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

By Cole Pennington

I’ve done the majority of my vintage watch shopping at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market, a massive collection of tented stalls that sell everything from exotic wildlife to artisanal soap. That market taught me more about vintage watches than any website or magazine.

Chatuchak Market is full of odd and old watch-related paraphernalia.

I bought a Seiko 6306 at the market to match my old SRP775.

I visited about a dozen vintage watch dealers bi-weekly when I lived in Thailand, from 2010-2016, and over time, they started to understand my taste and put watches aside for me. Whenever they’d ask what I was looking for though, I’d tell them the same thing: The elusive Seiko Yellow Monster. A 300-piece limited edition that was released at the Bangkok Fair in 2004; I’ve loved it since I saw it on the forums in 2006.

It’s hard to ignore the LIMITED EDITION text on the dial.

It had everything a neophyte collector could ask for: It was just like the Orange and Black Monsters that I owned and loved, except it featured a vibrant primary yellow dial with “LIMITED EDITION” in bright red, along with a cyclops over the date. Inside was a 7S36, a movement analogous to the workhorse 7S26, but with 23 jewels instead of 21. Part of the appeal was the all-capital distinction of having “LIMITED EDITION” prominently displayed in alarming red text. Back then, knowing you had a limited watch wasn’t any fun unless everyone else knew you had a limited-edition watch, too.

My collection, circa 2006, included a totally standard Black Monster and an Orange Monster I had modified with a black chapter ring and Watchadoo bracelet.

Before I moved to Bangkok and started looking for the watch in earnest, I saw them come up for sale on the forums every now and again. First they were listed for just over a thousand dollars in the mid-aughts, then a year or two later for about $2,000. This was during a time when a standard orange or black monster was roughly $200. The Yellow Monster was a grail of mine, but more than …read more      

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