over the decades.
CRYSTAL: New quality domed crystal - no scratches or blemishes. Original faceted crystal will be included, as well.
MOVEMENT: Hi-beat 6146A automatic movement - 25 jewel movement beats at 36,000 bph and was produced in May 1972 in Seiko’s Suwa factory. We have performed a full service on this GS.
CROWN: “GS” signed crown.