The Seiko 6139 "Pogue" automatic chronograph – like this all original 1972 Seiko 6139-6005 "True Pogue" here – was one of the first automatic chronographs created and ranks with Zenith’s El Primero and Heuer’s Calibre 11.
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 theirs at the same time – the 6139.
We all 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 US NASA astronaut Colonel William Pogue, who wore his on the 1973 Skylab 4 mission-despite not obtaining NASA authorization–to time shuttle engine burns due to his familiarity with the watch and trust in its capabilities…trusting the lives of himself and fellow astronauts to the reliability of his Seiko. When asked about his 6139, Pogue confirmed the story and sold his in a 2008 charity auction for scant $6k.
As noted above, for sale here is an example of the elusive "True Pogue" dial variant, which earned its sobriquet due to the fact it was the variant worn by the legendary Colonel Pogue, and as such, highly sought after by vintage Seiko collectors. True Pogue variants were gold-dialed 6139-6005's made from 1971 through circa 1973, and feature the following:
- "Seiko Automatic" just below the 12 o'clock position;
- "Water 70M Resist" at the 9 o'clock position;
- the Suwa factory symbol and "17J" above the 6 o'clock position
The 6139 was the first chronograph to have a vertical clutch, a feature considered to be one of the hallmarks of a superior automatic chronograph movement. The 6139 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. The 6139 movement features a single register chronograph allowing time to be measured in increments of 30 minutes.
This True Pogue comes on its original bracelet, leather strap, springbar tool, and Pelican travel case.
1972 Seiko 6139-6005 "True Pogue" Automatic Chronograph
DIAL: Brilliant original gold sunburst "True Pogue" dial; original baton minute and hour hands, with original red chronograph hands on main and subdial. Day/date – with Spanish/English variants – at 3 o’clock position works nicely. Original vibrant yellow inner tachymeter ring rotates smoothly as designed. Lume plots shine following exposure to strong light. Please note dial "freckle" imperfections throughout.
CASE: Original 41mm (w/o crown, 42mm with) x 46mm stainless steel case; case lines are sharp, no evidence of machine polish. Original red and blue “Pepsi” bezel insert, which remains vibrant in color.
CRYSTAL: Seiko 6139-600x-correct Hardlex crystal, no scratches.
BAND: The True Pogue comes with its original H-link stainless steel bracelet, which will fit an approximately seven inch wrist. This 6139 also come with a brown leather strap.
MOVEMENT: Original Seiko 17-jewel 6139B automatic movement, manufactured in April 1972, making it one of the last True Pogues made.
CROWN: Recessed original unsigned stainless steel crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Chronograph pushers depress with satisfying click – no sticking. Original red chronograph main and subdial hands reset as designed to zero.