Seiko 6138 Vintage Chronographs Guide

Last updated on: May 8, 2021
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Warning: you may develop a new addiction after going through this article.

I must admit that I am familiar with this addiction because my love for vintage Seiko’s started with the acquisition of a beautiful blue 6138 “Kakume” model. 6138 is one of the several chrono calibers developed by Seiko in the 70’s. And if its older brother 6139 was the first one to be released, the 6138 dual register movement arguably equipped some of the most emblematic models from this era. The objective of this article is to give you an overview of available models, without going into details such as hands variations, dial codes or caseback references. These details will be available in model-specific buying guides. We also mention approximative current market prices for watches in good vintage condition.

Without further ado, let’s dive in. You’ll find technical characteristics of this mechanical masterpiece at the end of the article.

6138-001X: UFO or Yachtman

Seiko 6138-001X UFO / Yachtman
Seiko 6138-001X “UFO” / “Yachtman”

Nicknamed UFO because of its lugless weird-looking case, this watch features a black dial, two silver sub-dials (one being slightly bigger than the other) and a red and black tachymeter scale.

The UFO was made for both the Japanese domestic market (“JDM”) and the international market. We have a full reference guide where we’re going through all available variations. Check it out if you’re interested in this model.

Market price: expect to pay ~$500 for a UFO.

6138-0020: Tokei Zara

Tokei Zara (bowl) was destined for the domestic market only and exists in two color variants: with a blue minutes sub-dial and with a grey minutes sub-dial. Housed in a remarkable “helmet” case with a very nice mix of brushed and polished surfaces, the Tokei Zara is quite a rare guest on Western wrists.

Market price: Tokei Zara can still be found for roughly $400 – $600 (not for long in my opinion).

6138-003X: Kakume

Seiko Kakume
Seiko 6138 “Kakume” with a blue dial

Kakume means square eyes in Japanese and it’s easy to see why this bright watch has been nicknamed this way: its hour and minute sub-dials are square. The dial is either blue or champagne in color. The blue version was distributed in Japan and internationally (thus the dial can be found with “Speedtimer” or “Chronograph Automatic” markings), whereas the champagne version was made for the JDM market only.

Seiko 6138 "Kakume" champagne dial
Seiko 6138 “Kakume” with a champagne dial / Source: browncow, thewatchsite

The champagne dial is considered significantly rarer.

Update: we recently published a full reference guide about the Kakume. We explain all the subtle dial & hands differences that you may encounter when attempting to buy this model. Check it out!

Market price: Kakume in good condition currently costs $500 – $750 (blue dial) and $750+ (champagne dial).

6138-004X: Bullhead

Seiko 6138 Bullhead, brown color scheme
Seiko 6138 “Bullhead”, brown color scheme / Source: Santaderino91

This massive chronograph (44mm) owes its nickname to the position of its crown and pushers. It’s a pity that there are very few bullhead chronographs produced today, as these vintage models from Seiko (and also from Citizen – the Seiko’s eternal competitor produced some amazing bullhead chronographs in the 70’s) have a lot of charisma and have become very collectible.

Seiko 6138 "Bullhead", black-blue color scheme
Seiko 6138 “Bullhead”, black-blue color scheme / Source: JimJupiter

Two color schemes were used: one with a brown dial and golden sub-dials, and one with a black dial and blueish sub-dials. The Bullhead is one of the most faked / franked models, beware.

Market price: expect to pay between $600 and $850 for a nice-looking Bullhead.

6138-300X: Jumbo

Seiko 6138 Jumbo
Seiko 6138-300X “Jumbo” / Source: Hubcity Vintage

Thanks to its very large multi-level dial, the Jumbo has an amazing wrist presence. Yet, perhaps due to its too classic looks, it is somewhat overlooked by collectors who prefer more original models such as the ones presented above. This model, available with a black or a dark blue dial, remains one of the more affordable watches housing the 6138 movement.

Market price: it’s still relatively easy to find a Jumbo for under $500.

6138-700X: Sliderule or Pilot Calculator

Seiko 6138 Sliderule
Seiko 6138-700X “Sliderule” / Source:

Housed in a case similar to the UFO, this rare 6138 Sliderule looks even larger and is unique in a lot of ways. It features a double bezel, one of them being rotating – it’s the only watch with a rotating bezel in the 6138 range. Furthermore, it is equipped with a plastic pointer which is needed to perform some mathematical calculations. And, to finish with, it comes with an acrylic glass (all the other 6138 use hardlex). It’s very difficult to find this watch in good condition as its large bezel is prone to scratches.

Market price: current prices for a Slide Rule / Calculator are approaching $1,000.

6138-8000: Baby Panda

Seiko 6138-8000 “Baby Panda”
Seiko 6138-8000 “Baby Panda”

In my very personal opinion, this is the most desirable model in the lot. Baby Panda is a timeless chronograph suitable for every occasion. And if you want some variation to its ivory face, you can try hunting down the Reverse Baby Panda, sporting an amazing deep grey dial.

Seiko 6138-8000 Reverse Baby Panda
Seiko 6138-8000 “Reverse Baby Panda”

Market price: Baby Panda’s are rare and usually exceed $1,500, and even $2,000 for black dial models.

6138-8010: Holy Grail

This model made exclusively for the Japanese domestic market may very well be the rarest one of the lot. Sometimes called “holy grail” because it shows up just a couple of times per year on auction sites, it doesn’t have a proper nickname. With a perfectly-sized case at 42mm and a striking blue dial, it can fetch a hefty price. Especially if the original bracelet, specific to this model, is included.

Market price: at least $1,500.

6138-8020: Panda

Seiko 6138-8020 Panda
Seiko 6138-8020 Panda

All-time favorites among Seiko collectors, original white Pandas in good condition are becoming a rare sight. Pay attention to the condition of the case (it may be over-polished), and be aware that its dial is often faked. Unfortunately, the quality of fakes is getting better and better, thus usually it’s a good idea to “buy the seller” when buying used timepieces, especially with watches costing 4 figures.

There are two variations of the Panda that are somewhat less common (but also less popular). Both feature a black dial with golden elements and white hands. It can come in a gold-plated case or in a stainless steel case with assorted bracelets.

Seiko 6138-8020 Panda in Gold
Seiko 6138-8020 “Panda”, black dial in a gold-plated case / Source:

Market price: consider yourself lucky if you catch an original and unpolished Seiko Panda for less than $1,200.

6138-8030: Baby Kakume

Seiko 6138-8030 Baby Kakume
Seiko 6138-803X “Baby Kakume” in Blue

Last but not least we have the Baby Kakume which, as its name suggests, features square eyes / sub-dials in a slightly smaller, 40mm case. Three different color schemes were released: Blue, Gold in stainless steel case (also known as “John Player Special”) and Gold in gold-plated case.

Seiko 6138-8030 John Player Special
Seiko 6138-803X “John Player Special” / Source: _reggie_75

Market price: $400 – $700 can land you a decent Baby Kakume.

6138: Presentation of the movement

Let’s finish this article with a few words about the Seiko in-house movement powering these beautiful watches. The 6138 is a dual-register (minutes, hours) chronograph that Seiko released shortly after the 6139 movement (which was one of the first automatic chronographs in the world). It’s automatic, can be hand-wound, and has a quick-set function for both day and date. Impressive array of features for a mechanism designed 50 years ago!

Running at 21,600 beats per hour, it has two variations: the 6138A and the later 6138B with a modified switching mechanism. The 6138A has 21 jewels and the 6138B either 21 or 23 jewels, depending on the model. Here are a couple of pictures of the machine with and without the rotor:

Wrapping up

I hope you enjoyed this short overview of vintage chronographs powered by Seiko 6138. Perhaps you even fell in love with one of them? The good thing is that most of them are still available under $1,000 in good condition. I can only see them going up in value, so it may be a good idea to add this iconic chronograph to your collection.

Which is your favorite model? Add a comment below, and feel free to include a picture if you already own one!

Further reading : check out our vintage Seiko reference guides

Seiko 6138 Vintage Chronographs Guide 1
Vintage Watch Inc

Dennis is the founder and editor of Vintage Watch Inc. Passionate about Soviet and Japanese vintage timepieces and a finance professional by day, he proudly wears a Seiko Pogue with his suit.

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DaGuruSouthSlope.NYCChristian GravesenVintage Watch IncMichael Recent comment authors
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The 6138 is an all time classic. Many of the features found in the 6138 were groundbreaking (vertical clutch for the chronograph). If it were a Swiss watch, they would cost five times as much. For me, I can only collect what I can afford so I collect Seiko 6138’s. I agree, they are only going to get more expensive and anyone interested should start collecting them now. Great, great watches. Stop lusting after that Swiss watch and go for one of these wonderful Seiko’s.

Richard Haines
Richard Haines

I have a 6138 jumbo that has been worn every day since 1972. Its never missed a beat and still keeps exact time even after having been boating, fishing, snorkling etc. for all those years. Never been serviced other than wipingoff with a towel. Best watch in the world and I paid less than 200 dollars for it in ‘ 72.


I have the 6138-8000 Baby Panda in the “reverse” dial variant, and it is honestly one of the most stunning looking pieces in my collection. I found it in the wild in an antique shop that i frequent, for $90 with a broken permanant link in the bracelet which i intend to drill out and replace at some stage. Until then it is on a white leather strap and i simply cannot keep my eyes off it whenever i wear it. If you can get hold of one, i would recommend it as it really is a beautiful reference.


Hi, interesting write up. I just came across with Seiko panda with gold plate case but white face dial. Love if you can verify it existence. I try to search if this is an official release, but thre is no. Picture:
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I happen to have the “Baby Kakume” blue dial, however, mine shows a 6139 on the caseback not 6138.

Christian Gravesen
Christian Gravesen

Hi there, thank you for a very interesting article. I am new to vintage Seiko, but nevertheless bought a 6138-0020 Tokei Zara. It’s got the arrow hands, like on the Kakume, and I wonder whether that’s original? The patinated lume looks exactly the same on the hands as on the indexes.
I hope you can shed some light on this matter,
best regards, C
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Hi there, most probably yours is a “pimp my watch” version. Fret not as its looks really good, fun & uniquely unprecedented.


Great information. I was wondering if you happened to know what the production years were for the Baby Panda 6138-8000. Most sources seem to accept 1971-1972 as correct but I can see they are in the Seiko Catalogs up until the 1975 issue. Can you help me unravel this mystery? Thanks!


Salute to Vintage Watch Inc for the extensive research & sharing of the knowledge. I owned bullhead & UFO. A piece of advise for the new vintage watch collector……when u bought one..Sport it to prolong its life span. I kept mine for years trying to keep them in mint condition. When I finally decide to flaunt them recently…..”They” actually got sicked, intermittent run losing the inertia. Sourcing a good watchsmith could be a tough task & costly. If u encountered d same issue, try this… the caseback, give a good blow & juz gently touch & spin the rotor. this… Read more »