Thursday, June 22, 2017

A quartet of lesser known Daini Seikoshas

Only the nerdiest Seiko fanatics know this, but back in the 60s, there were two complimentary yet competing subsidiaries within Seiko: Suwa Seikosha and Daini Seikosha.
Suwa Seikosha had an 'S' symbol formed by two 'L's, one upright and one upside down, while Daini Seikosha had a more straightforward 'lightning bolt' symbol.

Generally, the Suwa Seikosha offerings are perhaps the more well known Seikos from that era, what with the first automatic chronographs the non-windable 6139 which were first produced in early 1969; the hand-windable 6138, first produced in late 1969, and not forgetting the classic 'Grammar of Design' Grand Seikos with the 61GS movement, circa 1968-71.


But the Daini Seikosha models were no slouches either.
They had FOUR of their own automatic chronograph movements, the 7015/6/7/8, with the 7016 famously powering the square cased 'Monaco', and the transparent dialed 'Time Sonar' models.
Plus they produced the well respected manual wind 45KS King Seikos which went head-to-head with their automatic cousins the 61GS Grand Seikos in the late sixties.
Even earlier, it was Daini Seikosha which produced the iconic 62MAS, Seiko very first professional dive watch, in 1965!
More on the fascinating history of Grand and King Seikos in this essay, and more about the history of the Seiko 36,000 bph Hi-Beat movements here.

Here, allow me to humbly showcase the four Daini Seikoshas that I own.























I was very intrigued to find this 4522-7000 GS Daini Seikosha on sale at Rakuten Japan.
Firstly it was gold-capped - a relative rarity in late 60s Grand Seikos.
Then it had a linen dial, which I absolutely loved, and which was, again, uncommonly found in 60s Grand Seikos.
Lastly, it had what I thought to be a really interesting case design, with the flared, angular, tapering case reminding me somewhat of Darth Vader's Advanced TIE fighter!





















To better appreciate the stunning beauty of this unique case in it's original, unpolished form, check out the gorgeous photos in this Swedish post - I truly think the 452x-7000 is the best kept secret in late 60s Grand Seikos!


Sadly, this one had a damaged dial - someone in the past must have tried to scrape off the patina with sandpaper, and it's got a worn, possibly replacement crown.
But no matter - I could not resist what would be my first dress watch, first gold watch, first linen dial, and first Grand Seiko!
Alas, it dated to October 1969 - just two months younger than yours truly!





















Next up, a personal grail - still my solitary birth year, birth month watch.

I'd have liked for it to be a Grand Seiko, but this one comes a close second - a gold-capped King Seiko Daini Seikosha 4502-8000 with linen dial, just like it's younger cousin, the Grand Seiko 4522-7000 from Oct 1969 featured above.



I had seen photos of this model before, and I had disliked the case - unlike the distinctive angular case of the GS 4522-7000, I thought this case was fat, chunky and uninspired, but in the flesh, to my pleasant surprise, it has a larger wrist presence than the GS4522-7000!
Sure, it's dial is blemished, but hey, it's the same age as yours truly, and I ain't in too good of a shape myself!
Here it is with it's younger cousin - both from 1969, both gold-capped, both with linen dials!





















For my third Daini Seikosha watch, it was back to chronographs, my first love.


I've always taken a liking to this one, the 7017-6050, nicknamed 'Flyback' - there's just such busy detail yet perfect balance between the dial, the rotating inner bezel, and the fixed outer bezel, and also the wonderful contrasting colours of the black and red outer bezel, the orange inner track and chrono hand, and the lovely pale cream lume of the indices.


Like the early 6139-6000s, the case has a little notch to allow easier access to the recessed crown. How cool is that?
Plus how can anyone not adore the absolutely funky bracelet??? =P




















These are not particularly difficult to find per se, but not easy to find an all-correct one down to the bracelet.
Mine, dating to Nov 1971, was a particularly fine specimen courtesy of @soultimer - thanks Gabe!


My latest Daini Seikosha acquisition, I didn't even know existed till very recently, when I came across it amongst the awesome French collector @bertnet69's incredible IG posts (if you haven't already checked it out, you should, it'll blow your mind!).




















If you thought the 7017 Flyback was busy, this 7015-7010 'Sliderule' is even more so!
This Sliderule features a sunburst charcoal grey dial, raised applied metal indices, a sliver/blue inner track, a movable inner bezel, and a fixed outer bezel; with orange accents on the outer bezel, the chrono hand, and the 'Speed-Timer' script just above the Daini Seikosha 'lightning' logo.
An incredible array of detail and features - it is, afterall, a Sliderule, but it's all perfectly balanced.
Kudos, Daini Seikosha - this may well be my favourite vintage Seiko 5 Sports Speedtimer of them all!




















Interestingly, this Daini Seikosha 7017 'Sliderule' shares the same bracelet as the Suwa Seikosha 6139-7010 'Military' with Arabic numerals on the dial.
Anyone can enlighten me why?





Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Le quattro stagioni - my quartet of JDM Seiko 6139-60xx Speed-timers



Time to feature my quartet of JDM Seiko 5 Sports 6139-60xx Speed-timers!

This blue one featured below was my first 6139-60xx acquisition. It missed being my birth year birth month grail (August 1969) by a few months, not a few months later, but rather, a few months earlier!

Seiko 5 Speed-timer 6139-6000, circa March 1969
I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I first saw the ad....the photos were terrible, but it looked like a reasonably good condition JDM Seiko 5 Sports Speed-timer 6139-6000, Proof dial, Proof back, notch case, 2-piece chrono hand, original bracelet....but I couldn't quite discern the serial number.

After a quick exchange of emails, if I wasn't hyperventilating before, I most certainly was hyperventilating now....the serial number was 93xxxx, making it a very very early automatic chronograph from March 1969 (Heuer and Zenith experts, read 'em and weep)!!!
*** I have ever only seen a couple of earlier ones from Feb 1969. If anyone knows of one that dates earlier than that, please let me know!!! ***

Seiko 6139-6000, March 1969 
Usually I would never buy a vintage watch without seeing a photo of the movement, but in this instance, I felt I had to make an exception.
My Ebay stars must have been aligned, cos within a few days, I had won the auction!! Woohoo!!

And guess what? It took all of only 48 hours for her to arrive from Tokyo...she was dropped off at the post office on Sunday morning, by Tuesday morning it had shown up at my doorstep...an incredible level of efficiency only found, very fittingly, in Japan!


In the flesh, it is, undoubtedly, a stunning watch.
I had thought my earlier acquisition (it's close cousin, the bezel-less 6139-6010) was a pretty darn good looking creature, but this 6139-6000 definitely steals the show...with her elegant and enigmatic blue dial offset by the red of the 'Speed-timer' script and the 2 chrono hands, and all framed within that unique case, and a much better designed bracelet...she's just so achingly beautiful.

21 Jewel 6139A movement













A quick trip to my watchmaker made me even more ecstatic - he popped open the back to reveal a pristine, period correct, 21J 6139A movement, Seiko's effort at the world's first automatic chronograph movement - read more about this at my earlier post here.

Seiko 5 Speed-timer 6139-6030, circa Jan 1970
My next target was what I then considered to be the prettiest Speed-timer of 'em all, the 6139-6030, with a unique contrasting silver sub-dial on a black dial...I dub this the 'Coke' as opposed to the blue 'Pepsi' of the 6139-6000.

For the longest time, I was lusting over this one from Spain, but sadly, a deal never materialized....
I wanted to patiently wait for a correct early JDM one with a notch case, Proof dial, Proof caseback, 21J, 6139A movement, and after several months of online trawling, I finally found one...not mint by any stretch of the imagination, with some discolouration of the silver subdial, but otherwise in an excellent, original condition. 
Dating to Jan 1970, this one even had the original, and very funky, bracelet and original 'Seiko 5 Sports' clasp!



I stopped looking out for Seiko 6139s for quite a while after this one. 
I disliked the fact that I could not hand-wind the recessed crown, so I started dabbling with Seiko 6138s, a slightly later, hand-windable movement, and of course, also moved on to other collectable watches.
So for several years, I lived quite contentedly with the above 2 Speedtimer 6139s...the blue 'Pepsi' and the black 'Coke', and didn't feel the need for another one of these.
But all this while there was an exception - I promised to myself if I ever were to find a yellow 6139-6000, famously nicknamed the 'Pogue' (after Col. William Pogue, who wore his Export variant into space, thus making his Seiko 6139 the first automatic chronograph in space), I would grab it.
Do read more about Col. Pogue, his space exploits while wearing his iconic yellow Seiko here and here.
But these were not easy to find at all, especially the JDM variant I was gunning for, the Speed-timer predecessor of the 'Pogue'.


It was only a couple of years later that I managed to find one from Japan. 

Once again, it wasn't mint, with an inner bezel that had faded from the original yellow to white, and with some discolouration of the subdial, but otherwise, the overall condition externally was pretty darn good for a watch from May 1969.
And as with these early variants, it had a 'Proof' dial, 'Proof' back and that unique notched case.
So finally, I had nabbed my 'grail' Seiko 5 Sports Speed-timer 6139-6000 in yellow!



So I figured that just about 'completed' by 6139-60xx family, since I had no interest in the silver dial Export variant.
But there exists another JDM Speed-timer 6139-600x, a rarely seen beast with a blue dial and 'sunrise' markings around the subdial.


I had actually found one years ago, but stupidly gave it up to a fellow collector, but when I came across another one recently, I knew I couldn't pass it up this time.
Again, the photos on the ad were absolute rubbish, but this model aren't exactly common enough to grow on trees, so I had to take a (rather expensive) gamble purchase.
When it finally arrived, yes, there was disappointing discolouration around the lume markers, but other than that, the rest of the watch was fine, with an awesome brushed metallic teal dial just has to be seen to be appreciated...in different light, it can appear anywhere from blue to green, from dull to shimmering, and overall it's just simply alluring!



So that really, finally, definitively completed by 6139-60xx collection...the commonest blue dialled 'Pepsi, the black dialled 'Coke, the rare yellow dialled 'Pogue', and the rarest one of them all, the brushed metallic teal dialled 6139-6002 'Exotic' or 'Sunrise'.

If the teal 'Sunrise' represented Spring while the yellow 'Pogue' represented Summer, could the blue 'Pepsi' be Autumn, and the black 'Coke' be Winter?
That'll make 'Le quattro stagioni' of JDM Seiko 5 Sports 6139-60xx Speed-timers!
How's that for a collection? =P




Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sixteen of my all-time favourite albums


For years, I've struggled with this on multiple levels.

Firstly, every time I try to compile a list of my own personal favourite albums, I always get sidetracked toward a list of 'most historically significant' albums, or a list of albums 'most representative of my musical tastes' instead.
Plus, as always with these lists, my choices change constantly. A list that might look reasonable tonight may appear totally foreign and inappropriate the next morning!
And I could never finalise a top-10 list, cos there always will be that 11th album that must go on the list. But that's a never ending problem - I'd have the same issue with a top-20 or even a top-50 list!
And would it be fair to other artistes if I included multiple albums of a single artiste?
But if I impose a 'one album per artiste' rule, I"d have to chose between *gasps* The Bends and OK Computer! Or between *horrors* Abbey Road and Revolver! Or between Blonde On Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited!!!
Help!!! (a genuine cry for assistance, not a reference to the Beatles album)

So it's a wonder that I managed to compile this list last night - I decided I should showcase it in a square, Instagram-friendly, more visually arresting photo-grid format, so that would mean a compilation of either 9 albums, 16 albums, 25 albums, or 36 albums.
I eventually settled on a 4x4 grid, but only cos I couldn't find a programme that could make me a 5x5 grid, and I figured a 6x6 grid would be a bit of an overkill! =P

I've attempted such a compilation on many occasions in the past, but I never managed to come up with a list that I was happy with.
Finally, this time, I seem to have curated a selection of 16 albums that I'm reasonably proud of, and actually happy to be associated with!

So, without further ado, here's sixteen of my all-time favourite albums, in chronological order no less, correct as of 14 January, 2017!



1. Way Out West - Sonny Rollins (1957)

This is an easy choice, being my favourite jazz album of all time. I've always loved the happy, sunny 'sound' of Sonny Rollin's saxophone, more so than, say, the more intense, serious Coltrane tone.
But even amongst Sonny Rollin's discography, I have many favourites, including Saxophone Colossus, The Sound Of Sonny, and The Bridge (featuring the late, great Jim Hall on guitar, who just missed out on this list), but Way Out West just about shades them all.
There are literally thousands of such simple jazz trios, but the incredible chemistry between Sonny Rollins and bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne for the Way Out West session simply stands out.
Might have been something to do with the fact that they recorded it thorough the night, cos everyone was fully booked up for other sessions during the daytime!



2. Rubber Soul - The Beatles (1965)

I only got into The Beatles relatively late - there was a time in my life when I actually preferred The Hollies over the Fab Four! - but once I eventually 'got' them, there was no looking back.
I love so many of their songs and albums, from the early Please Please Me, to the mercurial Revolver, to the awesome Abbey Road, but somehow I've always had a soft spot for Rubber Soul.
To me, it's their coming-of-age album, where, perhaps via the LSD that Bob Dylan had introduced them to, they lost the wide-eyed, 'Love Me Do' innocence of their early work, and finally started to blossom and mature in terms of their songwriting, creativity, and music-craft.

He's a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Doesn't have a point of view
Knows not where he's going to
Isn't he a bit like you and me?



3. Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs - Derek and the Dominos (1970)

Eric Clapton at his creative bluesy peak + the unrequited angst of being in forbidden love with his BFF George Harrison's wife Patti Boyd + the slide guitar genius of Duanne Allman + the great lineup of Bobby Whitlock (keyboards), Carl Radle (bass), and Jim Gordon (drums) in his backing band + loads and loads of hedonistic drugs and booze = the powerful, awesome messy masterpiece that is Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
Clapton's discography can be so frustratingly inconsistent at times, but Layla will always stand out as his musical crowning glory, his artistic tour-de-force.

'Nuff said!



4. Blood On The Tracks - Bob Dylan (1975)

As a lifelong Dylan fan, there are many of his albums that I could have included here, including Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, but Blood On The Tracks remains my longtime favourite. Much influenced by his recent divorce, BOTT is Dylan at his most tender and introspective, yet it is understandably significantly tinged with bitterness, anger and unbridled pain.

The lyric that best reflects the desolate mood of the album is from the tract You're A Big Girl Now:

I’m going out of my mind, oh, oh 
With a pain that stops and starts 
Like a corkscrew to my heart 
Ever since we’ve been apart



5. Blonde On The Rocks - Shoji Yokouchi Quartet (1976)

I'm a big fan of guitar jazz, and I have amassed a fairly diverse collection of albums from jazz guitar maestros like Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, and John Scofield.
Having said that, Japanese jazz in general, and Shoji Yokouchi in particular, is new to me.
Unfortunately, there isn't much online information in English about Shoji Yokouchi - he's evidently done a series of albums with distinctly cheesecake covers - but this album Blonde On The Rocks most definitely is not one of them.
From the very first note, you'll realise that this is absolutely powerful stuff, and the relentless swinging groove that first hits you, the tightness of his ensemble, doesn't ever let go till the last note. Brilliant stuff!



6. Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division (1979)

I've always been drawn to the intrigue of Joy Division, a band that seemed to define the post-punk sound of the late 70s, a band at the cusp of greatness; when their enigmatic lead singer Ian Curtis tragically kills himself in macabre fashion just before they were due to embark on their debut US tour. 
Like Yazoo, JD only release 2 formal albums in their lifetime, but how awesome these pair of albums were. Both showcased their signature dark, sombre sound with the driving rhythm and powerful tunes sung in the equally deep, dark, brooding voice of Ian Curtis.
I gave my preference to their debut Unknown Pleasures (with one of the most iconic of album covers) for this list, but it could just as easily have been their sophomore effort Closer.



7. Upstairs At Eric's - Yazoo (1982)

Back in '82, I must have listened to the cassette of this, over and over, like a gazillion times! Yazoo remains my favourite synth-pop band - I prefer them over Depeche Mode, Erasure and the like. It's the special chemistry between the brilliant catchy song-writing of Vince Clarke, and the smokey, bluesy, soul-tinged vocals of Alison Moyet. It's a shame she never managed to achieve mainstream success anywhere proportionate to her massive, distinctive voice.
Their sophomore and final album You And Me Both is great as well, but this, their debut, will always stand out. At times dark and eerie, but mostly awesomely catchy, with the added bonus of arguably the coolest album cover of all time!!!



8. Low-Life - New Order (1985)

I always find fascinating that from the ashes of the dark, haunting sounds of Joy Division could arise the electro-synth dance rock of New Order.
Their first 2 albums Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies showcased their gradual evolution away from the primarily guitar based sound of JD with the increasing use of synths (courtesy of new member Gillian Gilbert), and to me, it's Low-Life, their third album, that they perfected their signature synthesizer based 'techno' rock sound, supported by the robotic beats of drummer Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner's distinctive whine, and of course, Peter Hook's throbbing bass - just listen to the awesomeness of tracks like This Time Of Night, Sub-Culture, and the magnificent instrumental Elegia.



9. Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet (1991)

I have a particular fondness for sad, breakup albums (I've had ample opportunity to indulge in those), including Dylan's Blood On The Tracks, Jackson Browne's I'm Alive, but this will always be my favourite.
So many times I've blockaded myself in my room, and played this album on repeat, full blast, as manner of catharsis.
Matthew Sweet can write a mean catchy song, and this album is chockful of them, but it also contains the awesomely bittersweet longing of the tracts Winona, You Don't Love Me, and Your Sweet Voice.
An alternate country rock-pop album with crunching guitars, exquisite songwriting, and achingly beautiful tunes...no wonder it's been described as a modern day Revolver - that's high compliment indeed!



10. The Sky Is Crying - Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble (1991)

Thankfully, this posthumously released album is not technically a greatest hits selection, otherwise it would not have been 'allowed' in this list!
But The Sky Is Crying houses a great curation of classic Stevie Ray Vaughn tunes (courtesy of his younger brother Jimmie Vaughn), with his signature powerful blues riffs and raspy vocals.
Here he does a great cover of the Kenny Burrell's Chitlins con Carne, Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing, and of course, the great Elmore James classic in the title tract - all great stuff, made all the more poignant by the reference to his tragic death in a helicopter crash the year before....sigh.



11. Achtung Baby - U2 (1991)

No introduction needed for this one - Achtung Baby is almost universally and uncontroversially regarded as U2's best work.
At that time, U2 was always evolving with every album they recorded, from the straightforward post-punk rock of their first few albums, to the American influenced Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum, to their horrid 'disco' phase of Zooropa etc, but Achtung Baby was their perfect blend of creative dancefloor-friendly glam-art meets industrial grunge rock.
With solid songs like One, Ultraviolet, Acrobat, Mysterious Ways - Achtung Baby will always hold a special place in my heart.
Plus I get to see a naked Adam Clayton's schlong at the back of the album cover - woohoo!!



12. Amplified Heart - Everything But The Girl (1994)

EBTG remains one of my favourite bands ever - I especially love the sultry voice of Tracey Thorn.
Of their discography, I especially adore the 1988 Idlewild, and this one from 1994, Amplified Heart, both of which I've enjoyed listening to, repeatedly, over the years, and both have gotten me through some rough emotional patches.
Their biggest hit Missing came from this album, but ironically it's the tune that least fits into the mood of this album, which is predominantly melancholic and introspective, with sad tunes like Disenchanted and 25th December.
Tragically, it's their only album that has yet to be released on vinyl, much to my dismay! =(



13. The Bends - Radiohead (1995)

Radiohead was one of many bands trying to emulate Nirvana during the 'grunge' years of the early 90s, but thankfully, unlike many of the rest, they had the talent and foresight to quickly evolve away from that.
To me, The Bends, their sophomore effort, will forever mark their first peak of their supremacy - it's possibly the greatest guitar based rock album ever.
There are literally no weak tracks on the album, with almost every tune a classic - just think The Bends, Fake Plastic Trees, Sulk, Nice Dream, Black Star, Street Spirit, and my favourite song of all time, High And Dry.
If I had to survive on only one desert island disc, it would most likely be this one...an orgasmic delight, from start to finish!



14. Wreaking Ball - Emmylou Harris (1995)

To me, Wreaking Ball epitomises the perfect coming together between artiste and producer in creating a artistic masterpiece that is bigger than the sum of their individual talents.
Emmylou Harris's sometimes thin plaintive voice is perfectly complimented here by an awesomely atmospheric soundscape painted by Daniel Lanois (who was very much at his own artistic peak then).
And Emmylou Harris shows her depth here by covering a range of tunes by artistes as notable and as diverse as Neil Young, Dylan, Hendrix, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, and Anna McGarrigle, amongst others.
Don't need to be a fan of country music (I'm certainly not!) to love this amazing album!



15. A-Go-Go - John Scofield (1997)

Generally I'm a fan of guitar jazz, but I didn't get into John Scofield until a good buddy Desmond introduced me to this album a couple of years ago.
A Go Go is a collaboration between Sco and the New York based jazz-funk trio Medeski, Martin and Wood, and IMHO, this is both his and their best album..they just seem to bring out the best out of each other!
A Go Go is what all modern jazz should sound like....jazzy (duh!), funky, groovy, boppish all at the same time, and always intelligent, always inventive and full of ideas.
And just how cool of a jazz cat is this John Scofield? Let's just say he played guitar for Miles Davis in the early 80s. And his greatest guitar influence is none other than Jim Hall, my absolute favourite jazz guitarist of all time!! That's how cool he is!!! =P


16. OK Computer - Radiohead (1997)

Radiohead were certainly at their zenith in the mid 90s, where they managed to come up with a follow-up album that was totally different from the preceding guitar based The Bends, but which was every bit just as magnificently good.
Ok Computer used a lot more electronica, a lot more sampling, and it sounded more experimental, more dystopian, but taken as a whole, it worked as brilliantly (some say even more so) as on the thematically more straightforward The Bends.
With tracks like Lucky, No Surprises and the defining song of that era, Paranoid Android, OK Computer will forever define Radiohead's 2nd artistic peak.
There's some friggin' awesome stuff in here!


So taking a step back, I see that it's a fairly diverse list encompassing a reasonably broad range of musical genres....a couple of blues albums, a couple of jazz albums, some classic rock, some downtempo, but mostly indie/alternative stuff....even some alt-country! Which I suppose is just about right, cos I do make an effort to listen to a wide range of music, from classical cello to bebop jazz to Chicago blues...they're all fair game to me.
And it's pretty obvious I'm a child of the 90s, with half of these 16 albums from the period between 1991 to 1997.
So even though the music I was first exposed to as a teen was 80s era bands from the British New Wave movement, it seems much/most of what proved to be most influential to me, the stuff that left the most impression, was indie/alternative rock from the 90s - a time when I still had the time and stamina away from work, had newly found independence and financial means, had the occasional romantic pursuit to fuel my angst and passion, was constantly pouring over, and influenced by, music magazines like BiGO, was obsessively frequenting local music stores like DaDa Records, Valentine's and Roxy Records, and was massively indulging in my concurrent love for hi-fi and all things vinyl and turntable related - no wonder my interest and passion for music was so strong then!!!

Anyways, if you have read thus far, thank you...you are very kind!
And you're most welcome to leave a comment or two (be nice!), or better still, your own list of favourite records...I'd love to see/hear your choices! =)


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Seiko 5 Sports Speed-Timer 6138-0030 Kakume - Champagne Yellow, Blue & Orange



Now that I have a Seiko 6138 UFO, Bullhead, and the grail 8010 variant, I needed to have one of the most popular 6138s, the 'Square Eyes' or 'Kakume' variant!



The Kakume, with the contrasting square subdials, is instantly recognisable, and was produced in huge numbers in both JDM and export versions, so they are plentiful on Ebay and elsewhere.
Do note that aftermarket dials abound, so you really have to be careful, especially with the blue dial variant. Here's a pictorial guide to help you differentiate the several correct original dial variants from the corresponding aftermarket ones.
Be sure to do proper homework, guys!


In recent years, there's even been a modern interpretation of the Kakume, the Brightz Ananta SAEH005!
But we're not into modern watches here, so the rest of this post will concentrate on the vintage Kakume, the 6138-0030.


It's commonly regarded that the Kakume came in two dial flavours, a more common blue dial variant, and a less common Champagne, or Orange, dial variant - see this commonly referenced Worn&Wound post.
Correct?

Not quite!
It seems there is debate out there that there's a 3rd dial variant that's not just an faded Orange/Champagne dial, but a distinct dial that's a paler Champagne Yellow, or Golden, variant!
See this SCWF post and this PhilippineWatchClub post for more info and see if you are convinced!
I, for one, am almost certain that the yellow variant is a 3rd variant, and not just a weathered orange variant.


As usual, I zoomed in and hunted specifically for the JDM variant that is marked 'Seiko 5 Sports Speed-Timer'. 
In addition, I specifically wanted one with the black 'arrow' style hands rather than another variant with silver hands - don't ask me which is original!!!
After hunting for some time, I found this rather honest specimen from Peru dating to Dec 1974 - it looked like the Yellow 3rd variant, and had the most hideous relume of the minute hand, but otherwise looked all correct and original, down to the bracelet, with a nice wabi-ed dial and worn bezel - just the way I like my vintage watches!
In the flesh, it's a nice watch with great wrist presence, with the yellow sunburst dial perhaps not as striking as the orange dial, but still distinctively and unmistakably 'Square Eyes'!
Would I buy an orange dial variant if I found one? Hell yes! But for now, this yellow Kakume does the trick for me, and is most definitely a keeper! =)



20 July 2016 addendum


I recently found an all correct Blue Seiko 5 Sports Speed-Timer Kakume!
It looked pretty beat up in the photos, but otherwise appeared all correct.
But in the flesh, it was stunning beyond description.



The gorgeous blue dial contrasted by the steel markers and the bright orange 'Speedtimer' script and the lemon yellow subdial and chrono hands....absolute perfection...so pretty that even the scratched up crystal cannot hide!
Interestingly, the scratched up crystal looks far worse in photos than in real life, where it's actually good enough not to need an immediate replacement.
And of course, as with so many of these 40 year old 6138 movements - they're still happily and accurately ticking away - no service required!
I've gonna wear it 'as is' for now, and it does seem that I'm not going to need that crystal replaced anytime soon! Yay!!!!

Here's a couple of photos of the pair of 'em Square Eyes!
Don't they look pretty? =P



Oct 2016 addendum


Finally I complete my JDM Speed-timer Kakume trilogy!
I finally found the Orange variant of the ole 'Square Eyes'!

This guy was cosmetically acceptable for a March 1974 watch, but internally it was a mess, requiring a long stint at the watchmaker to be sorted right.
But now that it's back, I have full confidence that the venerable Seiko 6138 movement will happily and reliably tick away for many years to come!



Looking at the Orange dial and the Champagne Yellow dial variants side by side, there is no way the yellow is just a orange dial that's faded with time.

Look at the photos and decide for yourself - I am 100% convinced that they are 2 separate, distinct variants.


So finally I have the Trilogy of JDM Speed-timer Kakume variants - I'm a happy camper, I am!!! =)