I am not an expert in Grand Seiko yet even I am aware of and understand the extreme appeal of a VFA. However, a quick peruse of recent auction results will tell you that even the most shagged VFA is now a 50 grand proposition. Luckily for us peasants, the depth and breadth of GS’s back catalogue is near peerless. For a relatively reasonable outlay, an enthusiast of the grammar of design may get their hands on something almost equally rare, technically impressive, and desperately pretty. Those superlative (sorry, unintentional Rolex reference) adjectives convalesce in this: the 1970 61GS Hi-Beat Special.
The 6155 caliber holds a notable distinction within vintage Grand Seiko. To my knowledge, it is the only movement ever to have been produced for a single model variant. This 61GS series began in 1967 and ran through a variety of calibers. Only the VFA 6185X and 6186X calibers were more accurate than this, GS’s period flagships. However, the period technically-impressive value buy was this 6155 Hi-Beat which offered an accuracy of +/-3 seconds per day, as opposed to the VFA’s +/-2 seconds per day. This was accomplished through a 36000 vph beat and careful regulation. For its slightly simpler movement and extra second’s leniency, the Special was priced nearly an order or magnitude below the flagship VFAs. However, to distinguish them from the base +6/-4 seconds per day 61GS offerings, Special and Hi-Beat lines of text were added below the GS initial at 6. I just love that the dial just self-describes as ‘Special’. The 61GS case is a fantastic expression of GS’s grammar, but with more satin-brushed and polished surfaces than most. The case features a screw down crown with 50m of resistance for daily practicality.
This 6155 comes in a sharp, 36.5mm steel case. It is entirely original with a signed crown, barely aged dial, and vintage medallion back. The movement appears entirely uncorroded and is said to be running well. No mention of service history is given though the case back’s inside seems to have a 2013 mark. Its polished surfaces sport hairline surface wear consistent with age. As vintage GS conditions go, in both case and dial, this is a beauty. It comes from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Hi-Beat Special here from S. Song for 2500 USD.