Seiko “Bruce Lee” – rare chocolate dial

Watch collectors give names to particular products in a way that the makers would never have expected – usually association with a person or possibly a character. Normally, the producers don’t formally acknowledge such crowd-sourced content, though Omega has done a good job of embracing the #speedytuesday movement through some nice limited edition Speedmasters.

Famously, the Rolex “Paul Newman Daytona” was a particular variant of the Rolex Daytona as worn by Paul Newman, and to date, the one which gave it the name is the most expensive wristwatch ever sold. There’s even another nicknamed Newman watch about to hit the blocks.

Seiko has its fair share of characterised watches – the 6105-8110 dive watch now known as the “Captain Willard” as worn by the eponymous character in Apocalypse Now (a watch which is incidentally on fire; a supposedly “New Old Stock” example sold on eBay for $10K in November 2020).

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And of course, the 6139-600x Colonel Pogue, named after the astronaut who took one into space. There’s another 6139 which is gaining in popularity now – the “Bruce Lee”.

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So-called because of it being worn by the martial arts legend, the “Bruce Lee” aka Seiko 6139-6010 is significant for another reason – that model was the very first automatic chronograph to reach the market, with examples showing up dating from January and February 1969, earlier than the 6139-6000 “Pogue” family, even though the –6010 model number is later.

Seiko model numbering often doesn’t make sense – the 6139 movement with one subdial pre-dated the two-subdial 6138 by a couple of years – why was the latter not 6140?

Anyway, back to Bruce Lee – his was a black-dial watch, sometimes on a funky metal bracelet with large holes.

Here’s an example of a “Bruce Lee” that doesn’t crop up very often – it’s a rare brown dial from late 1969.

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I think that almost all of these variants were produced for the Hong Kong market, and they all date from August 1969 to January 1970, mostly (like this one) from October 69.

There’s no catalogue shots of a brown dial watch anywhere; it seems that this might have been a special order (like the rare Silver 70M PROOF 6139-6000s) in the same way that Luigi Chinetti used to order special models of Ferrari from old man Enzo.

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They have English / Chinese day displays, and they’re all “WATER 70m PROOF” marked, with a 6139A movement. There are some outliers too – the same distributor who’s thought to have made the custom orders from the factory also looks to have sold them in Thailand, with English / Thai date displays.

Most of the time when you see watches with a chocolate dial, it’s because the originally black dial has aged brown – like the Heuer Camaro featured previously. In some cases, an even brown dial makes a vintage watch much more valuable – see Speedmater101 for a discussion of “tropical” dials on Omega Speedmasters.

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But not, it seems, this one. The brown dial 6139-6010 was intended to have that colour from the start, and we know how groovy the colour brown was in the 1970s?

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Other watches of the same era have common “patina” that happens to the dial, especially visible on silver or yellow Pogues, it seems. It’s pretty common to see discoloration around the rim of the sub-dial, where the lacquer was thought to be a little thinner than elsewhere. Over time, the lacquer has started to craze, and maybe the dial discolours at that point.

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This one has a slight “halo” around the sub-dial, in a reddish colour. Apart from that, it’s in really good shape, especially having been to see my favourite Seiko watchmaker…

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It came to me as part of a job lot in an auction, with no bracelet – I’ve since located an unworn example to complete the look.

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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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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.

Heuer Carrera 1153N

The Chrono-matic story continues.

I saw this watch on a watch trading forum which has its software rooted in the 1990s and despite having supposed rules about what is and isn’t allowed, is not officially policed – so scammers and thieves abound.

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After a good deal of due diligence, I bought it because I’d intended to switch the bracelet from the dark-faced (“N”) to the silver (“S”) 1153 Carrera, as discussed previously. The bracelet is a “Gay Frères BoR”, aka Beads-of-Rice, and is valuable in its own right – in good condition and with the end-links, it’s worth north of £1000.

IMG_8537Gay Frères made bracelets for all sorts – Heuer, Zenith, Patek Philippe etc, before being acquired by Rolex in 1998, in a move to hoover up former suppliers so they could do everything in-house.

The bracelet dates to February 1969, so fits with the expected age of the watch and is supposedly original to it.

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But after I got the watch, I couldn’t separate it from the bracelet – and quickly decided that I preferred the dark dial. It supposedly started life as a charcoal/black colour (hence the “N” for “Noir” in the reference number):

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… but in some light, it is definitely a beautiful blue, and the white subdials and bezel have taken on a creamy colour. The hands look to have been re-lumed in the past, and don’t quite match (they’re a bit too green).

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As expected with an early watch, it’s got the first-execution Cal11 movement.

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The serial number is in the range 1477nn, so it’s only a couple of hundred later than the 1153N which sold for nearly £30K at the “Heuer Parade” auction in November 2017. That one is in spectacular condition and is probably unique, though…(Heuer put Chronomatic on the dial for a few months, before selling the name to Breitling – and they had a long association with Abercrombie and Fitch, so this is thought to be the only one with both marks on the dial…)

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Heuer “Calibre 11” Carrera 1153S

As mentioned in the Watch out for Franken Watches post, the first Heuers I appreciated were smaller cased, manual-wind Carreras. At the time, I thought the larger automatics from 1969 through to the late 1970s were a bit gauche, but over the course of a few years, tastes can change and I started looking out for them instead of the early ones.

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The first generation of automatic Carreras used the same “Calibre 11” movement that featured in the Monaco and Autavia watches from Heuer, themselves a major part of the “Chrono-matic” group that was in the race to build the first automatic chronograph. The case style was different from the earlier models in that the mid 1960s style was basically a round case with lugs protruding, but the late 60s/early 70s featured a “cushion” or “C-case” design where the curves of the case extend to the end of the lugs.

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This Carrera is a 1153S, and is quite early in the life of the model so probably originated from 1970. It has 12 / 3 / 6 / 9 on the subdial at 9 o’clock (later ones had 12 / 1 / 2 / 3 etc so that subdial looked a lot busier). The tachymeter scale is also from the first generation (known in Heuer circles as “1st execution”) as the word TACHY appears at 3 o’clock, and the scale starts at 200. Later models had TACHY at 1 o’clock and scale starting at 500, like most chronographs do.

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The hands on this 1153S are actually 2nd execution; it means that at some point either the original hands were replaced, or quite probably, the watch is a mixture – a 2nd execution watch with a 1st execution dial. There are numerous variants like this – Heuer just used whatever parts it had to hand, it seems.

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In common with all of the Chrono-matic watches, the crown is on the left side, and in this case features a Heuer “shield” logo and the two pushers on the right are round but with fluted cut-outs. The case finish was vertically brushed – this particular watch has lost some of the brushing through wear, but I don’t think it’s ever been polished.

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The Calibre 11 movement came in several revisions; this one is a first generation Cal 11, further underlining that it’s likely a 1970 watch, as the Cal 11i would have been used from late 1970.

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I bought this (from eBay; the usual story, badly-described, poor photos but intact) and had it serviced to keep it running well. It went onto a replica “Corfam” rally strap that suited it well, but I had a hankering to find a suitable bracelet… to be continued…

Malcolm’s Seiko 7A38

Malcolm (ex-RAF himself) had been looking for a Seiko RAF Gen 1 (as discussed previously here), but had been put off a little by the prices of good ones – typically over £1,000 – and fancied trying his hand at something a little more reasonable to see how he got on.

Now the Gen 1 – like most other 7a28 and 7a38 watches – is quite small; about 37mm across, so I found Malcolm a slightly off-piste variant that fits him a little better – a “Sports 100” 7A38-7029.

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It’s exactly the same functionally as the other 7A38s (and different from the RAF issued one because it has a day and date at 3 o’clock), but distinctive since it also has a contrast between the grey dial and the black sub-dials, and the case size and shape make it a little larger on the wrist – 39mm wide.

I really like it – in fact, I wore it for a few days to make sure it was running OK, and have resolved to find another one someday, maybe.

Unfortunately, for Malcolm, the bracelet was a bit too short and it’s an odd fitment in that it doesn’t have the usual lugs that will take an 18/20mm-ish strap or bracelet – it has what’s basically an integrated bracelet, with a 10mm wide fitment.

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Fortunately, I managed to get a brand new one – Seiko Z1357S – but I thought it would stand out since it won’t match the age of the watch itself (which dates from 1983), so removed a few of the brand new links and transplanted them into the underside of the old bracelet. Tidy.

Oh, and the cost? The whole thing came in at under £200…

Tissot PR516 Chronograph

Here’s another semi-random acquisition – I’d never even heard of this watch until I bought it, but as is the way of these things, if you start researching, sometimes you get hooked…

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It’s a 1970-era Tissot chronograph, using a Tissot-branded version of the same watch movement that was then in the Omega Speedmaster – the Lemania 873.

Tissot was a lower-cost sister brand of Omega – like Tudor is to Rolex, or Skoda is to Audi… and though on the face of it, the beating heart of the watch is the same, a 1970-era Omega caliber 861 would have been much better finished than the Tissot version, with fancier coloured components.

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vs Omega Caliber 861, from a 1974 Speedmaster:

It was a bit of a struggle getting to see inside this watch – the case back is a screw-down affair but without tabs on the back that would take a case opener – so needs pressure to open it, and I couldn’t get it off. I gave it to a watchmaker who also couldn’t get it open, so in the end I resorted to drastic measures:

  • run a bead of superglue around the end of a 17mm socket (as you might use to take a car wheel nut off)
  • press glued socket onto the middle of the case back
  • popped the watch & socket into the freezer for 10 minutes just to make sure it was a solid bond
  • Apply gentle force using socket wrench and … bingo. It’s unscrewing.
  • Once the back is off, snap off the socket by pressing it at 90 degrees, then apply nail varnish remover to the back of the case to remove all the superglue residue – it totally works and there are no marks on it!

As you may notice from the Tissot movement picture above, the case back gasket had disintegrated, effectively gluing the back on. Now that it’s free, I’ve had to carefully remove all the gunk and replaced with a new gasket. The watch will go for a service sometime soon…

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It came fitted with an unnamed bracelet which feels really quite good but it has straight end-links that don’t meet the case very neatly.

As it happens, I found another Tissot PR516, a 3-hand automatic – in more-or-less the same case but more like a dive watch than a chronograph, and it was bought because of the bracelet it had. Here it is, wearing the bracelet the chrono came with…

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… and here is the Tissot bracelet from the Automatic, fitted to the chrono… (and pictured at the very top of this post).

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Seiko 6139-600x–part iii – The Pogue

(see earlier missives on the 6139-600x, here and here)

No mention of the Seiko 6139-6000 and its variants would be complete without talking about the moment it became known as something other than maybe just the first automatic chronograph – it was the first automatic chronograph to be worn in space.

Colonel William R. Pogue was a USAF fighter and test pilot, who went into the astronaut program and would probably have gone to the moon on Apollo 19, if that program hadn’t been shuttered early. Bill Pogue still managed to spend 84 days in space on board Skylab from Nov ‘73 to Feb ‘74, and it was many years later that someone spotted in photos of the time, that he was wearing not only his NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster, but some other yellow-faced thing on his other wrist. So they wrote to him, asking what it was, and since then this watch has been referred to as the “Seiko Pogue”. Read more on the Pogue here, Fratello, W&W and the collectors guide, here.

6139-xxxx Numbers

Back to numbering – the first refers to the movement, and the second is the case style… so there are 6139-70xx watches that look similar (in the layout of the dial) but have very different dial and case features here’s a 6139-7002 (from Dec ‘72) for example:

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and a very 1970s Japanese Domestic Market-only 6139-7060 from Feb ‘74:20180129_121239 - Copy (2)

The –6000 series was first released in early 1969, featuring the fixed “Pepsi” bezel and available in Yellow, Blue and Silver. Variants came along later, with –6001, –6002, –6005 etc being essentially regional numbers for what was more-or-less the same watch.

As mentioned in the previous coverage of the 6139s, early models had WATER 70m PROOF at 9 o’clock, and the case back said WATERPROOF. This later changed to WATER 70m RESIST on the dial (until ‘72, after which it said nothing) and WATER RESISTANT on the case back.

The True Pogue

Bill Pogue’s Pogue was a US-model from Sept 1971, with reference 6139-6005 which he bought in Sept 72.

Pogue Watch[1]

Some people would call this variant, the –6005, the “True Pogue”; in other words saying any other watch referred to as a Seiko Pogue would be wrong. You could split hairs and say that anything other than Bill’s own watch shouldn’t be named Pogue…

Others would say that any yellow-faced 6139-600x could be called a Pogue, but the blue and silver variants definitely can’t. Finally, you’ll see lots of ads on eBay and on watch forums offering “Blue Pogues” or “Silver Pogues” – YMMV.

Anyway, as you can see from the photo of the Colonel’s own watch above, it has WATER 70m RESIST so that checks out as correct for a late 1971 watch. The fact that it’s a US-model –6005 and not the commonly available internationally-released –6002, also shows a couple of differences on the dial – it only says AUTOMATIC under the Seiko logo and it mentions 17 Jewels under the hands, whereas the –6002 had CHRONOGRAPH AUTOMATIC under the logo and no jewel count on the dial.

The reference number on the bottom right is the dial code too – and there are numerous variants of that as well. And all of this within one family – Seiko’s production systems must have run into millions of different SKUs.

A showcase of Pogues

OK, here are 3 “Pogues” in hand, all of them 6139-6002s – the first is a March 1971 watch with an English/French day wheel, so presumably aimed at a European market, and is pictured below, on the right. The one to its left is a February 1972 watch, also with English/French day wheel but with a different variation of dial.

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Both have the the correct RESIST dial markings, but the one on the left is a 6030R dial variant whereas the earlier model on the right is 6030T. You can see a sunburst finish on both, but the R dial is slightly darker, more of a gold colour than yellow. Also, the subdial on the R has barely-visible concentric rings, which give it a more pronounced appearance.

There’s little or no knowledge as to why Seiko produced T and R variants, and they did them in blues and silvers too, as there was no clear cut over, it seems – it’s possible to find a T dial that is much later than the RESIST R-dial above.

The R dial watch was picked up at a watch fair and serviced to bring it back to life, then I set about finding a suitable bracelet – in the end, sourcing a very smart period Seiko “President” style bracelet by Stelux …

20190324_125218… and deciding to put that on the 1971 T-dial watch instead.

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Frankenpogue

Finally, a word of warning. Below, was the first Pogue I ever had, now known to be a put-together watch by an eBay seller whose description neatly avoided mentioning that he’d had it tarted up, and presented as a pristine example:

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On the face of it, a nice and smart 1974 6139-6002 but there are a couple of giveaways; the dial is aftermarket, as is the bezel and who knows what else.

The tell-tales are usually found in the subdial – much more pronounced concentric rings, and the markers don’t go to the edge of the bevelled recess:

subdial

… contrast with a genuine 6030R dial:

genuine subdial

Note as well, the position of the marker above 140 on the bezel – on the real one (which is authentically beaten-up looking), the marker finishes between the 1 and 4 whereas on the aftermarket/fake bezel above, it sits above only the 4.

In many hobbies or industries, it’s perfectly acceptable to substitute genuine OEM parts for aftermarket – the originals might not be available any more, or the aftermarket bits are better. But when buying a watch like this, if you can spot signs of fakery that have not been disclosed by the seller, then walk away, right away.