The Seiko 6139 automatic chronograph – a historical movement in its own right, like this October 1969 Seiko 6139-6010 Japanese Domestic Market (JDM)-only SpeedTimer "Deep Blue" here – was one of the first automatic chronographs created and ranks with Zenith’s El Primero and Heuer’s Calibre 11.
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 widely debated who won, but in the background of this skirmish, Seiko quietly created one theirs at the same time, beating the Swiss at their own game – the 6139.
Those who know vintage Seiko - in particular 6139 chronograph's - know these early 6139 SpeedTimer's come up for sale rarely, in particular early models like this one here. We have seen 6139's dating back to January 1969, indicating Seiko beat all other rivals to produce the world's first automatic chronograph. Period.
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.
This 6139 includes a leather strap, nylon NATO strap, springbar tool, and Pelican travel case.
1969 Seiko 6139-6010 SpeedTimer JDM "Deep Blue" Chronograph
DIAL: Deep blue proof-signed SpeedTimer dial - if you are unfamilar with Seiko's blue dials of this era, they are spectacular to behold in person. Matte hour and minute hands - seen on the early SpeedTimer models - have patina, with partial lume loss on the minute hand; chronograph hands retain their vibrant red color. Day/date complication – with Kanji Japanese/English variants – at 3 o’clock position works as designed.
CASE: 39mm x 43mm stainless steel case. Case lines are sharp; matching caseback.
CRYSTAL: Seiko 6139-correct Hardlex crystal, no scratches or blemishes.
BAND: This SpeedTimer comes with a brown leather strap; it also comes with a gray nylon ZULU strap.
MOVEMENT: 21-jewel Seiko 6139A automatic movement, manufactured in October 1969.
CROWN: Recessed unsigned stainless-steel crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Chronograph pushers depress with a satisfying click, and reset to zero.