Timeline Watch

Seiko Chronograph

OPEC ends the oil embargo begun in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War

1974 Seiko 6139-8020 Chronograph automatic brown dial

The vintage Seiko automatic chronographs are iconic-historical pieces. They are collectible, beautiful and affordable, generally a Seiko 6138 or 6139 will run you between $100 and $400.

The story of the Seiko chronograph begins in 1969 when the first three, automatic chronographs emerged.

The Seiko caliber 6139 is an automatic chronograph with a single thirty minute register at 6 o’clock and day/date indicator. It has a unique quick set date function; to set the day you push the crown in all the way until it changes. To set the date you press it a bit more gently, very ingenious. There is no continuous seconds hand on the watch, which takes a moment to get used to, the Heuer cal. 11 is the same, no big deal for me.

Think of Japanese watches and you think of Seiko.

Seiko mechanical watches are highly prized by collectors. Seiko is a Japanese word meaning exquisite or success.

The company was founded in 1881 in Tokyo, Japan. Eleven years later, in 1892, Seiko began to produce clocks under the name Seikosha.

The first watches produced under the Seiko brand appeared in 1924.

In 1966 Seiko introduced the Bell-Matic, World’s first automatic alarm watch with a central rotor.

1969 was an important year for Seiko, the company introduced the Seiko caliber 6139 considered for many collectors the real first automatic Chronograph and the Astron, the world’s first production quartz watch; when it was introduced, it cost the same as a medium-sized car.

Three companies compete for the title of being the first company to have an automatic Chronographs, Zenith, Heuer, and Seiko.

Zenith announced the El Primero in January, the group behind the Heuer Caliber 11 start selling it to the global market first in August. But in Japan Seiko, quietly producing their automatic chronograph, and releasing it to the Japanese market as early as May 69.

In 1985, Orient and Seiko established a joint factory.

Seiko is perhaps best known for its wristwatches, all of which were at one time produced entirely in-house. This includes not only major items such as micro gears, motors, hands, crystal oscillators, batteries, sensors, LCDs but also minor items such as the oils used in lubricating the watches and the luminous compounds used on the hands and the dials.

Seiko produces both quartz and mechanical watches of varying prices. The least expensive are around US$45 sold under the brand Alba, the most expensive, Credor Juri GBBX998, costs US$554.000.