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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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.

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

Dive, Dive, Dive!

Tastes change over time, of that we can be certain. Sometimes fashion, maybe even just prejudice that is overcome – there are surely times when you totally dislike something that later you agree to tolerate, maybe learn to appreciate or even decide to love.

I don’t like dive watches. I’m not a diver, I don’t need a huge bezel that rotates to tell me how long I’ve been underwater, I don’t need to read large luminous hands in 50m of murky water and since I have relatively thin wrists, I think the great big dive watches won’t suit me.

And yet, I present a holy trinity of Seiko dive watches that have wormed their way into my collection. And I’d never even go swimming with any of them, much less diving…

The First Seiko “Dive” watch – SilverWave

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First up is a Seikomatic SilverWave 50M, reference J12082. Well, it’s not really a dive watch per se as it’s only waterproof to 50M, but when this range came out back in 1961, it was Seiko’s first go at making and selling a watch to divers. It was the first one to have a rotating inner bezel, it was the first use of the “Tsunami” logo which now adorns the most serious of Seiko’s modern dive watches.

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The 50 meters waterproofing was achieved through a fairly unusual sealing arrangement – there’s a lug on the case back that fits to a slot on the watch, sandwiching a rubber gasket, then a screw-down outer retaining ring keeps everything tight. This arrangement makes sense to a degree – the outer ring applies tension to the case back and that compresses the rubber seal straight down rather than the twisting motion that normally happens when a screw-back case with its own seal is tightened.

As the serial number on the inside of the case back denotes, this particular watch is from January 1963.

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There are some great resources covering the SilverWave 50M (made from 1961-64) and cheaper 30M (64-66), on The Springbar and Fratello.

Japan’s first 150M dive watch

If the SilverWave was the warm  up act, then the real deal arrived in 1964 with the 6217-8000 then -8001, aka “62MAS”. It was the first Japanese “Professional” dive watch, and is seen by collectors as the daddy when it comes to Seiko divers.

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This particular watch is from April 1967, and is a 6217-8001 aka “big crown” (the rarer, 8000 had a small crown – see a comparison here). At the time, Seiko had two competing factories – Daini and Suwa – yet for a while made the 62MAS in both; the Daini one being rarer and showing a more yellowy-coloured lume rather than the green lume on most. I think this particular watch may have been relumed previously, and it certainly has an aftermarket (“Yobokies”) bezel insert.

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The 62MAS is almost the perfect “skin diver” size – pioneered by the likes of Longines in 1957 – it’s 37mm in diameter and wears well on the wrist, due to the slightly curving case shape.

Seiko brought out a modern recreation/re-edition at Baselworld 2017, known as the SLA017 – see how it compares to the original, here. It costs quite a hill of beans, though – you could get a really nice original for getting on for half of what the reissue runs to.

There’s a detailed collector’s guide on the 62MAS, here.

The Vietnam Vet

And so to the last of my trinity; the follow-on from the 62MAS was what for many is the quintessential Seiko diver’s watch, the 6105. This one came to me via a punt in an auction that proved to be a good bit more expensive than I bargained for – on receipt, the watch was in a poor state.

Duffed up crystal, the wrong hands, dirty, missing the “pip” on the bezel (which didn’t rotate with a “click” either) and non-running. Off it went to my usual Seiko service guru, and came back looking quite splendid.

It’s am August 1972 watch, a 6105-8110. The –811x series was made from 1970 to 77 or 78, saying “WATER 150M PROOF” on the dial and then switched in late 1970 to showing 150M RESIST on the dial instead.

This is the kind of what whose photos don’t do it justice on the wrist – it just feels *right*. I’ve put it on an Uncle Seiko “chocolate bar” strap.

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The 6105-8110 had a more prominent bulge protecting the crown, and a slightly larger case overall when compared to its 1968-70 predecessor, the 6105-8000m, and in the Seiko community, is a very well regarded watch. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Captain Willard”, after Martin Sheen’s character is seen wearing one in Apocalypse Now, on a chocolate bar strap, too.

It was very common for soldiers in the Vietnam war era to have Seikos as they were sold through “Part Exchange” outlets, so the part in Apocalypse Now seems well researched – servicemen at the time might have been drawn to the hard wearing reputation of the Seiko dive watch.

In 2019, again at Baselworld, Seiko unveiled its latest recreation/re-edition – the SLA033. Similar to the 62MAS recreation, pricing is “optimistic” – €4,350. Here it is in direct comparison to its forefather.

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 World Time #3 – three’s a crowd

Following on from the previous World Time diaries, another joined the fold a few weeks prior to the silver-faced ‘64 with the original bracelet.

20190405_110912 (2)This one, an early model from April 1964, also came on the period bracelet – in fact I bought it thinking I might transplant the bracelet onto the first (1967) World Time I had, then flog this watch on. I’m not not sure I could bring myself to separate the watch & the bracelet it’s had for 55 years…

It’s a rare black/grey-dialled World Time; sources reckon only 20% of the watches produced were of this variant, and since they only made the 6217-7000 for 9 months in ‘64 and for 2-3 months in ‘67, they’re pretty unusual anyway.

This particular one is in “honest” rather than amazing condition, but it’s recently been serviced and smartened up by a top-notch watchmaker in Australia, where it came to me from.

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As you can see, the outer bezel that shows the names of major cities and other random places around the world (Midway? Rangoon?) has faded quite a bit in places. In artificial light, the hand that points to the time on the 24hr scale looks a bit yellowy and maybe even discoloured, but in daylight, it’s got a bronzey metallic sheen to it.

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When compared with the silver-faced World Time, with polished silvery hands and a black hour hand, it’s actually much easier to read the time on this grey one as in most light, the contrast between hour & minute hands and dial is easier to pick out, and the hour hand isn’t as distracting – sometimes with the Silver faced one, you need to stare at it for a few seconds to work out what the actual time is.

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Still, who wears a watch to tell the time anyway?