The Seiko 6139 automatic chronograph – a historical movement in its own right, like this 1970 Seiko 6139A-6001 "Cevert" proof/resist transitional here, w/its original H-link bracelet – 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.
Those who know vintage Seiko - in particular 6139 chronograph's - know these early 6139 proof's come up for sale rarely. We have seen 6139's dating back to January 1969, indicating Seiko beat its Swiss rivals to produce the world's first automatic chronograph.
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.
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.
The transitional 6139 inhabited the time period between when the Pogue debuted in early 1969 and late 1971. In January 1969, it was sold with a "waterproof" signed case and dial, 6139A automatic movement, two-piece chronograph second hand, and a "notch" in the case over the crown. However, Seiko, to comply with a U.S. law deadline of January 1972, changed the 6139 to feature a case and dial marked with "waterresist" nomenclature, single piece chronograph second hand, 6139B automatic movement, and no "notch" above the crown in the case.
In between these two 6139 models was the transitional model, like this example here, which featured a proof-signed dial, two-piece chronograph second hand, and a 6139A movement, but also a "resist" caseback and no notch in the case - these transitional 6139's are not common.
This 6139 includes its original stainless-steel bracelet, leather rally strap, springbar tool, and Pelican travel case.
1970 Seiko 6139A-6001 "Cevert" Transitional Automatic Chronograph
DIAL: Original dark blue proof-signed dial. Original hands, to include the two-piece large red chronograph seconds sweep hand. Day/date complication – with Spanish/English variants – at 3 o’clock position works as designed.
CASE: Original 39.5mm x 43.5mm stainless steel case. Case lines are sharp, with notch above recessed crown; non-original caseback. Original inner tachmeyer, with surprisingely no fade, rotates smoothly as designed.
CRYSTAL: New Seiko 6139-correct Hardlex crystal, no scratches or blemishes.
BAND: This 6139 comes with its original "H-link" stainless-steel bracelet, with tight links that will fit up to an approx. seven inch wrist. This Cevert also comes with a red leather rally strap, with stainless-steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: Original 21-jewel Seiko 6139A automatic movement, manufactured in October 1970.
CROWN: Original recessed unsigned stainless steel crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Chronograph pushers depress with a satisfying click and resets designed to zero with no issue.