SEIKO 6119-6050 and 6053 “REGATTA WATCH”
Often mislabeled as as "Rally Diver", the 6119-6050(3) is Seiko’s only double bezeled watch. What is little known is the intended function that the colorful outer and inner bezels serve. The 6119-6050(3) is in fact a regatta watch, a vintage version of what is today called a "regatta countdown" timer.
SO WHAT IS A “REGATTA WATCH”
A regatta a sporting event consisting of a series of boat or yacht races. I’ve never done any yacht sailing myself, but according to what I’ve read online, much of the true competition happens BEFORE the race.
The start of a sailing regatta is unlike any other race. If you are in a horse race you would begin in a starting gate. if you were a sprinter you would have starting blocks. But a sailing regatta begins at an imaginary starting line, with each yacht attempting to arrive and hold its position in the water, all while enduring the force of the waves and wind.
FIRST, a horn signals the countdown to the start of the race, typically around 10 or 20 minutes. This countdown enables the competing yachts to maneuver their boats as close as possible to the invisible starting line without crossing it until the starting gun fires. If they are too far back, they may not be able to successfully compete, if they cross the line prematurely, they can be penalized or disqualified.
SECOND, a starting gun fires, signaling the beginning of the race, which also is timed.
Put simply, the Regatta Watch must measure two things: the time before the race, and the race itself.
THE SEIKO’S 6119-6050(3) DOUBLE BEZEL EXPLAINED
So, imagine you are getting ready to race your sailing yacht. Strap on your life-jacket and your 6119-6050 or 6053 “Regatta Watch” and let’s go!
STEP 1: A horn sounds 10 or 20 minutes before the start. You align the 0 of the outer bezel to the minute hand of the watch at the time of that signal. Now you can track how much time is left until the start signal will sound.
STEP 2: The gunshot signaling the start should sound about when the minute hand reaches the 10 or 20 minute marker on the bezel. At this point (assuming you are on the starting line) you align the inner bezel 0 to the hour hand, so you can time the race.
CASE NUMBER MYSTERY
It is common knowledge the case number of vintage Seiko's comes in two parts, separated by a hyphen. The first four digits are the caliber number of the movement. The first three of the second four digits are the case style. The final digit of the case style number is the Regional Sales Code. Different regions were assigned different sales codes, which would in turn agree with the day wheel.
The two most common examples of this are that "9" which is said to be destined for North America and so would have an English/Spanish day wheel. While case numbers ending in "0" were meant for Japan, and so would have an English/Kanji day wheel.
But these models end in “0” and “3”, NOT “0” and “9”.
I have no idea what the “3” on the 6119-6053 represents, but my own 6053 does have a Kanji day wheel. Meanwhile, NONE of the 6050s that I have seen have Kanji day wheels.
THEREFORE the 6119-6053s may have been meant for the the Japanese domestic market, while the 6050s were for North America?
UPDATE According to Spencer Klein's Youtube video on this watch, "There are two versions of this watch. There is the 6050, and the later 6053. The 6050 has a different hand set. It's a slightly unusual shape with a frosted surface on the hour and minute hands."
INNER BEZEL DIFFERENCES
There may be another slight difference between the 6050 and 6053 that SeikoPsycho2 pointed out in a 2014 post. The black dialed 6050 has a two tone blue inner bezel while the 6053 has a two tone blue and aqua green inner bezel. Here is a good illustration of this phenomenon from @vitamobilia:
Aiso, according to the JDM 1970 "Action Summer" Seiko catalog, there exists a powder blue/light green variant of the inner bezel which I have never seen with my own eyes. Could this variant in reality be a mistake in the color balance of the catalog?
6119 automatic wind movement
Non hand winding
Width (L to R): 40mm
Height (lug to lug): 45mm
Total Thickness: 11mm
The crown (at 4) is nearly completely hidden in the case.
DIALS and HANDS
-Black, Blue and Silver dials
Silver luminescent hour and minute hands, hour hand on early versions is trapezoidal and unique to this watch, while later hour hands are the same as most sports divers. It's been speculated that Seiko ran out of trapezoidal hands at some points in production and simply substituted the more typical sports divers ones as the situation dictated.
Orange or red triangular second hand and Luminescent hour markers
The original bracelets are “railroad style” and widen just below the lugs, with the end-links being very slightly shorter than the width of the case where they connect.
SEIKO’S FIRST REGATTA WATCH?
According to what you find on line, Seiko’s didn’t produce a regatta watch until the early 1990’s when the regatta caliber 8M35 was developed, with an adjustable countdown timer from 1 to 30 minutes, as well as preset timers for 5, 10 and 15 minutes.
But this was NOT Seiko’s first regatta watch; the 6119-6053 and 6050 back in 1969 were!
ANYONE CAN BE A YACHTSMAN
Just as most people who enjoy dive watches are "desk divers" who rarely if ever go scuba diving, so it is with the regatta watch. The watch's story and what it represents are much more important than the timepiece by itself.
Often when we collect watches, more than a physical object, we are collecting the story behind the object. It can be a loss then in such a case such as the Seiko 6119-6050 and 6053 where it's not widely known, even by those who own this watch, what the intended function of the watch is. For knowing watch's backstory, knowing for what purpose it was made, greatly increases the enjoyment of ownership.