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All You Need to Know About Seiko’s First High-End Watch
A watch is an indispensable accessory for many people because it can tell the time while functioning as a fashion piece. For this reason, all watch enthusiasts go the extra mile to get the best watches, typically from luxury brands. There are many luxury watch brands, but few can compare to Seiko.
Seiko is a Japanese watch brand that has been around for more than 140 years. Seiko has developed a reputation for quality, precision, and reliability during this time, which made it one of the most respected names in the watch industry. Of course, all watch companies have started from humble beginnings, including luxury pieces. This is the Lord Marvel watch for Seiko, which propelled the company to greater heights and made it known in high-end circles. Few people know about the Lord Marvel Watch, so we will discuss the details in this article.
How Seiko’s Lord Marvel Started
In 1958, Seiko launched the Lord Marvel, their first high-end luxury watch model, followed by the Grand Seiko First in 1960. These two releases by Suwa Seikosha marked Seiko’s entrance into the high-end watch market. To differentiate the products from the rest of the Seiko range, the company added the Special Dial logo on the dials of their finest watches, located above the six o’clock position. This symbol was a sign of the watch’s exceptional quality and design.
What Is the Special Dial?
The Special Dial logo is an octagonal, sun-shaped symbol printed on a watch’s dial. It is usually placed at 6 o’clock and indicates that the watch’s index is made of 18k or 14k solid yellow gold (or 14k white gold for stainless steel cased watches). This was created by members of the Swiss Watch Industry in the 1970s and is similar to the Sigma dial. The sigma sign, seen in watches produced by renowned brands such as Rolex, Patek, and Vacheron, was typically located at the bottom of the dial near the “Swiss” or “Swiss Made” label. This symbol indicated that the watch components, including the hour and minute hands, were crafted with genuine gold.
However, the Special Dial logo is not the only unique logo. One example is the Applique Dial logo, which indicates that the dial was made from a material such as enamel or plastic. In contrast, the Extra Dial logo indicated that the watch featured an extra dial, often for a second time zone or different function.
Seiko watches feature the SD logo and a unique process called 植字 “shokuji”, which is Japanese for ‘planted index’. In this process, hour markers are inserted into the dial with pins, also known as ‘ashi’ or legs. This is a time-consuming and labour-intensive procedure, but it gives the watch a more refined look. This process, known as shokuji planting, involved two holes in the back of the dial where the index was inserted. Many of the AD dials featured the shokuji-planted index, but not all. However, none of the ED dials had this type of index, as the markers were simply glued onto the dial.
The Lord Marvel’s Special Dial
When Seiko released the Lord Marvel in 1956, it was the first watch to have the Seiko Special Dial logo. This early version of the Lord Marvel was equipped with a 17-jewel movement and did not feature the SD logo, instead having “17 jewels” and “anti-shock” or “diashock” printed near the 6 o’clock marker.
The 19-jewel Marvel was introduced in the summer of 1957 but did not have the “Special Dial” logo. The 21-jewel model, rarer than the 19-jewel, was recorded in Seiko’s dealers’ catalogue in July 1957 but then disappeared until it was reintroduced in December 1958 as a cheaper alternative to the Lord Marvel, which had been released earlier that year.
The Special Dial gradually disappeared around 1964, with the AD or ED logo appearing instead on the dials. Seiko used either SGP or “strong” gold plating or rhodium plating for the indexes, which Seiko created in 1963. The material’s durability proved valuable in Japan’s humid summers and had a finish close to the SD dials’ solid gold.
Are Special Dials Still Around?
Few people in Japan know of the distinctions between the SD, AD, and ED logo dials on Seiko watches. As a result, the price difference between these versions of the same model (like the Liner or Gyro Marvel) is small. This contrasts sharply with when these models were first released when the SD variation commanded a price roughly ¥1,000 more expensive than the other two. In today’s currency, this amounts to over ¥16,000 (or $150). In other words, while the Special Dial is still around, it is not as sought after compared to when it was first released. Regardless, any watch enthusiast can appreciate the beauty of a vintage Seiko with a unique dial.
Seiko’s Lord Marvel is a classic watch still highly sought after today, and some consider its unique dials to be the cream of the crop. While the price difference between these versions of the same model is not as valuable as it once was, anyone can still appreciate the beauty of a vintage Seiko. If you get a Lord Marvel watch, you will be in for a treat because you will have a piece of history on your wrist.
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