THE BEST OF VINTAGE SEIKO CHRONOGRAPHS
THE SEIKO 6139 CHRONOGRAPH MOVEMENT FAMILY - #1 FOR VINTAGE SEIKO CHRONOGRAPHS
THE SEIKO ‘POGUE’ 6139-600X CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko Pogue 6139 Yellow Dial ‘Pogue’ / Credit: Wind Vintage
The very first automatic chronograph movement by Seiko was the caliber 6139. The 6139, throughout the years, has also developed into one of the most collectable vintage Seiko watches - the most sought after amongst vintage Seiko chronographs.
It came in 4 different color schemes. There was the blue dial ‘Cevert’, named after French F1 racer Francois Cevert who used to wear this timepiece. Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason, also wore the blue dial Seiko 6139. The other variations include the yellow dial ‘Pogue’, which was the first automatic chronograph in space. It was worn by Colonel William Pogue during the Skylab 4 mission in 1973. The other two dial configurations are the silver dial and the teal dial also known as ‘sunrise’ due to the sub-dial markings. The model numbers for the Seiko 6139-600x family are: 6139-6000, 6139-6001, 6139-6002, 6139-6005, 6139-6007, and 6139-6009.
SEIKO ‘BRUCE LEE’ 6139-601X CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Bruce Lee’ 6139 Speedtimer / Credit: DC Vintage Watches
The Seiko 6139-601x series was among the very first releases of the Seiko 6139 calibers. Similar to the Seiko Pogue in the 6139-600x series, every 6139-601x watch with a black dial can be referred to as the ‘Bruce Lee’. Bruce Lee famously wore the 6139-6010 in a myriad of photos in his younger years, making this one of the more collectable vintage watches.
The model numbers for the Seiko 6139-601x series are 6139-6010, 6139-6011, 6139-6012, 6139-6015, 6139-6017, and 6139-6019. Blue and black dials are the most common, while grey dials, black dials with white sub dials, and even a gold dial color can be found.
SEIKO ‘PULSATIONS’ OR ‘DOCTOR'S CHRONO’ 6139-602X CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Pulsations’ 6139-6020 Chronograph / Credit: Mikee1918
The unique feature of the Seiko Doctor’s Chrono is the rotating pulsations bezel, which can be used to measure a patient’s heart rate. Model numbers include 6139-6020, 6139-6021 and 6139-6022. With an assortment of silver, white, black, blue, and chocolate brown dials to choose from.
SEIKO ‘BABY JUMBO’ 6139-7030 AND 6139-7070 CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Baby Jumbo’ 6139-7070 Chronograph / Credit: Watch and Found
This Seiko 6139 chronograph got its nickname because of the dial similarities with the 6138-300x Jumbo. A relatively small Seiko 6139 chronograph series, boasting just two very similar timepieces.
SEIKO ‘SILVER GHOST’ 6139-604X CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Silver Ghost’ 6139-6040 Chronograph / Credit: Carousell user
The interesting feature of the Seiko 6139-604x series is that it came equipped with a round case, relatively uncommon for Seiko chronographs in the 1970s. The black and grey bezels on this timepiece faded quickly, often earning the name ‘Silver Ghost’. This family didn’t come equipped with a vast assortment of bright colors, but the black and grey dials are a refreshing break from the ‘louder’ Seiko chronographs from this era.
SEIKO ‘HELMET’ OR ‘DARTH VADER’ 6139-710X CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Helmet’ 6139-7101 / Credit: The Watch Site
The Seiko 6139-710x is still quite affordable, as it is one of the less coveted 6139s in the vintage Seiko market among collectors. It is quite similar to the 6138 ‘Tokei Zara’. A beautiful, simple vintage Seiko chronograph. Another notable aspect of this watch is that it was worn in the film Bobby Deerfield by Al Pacino.
THE SEIKO 6138 CHRONOGRAPH MOVEMENT FAMILY - #2 FOR VINTAGE SEIKO CHRONOGRAPHS
SEIKO ‘YACHTMAN’ OR ‘UFO’ 6138-001X CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko 6138-0017 Chronograph / Credit: Fifth Wrist
The Seiko 6138A chronograph movement was first released in 1969, and was the first fully integrated two-register automatic chronograph with a column wheel and vertical clutch. The Seiko UFO was an earlier release in the 6138 lines. It has earned this name by vintage Seiko lovers through its extraterrestrial aesthetic, and its ability to look like it's floating on your wrist due to its lug positioning.
SEIKO ‘KAKUME’ 6138-003X CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Kakume’ 6138-0030 Speedtimer / Credit: The Hairspring
Chronographs from the 1970s are defined by colorful accents, ‘risky’ angular case shapes, and innovative mechanical movements. The Seiko ‘Kakume’ is a highly desirable 6138 model. It gets its unique name from the Japanese term meaning ‘Square Eyes’.
SEIKO ‘BULLHEAD’ 6138-004X CHRONOGRAPH
Seiko ‘Bullhead’ 6138-0040 / Credit: Segnatempo
The Seiko 6138 caliber included a dual sub-register, which differed to the 6139 which had only a single sub-register. The Seiko 6138 movements were automatic and included quick-set day/date functions. These were amazing technical achievements for the time. The Seiko Bullhead is one of the most sought-after pieces within the 6138 family. It earned the nickname ‘Bullhead’ due to the positioning of the pushers on top of the crown.
SEIKO ‘PANDA’ 6138-802X
Seiko ‘Panda’ 6138-8020 / Credit: Adventures in Amateur Watch Fettling
The 1970s was a decade that produced an incredible amount of unique vintage chronographs. The Seiko 6138 was the famous dual sub-register Japanese chronograph that has earned its place among collectors worldwide. Seiko Panda watches remain extremely desirable among collectors for their unique colour configuration, and Seiko’s 6138 Panda is among that group. You can compare the Seiko Panda to the Hamilton Chronomatic, with which it shares many similarities.
THE SEIKO 7A28 CHRONOGRAPH MOVEMENT FAMILY - #3 FOR VINTAGE SEIKO CHRONOGRAPHS
SEIKO ‘SPEEDMASTER’ 7A28-7049 CHRONOGRAPHS
Vintage Seiko ‘Speedmaster’ 7A28-7049 / Credit: Toronto Vintage Watches
The Seiko 7A28 was the world’s first analog-display quartz chronograph movement. The Seiko 7A28-7049 is a 7A28-7040 lookalike that belongs to the Sports 100 collection. This timepiece shares many similarities to Omega's famous Speedmaster, and is one of the most commonly seen Seiko quartz chronographs online.
SEIKO ‘JAMES BOND’ 7A28-7020 CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘James Bond’ 7A28-7020 / Credit: Watchuseek user
Seiko launched the 7A28 series in the early 1980s, and the movements found their way into many famous watches. This includes one of the watches Roger Moore wore in the James Bond film A View to a Kill, where he wore the 7A28-7020.
SEIKO ‘YACHT TIME’ 7A28-7090 CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Yacht Timer’ 7A28-7090
The Seiko Yacht Timer comes equipped with pushers at 10 and 2 o’clock, giving a somewhat ‘Bullheadish’ aesthetic. It is also one of Seiko’s vintage regatta watch offerings, initially released in 1982. A simple, beautiful, vintage Seiko chronograph.
SEIKO ‘GIUGIARO’ 7A28-7000 CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Giugiaro’ 7A28-7000 / Credit: Grailium
The Seiko 7A28 series consists of 42 variations, which include models worn in movies and the military. The Seiko 7A28-7000 'Giugiaro' was developed by Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro in unison with Seiko. It was even worn in the 1986 movie Alien directed by James Cameron. Other variations of the 7A28 models have been used by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense and the South African Air Force.
THE SEIKO 7018 CHRONOGRAPH MOVEMENT FAMILY - #4 FOR VINTAGE SEIKO CHRONOGRAPHS
SEIKO ‘MONACO’ 7018-5000 CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Monaco’ 7018-5000 Chronograph / Credit: Watchuseek user
While Suwa’s watches, like the 6138/6138 movements, are a bit more popular when discussing vintage Seiko chronographs. That doesn’t mean Daini Seikosha was not steadily producing some amazing timepieces during that same period. The Seiko 7017 caliber, the predecessor to the 7018 caliber, was the world’s slimmest automatic chronograph movement when it was released in 1970. Coming out at just 5.9 mm in thickness, it held the record from 1970 to 1987, when it was usurped by Frederic Piguet at 5.5 mm.
The Seiko 7018, came out a year after the 7017 caliber in 1971. Just like its predecessor, the movement size was only 5.9 mm in thickness, but this time included a 30 min counter in addition to the flyback function. The Seiko Monaco series is particularly rare and takes its inspiration from the Heuer Monaco. This is yet another example of a vintage Seiko chronograph competing with other top brands.
SEIKO ‘TIME SONAR’ 7018-6000 CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘Time Sonar’ 7018-6000 Chronograph / Credit: The Watch Site
The Seiko Time Sonar has some very original features which include, hands without lume, a display caseback, and a semi-helmet shaped case. The dial code was also written at 9 o’clock versus the standard 6 o'clock on many vintage Seiko pieces.
In the 1976 Seiko catalog, it was advertised that many younger people had developed a preference for mechanical design, thus this product was aimed at students in the upper grades of junior high and elementary school. This makes the Time Sonar a very interesting vintage watch that was marketed at the younger generation at the time.
SEIKO ‘ONE-EYED PANDA’ 7018-7000 AND 7018-8000 CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko ‘One-Eyed Panda’ 7018-7000 / Credit: Fifth Wrist
The flyback function of the vintage Seiko 7018 chronograph is one of its most distinguishing features. Now while there isn’t a myriad of different designs to choose from, when compared to the 6139/6138, it still produced some incredible, iconic pieces, like the ‘One-Eyed Panda’ above. These vintage watches appear in the JDM catalogs from 1972 to 1977.
THE SEIKO 6S MOVEMENT FAMILY - #5 FOR VINTAGE SEIKO AUTOMATIC CHRONOGRAPHS
SEIKO 6S CHRONOGRAPHS
Seiko Credor Phoenix 6S78-0A30 ref. GCBP993 / Credit: Credor
And finally, one of the more modern vintage Seiko chronograph movements to look at for today. The 6S caliber series was the Seiko chronograph reborn for the 1990s. This was Seiko’s first ‘modern’ mechanical chronograph after the production of the 613x and 701x stopped in the 1970s. The Seiko 6S was rolled out with the 9S in 1998, with the 9S still being found in modern Grand Seiko timepieces. In the years to follow, Seiko would produce a large assortment of chronograph movements using this base caliber, some of which had even been picked up by the likes of Junghans and Tag Heuer.
So, which is your favourite vintage Seiko chronograph?