Value Proposition: Seiko Lord Marvel ‘Special Dial’
Seiko’s back catalogue offers an almost bewildering array of models, variants, and even manufactures. Blurred family lines between Grand Seiko, Orient, Prospex, 5, now-defunct Lordmatic, and even Credor offer little clarification to the nascent watch collector. To be blunt, the work one has to put in to understand Seiko’s diverse set of offerings is worth it; the lineup is every bit as robust as the catalogue is wide (particularly in understanding GS). However, for current value buys, two vintage offerings stand above the rest for me. The first, King Seiko and everything that came out of the Daini Seikosha factory. The second is this: Seiko’s own Lord Marvel sub-brand.
Remember that famous story of Seiko HQ splitting Grand Seiko from King Seiko and pitting them against eachother in a Darwinian struggle? This Lord Marvel is from neither side. When I first started learning about Seiko, I’d incorrectly assumed that Lord (of Marvel and Matic) was a separate Seiko sub-brand. I’m a bit of an idiot if you haven’t already noticed. That is not the case. Lord Marvel was a model line under Seiko created in 1958 to showcase understated, elegant, upmarket dress pieces.
First generation Lord Marvels can be divided into five dial variants. This mark 3 features a carved logo with no applied S for Seiko at 12. The signatures were hand-carved by the same Suwa factory craftsmen who carved the logo on the 3180 Grand Seiko. The indices were made of 14k white gold, as indicated buy the sun-shaped ‘special’ dial marking below 23-jewels. It was cased in an understated 36mm steel clamshell (also known as the hamaguri) with its own 23-jewel calibre. The result is certainly elegant and certainly dressy. Not only that, but it is quite technically impressive for a non King/Grand Seiko of its period. Because the dial does not wear a KS/GS stamp, values remain relatively very affordable even today.
This example is not perfect but presents well. There are two small noticeable degradations in the dial’s eggshell white toward the 12, they are not excessive and I would not repair them. Its case is sharp, with fully proportioned lugs. The handset is original. It comes recently serviced from a small, well-regarded Japanese retailer and is said to be running well.
Find this Lord Marvel here from Special Dial for 1100 USD.