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The Seiko 6139 automatic chronograph – a historical movement in its own right, like the 1973 Seiko 6139-6005 "Colonel Pogue" chronograph 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 a feat debated who won, but in the background of this skirmish, Seiko quietly created one theirs at the same time, beating out all its competitors – the Seiko Calibre 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 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 per GQ, "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 Octrober 1968, indicating Seiko beat all other rivals to produce the world's first automatic chronograph.  Period.

 

This Pogue comes on a stainless-steel Uncle Straps tapered H-link bracelet, and with nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.

1973 Seiko 6139-6005 "Colonel Pogue" Automatic Chronograph

$1,449.99Price
  • DIAL: Fantastic gold Seiko-signed sunburst dial, with crisply legible writing; 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.  Inner tachymeter ring rotates smoothly as designed.  Lume plots shine following exposure to strong light, and feature the excellent sugar cube-like texture and color we love to see on great Seiko 6139 examples.

     

    CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 41mm (w/o crown, 42mm with) x 46mm, and the case features sharp edges and no evidence of machine polishing.  Matching caseback and red and blue “Pepsi” bezel insert in good condition (albeit with some slight wear).

     

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

     

    BAND: The Colonel Pogue comes on a new Uncle Straps stainless-steel Seiko tapered H-link (correct for this year) bracelet,  which will fit up to an approx. 8.50 inch wrist; it also comes with a premium red nylon strap.

     

    MOVEMENT: Seiko 17-jewel 6139B automatic movement, manufactured in June 1973. 

     

    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.