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.

franken subdial
Fake dial from 2016 eBay watch

seikosis
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.

P1190514

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