The Seiko 6139 automatic chronograph – a historical movement in its own right, like this serviced 1973 Seiko 6139-6005 chronograph here – was one of the first automatic chronographs created and ranks with Zenith’s El Primero and Heuer’s Calibre 11.
Within the Road Rat automotive magazine Autumn/Winter 2018 debut edition, an article was included on the Seiko 6139 automatic chronograph – the first automatic chronograph in the world – and its connection to Formula One (F1) racing legend, François Cevert, marking the first widely(ish) publicized link between the dark blue-dialed 6139 and Cevert. Hence the moniker "Cevert," which caught on in collector circles quickly.
Back in the 1970’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 awidely debated who won, but in the background of the skirmish Seiko quietly created their own, beating the Swiss at their own game – the Seiko Ref. 6139 automatic chronograph.
During the early months of 1969, Seiko put the final touches on its revolutionary 6139 chronograph - in fact, the Japanese company first began putting the 6139 in automatic chronographs as early as January of the same year.
Seiko published its first advertisement for their new automatic 6139 chronograph in February 1969, easily beating the Swiss - however, the company was concentrating on the release of the world's first quartz watch, the Astron, which would completely disrupt the watch world as it was known at the time (again, much to the chagrin of the Swiss watch industry, we're certain). We possess 6139 dials dating back to October 1968, indicating Seiko beat all other rivals to produce the world's first automatic chronograph. Period.
Of subsequent note, NASA astronaut Richard O'Covey wore a Seiko 6139 like this one during his Discovery Space Shuttle STS-51 mission that launched the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite in September 1993. The flight also featured the deployment and retrieval of the SPAS-ORFEUS satellite and its IMAX camera, which captured spectacular footage of Discovery in space.
The 6139 was the first chronograph to have a vertical clutch, a feature considered to be one of the hallmarks of a superior automatic chronograph movement. The 6139 features an automatic column wheel timing control and an integrated chronograph, which means the entire movement was designed and built to be a chronograph, vice being an automatic movement with a mere timing module. The 6139 movement features a single register chronograph allowing time to be measured in increments of 30 minutes.
This Seiko 6139 Cevert comes on an Uncle Straps stainless-steel H-link bracelet, and with nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.
1973 Seiko 6139-6005 Automatic Chronograph
DIAL: Dark blue Seiko-signed dial, with matching minute, hour and vibrant red chronograph hands. Day/date - with English and Spanish language day variants - at 3 o’clock position works nicely. Inner tachymeter ring rotates smoothly as designed. Lume plots and handset retain their white color and sugar cube texture we love to see on great 6139 examples, which shines following exposure to strong light.
CASE: 41mm (w/o crown, 42mm with) x 46mm stainless-steel case with "water resist"-signed caseback. Red and blue “Pepsi” bezel insert retains its vibrant colors, with no fade. Case lines are sharp with no evidence of machine polishing. Brushed finish remains on case top this Cevert departed the Seiko factory with half a century ago.
CRYSTAL: Hardlex crystal, no scratches, cracks, or blemishes.
BAND: This Cevert comes on a high quality Uncle Straps H-link bracelet, which will fit up to an approx. 8.50 inch wrist; this 6139 also comes with a grey nylon strap.
MOVEMENT: Seiko 17-jewel 6139B automatic movement, manufactured in August 1973. We have performed a full service on this Seiko Cevert.
CROWN: Unsigned stainless-steel crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Chronograph pushers depress with satisfying click – no sticking. Red chronograph main and subdial hands reset as designed to zero.