Most watch auctions are dominated by leading luxury watch brands like Patek Philippe and Rolex. The spotlight seldom falls on Japanese watchmaker Seiko until recently. Bonhams is going to present an online-only sale dedicated to the world-renowned Japanese watchmaker, offering over 200 timepieces spanning half a century.
It is the first auction ever dedicated to Seiko watches, encompassing the brand’s major vintage and modern watches, as well as iconic models. Compared with popular models produced by top Swiss watchmakers, Seiko watches are offered with a more accessible price point. Some of the lots on offer are estimated at below HK$10,000 (about US$1290), a more affordable choice for beginners interested in collecting vintage and modern watches.
The ‘Holy Grail’ of Seiko Watches – Ref. 5718-8000
Seiko was established in 1881 when Kintarō Hattori opened a watch and jewellery shop called ‘K. Hattori’ in the Ginza area of Tokyo, Japan. In 1892, he began to produce clocks under the name Seikosha (meaning ‘House of Exquisite Workmanship’). Seiko is a Japanese word meaning ‘exquisite’ or ‘success’.
Kintaro Hattori, the founder of Seiko
Seiko was the official timekeeper of 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan
Seikosha Clock Factory introduced pocket watches in 1895, three years after its founding. In 1924, the first post-earthquake year, a new brand called Seiko was born. It carries Kintaro Hattori’s hope to go back to the founding spirit to produce exquisite timepieces.
Seiko made its name on the international stage when it became the official timekeeper of 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, making it the first non-Swiss watchmaker to be Olympics’ official timekeeper.
Seiko. An Extremely Rare Stainless Steel ‘Tokyo Summer Olympic 1964’ Chronograph Bracelet Watch with Lap-Counter and Date Display.
Created in: 1964
Estimate: HK$100,000 – 200,000
This Ref. 5718-8000 produced in 1964 for the Tokyo Olympics is considered as the ‘holy grail’ of Seiko timepieces. The two iconic push buttons on the left of the watch allow wearers to easily adjust the 1’s and 10’s positions of the count graph – a function designed to count laps; while the single subdial located at 6 o’clock has both a continuous second and a 60-minute register.
The back of the watch is engraved with a motif of the Olympic flame
According to the auction house, there are only a handful of 5718-8000 examples known to exist in the market, with only one other example released at auction previously. In 2017, a Seiko ref. 5718-8000 watch was offered at Yahoo! Japan Auction and attracted over 200 bids. It was sold for JPY 2.2m (about US$20,000).
Seiko. A Stainless Steel ‘Diver's’ Wristwatch with Date
Created in: Circa 1969
Estimate: HK$4,000 – 8,000
The sale also presents another iconic Seiko watch from the 1960s. Considered the definitive Seiko diver watch, Ref. 6105 from 1969 the brand’s third generation of divers, with most of its parts – including the movement, oils, cases and crystals – manufactured in house. It is expected to fetch HK$4,000 – 8,000 (US$516 – 1,032).
Some of you may be familiar with this watch. This model is famously worn by Martin Sheen’s character, Captain Willard, in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now.
Last year, a Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 worn by Brando in ‘Apocalypse Now’ was sold in New York for US$1.95m, setting a new auction record for a Rolex GMT-Master.
Seiko. A Rare Limited Edition Titanium ‘Spring Drive Spacewalk’ Chronograph Wristwatch with Date and Power Reserve Indication, Complete with All Accessories
Created in: Circa 2010
Estimate: HK$150,000 – 180,000
First produced in October 2008 to accompany private space adventurer, Richard Garriott, throughout his 12-day flight in space, Ref. SPS005 was then released to the public in a commemorative limited edition of 100 pieces in 2010. The limited-edition shares the exact same specifications as the one travelling into space with but one adaptation: a screw-in crown is used to enhance the overall security of the case. The present lot is estimated at HK$150,000 – 180,000 (US$193,53 - $23,224)
Richard Garriott had a 12-day flight in space in 2008
Watches estimated below HK$10,000
Seiko. A Stainless Steel ‘Yachtman UFO’ Chronograph Wristwatch with Day and Date
Created in: Circa 1973
Estimate: HK$3,000 – 6,000 (No reserve lot)
Seiko. A Rare Stainless Steel ‘Bullhead’ Chronograph Wristwatch with Date and Day in Japanese and English
Created in: Circa 1977
Estimate: HK$4,000 – 8,000
From left to right:
- A Rare Stainless Steel ‘Slide-Rule Calculator’ Chronograph Bracelet Watch With Date And Day In Arabic And English｜Circa 1975｜Est: HK$4,000 – 8,000
- A Rare Stainless Steel ‘Kakume Speed-Timer’ Chronograph Wristwatch With Day And Date｜Circa 1975｜Est: HK$2,500 – 5,000; no reserve lot
- A Stainless Steel ‘Pepsi Pogue’ Chronograph Bracelet Watch With Day And Date｜Circa 1975｜Est: Est: HK$2,500 – 5,000; no reserve lot
- A Rare Stainless Steel ‘Bullhead’ Chronograph Bracelet Watch｜Circa 1976｜Est: HK$4,000 – 8,000
Auction house: Bonhams Hong Kong
Sale: Making Waves: Seiko (Online sale)
Auction date: 17 – 25 August 2020 (first part)