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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Authored by Ty Maitland

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.

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.

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


As of yet, there doesn't seem to be any redials, fake dial or reproduction dials. Which ever you prefer 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.

[b]The CASE[/b]

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.

[b]polished case[/b]


[b]correct brushed finish[/b]

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


[b]The HANDS[/b]

All the 6139-600x's came with a [b]RED[/b] hands except for the 6139-6030/6032 which came with [b]ORANGE[/b] 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 [b]TEAR DROP[/b] shape to it and be red or orange

[b]The OUTER BEZEL[/b]

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.

[b]Sticker insert[/b]



[b]Correct bezel[/b]



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.


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.


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.

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

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.


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

[b]Signs on a movement that tell you to stay away[/b]

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.

[b]A couple common problems with these 6139 movements are[/b]

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 6139-6xxx came with 2 different bracelets. One is a [b]OYSTER[/b] and the other a [b]FISHBONE[/b]

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.

[b]Oyster style[/b]


[b]Fishbone style[/b]


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


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

Ty Maitland

Feb. 2006


· Registered
6 Posts
I recently bought a 6139-7010 from January 1970 and noticed that it was losing a few minutes a week. I have since been running the chronograph constantly and noticed that it is keeping much better time. I was wondering whether keeping the chronograph running cause any damage (other than obvious wear and tear) or whether it would be beneficial in the long run. Does anyone know where I could find some information on this?


· Registered
9,858 Posts
That's an interesting question!

Perhaps you should also ask it in the main discussion area? And :welcome: to SCWF!

I recently bought a 6139-7010 from January 1970 and noticed that it was losing a few minutes a week. I have since been running the chronograph constantly and noticed that it is keeping much better time. I was wondering whether keeping the chronograph running cause any damage (other than obvious wear and tear) or whether it would be beneficial in the long run. Does anyone know where I could find some information on this?


· Registered
60 Posts
Alas one I am yet to have in my collection. I am more of a bottom trawler and asking prices for these have gone up by a lot. Dont think I will be able to find one in decent state. Cost of servicing is scaring me a bit too.
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