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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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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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

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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

Nick’s 6139-6002–a Poguey Birthday

I’ve been talking with Nick for a couple of years about watches and in particular about his desire to get a watch from the year of his birth – a common pursuit, satisfied by a variety of online emporia looking to sell you a watch purportedly from “your” year – example, and another.

The problem with this search is that it’s often quite difficult to know when a watch really was made – one approach would be to find the serial number (sometimes visible on the outside of the case, though often stamped onto the inside of the case back or the movement itself), then consult one of the serial number tables published online, that try to slot production serial numbers into years. See an early Omega table first surfaced 15 years ago; a more specific model / serial number cross reference was produced for Omega Speedmasters, here.

Some brands allow owners to request an “extract of the archives”, producing a certificate which likely tells them a load of stuff they already know, but adding a couple of crucial details – like when the watch was produced and where in the world it was sold.

Recent years has seen Omega Speedmaster fans sharing their extract info, cross referencing serial numbers with dates of production, so one enterprising developer has produced iLoveMySpeedmaster, a site that will predict the month and year of a given serial number based on known production dates from perhaps nearby numbers.

As mentioned in the earlier missive discussing Dave’s birth year watch, the production date might be a bit later than the model number of the watch, and it costs £100-odd to find out.

Seiko to the rescue

Fortunately, Seiko is a bit more predictable – from the early 1960s onwards, they adopted a fairly straightforward way of knowing when a watch was made: the first digit of the serial number is the year of production, and the second is the month (1-9 being Jan-Sept, 0=Oct, and you’ll see the odd watch with N or D).

So all you need to know is a bit of history of that particular watch family, when did it enter production and when did it stop, so you can narrow down the range of possible years. The “9” at the start of some Seikos might be 1969, and by 1979 most of their mechanical watches were out of production in favour of quartz, so it’s perhaps easier than you might think.

After looking at various pieces, Nick determined that he’d like a yellow faced “Pogue” 6139-600x. So the hunt was on to find a suitable specimen from the year, ideally even the month of birth.

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This was found on eBay; the crystal is so knackered, the dial text is barely readable, the minute hand from the chronograph subdial has gone missing, and the watch doesn’t really run for more than a few seconds. The chronograph function didn’t work either. The owner bought the watch years ago, put it on an ill-fitting aftermarket bracelet and wore it every day until it stopped working, at which point he threw it in a drawer before eventually dusting it down and putting it on eBay.

This kind of thing is always a gamble – clearly there are mechanical issues that will need fixing, but a skilled and Seiko-experienced watchmaker will be able to remove all the caked-on goo and 40+ year-old dried-up oil that comes from probably never having been serviced, and replace any parts that are defective.

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But mechanical gremlins aside, in this instance, the watch is an absolute cracker. The first thing I did when it arrived was to drop the movement out of the case to see what was hiding behind that beaten-up crystal.

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And the dial and hands are practically flawless. It’s amazing how different the dial looks in direct sunlight, too.

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So, after having a few components of the movement replaced and everything cleaned, reassembled and re-oiled, a new minute hand and crystal on the case… Nick’s watch was ready for his birthday. The watchmaker who did all the work has 24 yellow-face Pogues of his own (!) and said he has only 2 or 3 as good as this – “It looks and runs superb. It’s in the 9.5/10 category.”

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All it needs now is a decent bracelet, and it’ll be ready to wear for another 40 years – in the meantime, it’s on an eBay-sourced aftermarket one which will do for now.

Nick's

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.

Seiko 6139-600x–part ii – elusive silver PROOF/PROOF

Following on from the previous tale of the 6139 as produced by Seiko in 1969, here’s a rare and interesting piece, or rather a brace of them. According to the Collectors Guide on The Spring Bar, one of the rarest variants in the –600x series is the early silver-dial version, which says “WATER 70m PROOF” on the dial. In fact, the guide reckons:

The silver dialed variation is by far the rarest dial and is even more seldomly seen with a “proof” variation. There are only a few instances of photographed silver “proof” dials.

Well, having already found one via another collector, I happened across this in an auction:

6139

So it pays to know what you’re looking for, or at least what you’re looking at. As it happens, the watch arrived and not in great shape – the chronograph was bust, the bracelet was actually broken too, and not a great match for the watch either. The crystal was pretty scratched up too.

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Still, here it is, on the right, next to the other one. The LH watch is in all-round better shape despite being from July 1969, and the RH one from October 69. Both suffered a bit from having darkened lume plots.

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Most vintage enthusiasts would advise against doing anything irreversible to an old watch, but Seiko collectors seem to be more forgiving when doing something that will improve the watch – so I had both re-lumed  as well as serviced.
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(Oct 69 is on the left…)

Both of these are wearing Uncle Seiko bracelets and, again, you can spot the early nature by the PROOF dial, the chrono hand is a 2-part affair when compared to later 6139s, and the front of the case has a notch above the crown.

Seiko 6139-600x–part i – as worn by Francois Cevert & Nick Mason

50 years ago, Seiko was quietly producing what could arguably be the world’s first automatic chronograph. Other manufacturers were trying to do the same – Zenith produced their goadingly-named “El Primero” (a fabulous watch movement that was comparatively small but also beat at a higher rate than its competition – it went into other manufacturers’ products including the Rolex Daytona), while a consortium of others, loosely known as the Chronomatic Group was formed by Heuer, Breitling, and Hamilton, together with movement maker Buren and the company who could make the bolt-on chronograph module, Dubois-Depraz.

There are many articles online [here’s a good one, and a later one by the same author focusing on the Chronomatics] detailing just how one of the three contenders was actually the first but in truth, it doesn’t really matter. We could split hairs about what is important – being the first to announce, the earliest prototype, the first to sell in-market? Certainly, at the launch in New York of the Heuer Caliber 11 watches, March 3rd 1969, one lucky winner of a new watch found that it was less reliable than expected so maybe Heuer were jumping the gun a little.

Anyway, back to Seiko. It seems that it had quietly been selling watches in Japan with the 6139A movement dated from February 1969. Typical of Seiko, they produced a whole variety of case and dial styles with the 6139A from 1969-71, and then the 6139B until 1977-78.

I’m going to look at a couple of early bearing the 6139A, and belong to the 6000-family made famous by the association with NASA Astronaut Col. William Pogue, more of which later, when I’ll cover a couple of 6139Bs.

OK, enough preamble – let’s talk about a watch.

Blue 6139-6000 from June 1970, aka “Cevert”

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This was bought from its first owner, who got it as an 18th-birthday present from his brother, who himself was serving in the Royal Navy in Singapore, in December 1970. On arrival with me, the watch was pretty tired-looking – and the bracelet had lost one of the correct end-links, so the previous owner had installed a different one that didn’t quite fit.

It has since been serviced and a replacement end-link from the bracelet was sourced from a collector in Australia. The chronograph hand has a crack, and the watchmaker who serviced it was worried that it might break when he was trying to re-install… and the correct, 2-piece chronograph hands for these are like hen’s teeth. After well over a year of looking, I’ve found another – but fortunately, this one went back together just about OK. Other than the Aussie end-link and a replacement crystal, it’s as original as they come.

An eagle-eyed enthusiast spotted photos of F1 legend Francois Cevert (whose untimely death was the catalyst for his mentor, Jackie Stewart, to launch his crusade on driver safety in motorsport) wearing a Blue 6139 in 1971… so this particular variant is being nicknamed “Cevert” (pr. seh-verr).

Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason had one too:

And eagle-eyed space fans might spot a blue 6139-600x on the wrist of actor Ed Harris, playing Gene Kranz in Apollo 13 (a detail that the props team on the film got a bit wrong, as Gene famously wore a Seiko 6119-8460… other actors in the film were seen with Omega Speedmasters, many with 1171 bracelets that didn’t appear until 1970 and only on the later Speedmasters that were not issued to NASA… still, let’s not get bogged down…)

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The Ed Harris watch in question looks to have minimal text under the SEIKO logo, so it’s probably a –6005, which would only say AUTOMATIC beneath the larger logo, rather than CHRONOGRAPH | AUTOMATIC. It also didn’t appear to have WATER 70m RESIST at 9 o’clock, which would date the watch to 1972 or later.

Ed Harris as Gene Kranz 3

You can identify the early 6139–6000s as they have a notch above the recessed crown, and were marked on the dial as being water proof to 70M. Later in 1970, Seiko changed to saying “WATER 70m RESIST” and after 1972, dropped that text altogether. There’s a very good Collectors Guide to the 6139-600x series which goes into more detail.

This particular 6139-6000 is in well-worn condition; the lume plots on the dial are starting to go a bit degraded, which on some watches lends them a pleasing yellow tinge but on these vintage Seikos, just goes mouldy-looking. It’s not too far gone to be ugly, though.