Seiko Blue Pogue
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Seiko Blue Pogue

Everyone knows that the first watch worn on the moon was an Omega Speedmaster, one of history's greatest manually winding chronographs. But did you know that the first automatic chronograph worn in space was a Seiko?

Although it didn't become known until just a few years ago, and even though it was not part of his official mission kit, Astronaut Colonel William Pogue made history when he snuck his personal Seiko 6139-6002 chronograph onto the Skylab 4 mission as part of his personal kit in 1973. Manufactured in large quantities in the early 70s by the Japanese manufacturer, 6139-series chronographs were in many ways light years ahead of their Swiss counterparts, offering brightly colored dials, internal rotating bezels, and day/date functionality along with an automatic chronograph movement. The 6139-6002 cost a whopping $71.50 in the early seventies. Colonel Pogue bought his at the PX at Ellington Air Force base and subsequently used it throughout his astronaut training leading up to the mission, preferring it to the NASA-issued Speedmaster. While Pogue did not wear the Seiko during an EVA (spacewalk), he did use it for timing experiments and other mission-pertinent uses while in orbit.

Automatic watches rely on the motion of the wearer’s arm to make the rotor spin, and in the early days of the space program many did not believe automatic winding systems would work in space, where there is no gravitational force. Col. Pouge’s Seiko effectively ended that debate.

Over a decade later, the Sinn model 140 automatic chrono was taken into space on the wrist of Reinhard Furrer on the Spacelab D1 Mission. For decades it was assumed that this was the first automatic chronograph ever worn in space, and it shocked the watch collector community when photographs of Col. Pogue wearing a yellow dialed Seiko in the Skylab module surfaced on the web in 2006. As soon as the news broke, prices for 6139s skyrocketed and a whole aftermarket parts network appeared virtually overnight.

The Col. Pogue legacy has transformed the 6139 into a hotly sought after watch, but it’s also worth pointing out the even without Pogue, the 6139 would still be an important watch to chronograph collectors. Seiko released the watch in 1969, and to many of you that year should ring a bell, since it was the year that the world first saw automatic chronographs. Seiko was in a race against Heuer and Zenith to be the first to market, and while we tend to believe Seiko took the cake (a point where we differ from our friends at Analog/Shift), all the brands were truly neck and neck. 

As with any vintage Seiko, originality is key - it is increasingly difficult to find one that hasn't been hacked together with various incorrect or aftermarket parts. That's why we're so excited when we find an example such as this one with a strong case, stunning blue dial, and complete with its correct Seiko H-link bracelet.

If you're a fan of aviation history (or even just watch history) you'd be hard pressed to find a more interesting and significant timepiece at this price point.

Details

SKU: TT01221

Stainless steel case is approximately 41mm (excluding crown). Reference 6139. Calibre 6139B Self-Winding Chronograph Movement. Circa 1977.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall with minor signs of use and wear. Bezel is in excellent condition with crisp printing. Unsigned crown. Case back has some signs of use and wear.

Includes one 20mm Seiko Japan-signed bracelet.

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