Japan Winter 2019 Travel

At the end of February I was lucky enough to be able to again travel to Japan for work, and while there I managed to have some time to myself.

I flew into the Tokyo Haneda airport early on a Saturday morning and was greeted with near freezing conditions and a light snow. This was a shock to the system as I had just left record high summer temperatures in Australia.

It was early in the morning and I headed into Shibuya to see what interest there was in a new Seiko model that was produced for the street wear brand A Bathing Ape (BAPE). This watch was the SZEL003 and it was a limited edition of 999 pieces. The watch has a distinctive look utilizing the camouflage pattern that features prominently in BAPE designs. The watch had been announced around a week prior and they had detailed the procedure to purchase a unit. Interested customers needed to visit one of their major stores, e.g. Shibuya, on the Saturday morning and join the line before 10am. At that time the customers in line received a lottery ticket with the winners being able to purchase a watch.

The Shibuya store opened at 10am and at 9:30 there were around 40+ people already in line, in the cold and starting snow. They had a couple of security people ensuring the crowd did not impede local traffic or get in the way of others in the area.

You can see that many people in the queue were wearing BAPE product with the camouflage pattern on pants and jackets. Just before 10am they went through the line and had a random drawing of wristbands. The wristbands were numbered and determined your position to enter the store. This system is designed to stop people squatting outside the stores for hours before a major launch and causing traffic issues around the store. As the crowd turn out was not massive all of the people who were in line just before 10am received a ticket to purchase a watch.

As it got closer to the opening the snow continued to increase, I had no intention to purchase the watch so headed off to get out of the cold. I decided against purchasing a unit as I found the watch very difficult to read and it did not appeal to me, but it really is a fashion watch and is targeted towards fans of the brand. When I walked by the store a couple of hours later there was still a line of about 20 people waiting to get into the store.

The BAPE model is essentially the same as the SD-1C model that Seiko lists in its original design series. The bezel color was changed and obviously the dial design is unique to this model. Seiko provides the facility for companies to create their own custom designs by creating a custom dial design and selecting from a range hands, strap/bracelet, crown and case finishes. Minimum order quantity is 300 units and lead time is 5 months. They also provide a Seiko watch designer as a contact to answer questions you may have.

They have a range of other models available for customization and there are a few that look really interesting. In addition to customizing a standardized base model there is also a service for full design where you can create a custom case shape and create a completely unique product. You can see the different models that are available for customization at this page. One of the examples given on this page is the SEIKO X BAPE model, so it seems clear that this is how the model was produced.

After leaving Shibuya I headed to nearby Shinjuku to check out the numerous second hand stores in the area. My first stop was the Komehyo Annex store that often has some interesting pieces despite most of the store focusing on fashion items. The most interesting item at the store was a UTD (Ultra Thin Dress) SCLV001 6810-8000 from the early 90’s. This uses the 6810 movement first released in the 1970’s and then reintroduced in the early 90’s. The 68xx caliber continues today when used in the slim Credor models. I already have a very similar 6810 based model so passed on this example.

I next headed across to the main Komehyo store that is a couple of blocks away. This store always has a wide range of different models offered for sale with a whole floor dedicated to watches. Some of the Seiko examples offered for sale were the SCQZ002 9F based gold Astron from the 2000 Seiko Historical Collection, a wide range of modern GS models and another UTD model. The UTD was the Credor GBAQ986 (6870-0010) that was a limited edition release of 100 units in 2001 to commemorate the 120th founding anniversary of Seiko. There were also other numerous regular Seiko models including Presage chronographs, GPS Astrons and a SBEX007 (SLA025) Prospex diver model.

I did not pick up anything here and next headed across to the Shinjuku Ippuukishi store a couple of minutes walk away. On the second floor of the store they have a wide range of watches from many different manufacturers. The have some new models but the majority of the models in the store are used. They had a number of Grand Seiko limited edition models for sale as well as more commonly seen regular models.

Next stop was the Keio Department Store that is located at Shinjuku station. Here they had the new NSX Limited Edition Astron model SBXB165. They also had a wide range of models from Grand Seiko, Credor, and the wider Seiko range. While at the Keio store I picked up the latest issue of the GS9 magazine. This is a biannual magazine that is produced by the company to highlight new models, the history of the brand and interviews with customers.

After leaving Shinjuku I headed to Ueno and Mizutani’s store. The store has a large collection of vintage watches as well as some vintage cameras. There is always a good selection of models at this store with pieces across a wide range price brackets and there are many different options for all customers. I did not find anything to add to my collection but it is always a pleasant experience visiting the store and talking with the owner.

After leaving Mizutani’s I visited the National Science Museum in Ueno Park to see the “Thousand Wonders of Japanese Technology - A brief 150 year history of Japanese modernization”. This exhibit covers the past 150 years from the start of the Meiji era through to today and the rapid modernization of the country. One specific part of this exhibit was devoted to the Development of Quartz Crystal Oscillator. This section showed the different types of quartz crystal cuts and how they could be used as a time keeping device. Different early quartz clocks were shown and this included an example from 1937 that as the first Japanese model and was essentially a synchronous motor with a clock dial attached. This clock was exhibited at the 1937 Paris World Exposition.

The exhibit then presents the first Seiko mechanical wristwatch, the Laurel, from 1913 and a range of other key Seiko models including the Marvel, Grand Seiko “first”, and the 61GS VFA 6185 050 (6185-8020).

The evolution of the mechanical watch is highlighted with the display of a Suwa 052 Neuchâtel Competition Chronometer that could be considered the pinnacle of the technology. This chronometer was displayed with the Certificate from Neuchâtel with the corresponding serial number.

After the mechanical models an example of the first quartz model the 35SQ Astron was displayed. This was a fully operational unit and it was nice to see a working unit on display. There was also a copy of the original Astron brochure presented on the wall. In addition to the Astron there was also a 06LC VFA, the world’s first watch with a six digit liquid crystal display. Finishing up the display was an example of the first Spring Drive model, the SBWA001 from 1999.

The rest of the exhibit had displays on vehicle production, consumer electronics, computing and television. In the television section there was the display of a Seiko T001 TV watch, the world’s smallest television when released. The consumer electronics display had a Seiko UC-2000 watch with the standard keyboard and also the UC-2200 docking station with integrated printer.

On Sunday morning the weather was still a little rainy and quite cold. I first headed to nearby Harajuku to check out a second hand watch store I have previously intended to visit but have never got around to see. When I arrived in Harajuku there was a large procession with hundreds of participants, many carrying various signs and items. I managed to make my way across this stream of people and headed to the store, Watchshop L, located about a 10 minute walk east of Harajuku station. When I arrived the store saw still closed but I was able to see some of their items in the window display. They appeared to have a number of interesting and desirable models, like the Seiko FieldMaster “Contra”, Surf Timer, Memo Diary and various other chronographs and ana-digi models. Again, unfortunately there was nothing that really captured my interest at the time so I headed off before they opened, but I will be sure to check out the store next time I am in town as they likely have many interesting watches pass through the store.

I next headed out to a number of Hard Off stores around the city as occasionally interesting items come up for sale there. I visited the Hard Off, which focuses on electronics, musical instruments, and household goods, as well as the nearby Mode Off store that is more focused on fashion in Ueno.

Neither of the stores had anything particularly interesting, so my next stop was the cube stores in Akihabara Electric Town. These cubes are in the upstairs section of the old Electric Town marketplace where all types of electronic components are sold. The cubes are small boxed areas where individuals can rent out the cube for a small amount and offer miscellaneous items for sale. There are always a number of watches for sale in these cubes and occasionally some really interesting pieces can be found. Some cubes are well laid out with the items neatly presented, others have large quantities of stock haphazardly jammed into the cube. Items may be very cheap, while others can be well above the standard market pricing, so you have to have some idea about the items you are looking at. As the actual owners of the items are not present the prices are not negotiable, and there is no one who is able to provide more information on the items offered. While there was lots to look at I did not pick up anything here.

After the cube stores I traveled across town to Kichijoji and visited the Hard Off and Mode Off stores there. In the past I have found some interesting items in these stores but there was nothing that I had to have this visit. There was a really well priced blue Transocean diver (SBDC047) but as I already own this watch I decided to pass on this.

Finally in the early evening I met up with a friend and fellow watch collector, Bjorn, to catch up and have some dinner. We had a long discussion about watches and I saw some of his newest acquisitions. He was also having a clean up of some of his watch related materials and he generously gifted me a large number of various Japanese watch brochures from the last decade.

On Monday morning I caught the train to Shibuya to meet up with one of the founders of the Grand Seiko Owners Club group from Facebook who is based in Japan. Before meeting I dropped by the Daikokuya store that is close to the Shibuya crossing. The watches section of the store is in the basement level and there was a reasonable number of watches on display but only a small percentage were Japanese models. There was a Galante SBLA003 Spring Drive on the rubber strap that looked nice. When I first saw the Galante models I was not a fan of their striking design, but after seeing these for a few years I have become more attracted to them and believe that I will likely pick up a model in the future.

I then met up with Bill and his wife from the GS Owners Club forum and we grabbed some excellent ramen for lunch. After eating we checked out some of the nearby stores starting with Housekihiroba who have a massive selection of watches available. The range and quality of selection at this store is always very good and there are usually numerous interesting and Limited Edition pieces that are available. There were many nice models on offer but I left the store empty handed.

We then headed over to a small watch store that I had not visited before called Item, located in the north section of Shibuya. The store had numerous vintage Seiko, Citizen and Orient watches on display and they all seemed to be in nice condition and interesting models. There were numerous Grand Seikos, dress watches, chronographs and divers for sale and the quality did look to be very good. The pricing at the store was at the upper end of the market prices but to see that quantity of high quality models together is unusual. I think the store is worth checking out if you are looking for a special vintage model and want to see a wide range in a single location.

After visiting a few other local stores I said goodbye to Bill and his wife and headed towards the Ginza district. In Ginza I visited the new Seiko Dream Square store that is located just behind the main WAKO building. The Dream Square is a showcase presenting visitors with a brief insight into the companies history, as well as the various key product ranges from the Prospex, Presage, Lukia and Astron line ups. The facility has a number of interactive experiences and you can see all of the key models in the Seiko range all in one space. If you are a Seiko fan visiting Tokyo and have a few minutes free in the Ginza area I think it is worth spending some time to check out the Seiko Dream Square. I created a separate article on the Seiko Dream Square and you can read more about my visit in this post.

I was shown around the Seiko Dream Square by a friend who was previously at the Seiko Museum but now heads up this new facility. It was great to get a personalized tour of the SDS and see all it has to offer. We then headed next door to check out the Seiko, Grand Seiko and Credor displays at the main WAKO building. The store has a great range of models and often has very limited edition high end models on display. Unfortunately there is no photography permitted in the showroom.

After visiting WAKO we headed to the newly refurbished Grand Seiko boutique that is a couple of blocks aways but under a five minute walk. This store was previously the Seiko Premium Boutique but had just changed to be an exclusive Grand Seiko Boutique. The store previously carried Credor and Galante ranges in addition to Grand Seiko, but customers wanting these other brands now can see these at the nearby WAKO store. The layout of the Grand Seiko Boutique has not changed significantly with key models on display at the front entrance area and then a long counter on the right of the store with the models divided up by movement type, quartz, Sprig Drive and mechanical. There is also a section for the ladies models and this will obviously be expanding after this years Baselworld announcements. As the store had just reopened after the renovations and was quite busy the staff requested that I did not take any photos inside the store.

Once we left the store we headed out for dinner near the famous Tokyo Tower. This was a great evening and we discussed various topics including their career within Seiko and the different roles they have held over that time. This interesting discussion coupled with great food made for a very enjoyable evening out.

On the Tuesday morning I headed back to the Seiko Dream Square to check out a presentation where Hiroki Akiyama from the Shizukuishi Luxury Watch Studio, SII assembled a 9S movement. Akiyama-san joined Daini Seikosha (now SII) in 1973 and during the 1970’s was the winner of a number of national and international skills competitions. He went on to be part of the Morioka new product and development team and is now based out of the SII HQ at Makuhari. The demonstration could be seen on a pair of large screens positioned either side of the work area.

The demonstration was conducted at 11:00, 14:00 and 16:00 during the day. Other demonstrations that take place at SDS include the dial and movement engraving. As these demonstrations occur regularly it is worth checking in with the store if you are visiting around these times to see what might be on display.

After leaving the SDS I quickly visited the nearby Lemon store where they have various watches and cameras for sale. You can never be sure what models you might find at the store as most of the items are on consignment and seem to turn over quite quickly I did not find anything of interest that visit but if you are in the area it is worth checking out.

I then jumped on a train and headed south to Nagoya. When i arrived it was early in the afternoon so I quickly wandered around the city. I stopped by the large Book Off Super Bazaar store that is located next to the Sakae station, I have found a number of interesting pieces in the past.

During this visit I picked up a SARG011 (6R15-02R0) and a SBEB013 (S822-00B0) digital Alpinist. I had always liked the SARG011 and regretted not picking one up when they were released. On the SBEB013 I really like the green velcro strap that it comes with and would love to see Seiko offer this and the black version as retail straps as they are very comfortable and good quality.

After leaving the Book Off I stopped at the nearby Sony Store and took a look at the wena models. These conventional watches are produced by Seiko or Citizen and are fitted with a Sony smart bracelet that provides caller ID, notification alerts, health functions like steps, distance, heart rate, calories burned, and a NFC payment function. There were a two pairs of new Seiko sports models that had just been released as limited editions. The first pair were the WNW-SA02A/B (LE 500 units) black and WNW-SA02A/L (LE 500 units) blue models, each comes with a blue or black strap. These are digital watches with the watch head essentially a different colorway of the existing Seiko Alpinist digital models. The second pair of wena models came with the metal version of the wena bracelet and were provided on a traditional mechanical watch head. There is the WNW-SB13A/B (LE300 units) black and WNW-SB13A/S (LE 600 units) silver version and both come with a black and blue countdown bezel. Surprisingly the bezel on the mechanical models was bi-directional with no clicks. Alongside the wena models was the eink FES watch that allows the dial and the strap to be customised by the user. Both the wena and FES models were developed by staff internally within the company as small proof of concept projects that were then productized by the company.

On Wednesday morning I headed off to the Book Off Super Bazaar store at Inaei, an outer suburb of Nagoya. On previous trips I had spotted some good deals but this time there was only a few interesting pieces but nothing that grabbed me and I had to take home. There were numerous Seiko and GS pieces with an early 9F model being the stand out. There was also a vintage 62GS but the case on this example had been heavily polished ruining the most distinctive and appealing part of that model.

I next headed back into town and stopped by the Nagoya Komehyo store. This location has a mix of new and pre-owned pieces and there is usually a good mix of models offered for sale. This time was no exception with an interesting collection of pre-owned pieces including an 8N91-6000 quartz UTD model in 18K that was a limited edition model from 1991 commemorating the 110th Anniversary of Seiko. There was a Credor 5R77 moon phase, and various Grand Seiko limited Edition models including a SBGW252 18K recreation of the first Grand Seiko.

There was a Seiko SCVN001 King Seiko from the 2000 Historical Collection, but I already have an example of this watch. In addition there was a SBDX003, also from the 2000 Historical Collection, that I was attracted to but this example had the crystal changed to an incorrect one that sat below the bezel. With this change I was not sure what else had been done to the example so I passed on this. They also had a SBEX007 on offer making this the third or fourth example I had seen so far on the trip.

I dropped into the Brand Off Tokyo store that is just a few shops north from Komehyo but did not find anything there. My next stop was at Big Moon who always have a nice selection of models available. This time they had a Credor Phoenix GCBP991 Tetsuya Kumakawa chronograph with distinctive yellow sub-dials and a Credor CGLP991 big date with mother of pearl inlay. There was a Shizuku-Ishi chronograph, a nice yellow gold 62GS and a range of other interesting models. Unfortunately I left empty handed again.

It was time for lunch so after a quick meal I headed back to Nagoya station and then travelled down to Osaka. After arriving in Osaka I visited a watch store in the Semba Centre, entrance nine, that has numerous vintage pieces. Here they had some interesting models but the quality of pieces was mixed and nothing particularly caught my eye and appeared as a bargain.

On my way back to my hotel I stopped at the Book Off Plus+ in Nanba, they had a far selection of Seiko models and I picked up a Seiko Azue RGE050 2620-5280 quartz model from 1978. This was a relatively high end model when released and has a stainless case with sapphire crystal, it retailed for 100,000円 when first released.

First stop on Thursday morning I booked a visit to Anytime Wear near Higashimikuni Station. This store is located in a residential area but they have high quality pieces. On this visit they had the nicest example of a NOS 62GS I have ever seen but the asking price was outside of my price range. There were lots of nice models available but the only purchase I made was a NOS bracelet for a 6217 World Timer.

I continued north of the city and stopped off at the Minoo Hard Off store. Here I picked up a SBDW001 (5M45-6A50) titanium Flight Master from 1999. This did not have the original bracelet but was very cheap.

I also stopped by the earby 2nd Street store but they did not have anything interesting so I headed back to town and then caught the Shinkansen back to Tokyo.

On Friday morning I caught the train to Higashi-Mukojima Station and walked to the Seiko Museum. Along the way I noted that there was a new building that had been completed since my last visit so I took a photo and have updated the shot on the Seiko Museum Directions and Booking Information page.

When I arrived at the Museum I met with a couple of the staff there that I know very well. I did a quick bit of research and then took a look around the museum to see any changes and updates that had been made. The most obvious change was on the second floor as the formation of melted pocket watches that resulted from the great Kanto earthquake and subsequent fires has now been relocated to the Seiko Dream Square in Ginza. Previously this item had been on display in a case at the museum but at its new location in the SDS viewers are able to easily see all sides of it as this is now housed in a cabinet with all glass sides. At the museum in its place is now a video screen showing the melted watches and a description of the item.

Another new museum exhibit is a display is focused on the Seiko “Contemporary Master Craftsman” award winners. This is an award that was founded by the Japanese Ministry for Health, Labour and Welfare in 1967 and is awarded to outstandingly skilled workers who are considered to be leaders in their field. Since the awards inception more than thirty Seiko Group employees have been recipients.

The display has design sketches of the Credor Fugaku and a modern VFA model. There is also a UTD tourbillon movement in a case and some of the custom tools that workers use. In a second case are some examples of the hand engraved movements and dials that have been featured on Credor models. There is photographs of the surfaces of the engravings at 200x and 1000x magnification and a comparison to traditional engraving.

The other thing I was able to see during my visit was a number of different straps and bracelets that I have donated to the museum over the last couple of years. In the diver display I was able to see the original Tropic strap fitted to the 62MAS, the ZLM01 waffle fitted to the 6105-8000 and a chocolate bar strap fitted to the 6159-7000. The only other glaring omission in the display is the 6215-7000 that also needs a ZLM01 waffle strap. I will keep my eyes out for another one of these straps.

In addition to the dive straps I have also donated a number of bracelets to the museum. It was nice to see these fitted to the following models, 1944 R100 ladies high beat, the first Sportsmatic Five, 07ELW 054 Elnix, 56KAW 344 King Seiko Vanac, QFN020 King Quartz and DPZ010 calculator. There were also a couple of Lord Matic 56LMC 010 and 56LMW 010 models that were no longer on display but had been moved back to the collection in storage.

It was great to see these on display and know that visitors were able to see the watches in a state that the original product designers had intended. There are still a few watches on display with incorrect bracelets fitted but I hope to be able to find replacements for them.

Before leaving the museum I donated the NOS bracelet for the 6217 World Time model that I had purchased the previous day. I knew from my previous visits to the museum that they needed this and I am sure it will be a significant upgrade over the bracelet the watch was previously being displayed on.

On Saturday morning I headed to the Tokyo City Flea Market at Oi Racecourse. As always ther was a lot of different stalls and interesting items offered for sale. I picked up a few different watch related tools including a Seiko S-210 case holder. This adjustable case holder is designed to fit various models with different lug sizes ensuring the watch is held firmly when opening the case back.

After the markets I caught the monorail to Hamamatsuchō and noted that while the rail cars had been updated the driver continued to use a Seiko railway pocket watch.

I next headed over to Lemon in Ginza to see if they had anything new that had arrived in the last week. A couple of items caught my eye, the first being a QGA010 (9983-8000) Twin Quartz Superior from 1978. This model has an interesting textured case finish that is extended to the bracelet and even the clasp. This is complemented by a parchment textured dial with individually applied minute markers. The 9983 calibre was first introduced in 1978 and brought Seiko to a new level of accuracy with a rated performance of ±5 seconds a year. This accuracy did not come cheap and it had an original list price of 230,000円.

In addition to the Superior there was also another Twin Quartz model for sale, the CZQ994 (9921-5000) with a golden linen dial from 1981. This was a much more pedestrian model with a calibre rated at only ±20 seconds a year and a relatively affordable list price of 50,000円 when launched.

I do really like the twin quartz models so I walked away with both these models added to my collection. That evening I caught up again with Bill, and his wife, from the GS Owners group and we had a nice dinner at a local restaurant near their home. This was a nice evening out and I showed him my new Superior model I had purchased earlier in the day.

Sunday morning the weather remained cold but I headed back to the Tokyo flea market to hunt for bargains.

This time I managed to find a relatively rare NJJ010 (8123-6000) fob from 1983. The watch was missing the original strap but the simple design should not be too difficult to replicate. I also picked up a 7C43-7010 diver from 1987. This example was in quite good condition but there was some damage to the crown where someone had obviously grasped it with a tool when stuck. The watch was working well and even came with a new DAL1BP strap.

After leaving the Tokyo Flea market I headed over to the Oedo Antique Market Tokyo located at the Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho. This is a market featuring various antique dealers and there is always a number of watch sellers there. While there was plenty to see I did not find anything to purchase at the market.

I next visited WatchCTI in Ginza as there are always numerous high quality models on sale. There was a very nice Seiko Duo Time model in great condition and one of the nicest examples of an early Alpinist I have seen. There was a Seiko Crown with interesting textured dial as well as a wide selection of vintage models from Seiko, Citizen and Orient. In addition to vintage models they also have a small selection of new Seiko stock and some of these are available at very good prices. I did not pick anything up but do regret a little not getting the DuoTime.

In the afternoon I headed over to Nakano Broadway to take a look at the stores there. Broadway features numerous watch stores, antique stores and cube stores, so there is always numerous opportunities to find a few good deals and interesting pieces. I stopped by Jack Road and saw their watches on offer. They have a good range of new models as well as a smaller number of vintage pieces.

During my visit to one of the antique stores I picked up a Seiko SJS048 (7A38-7110) JDM chronograph that was in good condition except for needing a new crystal. I also found a Seiko TYA150 (88-5060) basketball timer that was too cheap to leave in one of the cube stores. These are interesting stopwatches that run at 72,000 bph and are obviously designed for a single specific task.

That afternoon I took the Chūō Express line back towards Shinjuku and saw the driver with his Seiko railway watch located in the dedicated dash cutout. The cutout is illuminated when travelling through tunnels or underground sections of the line.

On Monday I caught a Shinkansen south and then a couple of local trains to Hakone and spent a relaxing day there despite some rain before heading back for a week of work.

After a long week of work I headed back to Tokyo on Saturday morning. The weather was still quite cold with a little bit of wind that was not particularly pleasant. I headed back to Item in Shibuya to take another look at some chronographs. The condition of these was excellent but for some reason the model was not grabbing me so I ended up passing on these.

My next stop was the Komehyo Annex store in Shinjuku. Here they had four examples of Seiko Superior 4883 models. The price on these was reasonable but each had some issue, the example with a nice case had the wrong bracelet, the one with the correct bracelet had a poor case and the golden model did not have a bracelet but had a replacement strap. As the store was not willing to swap components between the watches I passed on these.

I then headed to the main Komehyo store in Shinjuku. At this store they had the single example of a Superior QNL020 (4883-8001) from 1976, and it was in excellent condition and was fitted with the original bracelet. If you have never seen an example in person it is difficult to understand the level of finishing on the model with zaratsu polished case surfaces and very sharp angles. When viewed off axis the polished surfaces appear black and as the case is made from a hardened stainless steel it has managed to remain almost blemish free.

The price on this example was very reasonable so I added another Superior model to my collection.

I woke up early and headed to the Tokyo Flea Market at Oi Racecourse. The weather had cleared up and it was a nice sunny day so there were a lot of vendors present. While browsing the stalls I found a seller who seemed to have numerous items from a old watch and optical store. I managed to pick up a Seiko Unique from 1958 in near NOS condition that just needs a strap to be added as it came on a narrow expansion bracelet.

The seller also had a range of promotional tie clips and keyrings from Citizen and Orient, these were generic brand items but a couple of the Orient items were specifically produced to promote the 100 jewel Orient Grand Prix model. In addition to the key rings and clips there were also a couple of packs of Citizen promotional cards.

Additionally I managed to pick up a Seiko store display tray likely from the late 60’s or early 70’s. This has a grey fabric surface and painted surround with a Seiko plaque on the front. There were also a couple of Seiko boxes designed to ship watches to the dealers. These included a Sportsmatic Five Deluxe box that would have held five watches and a Seiko Unique box that would have held six watch heads, and this still contained a few of the original shipping bags for the watches. As the box states it is for stainless steel 13 ½ ligne Unique models this may have been the original box for the Unique I purchases, that watch obviously has a stainless steel case and the case code states J13001 indicating that the movement is 13 ½ size i.e. 29.6mm (J indicates a half and the next two digits the size in ligne).

Continuing around the market I managed to also pick up a couple of NOS Alba models. One was an Alba AKA AMBX001 (V733-5A40) with a nice faceted crystal, while the other was a simple digital model with original box, paperwork and degraded strap. Neither models were running but when I got home they both fired up right away with a new battery. I also picked up an Alba Edit for a couple of dollars that matches an Edit key ring watch I already have.

One of the stands at the market had a Seiko watch display stand, this appeared to be new and was reasonably priced but quite large and would not easily have fit into my luggage, so I left this for someone else to purchase. Walking around the markets there were numerous vendors with lots of watches, this is not unusual and often a good opportunity to find some cheap parts.

After leaving the markets I caught an older model monorail and as always the driver was using his Seiko pocket watch to check timing.

I next moved to Akiba to visit the Yodobashi store where I picked up another couple of Seiko DAL1BP straps as these always come in handy for older divers. I also picked up a Seiko S-914 screwdriver and an A-SA14301 awl, I find the Seiko tools to be good quality and reasonably priced. When I left the store I noticed that Seiko was advertising on a large screen at the station exit on the Tsukuba Express line side. The display showed a series of Seiko adverts highlighting Presage, Prospex, Lukia and Grand Seiko.

I also stopped by the Akiba cube stores again but there was nothing new or interesting to be found on this visit.

Wrapping up the day I visited a new store I had not been to before, Select Watch in Ueno. The store had a range of both international as well as domestic vintage watches. There were a number of divers, a 10th anniversary LandMaster model, and multiple chronographs. I ended up purchasing a JDM 6139-7010 Speed Timer from 1970. The hands on this example are in need of some support but the price reflected this issue and hopefully can be rectified relatively easily.

The other item that I managed to get from Select was an extremely unusual Grand Seiko promotional item. This appears to have been manufactured by a prominent dealer in the early 1970’s and not an official Seiko promotional item. The unit is a cigarette case holder that has a built in ash compartment on one side. The unit came with the original manual and is in NOS condition. The front of the case has the Grand Seiko logo but if you slide out the cigarettes you expose a line drawing of a topless lady wearing a flower print bikini bottom.

This is obviously a very 1970’s design and extremely rare. I had only ever previously seen photos of a single other example before seeing this unit in person. As it was very unusual I decided I had to add this to my collection.

That essentially finished my trip to Japan as the next couple of days I was tied up with work and could not spend any free time before heading home. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Japan and look forward to when I am next able to visit.

To help people locate some of the stores and destinations I describe in this article I have put together a map marking the different specific locations. This map can be found HERE.