Today’s article is going to be about a vintage chronograph from a Japanese brand called Seiko, did you ever heard of it? Jokes aside, today’s star watch is the Seiko 6138-0040 chronograph aka the “Bullhead” a very interesting piece with a bold and uncommon design and increasing popularity amongst watch enthusiasts and collectors, becoming an object of a cult.
Special thanks to a good friend of mine who borrowed me this amazing timepiece, which was from his grandfather.
The “Bullhead” nickname
As you can see on the pictures, the 6138-0040 is not your ordinary watch and that is because Seiko decided to put the crown and pushers in a rather odd place for a wristwatch, in the upper part of the case. And adding to that design, it has a big and bulky case which is one of the unique characteristics of the watch.
The reason for Seiko to make this timepiece in such a unique and odd way with a bold design, was because on the 1970s Seiko had a disadvantage against other more established brands like Omega and Rolex, so they decided to create this special watch was to call the attention of the market by offering a design that was unique and quite controversial. In my opinion that was a genius move from Seiko, differentiating themselves from the conventional.
So, the combination of the bulky case and the crown and pushers situated in the upper part create a certain resemblance to a bull’s horns and therefore the very amazing nickname ” Bullhead “. Let’s be honest, is there other watches with such a cool nickname as that?
Dimensions and Characteristics
As you can see and be already stated, this watch has a big and heavy case, something around 44 to 45mm of diameter, which is huge for a wristwatch, and that can make it a little difficult to wear for some people, in fact, this watch is not for everybody but I am pretty sure that every watch enthusiast would appreciate seeing that watch. There are two different dial options, a blue and a brown one, the example shown is the brown version.
Because it is a chronograph, it has all the start/stop timing characteristics and subdials, and a date window in an unconventional location and from (at the 6 o’clock position) with the date being situated below the day. The hour and minutes hands being black at the start, so it will look that they are floating and in the rest having a white color and being lumed in the center. To add a little extra touch to the dial, the sweeping hand has a light yellow color, which contrasts a lot with the brown dial of the example of the pictures but adds a little of a sportier look.
The 6138 in the name refers to the movement that it has, and in this case, the movement is an automatic one. In the early 70s, after the first automatic chronograph movement from Seiko, the 6139, which we talked about a watch with that movement in a previous article, Seiko launched its second automatic chronograph movement, the 6138, which is a magnificent movement from the brand, very reliable and robust. In contrast to the 6139, the 6138 can be hand wound and the day and date can be changed by pulling the crown out to one stop and turning it in either direction rather than the pushing on the 6139. It seems that the 6138 is an improved version of its predecessor and let me tell you it certainly is and feels like it.
Is it just a sports watch?
Yes, I would certainly say that it is a sport watch only. Why? Because of the size and peculiar case design, it makes it a little difficult to use but with a pair of jeans or shorts and a simple shirt or T-shirt for a casual and relaxed day, it can be a perfect accessory to use. Saying this, you can conclude that this is not a dress watch at all, I certainly don’t think that you can use this piece with a tux or suit, not even a blazer, simply because it is big and bulky and the chronometer style is not suitable for elegant/dressy occasions.
Of course, I am a big supporter of the idea that you should buy and use whatever you like and feel more comfortable with, but in this case, I would strongly recommend keeping this piece only for the casual occasions and far from a suit or elegant attire. If you are looking for a good option for those elegant occasions make sure to check this previous article, where I talk about some nice dress watch options.
Is it difficult to find?
Continuing with the star of today, the Seiko Bullhead, like many other vintage watches it is not a watch that you can buy everywhere and if you find one, which in fact is not very difficult, you should be careful and make the due diligence necessary because it is an old watch and you never know what is the condition of it and the history.
And also bear in mind that the prices are not the same of the 1970s, because this timepiece had an increase in popularity amongst collectors and watch aficionados and you should expect to find a good example for around 1000 bucks, which is not cheap but certainly worth it, in my opinion, if you are a collector and specially if you like Seikos and the history of the brand.
In case, you are not a fan of the design but like the chronographs and the Seiko brand. Or just not a fan of vintage watches, which a lot of people tend to avoid vintage and prefer to buy new, I will give you some examples of new chronographs from Seiko that can be a very good alternative if you are looking for a watch with that characteristics.
- Seiko Recraft series – SSC667 or SSC669
- Seiko SSC621P1
- Seiko Adventure – solar SSC081
- Seiko Prospex SSC017
And in case, you really dig the “Bullhead” style and aesthetics and want to see other watch options or alternatives, take a look to this Omega Seamaster. And this other watch that I have found in Amazon Le Phare Mechanical.
I hope that you all enjoyed the article and a brief portion of the history of the beautiful world of watches, I would love to know your thoughts about the “Bullhead” and would like to see which other bullhead watches do you know on the comments.