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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
To me, this is a very interesting watch:
Analog watch Watch Watch accessory Strap Fashion accessory


The 3180 was the first model in the Grand Seiko product line, introduced in 1960 signaling Seiko's intention to compete with the Swiss in the luxury watch market.
It featured an 80-micron 14k 'gold filled' case, with gold markers and a cream dial.

The 'Grand Seiko' logo appeared in 3 variants - carved into the dial, printed, and applied gold.
My understanding is that consistency was difficult/expensive with carved logos, and the printed version was abandoned for aesthetic reasons - so the vast majority are found with applied logos.

Here's my (well, my wife's) gold 3180:
Analog watch Watch Watch accessory Fashion accessory Jewellery


Due to poor waterproofing, most 3180s have suffered over the years - and a good condition 3180 is fairly rare.
It's no accident that the very next model (the steel, 43999 aka 'Self Dater') featured a screw-down case back and 50m WR.

In addition to the normal and relatively high-production gold 3180, Seiko made the 3180 in solid platinum, with a white dial, platinum hands and markers.
My understanding is that these were available by special order at the Wako boutique, and they are vanishingly rare compared to the gold version.

As many of you know I was excited to add one of these last year, and posted an unboxing here: https://www.watchuseek.com/f21/unboxing-platinum-first-model-grand-seiko-2043346.html
Recent picture here, with the Eichi II:
Watch Analog watch Watch accessory Black Fashion accessory


Close up of the applied logo
Clock Analog watch Watch Gauge Number


Funnily enough, when my wife was at the Seiko boutique in NY, she was wearing her gold 3180 and when the staffer showed a lot of enthusiasm over it, she mentioned that I had the platinum version, to which he responded "oh, no - it must be stainless steel."
I got a laugh about it because they didn't make the 3180 in Stainless Steel, so that really would be something.

Well, it turns out they did make them in stainless steel, they just never sold them to the public.
Everyone seems to agree on that point - that the watches were never released - but there are differing accounts on why they were made at all.
One theory is that they were made as service replacements, possibly for people who wore their 'gold filled' too hard.
Another is that they were specially made for the watchmakers themselves.
But, any information is hard to come by and is from unofficial sources, so my confidence is low.

No matter why it was made, a NOS 3180 in steel example came up for sale about a month ago and I jumped on it the second I saw it.
The watch arrived earlier this week, and here are a few shots:
Watch Analog watch Watch accessory Fashion accessory Jewellery


Like the rare first execution gold 3180, it features a carved logo, but with steel hands and markers (crystal is unpolished and picked up a little wear over the last 55 years):
From a loupe, it looks like the geometry of the hands and markers is identical, but the luster is a lot higher on the PT version.
Vehicle Bumper Car


Case back with original blue protective film/sticker still attached:
Blue Electric blue Material property Hand Wrist

Notice the *Chronometer*. AFAIK this is present only on this medallion. Odd, right?

Aftermarket strap, but original buckle:


Here is a shot of the 3180 in all 3 metals, with the platinum on top:
Analog watch Watch Black Fashion accessory Watch accessory


I hope to take some proper pictures when I get the time.
--

Some observations on the similarities/differences among the models:

The first surprise is the change in the lugs - they don't accept the same straps!
The Gold and PT have 18mm lug spacing, with the lugs tapering down to ~3mm wide at the holes.
The SS version has 19mm spacing, with far thinner lugs.

Second, the thickness. The PT version is 10.7mm thick, the gold is 10.6mm thick (roughly the same), but the steel version has a much thicker case and comes in almost 10% thicker at 11.6mm.

The steel version weighs 46g, the gold 40g, and the PT version weighs 60g.

The crowns on the SS and Gold versions are signed the same and have the same tooth profile, but the PT version is unsigned and with a different profile.
Makes me wonder if the PT crown is original. Research needed.

The lion logos are the same on the Gold and PT, but the SS is different as noted above.

At the bottom of the dial, the gold and PT versions read only 'JAPAN', but the SS version reads 'GSJ14H156E-SD' below 'JAPAN'

--

Please let me know if there are any specific shots you want to see, or questions you have about the 3180's.

Apologies for the long post, thought it better to be detailed up front.

-ES
 

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Absolutely GORGEOUS! What an amazing trifecta of GS love. WOW. :p I had no idea there were three different metals for this watch. Appreciate the history lesson!

And fascinating about the different case dimensions. Are the case widths the same?

Speaking of more pics, I would love to see some movement shots when you get a chance. Assume they all contain the manual wind 3180?

OP, you have motivated me to share some pics of my gold model so I will work on posting some shortly. :)
 

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Now THAT is watch collecting. Beautiful.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi OP. I've been looking forward to this post. Do you mind sharing the source of the back story with this piece? Cheers!
I'll pull together the references for the back story, yep.
I'll provide captions/links - but like I said in the OP information is hard to come by, since the watch was never sold.

Will pm when the thread is updated.

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Absolutely GORGEOUS! What an amazing trifecta of GS love. WOW. :p I had no idea there were three different metals for this watch. Appreciate the history lesson!

And fascinating about the different case dimensions. Are the case widths the same?

Speaking of more pics, I would love to see some movement shots when you get a chance. Assume they all contain the manual wind 3180?

OP, you have motivated me to share some pics of my gold model so I will work on posting some shortly. :)
Re: widths
The PT and gold versions are ~34.8-34.9mm, and the SS version is slightly smaller at ~34.6mm.
With the thin lugs, it's almost as if they kept the core of the gold version and didn't apply the gold layer - except the case is taller.

Re: Movements
Yeah, they all have the 3180.

Lots of pics in this breakdown from Duncan, the watchmaker who serviced my gold 3180: Grand Seiko calibre 3180 | The Watch Bloke
I'll be sending him the SS version, and should have pics but I doubt he'll make another post since the 3180 is covered.

Here is a seller's pic of the SS movement:
Analog watch Watch Watch accessory Fashion accessory Material property


I don't have pics of the PT watch's movement, it came with Seiko service paperwork and I don't open my watches unless I need to.
How I wish I had the confidence of John Goldberger:

Re: Pics of your gold model.
Would love to see them!
 

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Please let me know if there are any specific shots you want to see, or questions you have about the 3180's.

Apologies for the long post, thought it better to be detailed up front.

-ES
I have one...
Where on earth did you find these things???
Do you have access to some hidden Seiko vault under Mt Fuji or something?
I'm not trying to get you to reveal your secrets...but seriously???
This is unreal..
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I have one...
Where on earth did you find these things???
Do you have access to some hidden Seiko vault under Mt Fuji or something?
I'm not trying to get you to reveal your secrets...but seriously???
This is unreal..
LOL, and thanks!

No secret source, but I think I have an effective process.

Once you decide to chase a specific watch, you set up your Chrono24, WatchProSite, WatchRecon, eBay, and Google alerts.
I also follow a lot of brokers/dealers on Instagram - which often list incoming items before they hit their websites.

For Japanese watches, you also include Yahoo Japan - where you need to learn the correct translations and the search tools/grammar - but once you have a set of saved searches, using them is easy.

Then, you just monitor your alerts and check in on your saved searches, and when a good opportunity pops, you jump.
I check in on my saved searches every morning - most YJ auctions close around 4-5am PST, and I think that means they're posted about the same time - so checking in the morning means they haven't been up for long.

If your wishlist is large, even if a good opportunity on any particular watch only shows up once a decade, you can still add a piece pretty often.
Often enough to stay engaged.

If there was one and only one watch I was chasing, it would be far too frustrating.

Good luck - happy hunting!
 

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estrickland said:
Apologies for the long post, thought it better to be detailed up front.
Absolutely no need to apologize - it's not often that I learn something (completely) new.
Your time on this post was well spent, I've enjoyed every line in it |>
Thank you so much.

Beautiful photos too and quite the collection.
 

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Thanks for sharing these rare Seiko treasures.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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I'm usually not a vintage watch person but those 3180 are something else; they make me want the SBGW033 even more. If Seiko would just make the SBGW031 with the hands found on the majority of other GSs that would be close enough.

On another note how do you find the Credor Eichi II compare to GS? I know the movement finishing is among the best anywhere but are the other components, such as case, dial, and hands, better finished than GS?
 

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Congrats! Nice catch.
 
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