More Ceverts to the grid

Someone pointed out that if you Google “International Pogue Day” then the top hit is on this site – in one of the many posts about Seiko’s “Pogue” family and in particular the one from 2019 which talked about International Pogue Day. This is a community-led attempt to get Pogue fans the world over wearing their watches on 16th November and celebrating the anniversary of the blast-off mission to Skylab, on which a certain Col. William Pogue was aboard.

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Since last writing about Pogues, I’ve acquired a few more, this time adding a couple of Americans to the mix. The first was a 6139-6005 from July 1971.

The –6005 variants sold in the Americas have a slightly different dial layout than those that went everywhere else – the text below SEIKO says simply “AUTOMATIC” rather than “CHRONOGRAPH | AUTOMATIC” as –6000 and –6002 versions do; it also has the mark of “17J” below the centre, and the dial code on the lower right is 6009T, unlike the –6000 which would be 6030T.

Nobody seems to know why SEIKO felt it necessary to leave out the word CHRONOGRAPH from American watches. Also, even in earliest form, no American watch was marked WATER 70M PROOF – they’re all “RESIST”.

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The –6005 was thought to have been produced from 1971-73, and is in fact the version that Pogue himself wore (though it was a yellow dial one). Some collectors happily refer to any Seiko 6139-600x as a “Pogue” while others insist that only a yellow –6005 can be called that, or at least refer to them as “True Pogues”. Oh and the nearer the serial number is to 190945 (indicating Sept 1971 manufacture) then the closer your watch is to the “Pogue” Pogue (this is getting silly – like Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” Daytona).

When Seiko started advertising the 6139 in the late 1960s, it’s quite possible they expected the blue-dial watch to be more popular and the very first ads featured the blue watches. Only blue and yellow variants were officially available; the silver version has never appeared in a Seiko catalogue so was thought to have been a special order. They were aimed at action men…

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This –6005 came to me in pretty good shape on its original bracelet, though it’s not running too well, so is currently in the queue for sending to my favoured watchmaker. He only wants 2 watches at a time from me, so I need to batch them up…

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Long-term readers may recall the association with the blue-dial 6139-600x and another famous and sadly deceased racing driver – Francois Cevert – so rather than saying this is a “Blue Pogue”, let’s call it a Cevert. That’ll keep the pedants at bay.

The blue watch in the advert above, and the 1970 “PROOF” –6000 that I had already, both have a distinctive notch above the crown and a 2-piece chronograph hand denoted by the steel centre; both are indicators of the watch having a 6139A movement, which is marginally thinner than the 6139B that replaced it.

You’ll never see a 6139B watch in a notched case (unless the notch was made by some unscrupulous sort, with a Dremel, as the genuine notched case is too small to take a 6139B movement), though you often see 6139A watches in non-notched cases and with single-piece (all red) chrono hands.

… like this corker.

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It’s a pretty unusual American market watch, a 6139-6007.

These were only ever made with a blue dial, and only for a few months it seems. This one came from January 1971, and has a 6139A movement and RESIST dial.

Nobody seems to know where or why the 6007 was sold; the –6000 range was never available in the US, but the –6009 was sold in 1970 with a 6139A movement, 2-piece chrono hand, a notched case and a RESIST dial. Ultimately, the –6005 replaced the –6009, and completed the transition to 6139B movement, so the –6007 is some kind of half-way house. The same dial and movement as the –6009, but the slightly larger case of the  –6005 and (probably) a 1-piece chronograph hand (though it’s hard to know as the 2-piece hands would often have been replaced during a previous service). All 6139-6007s seem to have an English/Spanish day wheel, so it’s possible it was intended for the Latin American market.

 

The lineage of the 600x appears to be:

6139-6000 – available in Japan (as a Speed Timer) with 6030TAD and 6030T dials, and in export markets with 6030T dials and 70M PROOF dial text. 6139A movement, notched case, 2-piece chrono hand. Early 1969 – mid 1970 (exactly when seems to vary depending on the dial colour).
Available only in blue & yellow in JDM and for export markets, and for Hong Kong market only, the rare 70M PROOF silver dial, with Chinese/English day wheels.

6139-6009 – effectively the American version of the –6000 – Seiko seem to use the last digit in the reference number to denote regional versions, such as the 6105-8119 in the US but –8110 elsewhere, ie the “Captain Willard”. Probably available late 69/early 70 until early 71. 6009T dial, RESIST, no-notch, 6139A movement and 2-piece chrono hand. Definitely only ever blue or yellow; there has never been a silver “2-line” (ie no “CHRONOGRAPH” text) 6139-600x.

6139-6001 – replaced the –6000 in overseas markets, 6030T dial, 6139A movement with 2-piece chrono hands, but non-notched case. It’s possible that the transition to 6139B movement and 1-piece chrono hand happened while still being marked as –6001. Available from mid 1970 until (possibly) early 1971; available in all 3 colours. All marked 70m RESIST (notice the transition from 70M to 70m when moving PROOF->RESIST)

6139-6007 – could be seen as the American equivalent of the 6001, but for some reason was only ever blue, and probably only from November 1970 to January 1971. All were marked 70m RESIST, the majority had 6139A movements though at least one 6139B exists and almost all have Spanish/English day wheels. It’s always possible that a day wheel has been transplanted during a service, and it’s also possible that a movement swap could have occurred at some point. I’m sticking to the rule that these are all for the Latin American market.

6139-6002 – replaced the transitional 6001 in early 1971; still marked 70m RESIST until mid/late 1972, then had no text at 9 o’clock. Both 6030T and 6030R dial variants were available in all 3 colours, RESIST and no-text, overlapping for a good portion of the time from 1972 – 1976 or so. Generally speaking, earlier watches are more likely to have 6030T dials and later ones 6030R, but there’s no hard rule. The very latest -6002 is 1977.

6139-6005 – the equivalent of the 6002 for the American market. Only says AUTOMATIC under the Seiko logo and was RESIST until mid 1972 then no text. Most if not all had 6009T dial codes; I’m dubious about 6009R as there are definitely fakes of that combination around, but have little experience with the 6005 variants as they don’t crop up in Europe very often. It’s reckoned that the -6005 was only made until 1973 at which point, maybe the -6002 took over for American sales.

The Seiko museum has no information to hand about the –6007, but I was hoping to solve the “where did the –6007 go on sale” conundrum with this watch, as it came with box and papers…

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… but sadly, the purchase details were never filled out. Argh!

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The 1st Chronograph from Japan

I fell so deep into many rabbit holes when learning about Seiko watches, largely because they had so many watch lines and lots of curious and interesting developments.

As well as the release of the World Time range – to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics of October 1964 – Seiko also released the first chronograph watch that came from Japan, in celebration of their role as timing sponsor of the Games.

The very first of the chronographs were “monopushers” – the single button started, stopped and reset the chronograph timing hand, and there was no sub-dial. Normally, a chronograph watch will have a means of visibly timing the seconds – or parts of a second – and then will also allow the counting of minutes and maybe hours.

In the case of the original Seiko chronograph, the “stopwatch” function went up to one minute, so either you could only time things up to 60 seconds, or you’d have to remember how many times the hand went around the dial. Not a problem if you’re timing short races, but more of an issue if you want to time a marathon.

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This particular one came to me on its original bracelet – a really rare thing, since it has 18mm lug width end-links, vs the 19mm ones the same bracelet would be seen with on World Times. It’s even very rare on those…

This is a “45899” chronograph, originally with a silver dial, and it hails from August 1964. It has a 5719 movement.

There’s a little damage on the dial, and instead of a silver dial, it has a pretty even bronze tint – age-related discoloration or “patina”. I really like the look of it.

IMG_20190810_140901_027The bezel around the outside on the early watches was made of plastic – bakelite – and is really fragile. A savvy user could manually move the bezel to count minutes – the simplest way of doing so would be to move the bezel so that the “0” marker points to where the minute hand is when you start your timing, then the watch’s own minute hand will do the counting, at least up to one hour…

Another variant of the same movement came out, in the shape of the 5717 – with an added date display at 3 o’clock. That watch came with a steel bezel in place of the plastic one in the 5719, and was available in silver and grey dials – like the 45899 / 5719 – though it seems the dark dial is rarer.

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This one is  bit later – it’s from April 1966 and still features the Olympic torch, though it’s stamped rather than etched (as on the earlier 5719, which has worn and faded to the point where it’s hard to see).IMG_20190927_095329_LI (2)

This one came to me on a “beads of rice” bracelet which probably isn’t original, though it could be – it fits well. The watch is in fantastic condition.

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So we had a 5719 then a 5717. There was another – a 5718, with an additional pusher and a “golf counter” / lap counter, as well as a sub-dial for minutes. 

They were very limited in number (rumoured there were only 50), and so they change hands – occasionally – for a lot of cash.

Bonhams featured a 5718 in their first Seiko dedicated auctionsold for £13K, no less.

Seiko. A Stainless Steel Manual Wind Chronograph Bracelet Watch, 1964 Tokyo Olympics Officials' Watch with Lap Counter, Ref.5718-8000, No.4705196

Another Seiko chronograph, from Daini

I’ve not been writing very much over the last year, but I have still been collecting (and in a few cases, disposing of) watches.

A recent addition has been yet another Seiko chronograph, but a real diversion from my norm. Most of my interest in Seiko chronographs centre around those with the 6139 and 6138 movements, both related and featured in numerous previous posts. The 6139 famously went into space on the wrist of Col Pogue, and was arguably the very first automatic chronograph to reach the market. The 6138 movement added another dial (to count hours of the chrono running) and the ability to be hand-wound as well as automatic.

But a little-known (to non-Seiko-nerds at least) historical curiosity was that in the golden years of the 1960s and 70s, Seiko ran two competing factories – Daini (near Tokyo) and Suwa, an offshoot near Nagano, about 150 miles away. The arrangement started as an attempt to have one established factory continue to churn out worthy and popular timepieces, while a more pushy bunch could do more innovative and off-the-wall things, and keep both honest. Both factories were encouraged to compete with each other for the same space, while (for the most part) sharing nothing – no designs, no parts – when developing their own ranges. There’s a really great podcast from Atlassian which looks at the history of the competition between the factories – Seiko’s Duelling Factories – Teamisty Podcast – Work Life by Atlassian.

Daini watches had a lightning-bolt type logo, while Suwa watches wore a different logo on the dial and on the caseback – as seen on the silver-dial Pogue, just between the hands and the subdial:

 

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As time went on, the upstart Suwa Seikosha ran the Grand Seiko line and produced the 6138 and 6139 watch families, whereas the more established Tokyo Daini pushed the boundaries of timekeeping accuracy with its high-beat King Seiko range and also developed its own automatic chronograph movement – the 7016.

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The 7016 movement arrived a couple of years after the 6139, and watches that feature it are much less popular than its Suwa sister, so you see them pop up for sale a lot less regularly. At one time this meant they were probably cheaper but that may be changing as finding good ones takes a while.

There are so many differences in the movement itself – the sub-dial on the 7016 having 2 hands, one which shows elapsed minutes that the chronograph has been running, and the other showing how many hours, but there are subtle differences too – compared to the 6139’s 30-minute only chrono, or the 6138 needing two subdials to show the 12 hour count. Also, the minute hand on the 7016 chrono dial “sweeps”, meaning that as the chrono seconds hand ticks round, the minute hand is gradually moving all the time. On the 6139, the minute hand ticks or “jumps”.

In many ways, the 7016 movement is more advanced and made to a higher level than the 6139, and for a good while it was the thinnest automatic chronograph with a vertical clutch mechanism (that’s splitting hairs, isn’t it…)

The Monaco

This particular watch is a 7016-5000 from August of 1972 (the 701x family were made from 1971 to 1978), and has earned the nickname “Monaco” given its passing square-faced similarity to the Heuer Monaco. The case size is a good bit smaller in every dimension than the Heuer. Here it is next to a modern blue-dial Monaco, a CAW211P…

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I used to have a grey-dial Monaco, CAW211B but that has flown the nest, so I couldn’t compare it side-by-side. There was also a CAW211C produced with a silver dial, that’s possibly closest in look to the Seiko in question here.

Making any square-dial watch presents problems around water ingress, since the shape means the corners are more likely to be breached by water or just atmospheric moisture – one reason why a lot of vintage Heuer Monacos have perished dials because the gasket that goes between the dial and the crystal disintegrates and lets in water.

The Seiko 7016-5000 Monaco has quite an unusual case arrangement – rather than having a case back that screws or pops off, the whole top separates by pressing in a couple of latches on the main case, leaving the movement and dial held into the monocoque – you need to press a lever through a little notch on the dial at 2 o’clock; that lets the stem pull out, and that allows the movement to drop out.

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International Pogue Day – 16th November

I like a nice Pogue, as the many posts on here will attest. Every watch collector who has a soft spot for the Omega Speedmaster should get themselves a Pogue as well, as the size, weight and look of them are just right, IMHO.

If you’ve lived under a rock, the tl;dr version of events was that Col William Pogue, an astronaut with NASA, went into space to the final Skylab mission, blasting off at just after 2pm UTC on 16th November 1973. The crew spent what was then a record amount of time in space (84 days), and also changed NASA’s way of dealing with astronauts, by going on strike for a day and switching off the radio link with Mission Control. None of the crew went back to space, so maybe NASA didn’t like their insubordination…

Anyway, years later, an eagle-eyed watch fan spotted Pogue was wearing something other than an Omega Speedmaster (the standard issue timepiece for astronauts, normally worn on a velcro strap), and wrote to Pogue (now since RIP) to ask him what it was. Turns out it was a Seiko chronograph he’d bought when his training started, and since he used it throughout and only got his NASA-issue Speedmaster late in the process, he decided to take it with him into space. There are several photos of him wearing the Speedmaster on his right wrist and the steel-braceleted, yellow-faced Seiko on the left. The Seiko was therefore calculated to be the first automatic chronograph watch worn in space.

As a result, the Seiko 6139-600x is collectively known as the “Seiko Pogue”, though some hair-splitters will insist that only the yellow-faced watch can be called that (there being no such thing as a “Blue Pogue” or a “Silver Pogue”), or even that only the 6139-6005 (which did not say CHRONOGRAPH on the dial, only SEIKO and AUTOMATIC) can be called “Pogue”, or sometimes referred to as a “True Pogue”. If you want to be extra nerdy, you could say that only a yellow –6005 with WATER 70m RESIST on the dial at 9 o’clock can be called a Pogue, since that’s closest to what he actually wore.

Pogues Gallery

As well as Nick’s lovely Pogue (reckoned by the watchmaker who serviced it to be among the very best he’s seen), and the various others already featured on here, several others have passed through my hands.

Above, a 1972 6139-6030R dial variant, and on the right, a 1971 -6030T.

Here is an R-dial from May 1975 which I bought, had serviced, put on a new bracelet (a bit of a naff aftermarket one that felt cheap if I’m honest) but passed on to a fellow watch fan who saw it listed on eBay but came to collect it with cash in hand, and spent a while drinking tea, nattering about watches and cars and stuff. Just the kind of transaction I like.

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And here’s a 1976 T-dial which is in better nick than the ‘75 R, but not as good nick as Nick’s ‘76 T, if you catch my drift. This one has gone to another friend who shall remain nameless, since he hasn’t broken the news to his wife that he’s got a new watch. He carries it out of the house in bubblewrap and a plastic box, and swaps it onto his wrist when safely out of sight.

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So, all of this brings us to the point of the post – in remembering Bill Pogue and linking back to the now-widely-appreciated watch that shares his name, the 16th November has been called out as International Pogue Day. Expect Instagram to have lots of Poguey Pics, and every collector who owns one of these watches is dutybound to wear it on that day.

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Grand Seiko “Snowflake” Spring Drive

Many watch collectors have a shortlist of things they’re on the lookout for, and most will have a “grail” – the one watch they’d like to find above all others. Whilst the subject of this post might not quite reach such mythical status, I think it’s probably my favourite all-round watch and one that I spent a lot of effort, time and – more than I initially intended – money, acquiring.

Grand Seiko was formed in 1960 as a high-end watch maker within the larger Seiko family; the goal was to produce the most accurate timekeeping (often with “hi-beat” movements that oscillated at 33,600 beats per hour – 10Hz – instead of the more pedestrian 19,200 bph that is often seen) and to execute very high-end finishing and clean designs.

Seiko had a good run at making “chronometer” certified watches in the late 1960s – even beating the Swiss at their own game in competitions, to the point where they (Suisse) took their ball away and called the game off.

Grand Seiko is now a discrete brand again, rather than a sub-range of Seiko watches, and they are pushing upmarket in competition with more established brands like Omega and Rolex.

Spring Drive

The Spring Drive watch movement was dreamt up by a young engineer called Yoshukazu Akahane in 1977, and eventually released in 2007. It brings together supposedly the best of a mechanical watch and the precision of a quartz one – the spring that powers the gears in the mechanical movement is regulated by a quartz-timed electronic component that effectively puts the brakes on to control it more precisely.

Read more on Spring Drive here, here and here.

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This particular watch is known as the “Snowflake” due to the surface texture of the dial – said to be reminiscent of the light, powdery snow that falls in the Nagano prefecture, where the factory is. The dial looks like it could be made of paper, but in fact every one is manufactured to look the same – see the article on Hodinkee about the process.

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The whole watch also feels feather-weight as its case and bracelet are made of titanium; compared to the Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow, which has a steel case and bracelet, the Snowflake is 92g vs the Omega’s 156g. That might not sound like a lot, but on the wrist it’s a massive difference.

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The quality of finishing on the GS is nothing short of superb – even the plates and rotor on the movement have been meticulously scalloped and engraved, and visible through the rear display case.

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There are some downsides, though – titanium is a relatively soft metal and therefore can attract scuffs and scrapes. If you look through the various online sales of 2nd hand Snowflakes, many have dings to the bezel and any that have been worn with the bracelet will have “desk diver” marks.

Some would say that Spring Drive is the worst of both worlds, too – it introduced an especially complex mechanism of regulation that makes it harder to service (in fact, they get sent back to the factory for servicing). This particular watch is getting on for 3 years old, which means it probably needs to head to Japan in the next year or so.

Still, the most visible benefit of Spring Drive is the awesome sweep of the second hand – compare to quartz movements where the hand will generally do one tick per second, or even high-beat mechanicals where it might have 10 tiny movements between each second marker, Spring Drive is entirely continuous and entirely smooth. It’s completely mesmerising.

Not all Speedmasters come from Switzerland

In one of my impulsive buying-at-auction moments, I picked up this little watch for what I thought was an OK price (not a bargain, but not bad – all of about £240 incl commission). It wasn’t running properly, so after a while I sent it off for a service and also replaced the crystal; so all in, it owes me about £400 – maybe a 10th what a nice, mid-70s Omega Speedmaster would cost.

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This 7a28-7040 watch is sometimes described (normally by eBayers) as a “Seiko Speedmaster”…

A brief history lesson

The 7a28 movement within was the world’s first analogue quartz chronograph, released in 1980; this particular watch hails from December 1982. Production of the 7a28 watch family carried on until 1991 or 1992, with perhaps the pinnacle being the RAF Gen 1 chronographs from 1989 on: they periodically pop up for sale online, at the going rate of about £1,000, which is small change in Omega Speedmasterland but big money for a quartz Seiko …

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The 7a28 / 7a38 movements were proper things, too – no plastic parts, 15 jewels, you could regulate their timekeeping and the whole thing can be disassembled, cleaned and re-lubricated.

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The Japanese Seiko catalogue from 1983V2 p38 – shows a selection of bizarre looking things designed by Giugiaro (and featured on the wrist of Sigourney Weaver’s character in 1986’s Aliens – in fact, the SAY068 shown below is known as the “Ripley”, and a modern recreation was released in 2015)…

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Seiko sold these watches as “Speedmasters” (that’s the translation of the text headline to the left of the SAY058). Not sure if Omega even noticed at the time, or maybe they didn’t care.

Some JDM examples even had the name on the clasp – it was aimed at young motorbike riders, apparently…

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… while non-JDM ones typically have additional text like SPORTS 100, MIN and 1/10s markings on the dial, and simply Seiko SQ on the bracelet clasp. Many earlier JDM mechanical Seikos were co-branded as Speed-Timer, usually on the dial, though none of the 7a28s seem to have it written up front.​

Another 7a28 watch was also worn by Roger Moore in A View to a Kill, and for the fans of the truly obscure, was featured in They Might Be Giants’ video for “Older” (this bit).

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Back to the present

I managed to acquire another one, this time from November ‘83. It was another impulse buy at auction, thinking that I might combine the best bits of that one with the bits of the one above, as the bezel on the top one is a little beaten up but it has been serviced, and the hands on the new one might be nicer than the first…

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Sure enough, this new one is a little nicer in places but in the end I decided to leave it in one piece. It’s still got the original crystal, which is a bit scuffed but doesn’t harm the watch too much.

Case size is 40mm excl pushers & crown, so it’s notably larger than many of its 7a28 and 7a38 cousins (the 7a38 being a later model that added day & date readout to the 3 o’clock subdial).

Here it is in comparison (L-R) with an Omega Speedmaster 145.022-71, the 7a28-7040, a white-faced 7a38-7190 from 1986 and an issued 7a28-7120 aka RAF Gen 1, from Gulf-war-era Jan 1990.20180905_08563320180905_085612

If you’re interested in reading more about the 7a28 family, check out the really excellent Collectors Guide on The Springbar.

Omega Seamaster “Flat Jedi”

A long time ago, in a land far, far away… there was a guy called Chuck Maddox, who was a fanatical watch collector and one of the first to prolifically publish online about the various things he came across. He died unexpectedly in 2008, and a group of friends collected all of his written work and host it on www.chronomaddox.com.

Chuck liked to give names to watches, and some of his nicknames stuck and are now used routinely when discussing watches, especially when trying to sell them. He bought an Omega Seamaster reference 145.0023 nearly 20 years, with a particular black coating on the steel case and musing that it was the kind of watch Darth Vader would wear, he referred to it as such.

image from http://www.chronomaddox.com/darth_vader.html

As a contrast, the non-plated version of the same watch was nicknamed the Anakin Skywalker – as it hadn’t turned to the dark side, yet…

image from https://www.omegawatches.com/watch-omega-seamaster-omega-st-145-0023

Both of these have a fairly distinctive case shape and coloured dial, but another pair of variants had a similar kind of case and a simpler dial, with reference 145.024 – since they followed the Anakin and Darth, Chuck referred to these as “Jedi”, first his own silver-faced watch:

image from ChronoMaddox.com

… and later, a darker-faced watch which is the main subject of this post…

20180325_125748This watch dates from 1970, and shares the same Lemania-based 861 movement of the Speedmaster of the same era. The dial layout is very similar too, except that the TACHYMETER markings are on the dial itself rather than on a bezel, and the sub-dials are “radial” in the way the numbering is printed, rather than all the numbers being “upright” as they are in Speedmasters…

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The “Jedi” (also known as “Flat Jedi” or sometimes “Real Jedi”) is quite a strangely shaped watch, with a pretty flat profile and quite thin and exaggerated edges that protrude over where the bracelet or strap attaches. The outer surface has a sunburst finish which is a bit worn and scuffed on this watch: it is possible to have it “re-lapped” but that will inevitably remove some of the metal from the watch itself, and once you’ve taken it away it can never really go back…

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it took me a while to find the correct bracelet – a 1116/148 if you must know these things – but I think it looks the part now!

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There’s another square-cased watch that incorrectly is known as the Omega Seamaster Jedi, largely because an auctioneer mistook it and the name stuck: Fratello tells the story here.

If you want a Speedmaster with a radial dial layout, you’ll need to track down a Speedy Tuesday, or the watch that inspired it – and only a couple have legitimately been sold in recent years – the Alaska III, as used on the Space Shuttle.

Seiko Pogue authentication part ii – Dials

Another post on spotting the differences between Seiko Pogue dials. First to understand what is fake, we need to understand what is real.There are numerous variants of dial used throughout the production period of the mainstream 600x range, but they can broadly be broken down into colours of Yellow (or Gold), Blue (or Black) and Silver. There are other variants of JDM-only dials which we’ll come back to later.

Within the 3 colours, again leaving aside SpeedTimers and other JDM watches, there were two main layout variants: the US-market watches which said only AUTOMATIC under the SEIKO logo, and the rest which said CHRONOGRAPH and AUTOMATIC. The former (2-line) dials are referred to on the lower right as -6009 and the 3-line dials are reference -6030.

Following the reference, there is a T or R specification – little is known about when or why Seiko chose to mix the two, but subvariants of both 6009 and 6030 dials appeared alongside each other. Both variants are observed on watches marked WATER 70m RESIST and watches with no markings (but WATER 70M PROOF watches have only been seen with T dials), and both T and R dials were produced fairly late into the cycle (1976 or even after).

Side by side comparison – both 70m RESIST 6139-6002s, the R dial on the left from 1972 and the T-dial from 1971. Both have English/French day wheels.

It appears that T dials were the most prevalent until 1972, and R dials the most numerous afterwards, but authentic watches with T dials have been seen up to ‘76.

Genuine vs aftermarket

Generally speaking, aftermarket dials will look OK in a grainy eBay photo but in hand, compared side by side with a real one, it’ll be obvious they’re different. Things to look out for:

  • The majority of fake dials are 6030R branded. If you see a PROOF marked dial that’s 6030R, it’s almost certainly hookey.
  • Again, PROOF and RESIST marked dials should be on early watches – certainly on or before 1972, so if you see a PROOF marked dial on a watch whose serial number starts 7xxxxx then it’s wrong. Also, the –6009 generation dials didn’t ever have PROOF – they were all RESIST or nothing.
  • A genuine dial will have a 2-digit code printed or etched on its rear – the same 2 digits as the serial number of the case starts with. Obviously, you can’t see them without taking the whole thing to bits, but if you are looking at photos of a watch which has been serviced and you can see the backside of the dial, it could help to assure you that the dial is original
  • The aftermarket dials often have a pronounced concentric circle arrangement on the subdial – there is a subtle sunburst on the real subdials but nowhere near as obvious.

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Fake dial from 2016 eBay watch

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Aftermarket “Seikosis” dial, from eBay 2019


The “T” dials – characteristics

The T suffix dials tend to be more subtle – the sunburst effect on yellow watches in particular is less noticeable, and the colour is lighter than the R dials when placed side by side.

There is a slight gap between “JAPAN” and “6139”, sitting just above the 37 minute marker, and the As in JAPAN have a flat top. The dial code on the right side starts with a dash just above or slightly to the right of the 24 minute marker.

This example is from a -6002 watch from 1976, 6030T dial (so no RESIST), that had a English/French day wheel.

 

Here’s a black/blue dial example, from a -6000 from 1970 (with PROOF dial) and English/Roman day wheel

A rare July 1969 silver PROOF/PROOF -6000, with English/Chinese day wheel.

The A and P of JAPAN sit above the 38 minute marker, though on yellow dials the alignment appears to be slightly different to blue and silver (where A is closer than P to the marke. The placement of the preceding dash of the dial code above the 24 minute mark also differs slightly, where on yellow dials it is slightly to the right but on blue and silver is directly above.

Pogue’s own watch shows both of these attributes – the flat As in JAPAN, the gap between it and 6139, placement above the 38 marker and the – 6009T slightly to the right of the 24.

The “R” dials – characteristics

The gap between JAPAN and 6139 that exists in the T dial is not there, or not so notable, and the As are pointed. The A /P sits above the 38 minute marker and the 6 sits above 37 minutes.

This example is from a -6002 watch from 1975, 6030R dial, that had a English/French day wheel.

Bllue R-dial from 1972

A silver R dial watch bought on eBay in 2017, but arrived damaged so was returned.

The 60 of the dial code sits above the 23 minute marker so further to the right than on T dials.

Seiko Pogue authentication part i – Bezels

I like a nice Pogue. The trouble is, a lot of 6139-600x watches you’ll find on eBay are less than straight – a great many have been put together or at least tarted up with aftermarket parts, accompanied by a description that neatly avoids saying they’ve been prepared. Caveat emptor and all that.

I’m going to share some thoughts on what to look for in finding an authentic Pogue – over time, your eye will just know something doesn’t look right, but it’s useful to have a few rules in mind when assessing a potential watch for purchase.

Condition – is it consistent? Leave aside things like the crystal, which is a consumable, and ask – do the hands and dial match (age-wise; if the hands are bright and clean and the dial is marked and dirty, what does that tell you?). Remember, it doesn’t need to be immaculate … if you’re looking for authenticity, it may be that the flawed and worn, scratched and discoloured watch is the one that is genuine, whereas the shiny and polished one has been built up from a set of parts.

The distinctive “Pepsi” bezel on the 6139-600x Seiko Pogue is quite easy to replace – it pops off with a case knife and pressed on again using a crystal press, so any hamfisted tinkerer could change it. If you see a watch that looks really crisp and clean, and you can tell it’s got a fake/aftermarket bezel on it, then that maybe tells you all you need to know about the rest of the watch, and the seller who hasn’t pointed such a thing out.

The bezels appear to be pretty consistent throughout the watch’s shelf-life, except that some have a square block at the very top of the bezel. Most known aftermarket bezels don’t have a white box under the 60 at 12-o’clock – but since lots of genuine, especially early, watches don’t either (incl Pogues own), and aftermarkets are now showing up with a block, it’s no longer a reliable way to spot them without looking at other evidence.

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Nick’s Pogue, previously discussed – it’s all original

Now, there are several tell-tales in checking if a bezel is real or reproduction:

    • Aftermarket bezels tend to be flat, whereas lots of – but not necessarily all – genuine ones have a noticeable bevelled edge (as you can see in Nick’s example above, along the lower edge of the bezel).
    • There was once a tell-tale about the shape of the 5s – real bezels have 5s that are nearly closed, whereas AM ones were noticeably more open. I don’t think this is reliable now.
    • Some AM bezels don’t have a crisp division between red and blue between the 6 and 0 – it should be straight down the middle, though on a later genuine bezel with the block under 60, the start of the red can look closer to the 6.
    • Some AM bezels have the 80, 85 and 90 very close to – even touching – the edge, but the latest seem to have fixed that, and on old genuine bezels, it can be hard to tell (look at Pogue’s again…)
    • Pretty much visible to the naked eye – the stroke below the 2 of 250 on many aftermarket bezels reaches the end of the 2, whereas on genuine bezels, it doesn’t.
    • The horizontal stroke in 4 in 140 on a genuine bezel should be nearly touching the zero, which means it can look longer than the 4 in 54. This still looks to be the case on the latest fakes, but it’s not jumping-out obvious. The marker at 140 though, on genuine bezels, finishes below the tip of the one and between the 1 and the 4, whereas on the fakes it’s often closer to the 4 and finishes above the 1.
    • The TACHYMETER font is sometimes a bit variable too – on later AM bezels it’s quite close to the markers on the lower edge of the bezel and the lettering is quite square in shape, whereas on genuine bezels the letters are a little taller and there’s a bigger gap between the bottom of the letters and the markers, than there is between the top of the letters and the upper edge.

Some earlier fakes had even taller-looking lettering that was practically touching the upper edge of the bezel so again, there’s little consistency I think.

Let’s look at some examples – here’s an aftermarket bezel from eBay:

AM bezel from ebay

Note the markers under the 250 and above 140.

140 54Now some comparisons – the upper two examples of the 54 and 140 are from good bezels of different ages, and the lower ones are known fakes.

Look at the finish of the marker line above 140 – if you drew a line between the tops of the 1 and the 4, the marker would just dip inside it, more or less in the middle. On aftermarket bezels, it tends to finish higher up, and the lowest point of the marker isn’t in the middle of the 1 and 4.

Here’s the top and sides of a known, good 1970 bezel:

known good bezel from jun 1970

And another, this time with a block:

known good block bezel

Compared to a known aftermarket from eBay, c2016:

known aftermarket from ebay 2016

and the same features from the 2019 eBay one already pictured:

known aftermarket from ebay 2019

How to remove the stuck back of a watch

First of all, ask yourself – do you need to take the back off your watch? In general, you shouldn’t as for most people, taking a watch apart will only lead to it being less good than when it was together. If in doubt, take it to a professional.

That said, watch nerds (WIS’s if you like) quite like looking at the innards of their watch, even if it’s just to photograph the serial number of a new acquisition. If you’re going to send it off to service anyway, there’s maybe lower risk so it can be quite fun.

Get tooled up

There are generally 3 types of watch back – press on, monocoque and screw back.

Those which press on need a knife (or ideally a proper case opener) to prise apart from the case, though some may be held in place with screws. Many cheap quartz watches will have some kind of press-on back, though they’re found on all sorts – usually with a small recess between the lugs that you can insert the knife and twist carefully to pop it off.

Here’s an example – it’s a 1961 Seikomatic “Blue Yacht”, a rare and beautiful little thing that was only made for a year or so.

P1200137 (2)

P1200390

It’s vaguely watertight, but “Waterproof” might be stretching it a bit. Let’s just say, don’t wear it when doing the washing up.

Monocoque or unibody

These are cases where to get the movement out, you need to prise the crystal off the front – an operation very much not for the faint hearted, and one that uses a frankly scary-looking tool called a crystal lift, which is basically used to grab the crystal and deform it in a circular fashion so that it can be separated from the watch.

Here’s a crystal lift in action.

Screw-down cases

By far the most popular, these normally come with notches in the case back to facilitate easy removal, though it’s not uncommon to see them with lairy big scratches that show someone has had a go at getting the back off and it hasn’t worked out.

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Do not ever use a pair of scissors to try this!Image result for watch case back opener

Some people use a 2-prong opener, though if the case back is good and stuck you might be asking for trouble.

Others will rely on a 3-prong job; the width between the two prongs at the top is adjusted with a thumbwheel, and twisting the handle moves the 3rd one up and down. These can be picked up for a few £ on Amazon or eBay if you’re feeling brave.

Like most tools, the cheap ones probably seem like a good idea until you realise that the metal of the prongs is softer than the metal on your watch back, and gives way only to skite across the back and put a nice big gouge.

Unfortunately, some awkward watch manufacturers put screw-down case backs that don’t have notches or anything to gain purchase on – necessitating more serious pressing/rotating tools, or reverting to a rubber ball…

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What to do if your screw-down case back won’t shift?

I’ve had cases where a screw-down case is stuck tight and either won’t shift because it’s got nothing to grip, or it has notches but no amount of pressure with a case back tool was turning it, and I didn’t want to risk engraving the case backs.

So here’s a fairly quick & dirty but effective trick. Clearly, don’t do this unless you’re prepared that it might go horribly wrong. In other words, don’t do it to an heirloom watch worth a fortune. And probably best not to do it in a dusty workshop (ahem).

Put the watch in something secure – ideally a case holder, in a vice.

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Take a 15mm or so socket and put a bead of superglue around the business end of it – ie the thin bit that normally goes over a nut you’re using the socket to work on. If you like, put a little glue on the watch back too. Don’t worry about using speciality stuff – I’ve a pack of 8 little tubes for £1 from a Poundstretcher which do just the job.

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Now press it on and hold it for a few seconds so you’re sure it’s even…

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Leave it for a while – let’s say 30 minutes. Enough time to be sure it’s set nice and tight.

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Now carefully and evenly apply a little force (remember – lefty-loosey, righty-tighty) to get the case back moving.

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When you’re done, the socket will lift the case back off and you might find that no amount of force would get it off.

Pour a little acetone (nail varnish remover) into the socket and leave it for a minute or so.

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Empty out the excess acetone back into the cap of the bottle, attach the socket back on the wrench and give the case back a tap with a rubber mallet or something that will give it a bit of force but not mark it.

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Job done. Now to clean off all the superglue residue using the leftover acetone. Just dampen a bit of kitchen paper or a rag, and give it a good rub. Then use a thumbnail or edge of a credit card to scrape it off – comes away easily and quickly and leaves no mark behind.

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Now that’s magic!