There’s more to a watch than meets the eye. There’s the feel of its click and the sound of its movement—at least if you ask vintage watch collector Sandy Lichauco.
The investment banker regards himself a purist when it comes to collecting timepieces. And like serious collectors, he is particular about quality and accuracy. Unlike most serious collectors, however, Sandy doesn’t stop at the acquisition. He wants to study and understand the intricacies of how each watch works.
Which was what gravitated him towards the 60-year-old Japanese brand Grand Seiko—more than other more popular brands like Rolex, Omega or Patek Philippe. Sandy recently shared his fascination for Grand Seiko to David Celdran of the show Executive Class at ANC.
Grand Seiko has quite a vast lineup. But when Sandy started looking closely at the timepieces, he got particularly drawn to the collection between 1960 to 1975—“a 15-year period that I can study and understand,” he says.
He immediately knew he wanted to complete the collection of that period.
The first piece he got was a pre-owned 57GS in stainless steel. “They call it the Self Dater,” he says. “When you look at it, you can see the way it was polished, the way the case was made.”
According to the brand’s website, this particular timepiece was all about practicality, equipped as it is with a calendar function and an upgraded water resistance—up to 50 meters. It was a workhorse in the office and an elegant companion by night.
At one point, Sandy’s collection of vintage Grand Seiko timepieces reached about 30—“a watch for every day of the month,” as David says—most of them a collectible due to their heritage.
Sandy is in possession of many of the brand’s firsts—which include the 3180 (the first ever GS model), the first automatic (the 6245 GS), the first watch with GMT function, the first piece with the acclaimed 9S caliber, which started Grand Seiko’s mechanical watch production, and the 45GS, which according to the Excutive Class host “beat the Swiss in chronometer accuracy tests.”
Why, of all the watch brands, collect Grand Seiko? Sandy says he likes the fact that the brand maintains a certain standard, “from the way they do their cases, to the way they make the movements, to the way that they want the grade and accuracy of the watches...” Even if you have a 40- or a 50-year old watch, he adds, it remains in pristine condition, the dials are very clean, which speaks volumes of the timepiece’s quality and craftsmanship.
Sandy had to give up some items in his collections in recent years to make room for the modern vintage and contemporary pieces he’s eyeing. Just like any serious collector, Sandy’s eyes are often on the next big get. In this case, it’s the new SLGH003 with the groundbreaking 9SA5 caliber, which Grand Seiko released to commemorate its 60th anniversary.
Screengrabs from Executive Class