The Seiko 6139 automatic chronograph – a historical movement in its own right, like this freshly full serviced Japanese Domestic Market (JDM)-only 1970 Seiko 6139-6030 "Coke" here – was one of the first automatic chronographs created and ranks with Zenith’s El Primero and Heuer’s Calibre 11.
Back in the late 1960'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 their own at the same time, beating the Swiss at their own game – the Seiko 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 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.
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 Pogue comes on a leather strap, a nylon NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1971 Seiko 6139-6032 "Coke" SpeedTimer JDM Automatic Chronograph
DIAL: Brilliant black SpeedTimer-signed proof dial, with baton minute and hour hands - this is a rather sharp dial! Day/date – with Japanese Kanji/English language variants – at 3 o’clock position works nicely. Inner tachymeter ring rotates smoothly as designed. Lume plots shine following exposure to strong light. .
CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 41mm (w/o crown, 42mm with) x 46mm. Red and black “Coke” bezel insert evinces zero fade, an excellent bonus. Matching caseback is water resistant-signed.
CRYSTAL: Original Hardlex crystal, no scratches.
BAND: This 6139 Coke comes with a brown leather rally strap - its a SpeedTimer, after all - and a dark blue and red nyloln NATO strap.
MOVEMENT: JDM-only 21-jewel Seiko 6139A automatic movement, manufactured in April 1971. We have fully serviced this watch.
CROWN: Recessed unsigned stainless-steel crown.
CHRONOGRAPH PUSHERS: Chronograph pushers depress with satisfying click – no sticking. With a firm push, chronograph main and subdial hands reset to zero.