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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
6138-0010, -0011, 0012, -0017, and -0019 UFO Chronographs​

The Quintessential "Dad Watch"



For me this is the quintessential "dad watch".

What is a “dad watch”? A dad watch may be the timepiece your father wore while you were growing up.

Or it can be a watch that, through the force of its aesthetic alone, conjures up a sense of paternal masculinity. The 6138 UFO Chronograph is just such a watch.

Defining the 6138 UFO Chronograph

Any case style in the range 6138-0010 thru 6138-0019 is known to Japanese collectors as the Bigguai/Sumōruai ("Big Eye / Small Eye") or "UFO".

It was first launched in Japan in 1970.



In the US it was also known during its time of production and retail sale as the "Yachtman's Automatic Chronograph" due to the American distributor's (Unimetrics Inc.) print ad showing the 6138 chronograph together with the 6105 diver, both labeled as “Marine Watches”:



The astute among us may have recognized one glaring error in the print ad's description of the Big/Small Eye (or Yachtman's): The movement is described as 17 jewel movement. The 6138 is in fact a 21 jewel movement.

THE 6138 MOVEMENT

The Seiko 6138 001X series chronographs were the first to be equipped with the 6138, derived from the existing 6139.

While the earlier 6139 was the first commercially available automatic chronograph, it was not without its shortcomings: first it is an automatic only movement (and so could not be manually wound) and secondly, the 6139 only came with one solitary subdial, while the newer 6138 UFO was an automatic movement that can be hand wound and it came with two subdials!

The manufacture of the first 6139 mechanisms began in 1970 and were marked as 0010. The first version of the 6138 caliber movement was marked "A". Subsequently, the different series were marked with four other case numbers and were all were equipped with the final version 6138B movement, which would continue until 1979.

The Seiko 6138 series was the first fully integrated automatic and winding chronographs in the world featuring column wheel and vertical coupling mechanism. A testament to its advanced design was its adopted by Rolex for their Daytona Chronograph in 2000, 21 years after being discontinued by Seiko.





DIALS

Dial color

Primary dial color is always black

Subdial color is always silver (based on available Seiko source documentation).
So, any other color examples (i.e. gold or blue) are probably aftermarket.

Dial badging can be one of the following:


Export Dial: "Chronograph Automatic"



Early Japan Domestic Market [JDM] Dial: "5 SPORTS Speed-timer", believed to be used until sometime in 1975.



Late JDM Dial: "Speed-timer" without the "5 SPORTS" text believed to be used from sometime in 1975 until the end of production. The dials do not have lume, but the markers are painted white.



There are also reports of a lumed Speed-timer dial that has the dial numbers 6138-0014 T.

DIMENSIONS

The watch measures 40mm across, without the crown, and an impressive 44mm from lug to lug and is 13mm thick.

PUSHERS

6138 UFOs have pushers with small rings engraved around them, while others (like bullheads) have pushers that are smooth.



TEXT and COLORS

This model used 3 different color schemes for the printing of various text [Speed-Timer] and printed "block" markers in the subdials: red, orange, and yellow. All dials proclaim WATER70mRESIST.

On the Late JDM variety, the "orange" color scheme actually seems to be composed of orange for the marker blocks, but a mustard-yellow for the Speed-Timer text.



Water Proof/Resist Dial Indicator.

There were 3 different styles here:

1. NO indication
2. WATER70mPROOF written under the day/date window [Early indicator]
3. WATER70mRESIST written under the day/date window [Late indicator]

The change from PROOF to RESIST was based on various national (liability) laws regarding legal responsibility for the use of the phrase "Water Proof". It is believed that the timing of the change depended upon the nation/market to which the specific watch was sold.


HOUR and MINUTE HANDS


1. Long/thin lume filled (international)

2. Short/fat lume filled (international)



3. Long/thin solid white painted (JDM)

4. Long/thin "arrowhead" painted hands with white triangle tips, black "frames", with unlumed white centers (JDM)



The "long/thin" variety is easily determined by the length of the minute hand - it reaches into the outer individual minute/second marker track of the main dial, but not as far as the 1/5th minute/second marker track. The "short/fat" variety has a blunter shape to the hand tips and the minute hand reaches past the 5 minute (hour) markers but does NOT reach the individual minute markers.


CHRONO SECOND HANDS


The chronograph counts up to 12 hours (sub-dial at 12) with a 30 minute counter (sub-dial at 6) and depending on if the chronograph’s hour hand is on a blank field or on a colored (orange) field determines if the timing is in the first or second half of the hour.

The hands on the small dials are black on all models.



The large sweep seconds hand came in red, orange, or yellow.



A catalog scan from 1971 shows a 8138-0010 with yellow hands, but they are just as often seen with orange or red hands.



The ONLY consistent pattern in matching the case numbers with sweep hand colors is that the 6138-0019 (only produced for a short time in 1970) and ALWAYS has a YELLOW sweep hand.

Perhaps some of the non-0019 specimens found with yellow hands might in fact be orange hands that have faded to yellow?


The colored "flags" on the subdials usually match the sweep hand, but not always.

It is not entirely clear from source documentation whether the second hand color was supposed to match the dial (text & marker blocks) color. However, catalog examples seem to follow that pattern, despite the availability of "mismatched color scheme" examples in the used-market.

BRACELETS

It appears that the above 3 dial varieties were matched with appropriate bracelets:

1. Export Dial came with a "SEIKO" marked bracelet clasp.



2. Early JDM likely came with a "SEIKO 5 SPORTS" clasp.



3. Late JDM appears to have used a "SEIKO Speed-timer" signed clasp.




MODEL NUMBERS

There are five models: 6138-0010, -0011, 0012, -0017, and -0019.

The -0010 is a Speed-timer version was available only in Japan.

The -0011, -0017 and -0019 were produced for the international market.

The 6138-0011 and -0012 were produced for BOTH the Japanese market as a Speed-timer AND as an international version.



The -0010 and -0019 seem to have been discontinued rather quickly.

The 6138-0011 seems to appear alongside them, and the 6138-0017 appears a bit later (but not much).

The -0011 and -0017 were around until the model was discontinued in 1979.

Water resistance indication on the dial is a function of when the watch was made, not which case number it has. Watches from 1970 to late 1971 or early 1972 have it, later watches don't.


POPULAR CULTURE

Actor Oliver Platt in the American film "Bicentennial Man (1999)" wears a 6138-0017. Platt plays Rupert Burns, the son of the NDR series robot creator. Burns works with his father to make the android (played by Robbin Williams) look more human-like.




Japanese actress Fumino Kimura is seen wearing a 6138-0011 in the TV drama "Ishi no Mayu (2015)" a thriller about a pair of police detectives stalked by a serial killer. In the story, the watch had belonged to Fumino Kimura's character's father, who had also been a police detective. In the flashback scenes her father is seen wearing the timepiece that she will one day inherit.






In a now notorious 2017 UK McDonald's television ad (called the “McDonald's dead dad ad”) a 6138-0011 is featured at the five second mark:



The ad shows a young boy dealing with the demise of his father. It opens with him rummaging through a box containing his late father's effects, where he finds his vintage chronograph (obviously his father was a man of good taste). By the end of the narrative the boy finds common ground with his dead father when he discovers that, like his dad, he too enjoys Filet-O-Fish sandwiches!

Shortly after its release, McDonald’s was compelled to withdraw the ad after it attracted criticism for “inappropriately and insensitively using bereavement and grief to sell fast food”.

CONCLUSION
Nothing in a film or a commercial is put there by accident. Every detail (including a two-second shot of a watch) is laboriously chosen.

Why include a watch whose production run ended almost 40 years ago? Certainly not for product placement.

Clearly the Seiko 6138-0011 was selected as a prop in order to raise certain connotations that further the development of the plot. The Seiko's function as a prop was the same in all these instances: to evoke a sense fatherly masculinity and paternal connection. In "Bicentennial Man" the character is working with the father, and perhaps wearing his father's then 25 year-old watch. In both "Ishi no Mayu" and the “McDonald's dead dad ad” the watch functions as a bridge to a deceased father. With the movement still ticking, a watch can be a poignant memento, an almost magical living thing, the wearing of which becomes a ritual of rememberence.

For collectors as well, might not the "Yachtman's Automatic Chronograph" create subconscious associations of fatherly love and paternal care?

I can imagine that, after I die, my own children will rifle through belongings, consigning most things to the thrift shop, but keeping a small cigarbox-sized collection of my things. One of these things certainly will be a watch they saw me once wear.

Maybe this one?
 

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I have one everyone seems to overlook in these threads...


6138-0012 JDM (believe there is also a 0014 JDM)

Mine is a lot later (and I think they made them up to 1979 at least) than the usual ROW 0011 models being a 1977 (my birth year)

The 012 also has a kanji day wheel but the most interesting this for me is the dial. Has the speedtimer logo under Seiko logo (printed like the 5 sports models) but just Seiko and speedtimer. The hour markers are also plain white without lume and the hands are solid white with no lume.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you spot any factual discrepancies, please let me know.

I am no expert. I wrote this piece as a way to increase my own understanding, and perhaps provide some valuable information to collectors in the future. All the information I obtained from posts and articles dating back as far as 15 years. None of this information stems from my own experience.

Corrections are appreciated.
 

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John, this isn't a watch I look out for, but what an excellent post. Thank you!

It always looked too bulky to me, but from your description it sounds like a nice fit, and sure enough the dial and hands are great on them. Oh to have a time machine for the prices in the advert.......:)
 

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Interestingly the 6138’s equivalent price new today would be somewhere in the region of £1200 if we take that advert as circa 1972!

I keep thinking a nice one at £400 is a lot of money but when you consider inflation it’s actually ‘cheap’ compared to the way a lot of Swiss watches hold their money.

I absolutely love mine, was in your camp Guy with the ‘too bulky’ feeling but since servicing & refreshing one for someone I was smitten and just happened upon mine a few weeks later for a pretty decent price (under £100) although it was sold as spares or repair (which I had up and running in a few mins). Very pleased with what I paid considering it’s a lesser seen JDM with the dial difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have one everyone seems to overlook in these threads...


6138-0012 JDM (believe there is also a 0014 JDM)

Mine is a lot later (and I think they made them up to 1979 at least) than the usual ROW 0011 models being a 1977 (my birth year)

The 012 also has a kanji day wheel but the most interesting this for me is the dial. Has the speedtimer logo under Seiko logo (printed like the 5 sports models) but just Seiko and speedtimer. The hour markers are also plain white without lume and the hands are solid white with no lume.
Thank you for the information on the 6138-0012 JDM. I have updated the information. I'd be great if you could post some pics.

I was unable to verify the existence of the 0014 JDM however.

Thanks,

John
 

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Thank you for the information on the 6138-0012 JDM. I have updated the information. I'd be great if you could post some pics.

I was unable to verify the existence of the 0014 JDM however.

Thanks,

John
The 0014 is JDM too AFAIK. I found reference to it when I was searching for info on my 0012 (which there is hardly any evidence of out there) same kanji day wheel with no lume on dial or hands. Someone on WUS mentions their 0014 and there’s also a thread on here where someone is searching for a bracelet for one(maybe pm them for info)


Funny thing about mine is, I had no idea the 0012/0014 existed and from the pics before I got it (very cheap too) I assumed the dial lume had been removed and the indices painted and the hands were fakes. It arrived & I wore it for a bit but just the patina and the typical chrono reset damage to the hand had me thinking they were original also the indice’s white painted finish was so perfect I knew if someone was going to do that as a mod it’d have been terrible.

Luckily I did some more research and it was clear from other pics the 0012/14 comes with solid hands and no lume!

Might be worth writing in the ‘late JDM dial’ bit that these dials do not have lume but the markers are painted white.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The 0014 is JDM too AFAIK. I found reference to it when I was searching for info on my 0012 (which there is hardly any evidence of out there) same kanji day wheel with no lume on dial or hands. Someone on WUS mentions their 0014 and there’s also a thread on here where someone is searching for a bracelet for one(maybe pm them for info)


Funny thing about mine is, I had no idea the 0012/0014 existed and from the pics before I got it (very cheap too) I assumed the dial lume had been removed and the indices painted and the hands were fakes. It arrived & I wore it for a bit but just the patina and the typical chrono reset damage to the hand had me thinking they were original also the indice’s white painted finish was so perfect I knew if someone was going to do that as a mod it’d have been terrible.

Luckily I did some more research and it was clear from other pics the 0012/14 comes with solid hands and no lume!

Might be worth writing in the ‘late JDM dial’ bit that these dials do not have lume but the markers are painted white.
Thank you again. I have tracked down the posts you mentioned (and some others as well) and updated the information.

I'm sure that there are more mistakes. I invite anyone to please question my information.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
My very own 6138-0019 UFO "dad watch" arrived today.



It had scratches on the crystal, DNA under the bezel, the correct yellow sweep hand, intact (unpolished) brushing on the case...



and sticky pushers.




From what I've seen of other examples on line, the -0019 was only made in 1970.



I took it to Mr. Thai, my watch guy (chronographs are way above my current skill level). The caseback had to be wrenched off with his large "cheese press" removal tool. When opened, there were no watchmaker's repair marks on the inside of the caseback, so this may have been the first time the watch had any work done on it since 1970 when it was made!

He cleaned up the pushers, put silicone on the gaskets, tightened some screws, and put on the reproduction bracelet I had ordered from Seikosis (his last one) all for which he only charged my 10 bucks. He'll make plenty of profit from me in February when I've scheduled an overhaul.

Just with that tiny bit of maintenance its working well, the chrono functions smoothly. It'll be like new once Mr. Thai spends a couple of hours with it this February.
 

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Great post, one of my brats I’ve got a mech citizen he wears, so maybe he will appreciate the watches I have when I vacate this mortal coil!
I hope!
 

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Thank you for an engaging post, especially your philosophy of what defines a dad watch. Out of curiosity what part of SoCal do you call home?
 

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Just chiming in with similar sentiments as above. Great post, very informative.. after 40+ years or so you'd think everything had already been written about these icons from Seiko but as is clear from this thread there's still much to be learned and shared.
 

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Absolutely fantastic post/review! Although I have seen original 6138-0019 models with an orange second hand. Where did you discover that only yellow was used? Very impressive and informative post. Thanks you.
 

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