Wristwatch restoration, servicing and repair

Posts Tagged ‘Seiko’

Seiko 6105-8110…

This watch is one of Seiko most popular vintage divers… well almost! The 6105 series of divers watches were produced between 1968 and 1977 and if you’re familiar with them you’ll know instantly that something isn’t right here, the case looks all wrong…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Giving it a quick look over on arrival I presumed it was the internals from a 6105 diver transplanted into a newer case, so I set it to one side for attention later. When I came back to it and turned it over I was very surprised to see the straight brushed finish of a regular 6105 case on the back…

Closer inspection revealed that the case was an original, but had been ground down to give it a much slimmer profile. Apparently this practice was quite common in SE Asia during the 80’s and 90’s, perhaps it was considered too bulky for everyday use, who knows?

I have to say that the finish was very good and almost symmetrical, just the area around the crown guard had traces of the grinder still showing through…

As you probably noticed in the first picture, the dial and hands were badly aged. As it had been heavily modified already, the owner was more interesting in having a presentable watch to wear, so I serviced the movement and replaced the dial, hands, glass and bezel insert.

Here’s the result…

… and here is how it would have started life, quite a difference!

Rich.

** Many thanks to Menno van Rij for letting me feature his watches on the blog. **


Seiko 6138-0040 (Bullhead Chronograph)…

As you may have read in a previous post I bought these two Seiko Bullheads for restoration in a single deal…

It won’t come as a major surprise but these watches are called ‘Bullhead Chronographs’ because with the crown and pushers on the top of the watch rather than the side it makes them look like, well… like a bull’s head! The Bullhead design first appeared in the 1960’s, but it really took hold in the1970’s with some of the major manufacturers getting in on the act, Omega being one of them…

It’s safe to say that the watch designers had some real fun with the Bullhead. Here are a few others that make the design of the Seiko look tame in comparison…. well, it was the 1970’s after all.

Sorna had quite a few Bullheads in their line up, this Jacky Ickx Easy Rider World Time model being a hard one to miss…

A similar Jacky Ickx model was also available in gold… ‘bling, bling’…

At a huge 60mm wide this Desotos model really separated the men from the boys…

… and finally, though not quite as ‘out there’ as some, this Tissot Sideral stood out from the crowd by combining yachting, football and slide-rule scales on the dial and then wrapping it all up in a unique fibreglass case, complete with rotating bezel and built in leather strap.

Getting back to my own watches, having covered the major points of the restoration in part one of this post (here if you missed it), there isn’t much to tell this time.

With the second of the two watches I was having some trouble with the reset mechanism, but everything turned out well in the end. So, after a thorough cleaning and a new set of hands, here is the result…

If you want to see more Bullheads from the past check out this great post on the blog The Watchismo Times.

Rich.


Seiko 6138-3002…

This 6138-3002 came my way, undoubtedly one of Seiko’s most popular vintage chronographs…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

When talking about this watch, Seiko enthusiasts will often refer to all models as the ‘6138-3002’ but like many other Seiko models, several case numbers were used for the same watch. You’ll find this watch with the case numbers -3000, -3002, -3003, -3005 and -3009, but while there are two subtly different case styles, the basic dimensions are the same.

Why the different model numbers? Well, I’m not sure if it has ever been confirmed by Seiko, but the last digit in the case number (xxxx-xxxX) is thought to denote the region where the watch was to be sold, ‘0’ being Japan, ‘9’ being North America and the numbers ‘1’ to ‘8’ being other parts of the world. This applies to all vintage Seikos regardless of the model.

Although in reasonable shape this watch did have a problem with the reset mechanism. While the hour register and centre second hands would reset to zero, the minute register would reset to a different place every time.

I have come across this problem quite a few times now and it seems to be unique to the 6138 calibre, the axle separates from the gear on the minute register wheel…

If you’ve ever handled a vintage Seiko chronograph you’ll know that the reset action returns the hands to zero with quite a snap. This action puts quite a lot of turning force through the sub-register and centre chronograph wheels and can result in the problem you see above.

I can’t say for sure that this problem only occurs on the 6138 calibre, but I’ve never seen the same thing happen on a 6139. Although many parts are shared between the two calibres, the minute register wheels are different (the axle is longer on the 6138 as the calibre is thicker due to the hour register mechanism)…. could they have been made to different tolerances?

Whatever the cause, the fix is relatively simple, the gear is re-staked back onto the axle. After doing this I also like to soften the reset action so the hands reset with more of a sweeping action than a snap. In addition to minimising the chance of the axle coming out again, it puts less stress on the mechanism as a whole and I think the resulting action both looks and feels better.

With the axle of the minute register wheel re-staked in place the rest of the movement just needed a routine clean and oil to bring it up to scratch.

Cosmetically the watch didn’t need too much, the crystal, dial and case were all still in good condition, but the hands had been repainted, so a new set of hands put the finishing touch to the project…

Rich.


Seiko Goldfeather…

Here is something that you don’t see every day, a Seiko Goldfeather…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Produced between 1960 and 1966, this was Seiko’s entry into the ultra-flat watch segment and quite an entry it was, the brochure from the time claiming that it was the “thinnest centre second watch in the world”.

To make a thin watch it’s only logical that you need a thin calibre and at just 2.95mm high, the Seiko cal. 60M is pretty thin. With a rate of 18,000 bph and available in either 17 or 25 jewels, the 60M was thought to be one of the better hand wound calibres produced by the Daini factory at the time. (Unlike other Seiko calibres the 60M was never an officially numbered calibre, the name ’60M’ comes from its designation on Seiko’s movement table.)

In an effort to make the cased watch as thin as possible the hands were minimal in most cases and the hour marker were actually hand engraved into the dial. You’ll only see the engraved dial markers on the earliest models however, as the technique was abandoned due to higher than expected error rates and production costs. When engraving ceased, the markers were replaced by more conventional painted or applied markers.

It’s hard to visualise just how thin this watch is, so here is a profile shot of the watch cased up but without its crystal or caseback…

Originally aimed at the upper end of the market, Goldfeather models were available in stainless steel, 14K gold filled and 18K solid gold cases, and this advert suggests that they were a cut above Seiko’s regular offerings at the time…

As you probably noticed in the first picture, the one I had arrived missing its crystal, and the dial had been scratched quite badly at some point. While I couldn’t do anything about the scratched dial, a service for the movement and fitting a new crystal transformed it into a wearable watch again…

Rich.

** I am indebted to Don Crotty for providing most of the background information for this post and to Vincent Boukema for providing ‘the patient’ **


Seiko 6138-0040 (Bullhead Chronograph)…

I should really call this post, ‘a tale of two Bullheads’ as I picked up two of these watches in the same deal. The sellers pictures were a little dodgy and didn’t include any close ups or movement shots so this one was a bit of a gamble…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

Thankfully on arrival, I was pleasantly surprised by their cosmetic condition; clean glasses, good bezel inserts, the right case backs, and cases in very nice condition. On the minus side, there was no sign of life from either movement, and neither of them would reset properly.

On closer inspection, though the movements were in decent condition, all the pusher springs and gaskets were missing, and it was easy to see that all the hands had been repainted and so would need to be replaced. So all in all, quite a bit of effort would be needed to bring these two back to their best.

As the Bullhead is one of Seiko’s most popular vintage models, it is now possible to buy aftermarket versions of many of the cosmetic items; hands, bezel inserts, and also some of the casing parts, crowns, pushers and stems for example. In previous years the quality of aftermarket parts was always ‘hit and miss’ but things seem to have improved over the years and they now offer a convenient alternative to trying to source genuine Seiko parts, which as you can imagine after 30+ years, are in pretty short supply.

The reset mechanism for both the Seiko 6138/9 chronographs can be a tricky thing to fix and while the service manual provided by Seiko gives practical hints on how to adjust it, when you factor in 30 years of wear on the components it can be a time consuming thing to get right. That turned out to be the case here with one movement being easier to fix than the other.

So, with work still ongoing on the second movement, here’s how the first watch turned out…

I can see why these Bullheads are still popular, especially in these ‘big watch’ times… it’s one serious chunk of steel!

Check back soon for ‘part 2’ of this post if you would like to see how the second watch turns out.

Rich.


Seiko 6117-6019 (World Time)…

Having tackled a number of Seiko’s World Time models in the past, I had the opportunity to work on this one, a second generation model from 1968…

At first glance you could be forgiven for mistaking this watch as a first generation model but there are a number of differences; it doesn’t have the large fluted crown of the first generation model, the GMT hand is red and the hands and dial indices are lumed (see a first generation World Time here).

The most significant difference though is inside as the watch is fitted with a cal. 6117A rather than the cal. 6217A used in the earlier World Time watches. The cal. 6117A is almost the same as the cal. 6117B found in the third generation models, the only difference seems to be that the 6117A doesn’t hack.

It’s always a bit of a lottery buying a watch with a badly scratched crystal as you can never be sure what is hiding underneath and unfortunately this time, removing the crystal revealed a few scratches on the dial caused by clumsy handling in the past…

Another problem with the watch was that the wrong crystal had been fitted, trapping the city bezel. This meant that when the crown was turned to rotate the city bezel it damaged the delicate plastic teeth on the city bezel ring.

Both of these things were pretty bad news as finding suitable spare parts for this model without locating a second watch can be very tricky these days.

While I couldn’t repair the dial I had nothing to lose in trying to file out the damaged teeth on the city bezel and rebuild them. While the resulting teeth aren’t perfect, they were certainly good enough and the bezel worked perfectly again.

With the current dial it isn’t quite back to its best, but with a new crystal it’s certainly wearable again…

Rich.

PS. Many thanks to Ralf (watchbear71) for giving me the chance to take a closer look at this one.


Seiko 6119-6023…

With unmistakable 70’s styling, these Seiko 5 Sports models are very popular. I bought this one just for the crown and stem as I needed it for another project, but when it arrived it was in too good a condition to part out…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

This watch has an internal bezel which is used as a countdown timer. Rotating inner bezels are found on quite a few vintage Seiko models including the World Time models and the ever popular ‘Pepsi’ Chronographs.

The stems on these watches are different to regular stems as they have a separate winding gear (see below). Inside the watch case, the upper part of the stem tube is cut away to allow the winding gear to mesh with teeth on the under side of the inner bezel. When fully pushed in the inner bezel can then be rotated (in either direction) via the crown…

As you can see, the winding gear is spring loaded and slides back on the stem to prevent the fragile plastic teeth on the inner bezel from being damaged should they not line up correctly when the stem is pushed back in after time setting.

Getting back to this particular watch, the seller said that it was running which was half true as it did tick, but the cannon pinion was so loose that the minute hand didn’t move. Repunching the pip on the cannon pinion soon sorted out the problem. Other than that, it just needed a regular clean and oil.

The original crystal was pretty badly scratched so fitting a replacement did wonders to highlight the near perfect dial and hands. The watch also had it’s original bracelet which was an added bonus…

Rich.


Seiko 7016-5001…

I could see that this cal. 7016 or “2 in 1” chronograph was cosmetically a little tired, but certainly worth spending some time on…

(Click pictures to enlarge)

A closer look at the dial revealed a pretty mixed scene. Although all intact in terms of dial print, and with no signs of aging, the dial and hands were scruffy and the lume was pretty tired. The stain under the ’12’ on the subdial was also cause for concern…

The watch had apparently been serviced before I bought it, but when it arrived it wouldn’t run. Serviced?… Well I’m not sure that’s the right word. It certainly hadn’t been cleaned, and there was enough oil on the pivots for twenty watches, so I had little alternative than to strip the movement down and start over. (I wrote an in-depth description of the cal. 7016A at the same time, read it here).

The reason it wouldn’t run was thankfully quite straight forward, a worn pawl lever meaning that it wouldn’t wind. Re-shaping the tines solved the problem.

Regarding the cosmetic issues, cleaning of the dial, markers and hands along with a relume brought the watch back up to spec. The stain on the subdial looked just like coffee… but no, I didn’t taste it!

Here’s the watch all cleaned up…

Rich.