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The Seiko 6139 automatic chronograph – a historical movement in its own right, like this rare and full-serviced 1969 Seiko 6139-6000 SpeedTimer "Colonel Pogue" automatic chronograph here – was one of the first automatic chronographs created and ranks with Zenith’s El Primero and Heuer’s Calibre 11.

 

Those who know vintage Seiko - in particular 6139 chronograph's - know these Japanese Domestic Market (JDM)-only 6139 SpeedTimer Pogue's rarely come up for sale.

 

Back in the 1970’s, Heuer and Zenith had taken hold of the entire sports watch industry by racing to become the first to produce an automatic chronograph. It has been widely debated who won, but in the background of this skirmish, Seiko quietly created one theirs at the same time, beating the Swiss at their own game – the Seiko Ref. 6139.

 

Changing gears a bit, all of us know Omega was the first watch on the moon, mostly because Omega won’t let us forget (ever).  However, the first automatic chronograph in space was the more humble and less publicized Seiko 6139-6005, named after U.S. astronaut Colonel William Pogue, who wore his USMIL PX-purchased Seiko 6139 on the 1973 Skylab 4 mission - despite not obtaining NASA authorization – to time shuttle engine burns as the mission's pilot due to his familiarity with the watch (which he had worn during his training) and trust in its capabilities…entrusting the lives of himself and fellow astronauts to the reliability of his Seiko. 

 

When asked about his 6139, Pogue confirmed the story per GQ Magazine, "I had been using the Seiko for well over six months (perhaps over a year) and had found it very handy for timing engine burns...the self-winding mechanism worked fine in zero-G.”  Pogue would later sell his Seiko 6139 in a 2008 charity auction for a mere $6k.

 

Back to the Seiko calibre 6139 - during the early months of 1969, Seiko put the final touches on its revolutionary 6139 chronograph - in fact, the Japanese company first began putting the 6139 in automatic chronographs as early as January of the same year.

 

Seiko published its first advertisement for their new automatic 6139 chronograph in February 1969, easily beating the Swiss - however, the company was concentrating on the release of the world's first quartz watch, the Astron, which would completely disrupt the watch world as it was known at the time (again, much to the chagrin of the Swiss watch industry, we're certain).  We possess 6139 dials dating back to October 1968, indicating Seiko beat all other rivals to produce the world's first automatic chronograph.  Period.

 

Seiko's 6139 automatic movement was the first chronograph to have a vertical clutch, a feature considered to be one of the hallmarks of a superior automatic chronograph movement.  It also features an automatic column wheel timing control and an integrated chronograph, which means the entire movement was designed and built to be a chronograph, vice being an automatic movement with a mere timing module, along with a single register chronograph allowing time to be measured in increments of 30 minutes.

 

With this movement, Seiko set the standard, which was followed by the Swiss watch industries 20 years later.  The same movement configuration was adopted by Rolex when it made its own in-house movement for the Daytona in 2000, 30 years after Seiko released the caliber 6139 and 6138.

 

This Seiko 6139 SpeedTimer come on an Uncle Straps SpeedTimer stainless-steel bracelet, and with nylon strap, springbar tool, and rugged travel case.

1969 Seiko 6139-6000 SpeedTimer "Colonel Pogue" Chronograph, w/Original Bracelet

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Out of Stock
  • DIAL: Gold Seiko SpeedTimer and proof-signed dial.  Day/date complication – with Kanji Japanese/English variants – at 3 o’clock position works as designed.  Correct minute and hour matte hands (these and dial feature patina) and the vibrant red chronograph hands include the correct two-piece large hand and small subdial hand.  Seiko replaced the matte handset during summer 1969 in favor of glossy metal ones, given the matte hands aged poorly.

     

     

    CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 41mm x 43.5mm, with sharp case lines and the correct notch above recessed crown; matching caseback.  Inner tachmeyer rotates smoothly as designed. 

     

    CRYSTAL: Seiko 6139-correct Hardlex crystal, no scratches or blemishes.

     

    BAND: This SpeedTimer Colonel Pogue comes on its a high-quality Uncle Straps stainless-steel bracelet - a quite faithful rendition of the original Seiko SpeedTimer bracelet this watch originally came on - which will fit up to an approx. nine inch wrist; this 6139 also comes with a premium red nylon strap.

     

    MOVEMENT: 21-jewel Seiko 6139A automatic movement, manufactured in April 1969.  We have performed a full service on this seldom-seen SpeedTimer Pogue.

     

    CROWN: Recessed unsigned stainless-steel crown.

     

    CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Chronograph pushers depress with a satisfying click, and reset to zero.

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