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HOW TO BUY A SEIKO 6139-600x CHRONOGRAPH - A Collector's Buying Guide

Authored by Ty Maitland

The Original version of this post was posted by Ty Maitland to SCWF and is stored in their database here: http://www.larrybiggs.net/scwf/index...&id=1140376570

I've been collecting 6139-6xxx's for a good while now and their somewhat the foundation of my collection. It never has been easy to find them in good condition. Lately, it's even worse, their being frankened and butchered to death ( or life ) just to get them sold.


There's been a few how to buys lately for other models so I thought I'd see if I can make one for the 6139. A quick scan through ebay shows there's a need for something!


These are all original dials which came in several versions for the 6139-600x and 6139-603x's.





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This is a prime example of what to not buy...... incorrect inner bezel, incorrect crown, incorrect hands and lots of mold on the indices.... a big sign of moisture entry.

[IMG]


So here we go.. signs to look for if you're buying a 6139-6xxxThe DIAL

As of yet, there doesn't seem to be any redials, fake dial or reproduction dials. Which ever you prefer [img] It's surprising because the 6139's are quite popular. I think though, there sunburst dials are a bit harder to copy than your basic black diver dial.

Not that this happens often but, dials are known to be dipped in a solution to bring back the color. If you see a dial that just looks too shiny and/or oily... proceed with caution.



The CASE

These watches came with a brushed finish on the top of their case and polished everywhere else. The brushed finish is all in one direction and should be even. Its pretty hard to mimic the factory finish unless you know what you're doing so, it's not hard to spot a botch job. The edges of the case should be sharp and square. If their some what rounded, it's a good sign the case has been polished. That may not be a big deal to some but, if you want all original watch out for that.


polished case

[IMG]


correct brushed finish

see how the corners are square and the brushed follows the case ( in one direction )

[IMG]


The HANDS

All the 6139-600x's came with a REDhands except for the 6139-6030/6032 which came with ORANGE hands. Other models do have other colors. Black, yellow and white

The second hand is smooth across the top from tip to tip. You'll see some that have a silver head on the hand where it mounts to the post. This is an aftermarket second hand.

The minute counter hand should have a TEAR DROPshape to it and be red or orange


The OUTER BEZEL

Many you see will be faded or scratched pretty bad. Until recently, you were stuck with what you got as far as the insert. Now, there's a guy on ebay selling stick on inserts for the 6139-600x bezel. The 6139's insert isn't replaceable like most diver bezel inserts.

Who ever made them didn't do too bad of a job but, the color is off and it doesn't have the anodized look the original does. I haven't noticed these on any watches yet but, their around so keep your eye out for them.


Sticker insert

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Correct bezel

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The INNER CHAPTER RING

Commonly found to be faded, these chapter rings ( bezel ) are plastic. They have teeth underneath them that catch on a gear mounted to the stem. This is what turns the chapter ring when you rotate the crown.

If in a sale description it says the chapter ring does not turn or is stiff, that's a big sign there could be problems. Either the wrong stem has been installed in it, it has the correct stem but, the gear is missing, teeth have been stripped on the chapter ring

If it's not turning smoothly, it's possible the tension ring under the crystal is missing. With it gone, there's too much pressure on the chapter ring from the crystal and it won't turn well.

A rule of thumb when looking at the colors. If going by the original catalog pictures, a yellow dial will have a yellow chapter ring and a black dial, a black chapter ring. There is question whether a black chapter came with a yellow dial. Some claim to have original that came that way,

It's very possible but, that's not shown in any catalog pictures. Black chapter rings are more common than the yellows so a lot of times. The watches yellow ring has faded so bad, a black is put in its place.


THE CROWN

Lately this seems to be one of the biggest problems with 6139's on ebay. Original stems aren't available anymore but, there are after market crowns.

The original crowns have a dimple in the middle of them, their thin in width and fit flush to the case. It's usually easy to spot a wrong crown because of how far out it sits out from the case. Wrong and after market crowns are typically thick in width and have more space between the ridges on the crown.

By not having the correct stem, sometimes the day/date can't be set and the hands aren't able to be moved. There's a specific method in reinstalling the stems in these watches. If not done correctly, there's a high probability of internal damage.


THE GASKETS

All the 6139-600x's have 5 gaskets. Each button has one, the crown stem, the case back and the crystal. All are readily available except for the crystal gasket. Typically, there's nothing wrong with it. It's all the other gaskets that are imperative to replace. Even then with a 30 year old watch, you shouldn't expect too much water resistance out of it. At least you can wash your hands without worry. Unless mentioned in the sale, you can almost bet the original gaskets are still in it and need replacing.

[IMG]


Many times you will see in the description that the buttons won't come back out or are very sticky feeling. The most common problem here is the o-ring gaskets on the buttons. By replacing them and adding some silicon typically solves this problem.


THE CASE BACK

The 6139-6xxx's came with 2 versions on case back ( pictured below ). The back with the circle and more writing is the older style.

[IMG]

[IMG]


If pictured take a good look at where the case back attaches to the case. Any corrosion to the threads or case can be a big problem. Water resistance is out of the question if the pitting is too bad. Also look for writing inside the case back. That will at least tell you it's been worked on before.

THE MOVEMENT

There are very few qualified watchmakers that work on these movements. It's getting to where no one is accepting a chrono movement to be serviced. It may be 30 years old but, still a very complicated movement and a pain in the butt to work on. Parts are harder and harder to find and most of the time, it takes mutilating another movement to get parts.

If you manage to find a decent watch and plan to have it serviced, you better look into whom and where will do it before you buy. The cost is going up with those who will work on them. A typical service starts at $150.00

Signs on a movement that tell you to stay away:

White corrosion anywhere in site. Pitting in the case or on the weight itself. Pay attention to the weight as many times they are very pitted and corroded but, sanded down to remove the corrosion. You'll still be able to see the pitting in the metal though. I don't think a real watchmaker would ever just sand the weight. Corrosion is like rust and once it's in the metal, it's not coming out.

A couple common problems with these 6139 movements are:

The second hand not resetting to zero, the day/date is not able to be changed and the buttons don't reset the second and minute hands they way they should.

1. A second hand not resetting could be several things. The hand was not reinstalled correctly ( it needs to be remove an aligned correctly ), it has the wrong second hand, the tube on the hand was split when replacing the hand ( only a replacement can fix this ) or there's an internal failure of the return mechanism ( service required )

2. There are 3 or more reasons the day/date may not be working correctly. Wrong stem, stem insert incorrectly ( remove and reinsert ), internal damage ( service required ) The correct stem will enable you to push the crown in 2 clicks. The first will change the date and the second will change the day.

3. Typically you won't see the incorrect buttons in a 6139. Not many others will fit.

The main reason for sticky buttons is bad, dried out gaskets and wabi ( funk ) build up. Most of the time, you can clean it out, replace the gaskets, add some silicon then their smooth as butta. The thing to be very aware of is a return spring that's attached to the movement. It puts the tension on the button to return to its position. That spring is on both buttons. If either is missing, you're in trouble. You need another beater to use as parts to get some from.


THE BRACELET

The 6139-6xxx came with 2 different bracelets. One is a OYSTER and the other a FISHBONE

The OYSTER is the most common that you'll see. Be careful when buying that 6139. 9 times out of 10 the bracelet is missing most of its removable links. This makes them only able to fit a 6" to 7" wrists, sometimes smaller. Finding an all original OYSTER or FISHBONE with all their links is close to impossible.

Oyster style

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Fishbone style

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one last shot of all the parts in a 6139-600x except for breaking down the movement

[IMG]


Not being a watchmaker, it's very possible I left out a thing or 2 but, this really does pretty much cover the basics. I hope this is able to help those who aren't sure what their getting into [img]


Ty Maitland

Feb. 2006
 
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Discussion Starter #2
6139-600X Variation Review

Authored by SeikoPsycho2


This is a review of the variations found in the 6139-600X series of watches. Hopefully this will add to the other reviews already posted and answer some questions you may have about the different variations available. I'm no expert and may leave some information out or be incorrect about my observations so please bear with me. I've compiled this information over the last year and some if it is based on my own personal observations as a collector. Before we get started I'd like to give thanks to three kind hearted individuals, Ken Setser, Lew Brown, and Jonathan aka Swedefreak for their patience with all my many questions over the last year, their help with bringing several of my watches back to life and for tools and tips for doing the basics myself. I'm sure I might have left several others out but my thanks goes out to them too. Without this forum and the SCWF I could'nt have learned all I have in the last year. My watch is off to all those with helpful hints, tips, and knowlege who frequent these forums to help others out with this hobby!


Model Numbers

Lets start off with the various model numbers. 6139-600X models have basically four different possibilities that I'm aware of. 6139-6005 + 6139-6009 are USA models while 6139-6000 + 6139-6002 are non-USA models. They are all basically the same watch with a blue + red non rotating outer tachometer bezel and a yellow or black rotating inner bezel with 0 to 60 minute time increments. Any other color inner bezel other then the two mentioned have been faded by UV rays.

In order: 6139-6000, 6139-6002, and 6139-6005. {6139-6009 photo not my in database}




Case Variations


Next up is the case. There are two style of cases. The first is the early case with a notch cut out above the crown. This case was used in the first year of production which was 1969 through early 1970. Sometime in 1970 this notch was eliminated and through the end of production which I believe was 1978 all the cases are the same.

March 1970 notched case




1971 case without notch




Dials + Case backs

The most popular sunburst dials come in three different colors. Yellow, blue, and silver. I'm not sure the silver dial version was truly a Seiko option or a dial switched from another watch in the 6139 series as I have yet to see any 6139-600X silver dial versions in any Seiko Catalogs. If anyone is aware of a silver dial 6139-600X in a Seiko catalog please bring it to my attention. Out of the three different colors their are two if not three different variations of each color. I have yet to see a silver "proof" dial although I believe one exists. The early dial used in the first year of production reads Water70mProof centered on the left side of the dial at the 9 o'clock position. These watches also read water proof on the case back. From what I can tell the "Proof" watches were in production until February 1970 according to the watch in the photo below. In March of 1970 the script changed to read Water70mResist along with the case back according to two of the watches in my collection. The last dial had no script at all in the 9 o'clock position of the dial but water resistant remained on the case back. I'm not sure of the exact date this dial went into production but I believe it was in late 1972 or early 1973.

Proof dial from 1970




Resist dial from 1971




Plain dial from 1973




Bracelets

The 6139-600x series of watches had three different styles of bracelets. The straight oyster, the tapered oyster, or the stelux president style. From what I can gather the straight oyster was used from 1969 up until about 1975 at which time they redesigned it to taper out where it meets the lugs of the watch case. The tapered oyster bracelet was used from 1975 until the end of production. I don't have any dates concerning the stelux president style bracelet.

Straight and tapered oyster side by side.




Stelux president style.




Straight oyster.




Tapered oyster




Unanswered questions:

Does anyone know what year and month 6139-600X dials switched from Resist dials to plain dials?

Does anyone know if a 6139-600X Silver "proof" dial exists? Although I beleive they do I have yet to see one.

Does any one have a catalog photo of a 6139-600X silver dial?

Does anyone know the exact month and year the oyster bracelet switched from the straight design to the tapered design?

Does anyone have any dates concerning the stelux president style bracelet?




Links with additional information submitted by other members of this forum and the SCWF

Water proof verses water resistant:
http://forums.watchuseek.com/showthread.php?t=209700
 
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Re: HOW TO BUY A SEIKO 6139-600x CHRONOGRAPH - A Collector's Buying Guide

Authored by Swedefreak


Not to roil the waters as this is an excellent post for the most part, but a couple of points---

The bracelet referred to as an "oyster" is not. It is an "H" pattern link which is quite different, made by Stelux (as were all Seiko bracelets) and used by Seiko on at least a couple dozen models in the 1970s. Some of the other versions have somewhat shorter "H" links and will not interchange.

As an aside, Stelux made this bracelet in identical dimensions and proportions for several other watch manufactures.

Also, Stelux made three distinct versions of the "H". The one for non-Western Hemisphere sale was a bit more robust, had a different buckle pattern and buckle cap. These were signed by Stelux on one folding member of the buckle. The "H" link more familiar to we in North and South America is a bit thinner and the buckle fold is not signed, only the cap. On post-1974 6139s this one sprouted the flared ends.

The other bracelet is neither a "president" nor a "fishbone" but something between. Also for non Western sales, this is found on many 6139-600Xs that came back with our military personnel who served in the Far East, and is signed by Stelux on the fold.

The silver-dialed variant is 6139-6013 and, I believe some 6139-6032s.

What is commonly referred to as an "inner (rotating) bezel" is called by Seiko an indicator ring. These actually came in four colors:

White-from the very earliest versions and why these watches are called "pepsi": red, white and blue
Yellow-matches the yellow dial
Midnight Blue-matches the blue dial
Black-found in later versions, see below

The white are very hard to come by and are most definitely not faded nor do these discolor with age or UV. They were originally used with both yellow and blue dials. The white is a layer of paint on a yellow indicator with a black numeric imprint.

The yellow (and blue) were introduced, most likely, to better harmonize with the dials. These have black numerals imprinted directly on the yellow plastic. These fade to a greyish pale yellow but not to white, ever.

The blue (as the yellow) compliments the dial and its silver numerals are, again, imprinted directly on the blue plastic. These will fade to a light grey, never white, and are far more prone to this degradation than the yellow.

The black are the solution to the blue's issues. Again, a silver imprint on black plastic that does not fade.

White, yellow and faded blue 6139-600X indicators:



 

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Re: HOW TO BUY A SEIKO 6139-600x CHRONOGRAPH - A Collector's Buying Guide

Just noticed that there is possibly an incorrect statement in this guide concerning the detection of originality of the seconds hand. The statement reads:


The second hand is smooth across the top from tip to tip. You'll see some that have a silver head on the hand where it mounts to the post. This is an aftermarket second hand.

My understanding is that early models through sometime in 1970 possibly, may have a thinner, 2-piece seconds hand installed that has a silver head on it where it mounts to the post and that these are indeed original. This is an example of an original early seconds hand with the silver head, picture from my own all original early 1970 notched case 6139-6009...




These same (or at least similar) center seconds hands show up also on a few very early 6138 models as well, including for example on my long gone but not forgotten 6138-0010 from 1970 as seen here:




In fact, I don't recall seeing an aftermarket hand that has this same type of head on it.
 

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Re: HOW TO BUY A SEIKO 6139-600x CHRONOGRAPH - A Collector's Buying Guide

Technoman said:
Just noticed that there is possibly an incorrect statement in this guide concerning the detection of originality of the seconds hand. In fact, I don't recall seeing an aftermarket hand that has this same type of head on it.

As is shown in the 1970 "Automation Age" ad I've posted, the first-generation hand is correct for this watch, so that info in the guide needs to be updated.
 

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True or false: If a dial is "Proof," then the case-back should also read "Proof"?
Mostly true but possibly false...

I have a proof dial an a resist back about to go up for sale.... But I think it may have been messed around in the past considering how it came to me.

There is also member CSV here I think that is asking a similar question.

Can you tell us if your watch has the 'notch' in the case above the crown... It is the general feeling that all proof dials should have the notch (mine does not... Hence it I think it has been substituted by another in its past).

Regards,
Tom
 

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I had heard the the original "H-link" bracelets had an alternating Brush-Polish finish, where the "H" was brushed, and the inner links were polished. Can anyone confirm this? If true, when did this scheme change?
 

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Thanks, Tom. The watch is question does NOT have the notch.

It seems reasonable to me that when Seiko was transitioning to the "resist" dials and casebacks, some proof dials would get intermixed with the newer resist casebacks or vise-versa.
 

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I had heard the the original "H-link" bracelets had an alternating Brush-Polish finish, where the "H" was brushed, and the inner links were polished. Can anyone confirm this? If true, when did this scheme change?
I can't say I've seen that myself or any evidence of it in the ones I've had. Maybe there's an aftermarket part that is like that? Or an alternative original Stelux version that Seiko didn't put to use in these watches?
 
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