Grails: I Finally Found My Holy Grail Watch. Here’s Why I Didn’t Buy It.

I’ve executed the vast majority of my antique watch buying groceries at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Marketplace, a large selection of tented stalls that promote the whole lot from unique flora and fauna to artisanal cleaning soap. That marketplace taught me extra about antique watches than any web page or mag.

Chatuchak Marketplace is filled with abnormal and old watch-related paraphernalia.

I purchased a Seiko 6306 on the marketplace to compare my old SRP775.

I visited a couple of dozen antique watch sellers bi-weekly when I lived in Thailand, from 2010-2016, and over time, they began to know my style and put watches apart for me. On every occasion they would ask what I was once on the lookout for despite the fact that, I’d inform them the similar factor: The elusive Seiko Yellow Monster. A 300-piece restricted version that was once launched on the Bangkok Fair in 2004; I’ve beloved it since I noticed it at the boards in 2006.

It is arduous to forget about the LIMITED EDITION textual content at the dial.

It had the whole lot a neophyte collector may ask for: It was once identical to the Orange and Black Monsters that I owned and beloved, apart from it featured a colourful number one yellow dial with “LIMITED EDITION” in vivid purple, in conjunction with a cyclops over the date. Within was once a 7S36, a movement analogous to the workhorse 7S26, however with 23 jewels as an alternative of 21. A part of the enchantment was once the  all-capital difference of getting “LIMITED EDITION” prominently displayed in alarming purple textual content. Rear then, understanding you had a restricted watch wasn’t any a laugh until everybody else knew you had a limited-edition watch, too.

My assortment, circa 2006, integrated a wholly usual Black Monster and an Orange Monster I had changed with a black bankruptcy ring and Watchadoo strap.

Ahead of I moved to Bangkok and began on the lookout for the watch in earnest, I noticed them arise for transaction at the boards each from time to time. First they have been indexed for simply over one thousand bucks within the mid-aughts, then a yr or two later for approximately $2,000. This was once throughout a time when a typical orange or black monster was once kind of $200. The Yellow Monster was once a grail of mine, however greater than a grand for a 7S26-based Seiko? No approach.

When I did tick, I foolishly assumed that being in Thailand would permit me to avoid any digital platforms and simply purchase the watch directly from some of the stalls I visited. Thailand’s watch amassing scene nonetheless relied closely on in-person buying and selling and had shifted over to digital only lately. Perhaps I’d snag a Yellow Monster earlier than it ever hit the Web.

Through 2012, Seiko was once obviously taking the Monster in a brand new path, with the second one technology “Fang” dial, signaling {that a} fashion just like the Yellow Monster was once on its approach out. Even earlier than the advent of the “softened” second-generation Monsters, the “Vintage Monster” restricted editions began to turn into idiosyncratic and thematically obtuse for my style. The “Zamba” with its PVD case and multi-color indices gave approach to the second-generation restricted version “Solar Monster,” with a obtrusive solar motif at the dial. Seiko took the restricted version Monsters in a path a long way from the powerful and succesful platform traits that made it some of the easiest worth buys within the early aughts.

The “Zamba” made nice use of coloration.

The “Solar Monster” was once an excessively particular watch.

The extra the Monster developed, the extra sexy the Yellow Monster become. All of sudden, a few thousand dollars did not appear completely unreasonable. Nonetheless, in 2016, I left Thailand with no Yellow Monster.

The Yellow Monster applied a mineral sapphire as an alternative of a Hardlex sapphire, usual on regular-production Monsters.

When I returned to Bangkok previous this yr, the watch scene at Chatuchak Weekend Marketplace was once completely decimated by means of Covid-19. I wandered across the once-bustling marketplace and located only one open stall with Seikos, and I made positive to invite him if he had a Yellow Monster, only for the heck of it. He did not.

Each unmarried this kind of stalls was swarmed with antique watches, consumers, and dealers within the pre-Covid-19 technology. Now the steel doorways are pulled down and there is nary a client in sight, because of draconian rules.

I meandered additional in the course of the marketplace, previous the pulled-down doorways of the department stores that had long past digital or long past away, to a small store promoting new Seikos. With not anything to lose, I figured I’d shoot my shot. “Do you may have a Yellow Monster?” I requested. After being advised “no” loads of occasions, it was once nearly a funny story, but it surely additionally become a regimen.

The vendor at the back of the counter leaned in and advised me to come back round to the opposite aspect of his stall and look forward to a minute. The small crystal show case to the aspect of his store was once stuffed with uncommon Seikos relationship back to the mid-2000s.

I was once about to get fortunate.

Any other store proprietor named New emerged with a black cardboard box in-hand, and he gently put it at the show case in entrance of me. He spread out the box and inside of was once a old stock but new Yellow Monster, entire with the hangtags and all of the documents. I was once completely beside myself. In spite of everything those years of looking out, the watch that haunted my goals was once in entrance of me and the only factor setting apart us was once a big amount of cash. The fascinating bit concerning the Yellow Monster is that you’ll’t go surfing to a pre owned watch web page and in finding one, even though it’s overpriced. There merely are too few of them that arise for transaction.

New, the store proprietor and Seiko restricted version collector extraordinaire.

“So how a lot do you need for this unhealthy boy?” I requested.

“248,000 baht,” New mentioned.

Glance how the box has elderly over nearly 20 years.

I did a snappy psychological calculation and concept to myself, “No approach, that cannot be. That is greater than seven grand USD!” My first intuition was once that the vendor misspoke and supposed one thing nearer to $800. All of us make errors like that.

However this wasn’t considered one of them. He did certainly need $7,962. He typed the determine in Thai Baht out at the calculator and confirmed it to me to verify.

I requested New why he was once charging such a lot for the watch and he identified that it’s quantity 168, and particular to Chinese language creditors. Curious, I gave it a snappy Google. “168” is pronounced in Catonese as “yi lieu ba,” which sounds similar to “yi lu fa,” which means “one trail to prosperity.” Within the Chinese language custom, it is believed that proudly owning issues with this quantity will carry you nice fortune and success.

It is in my hands, the watch I’ve lusted for these kinds of years. However now what?

However my very own success had run out. Until a bag stuffed with $5,000 fell from the sky at that very moment, it was once simply far more than I was once prepared to pay. However one thing else came about when I put the watch on my wrist; one thing I wasn’t essentially anticipating.

After after all retaining it in my hands finally those years, I was once rapidly rotated off by means of the watch. The “LIMITED EDITION” at the dial felt like a sports automotive from the ’80s that wore a badge that mentioned “gas injected” or “automatic transmission.” My tastes in maximum issues have developed since ‘06, though my appreciation for pop punk from the era certainly hasn’t waned, so why wouldn’t my style in watches? Maximum modern watches I personal are moderately subdued, and this was once simply old sufficient for me to nonetheless believe it modern, however too younger for me to experience dressed in one thing so vivid and flashy, like I would a scotchlite-dial dive watch from the ’60s or ’70s.

I passed it back and walked away.

I’m now not going to fake that the giant asking worth wasn’t the principle reason why, however I’d merely outgrown the watch. Looking one down was once way more thrilling than in reality having it on my wrist. The watch got here to constitute a time in my existence and a time in my amassing adventure as an alternative of one thing that I’d in reality wear.

I took one just right ultimate take a look at the watch earlier than passing on it. I knew it will be an extended, lengthy time earlier than seeing this kind of once more.

I got here to appreciate that I hadn’t actually been on the lookout for the watch for all the ones years – I’d been looking to recapture that infectious pleasure of finding watches, devouring obscene quantities of data on the web, researching difficult to understand restricted editions from far off lands, and connecting with others who have been doing the similar factor.

I will have in the end handed at the watch, however I had a ton of a laugh looking for it. The “new me” is aware of that possession is puffed up, anyway. Arising a dating – an obsession even – with a watch that you do not personal turns out dangerous to start with, however whenever you come round to working out {that a} watch is solely a vessel for one thing higher, it is simply as simple to experience it from afar. However hell, that does not imply I would not purchase a Yellow Monster for the precise worth nowadays. Let me know if you happen to’d love to make a deal.

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