The Seiko 6139 "Pogue" automatic chronograph – a historical movement in its own right, like this full serviced 1972 Seiko 6139-6005 "True Pogue" here, on its original H-link bracelet – 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 Seiko 6139 "True Pogue" chronographs seldom 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.
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 November 1968, indicating Seiko beat all other rivals to produce the world's first automatic chronograph. Period.
But back to the True Pogue - 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 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 $6k.
As noted, this 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 1972, and feature the following:
- "Seiko Automatic" just below the 12 o'clock position;
- Spanish/English day language wheel;
- "Water 70M Resist" at the 9 o'clock position;
- the Suwa factory symbol and "17J" above the 6 o'clock position.
This True Pogue comes on its original H-link bracelet, with nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.
1972 Seiko 6139-6005 "True Pogue" Automatic Chronograph, w/Orig. H-Link Bracelet
DIAL: Brilliant gold sunburst dial, in good condition with some limited patina surrounding the chronograph subdial (common on these gold dials); baton minute and hour hands, with vibrant red chronograph hands on main and subdial. Day/date – with Spanish/English variants – at 3 o’clock position works nicely. Inner tachymeter ring rotates smoothly as designed. Lume plots are the pearly white color and sugar cube-like texture we love to see on great 6139 examples; lume on the dial and handset glows following exposure to strong light.
CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 41mm (w/o crown, 42mm with) x 46mm, with matching caseback; wear on pusher side. Vibrant red and blue “Pepsi” bezel insert in good condition. Case lines remain sharp, with no evidence of machine polishing.
CRYSTAL: Seiko 6139-correct Hardlex crystal, no scratches or imperfections.
BAND: The Pogue comes on its original H-link bracelet, which will fit an 7.5 inch wrist; this 6139 also comes with a maroon nylon strap.
MOVEMENT: Seiko 17-jewel 6139B automatic movement, manufactured in January 1972. We have performed a full service on this True Pogue.
CROWN: Recessed unsigned stainless-steel crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Chronograph pushers depress with satisfying click – no stick. Red chronograph main and subdial hands reset as designed to zero.