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speedtimers seventies of the

Speedtimers of the seventies
The Speed timer is a product line of Seiko’s automatic chronographs from the 1970's. Speedtimer branded watches - 6138/6139 - were mechanically the same as their regular counterparts, but had small stylistic differences that set them apart from the general production of the same watch. They were built in far lesser numbers and offered in fewer markets than their normally aspirated variants. As such Speedtimer are highly priced amongst collectors. It is important to note that not all Seiko chronographs had a Speedtimer variant. A note on Speedtimers....at one time it was determined that one of the variants. I think it was the 6139's had the "b" movement with the extra jewels. Not true with the 6138's though. There is also the issue of whether or not Speedtimers were domestic [Japan] only models.

6139-7100 Stormtrooper aka “White helmet” prime directive
(Yes I know - that last bit is not from Star Trek - just borrowed the cool words). Star Wars then, the stormtrooper depicted below is from september 1978.


The Seiko White Helmet 6139-7100 - part of the 6139 family, produced  between 1969 and 1979 - is a very collectable vintage watch. The white helmet, like its brother the “Vader” is a special case, literally, this is what makes this watch collectable. But it is not its shape alone, a true blue vintage white helmet (or stormtrooper) has deep radial grooves around the case, that result in a matte finish. You can't really have it polished.. but you can use it as a nail file. Seriously, and the grooves are just slightly less abrasive (you can do your nails - well your girlfriend can).
I know of no other watch that has this characteristic and therefore, a good vintage stormtrooper is about the case first, before all other aspects get adressed.
This watch uses the 6139B movement and measures 40X46 mm. It is a 17 jewels automatic single register chronograph movement and has no seconds hand. The black chrono-seconds hand came original, just like red and yellow. The hour/minute hands are very often redone or replaced, because of the lume I suspect. There is an ideal distribution of the black and silver, which is quite intuitively discernible. They just seem wrong or right. I won't bother here to calculate the distribution.
The seconds hands on the subdial, it is quite different than the Seiko Pogue for instance in that the hand overlaps the markings. Also the subdial should neatly touch 7 of the minute markings on the main dial. There are endless details to be discussed on the dial, if you are looking to buy, so flesh out any details of the norm that you can.
Covering the dial should be mineral glass, called Hardlex, around the dial should be an inner white chapter ring with tachymeter indices. The pushers are not adorned in any way, straight pokers them. It's a column wheel chrono and they do tend to clunk in a little - the spring pressure needed for operation is quite high - as with the other 6139 chronos like the Seiko Pogue. The bezel has a nice high gloss polish to it. On top it is flattened where it meets the crystal. Many after market or restored bezels have this rounded off, as you can see in the pictures above. Below, you can see the stormtrooper as it is supposed to be. The case should have crisp edges and the crown must be recessed. The crown of course, for this type of chrono, accesses the day/date function - just push it to quickset.
The movement: although it is a good solid 6139B, check if it has been cleaned up, and whether the corrosion has not too deeply pitted the rotor?
Now about bracelets, there seems to be one variation to the fishbone. This I also have read as being original, it is depicted below, the large flat Stelux (Steel Lux). To me it looks better than the fishbone style.
(For a quick fact check read at the end: Table of characteristics: Seiko Helmet 6139-7100)

Valuation of the white helmet.
According to the 1973 Seiko catalog similar chronos were going for around $100-145. Assuming this one was the average price of $100 then current price (2015 price based on inflation calculators) in USD would be about $560.
Interestingly, in 1975 the really expensive Seikos were the new high-end quartz watches, many of which sold for hundreds of thousands of yen and had case designs that look really tacky and dated to modern eyes – the mechanicals, including the GS and KS watches were demoted to half way through the catalogue, although they have kept their looks and their value much better!

Table of characteristics: Seiko Helmet 6139-7100
Case size
Size without crown: ± 40,5mm. Thickness: ± 17mm

Case finish
Deep radial grooves, crisp edges. Can’t be polished at all

Case back
Unadorned, engraved

Bezel finish
High gloss


Flush with casing, has a slight dimple

Unadorned, beveled edges. Spring pressure quite high

20 mm to attach bracelet

Fishbone style or the large flat Stelux

Folding clasp

6139B single register chronograph


Hour, minute and chrono seconds

Hands finish
Silver hands from the center, with black paint applied around the lume on both.

Chrono hands
Black, red and possibly green, the subdial hand overlaps the markings

Chrono function
Always leave it running!

Day date
Quickset by pushing the crown - only between 4 am and 9


Dial finish
Fine detail in font and Suwa symbol, Black line around the day-date
with rounded corners

Not touched by main 5 mins. indices, does touch 7 minute’s indices

Little square filled with a slightly bulging surface - no dots!
6139-6002 aka “Pogue”
The 1960s saw many in the watch industry looking to capitalise on an increased demand for automatic watches. In 1969, Seiko delivered by introducing what was arguably the world’s first automatic chronograph, the Seiko 6139. This article focuses on its earliest incarnations, the 6139-600X. A watch often called the “Speed-Timer”. Seiko printed the term “Speed-Timer” on many of its early chronographs destined for the Japanese market, indicating the more advanced features, such as a thirty-minute chronograph recorder, a day and date indicator, and a tachymeter scale. Production of the 6139 line up ended sometime in 1978, but are still readily available today. The 6139-600X series are quickly becoming very collectable pieces thanks to a combination of great design and a storied history. The 600X has two big claims to fame, as both a contender for the world’s first automatic chronograph to achieve serial production and as the first chronograph worn in space.
This honor used to be bestowed upon Sinn 140 worn by a German astronaut named Reinhard Furrer during the Spacelab D1 mission in 1985. It was only in 2007 that it was established that Col. Pogue wore a 6139-6002 during the NASA Skylab 4 mission which took place in 1973. The official watch to be used for the Skylab 4 Mission was the Omega Speedmaster Professional, but it was only issued shortly before the actual launch. Needing a watch to use during his pre-flight training, Col. Pogue bought a 6139-6002 from PX at Ellington AFB Exchange. He utilized it to time engine burns during the course of his training, which lasted for more than six months. Due to his familiarity with the 6002, Col. Pogue launched into space on Nov. 16, 1973 with the piece tucked in his suit leg pocket. For the length of the mission, he wore it on his left arm alongside the NASA certified Omega Speedmaster on his other arm.
Since this fact was discovered, the yellow dial with the yellow indicator ring variation of the 6002 has been commonly termed as a “Pogue”.

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  • Omegaist
Nice. So, what do these go for nowadays - 400-500 USD? And what about that thickness... 17mm! That's absurd.
And I am thinking Omega here. Lol - and it was Seiko yet again!

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