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Special Dial

Grand Seiko First carved dial, April 1961, transitional "special dial"

Grand Seiko First carved dial, April 1961, transitional "special dial"

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Model: Grand Seiko
Reference: The first Grand Seiko, carved logo
Year: April 1961
Caseback Serial: 141XXXX
Material: 14k gold filled, 80 microns
Dimensions: 36mm diameter; 11mm thickness
Crystal: Plexiglass
Caliber: 3180
Movement Serial: 109XXX
Service History: March 2023, currently running at +29.2 sec/day
Bracelet/Strap: Epsom Calf leather strap (pictured) from Jones in Tokyo
Lug Width: 18mm
Box/Papers: None

The Grand Seiko “First” (GS1st) or “3180” as it is often referred to (due to its caliber reference) was introduced to the Japanese market in 1960. Produced by the Suwa Seikosha company based in Nagano, Japan, the Grand Seiko line was born out of a desire to create a watch that was “as precise, durable, easy to wear and as beautiful as possible”. 

There are three main dial variants to the GS1st – printed, carved, and raised. This example is the carved logo variant where the "Grand Seiko" text below the 12 o'clock index were manually hand carved by craftsmen from the Suwa factory. Due to its laborious production process the Suwa factory abandoned this practice and switched to the raised logo from around the second half of 1961. This specific example, based on the caseback serial and movement serial is dated to a production date of April 1961 which is right around the period when the Suwa factory was transitioning from the carved to the raised logo dial. The vast majority of carved logo transitional GS1st's that have surfaced in the market have been dated to April to June 1961. In recent years, the watch community, especially in Japan, has finally caught up to both the rarity and beauty of the carved logo variant as well as the transitional GS1st's which have sword hands instead of mountain hands found in earlier carved logo examples.

Overall, this GS first carved variant is in excellent vintage condition. A carved dial transitional model GS first is very rare and this all original example would be a dream addition for any serious Grand Seiko enthusiast. The caseback lion medallion is the correct early variant and so is the "S" signed crown. The movement and dial is consistent to the carved GS1st variants as can be evidenced by the movement serial, case back serial, and dial code. The gold filled case has scratches as can be expected from a watch of this age and has most likely been polished in the past but retains its beveling on its lug. The dial surfaces show some aging and light patina but is in overall clean condition with no major blemishes or spotting on the dial. The hour markers (index) are made of 18k solid gold as indicated by the sun shaped “special dial” logo above the six o’clock. The hand set looks to be original with the period correct “sword” hands (used in the transitional and raised logo GS1st's) which is in great condition. The movement was serviced by the previous owner in March 2023 and is currently running at +29.2 seconds/day. The watch also comes with a quality epsom brown grained calf leather strap from local watch strap craftsman, Jones in Tokyo.

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