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After researching this for some time – to include reaching out to Sharon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter (as noted above) - I have taken all the amazingly well-researched information posted previously in this thread, added some of my own assessment and interweb findings, and I assess there is strong evidence to name the Seiko 6139-6010 “True Bruce Lee” variant as a 1969 Seiko 6139-6010 Proof/Proof variant, and I assess with slightly less confidence it had a Hong Kong day wheel. Why? Read below (note: updated findings!) 😊

First Observation: Based on below attached photographs, as well as some in the excellent thread on this topic over on The Watch Site, it becomes quickly evident Bruce’s 6139 was not the commonly assumed SpeedTimer dial variant (see side by side comparison between this one and the Proof Hong Kong dial variant below). Despite the lack of clarity in photographs from the era (when compared to modern-day photography), it’s a safe assessment there is no “5 SpeedTimer” lettering on the dial at the nine o’clock position (ruling out the Japanese Domestic Market SpeedTimer dial variant as the Truce Bruce Lee dial), nor is there a lume plot (ruling out the later, post-1972 dial variants (the 6139 appeared on multiple occasions on Bruce’s wrists well before 1972). This said, a photo from February 1972 below stands out for its quality and allows us to see – albeit not well enough to differentiate between proof and resist nomenclature – the presence of white font at the 9 o'clock dial position and nothing else, ie: no “5” or blue SPORTS branding we would see were this a JDM SpeedTimer dial variant.

Second Observation: Bruce’s mother (likely based in Hong Kong) per the excellent, visited Bruce in Los Angeles in 1969, arriving on May 30th (as seen in the picture below). Subsequently, and nearly a year later - as recounted in the excellent 2016 book, “Bruce Lee, Letters of the Dragon: The Original 1958-1973 Correspondence” - in a letter to his wife in April 1970, Bruce notes his presence with his son in Hong Kong, while his wife and daughter remained in Los Angeles. In the same letter he offhandedly notes his mother had purchased for him numerous items from Hong Kong, so much he is uncertain he can transport everything back to the United States. That said, there was no mention of a watch among the gifts from his mother – and pictures exist, preceding this letter, of Bruce wearing the watch before his 1970 trip to Hong Kong. This leads to the logical assessment Bruce already possessed the 6139 before this 1970 trip, with his mother possibly gifting the 6139 to him upon her previous late May/early June 1969 visit to Los Angeles (from Hong Kong), additional evidence in favor of 1969 date and the Chinese day wheel variant. Per “Manufacturing Time: Global Competition in the Watch Industry, 1795-2000, “Hong Kong was an important market during this time period, and already a major player in terms of watch assembly [in particular, eventually, for Seiko]," making it logical to assess Hong Kong as a prime destination for the earliest non-JDM 6139s. That Bruce's 6139 had a Hong Kong day wheel is more of an assessment made from logical conclusions, vice solid proof seen above in our first observation regarding the True Bruce Lee dial variant.

Third Observation: Through a combination of internet research and aforementioned Bruce Lee timeline, the earliest dated picture of Bruce wearing his 6139 we could find was 10 May 1969, attending the National Karate Championships (NKC) in Washington DC. Cross-referencing the source of the NKC picture below ("The Greats of Tae Kwon Do, JOSEPH HAYES," BRUCE LEE AND JOSEPH HAYES - Historic Tae Kwon Do Moments In the USA - LEGENDS JOSEPH HAYES AND BRUCE LEE - TAEKWONDO HALL OF FAME - TAEKWONDOHALLOFFAME.COM) with the aforementioned timeline at, and it notes Bruce was only in Washington, DC, once in 1969 - on 10 May. The timeline also noted his attendance at the same DC-based NKC event in 1967 and 1968 (which appeared to be held during the same May/June time frame annually), but this is well before the 1969 debut of the 6139. Seiko 6139 case backs have surfaced dating the watch's first production to January 1969, but some of these may have been prototypes. While some assert it wasn't possible to purchase the 6139 before it was sold internationally in June 1969, we assess there enough evidence - and Lee's connections to Asia that strong - that play of a month or two before this June date is well within feasibility.

Importantly, Bruce wasn't known for possessing more than a handful of watches, and the stainless-steel rally bracelet can be easily discerned in both 1969 pictures, as well as a quite similar hour indice lume pattern; its quite unlikely he had more than one watch - his black-dialed 6139 - with the same bracelet. We identified no other photograph of Bruce with the rally bracelet on a different watch. Related, the earliest known date for the 6139 non-JDM variant and 6139-6010 HK day wheel variant is at least March and July 1969, respectively, per The Watch Site discussion above. These early dates safely rule out the “Water 70 Resist” dial variant, which did not appear until after Bruce was first seen wearing his 6139. Finally, of important note, per excellent previous research, advertisements for the Hong Kong version of the Seiko 6139-6010 appeared around the time Lee was first photographed wearing the watch, namely, mid-1969.

A Closing Note: Watch scholarship, like all scholarship, is an inexact science - watch aficionados do the best they can with spotty records, advertisements (such as with the recent excellent finds regarding the "Aussie Pogue"), and blurry photographs from an era before the internet. Should the seemingly in-depth timeline on the Lee's appearance at the Washington, DC-based NKC tournament be off (keeping in mind, the timeline had no other subsequent attendance at this high-profile event for Lee), the worst-case scenario is this a 1970 vice a 1969 vintage - the "TBL" watch would almost certainly feature the same dial layout and color, two-piece handset, and proof/proof model nomenclature. Somewhat related, the Bruce Lee is like the Pogue, in that there were multiple variations of the dial, but with one "true" variant. While some insist there to be only one "Pogue" - namely the "True Pogue" – it’s not misleading to call all gold 6139-600x's "Pogue." Same for the black dial 6139 Bruce Lee in discussion here. Some may disagree, but this is the approach we take when referencing this watch.


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