Grand Seiko Hi-Beat
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Grand Seiko Hi-Beat

After the devastation of World War II, Japan underwent an economic renaissance that was nothing short of miraculous.

The Allies occupied Japan until 1952. For several years prior to that, the U.S. had instituted a policy, the “reverse course,” which did much to lay the groundwork for this economic rebirth. The Reverse Course was intended to strengthen, not punish, Japan, and bring them under the influence of the United States—particularly as the Cold War made tensions rise between the Soviet Union and the other Allied powers.

By strengthening the Japanese economy, the U.S. saw to it that they would have an ally in the Pacific. A constitution was drafted along Rooseveltian “New Deal” principles, and the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry initiated policies that nurtured the recovering economy. Manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers formed groups called keiretsu that insulated each company from the fluctuation of the stock market and other outside influences.

The 1960s were without a doubt the most prosperous decade in this economic miracle. Prime Minister Ikeda, the former minister of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, launched an “income-doubling plan” in which he lowered interest rates and taxes and liberalized trade imports. By the time he left office in 1964, the Gross National Product grew to 13.9%.

Seiko’s history during this time was also marked by a renewal of sorts, as the manufacture released a watch that in many ways would become its crowning jewel: the Grand Seiko.

The company had two competing divisions at the time: Daini and Suwa. Though Suwa was chosen to develop the Grand Seiko, the Marvel produced by the Daini division would blaze the path for the Grand Seiko. Seiko’s first wholly in-house watch, the Marvels—with their Hi-Beat movements—were the most accurate watches Seiko produced.

The Grand Seiko was created by Taro Tanaka, a young designer whom Seiko had hired right out of school. Inspired by the way Swiss watches “sparkled brilliantly,” Tanaka set out to design a watch with sharp edges, brushed surfaces, and a mirror finish that would rival anything created by the Swiss. In 1960, the first Grand Seiko—Reference 3180—debuted.

Though the Reference 3180 was a time-only model, Seiko would follow it in 1963 with models that featured a date. 

In 1968 Seiko would release the Reference 61GS, powered by the 6100 series of movements. This line was inaugurated by the Reference 6145A. Due to Seiko’s stringent standards, the 6145 rivaled even the best-quality Swiss movements.  

The Reference 6145 would be the flagship Grand Seiko model until 1975, when Seiko would phase out automatic movements in favor of their groundbreaking quartz calibres.

This particular Grand Seiko is a Reference 6146, which differs from the Reference 6145 with the inclusion of a day wheel. 

With a mouth-watering dial and edges as sharp as the blade of a katana, this Reference 6146 captures the essence of Tanaka’s “grammar of design” in a package that is as handsome as it is timeless.

Details

SKU: AS02152

Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Grand Seiko Reference 6146-8000. Seiko Calibre 6146 Self-Winding Movement. Circa 1969.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with crisp finishing all around and minor signs of use and wear. Dial is likewise in very good condition with crisp printing. Seiko crown. Seiko case back has some signs of wear but is in otherwise very good condition.

Includes one 18mm black leather strap.

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