SEIKO, unable to compete with the high-end Swiss in the Japanese domestic market, were determined to prove that they were just as capable in producing quality watches, and were determined to do so at the Observatory Concours. After 4 years of development, SEIKO entered its movements in the contest in 1964 and secured 144th and 153rd place. For the next 3 years, the Japanese manufacture employed both of its internally-competing factories--Daini Seikosha and Suwa Seikosha--the best engineers, tremendous effort and economic resource. In 1967, SEIKO obtained 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, and 12th place in the Chronometer Concours. In 1968, the company clenched 2nd and 3rd place. In the following year, the Observatory contests of Neuchatel were stopped, without explanation, though many speculate it was in fear of SEIKO sweeping a clear victory should the Concours continue.
It is also interesting to note that the movement calibres manufactures submitted to the Concours were specifically built for competition, and were not subsequently put into production, due to the high-precision mechanicals being not all that durable for commercial purposes. Only 2 watch companies have ever manufactured and marketed watches that passed the Observatory Chronometer trials-- Girard Perregaux and SEIKO.
The knowledge and experience that SEIKO had accumulated during the years of the Observatory Concours went into their high-grade movements. In 1966, SEIKO ceased using the “Chronometer” designation, due to the delay in setting up CICC Certification in Japan. Instead, the manufacture created a new accuracy standard, higher than the “Chronometer”. This new “AA Grade” accuracy became the “Grand Seiko (GS) Standard”. The AA Accuracy Grade was adjusted to an even tighter tolerance in 1969, to further differentiate itself from the Chronometer. Here’s a comparison table.
This is the story of the original Grand Seiko. After 24 years of absence, SEIKO launched the current generation Grand Seiko in 1998, still manufactured, assembled, adjusted and tested to SEIKO’s own internal protocol of quality and precision that are more demanding than the COSC Chronometer specifications.
- 6145 A -- GS standard official approval. 36,000bph, 25j, DATE
6146 A -- GS standard official approval. 36,000bph, 25j, DAY/DATE
6155 A -- GS Special standard official approval. 36,000bph, 25j, DATE
6156 A -- GS Special standard official approval. 36,000bph, 25j, DAY/DATE
6185 B -- VFA 36,000bph, 25j, DATE
6186 B -- VFA 36,000bph, 25j, DAY/DATE