The Seiko 6139 automatic chronograph – a historical movement in its own right, like this 1970 Seiko 6139-6010 "Bruce Lee" proof-proof here – was one of the first automatic chronographs created and ranks with Zenith’s El Primero and Heuer’s Calibre 11.
Back in the late 1960's, Heuer and Zenith had taken hold of the entire sports watch industry by racing to become the first to produce an automatic chronograph. It has been widely debated who won, but in the background of this skirmish, Seiko quietly created their own at the same time, beating the Swiss at their own game – the Seiko 6139.
The 6139 was the first chronograph to have a vertical clutch, a feature considered by many to be one of the hallmarks of a superior automatic chronograph movement. The 6139 features a single register chronograph allowing time to be measured in increments of 30 minutes, and also features an automatic column wheel timing control, vertical coupling mechanism, and is an integrated chronograph – the first in the world – which means the entire 6139 movement was designed and built to be a chronograph, vice being an automatic movement with a mere timing module added.
Of note, this Seiko 6139 variant received its nickname by regularly being worn by Bruce Lee - yes, that Bruce Lee. Unfortunately, this bit of research appeared to have escaped the watchful eyes of Quinten Tarantino in his excellent "Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood" - Bruce wasn't wearing his in the movie...but we digress.
With this movement, Seiko set the standard, which was followed by the Swiss watch industries 20 years later. The same movement configuration was adopted by Rolex when it made its own in-house movement for the Daytona in 2000, 30 years after Seiko released the caliber 6139 and 6138.
This 6139 includes an generic "Chiclet" bracelet, nylon NATO strap, springbar tool, and Pelican travel case.
1970 Seiko 6139-6010 "Bruce Lee" Proof/Proof Automatic Chronograph
DIAL: Black proof-signed Seiko dial – two-piece chronograph second hand is indicative of an early 6139. Lume on dial and hands is in good condition, albeit with patina, and continues to shine. Day/date complication – with French/English variants – at 3 o’clock position works nicely.
CASE: Original 39.5mm x 43.5mm stainless steel case, with recessed crown; matching proof-signed caseback.
CRYSTAL: Hardlex crystal, no scratches or imperfections.
BAND: This Seiko 6139 comes with a generic vintage stainless-steel "Chiclet" bracelet, which will fit up to an approx. eight inch wrist. This Bruce Lee also comes with a black nylon NATO strap - a great sporty compliment to the colors of this 6139.
MOVEMENT: Original Seiko 6139A automatic movement, manufactured in April 1970.
CROWN: Original recessed unsigned stainless steel crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Chronograph pushers depress with a satisfying click, no stick, and snap back as designed to zero with no issue.