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When last we left this revived classic panda-dialed 6138-8020 (see here), all seemed well, the only area of mild dissatisfaction being a pair of glumpy (we’ll see what exactly that means in a tick) sub-register hands.

Seiko 6138-8020I have to say, this is a lovely old thing and very difficult to fault in the aesthetics department.  I wore it on and off for at least a couple of years after completing the rebuild before noticing something amiss.  In another photo taken a while ago, again all seems fine

Seiko 6138-8020 on NATO

but the position of the hour register hand just shy of the 6 hour mark became rather too familiar and eventually I twigged that perhaps it was getting stuck in that position.  A reset and restart confirmed that the hand was sticking just shy of the 6 hour mark and so I set the watch aside with a plan to source some new register hands and then sort the glitch at the same time.  An additional impediment to action was that in performing the original movement service, I had used the mid case as a movement holder when refitting the hands but with the watch back together, to do so again would necessitate removing the crystal and bezel.  This is not, of course, that big a deal, but a large enough barrier when combined with the need to source new hands to persuade me to wait.

Months passed and I eventually see a set of the correct hands in white advertised by a very reliable Seiko parts seller on Ebay UK and I pounce, buying into the bargain two or three chrono sweep seconds hands for 6139.  Here we can now see the difference between one of the grotty old hands and a nice new example:

6138 chrono hands three

Quite a difference at close range but amazing how presentable the one on the right can appear when fitted to the watch.  The next piece of the puzzle then was to source a 6139 movement holder.  These are an important part of the Seiko chronograph service-smith’s arsenal, in particular because when it comes to refitting the hands, one needs to have the chronograph reset pusher depressed.  To do this using the watch case as movement holder requires at least one digit to hold down the reset button whilst simultaneously trying to align whichever of the three chrono hands is being refitted at the time.  Having done this once, I had no immediate wish to try it again, particularly with a brand new set of those precious 6138 sub-register hands.  The Seiko S-500 movement holder was originally designed to work with the 6139 but does the job too with the thicker-set 6138:

Seiko S500 movement holderA further period of time passed and I happen upon an advert from a chap in Australia who has produced some facsimiles of the later S-501 holder using a 3D printer:

S501 reproductionPhotocredit: Vintage Time Australia

All that is required then is the inclination to lift the lid again on the somewhat intimidating 6138.  With the dial off then, and the hour register hand temporarily seated on the hour recording wheel pinion, I let it run and then took a gander side on:

6138 hour recording wheel pinionThis view presents what some of you might have thought the obvious answer to the original problem:  the hand is at a tilt and if it’s a tilt resulting from a bent pinion rather than a inexpertly fitted hand then the proximity of the tip of the hand to the dial surface might vary depending on how the hand is seated on the pinion and at some point on its journey around the sub-dial it comes into contact with the dial and stops. With the dial not there to impede progress, we see the hand marching happily past the 6 hour point:

6138 hour register test

Having removed the hand, it was clear that the problem derived from a skewed pinion, probably having suffered from an inadvertent knock during a past service (they are difficult to see and easy to forget with the movement partially dismantled).  I bent it back into as straight an attitude as I could and started to reassemble the calendar, before refitting the dial and then one of the new hands to the hour register.

6138 chrono hands four

I let the movement run for a full 12 hours before fitting the minute register hand

6138 chrono hands fivefollowed by the sweep seconds hand, first a shot in progress:

6138 sweep seconds fittingand in position

6138 chrono hands sevenAll that’s left is to refit the automatic winding mechanism and recase the movement:

6138 chrono hands eight6138 chrono hands nineCase closed.