Vintage 1972 "Pogue's" Seiko 6139 (in the shop)
The First Automatic Chronograph to be Worn in Space.
Aviation and space exploration have long been the stuff dreams Timepieces have, of course, been designed to aid man in these exploits since the last world war, and collectors
lust after purpose-built models with a genuine connection to the history of flight. Space and transportation.
Amongst the GMT Masters, Cosmonautes and Speedmasters which collectors prize, there is also the Sinn 140 which is sought after by collectors because it was the first automatic chronograph known to be worn in space on the wrist of German Astronaut Reinhard Furrer during the Spacelab D1 mission in 1985. To this day, Sinn is generally recognized for being the first automatic chronograph used in space, This was in fact not the case simply the first automatic to be certified by NASA for use in space..
Over twenty years after the Spacelab D1 mission, it came to light that Sinn was in fact not the first automatic chronograph worn in space – that honor goes ‘70s Seiko. The discovery occurred in 2007 when an keen eyed watch enthusiast spotted a 6139-6002 on Colonel Pogue, on NASA mission dubbed Skylab 4. After an investigation and correspondence with the retired astronaut, suspicions were confirmed, forever changing the history of timepieces and the Space Program. (oops SORRY Sinn...)
Left. Pogue & His Seiko 6139
William Pogue's Seiko 6139 Watch was Flown on Board the Skylab 4 Mission. The Seiko 6139 watch was worn on the wrist of Mission Pilot William R. Pogue during this eighty-four day mission between November 16, 1973, and February 8, 1974, traveling around the Earth 1214 times for a total of thirty-four million miles. He used the watch during pre-flight training to time the engine burns. Although he was not NASA sanctioned to do so, Pogue wore the watch during his duration on Skylab. To take the watch aboard the spacecraft, Pogue smuggled it in the spacesuit leg pocket during launch preparations. When in space after getting unsuited Pogue put the watch on his left wrist and set it to United States Central Time while the NASA official sanctioned Omega Speedmaster 321 watch was placed on his right wrist. Upon Pogue's return from space to terra firma he continued to wear the Seiko watch daily.
Making the Seiko 6139 the first Automatic Chronograph to be worn in space more than ten years before the NASA-sanctioned Sinn 142 chronograph. A truly historic watch sure to appeal to both space and timepiece collectors.
Top. From the Archives, 6139's Just a fraction of available designs.
Left. Pogues Choice.
Originally Purchased for $72
Skylab Mission Patch right
Although the 6139 was never formally approved for mission use, Pogue stated that his operated flawlessly during his time in space.... As his story goes, he had been training with the Seiko for months before the mission launched, as he hadn’t been issued his Speedmaster until late in the process, and had grown familiar with the Seiko, so brought it along without seeking official approval from the NASA bosses.
Story aside, these watches are genuinely gorgeous and pretty innovative. The mix of colors from the Pepsi bezel to the golden yellow dial is surprisingly attractive . It’s refreshing and tasteful, playing off of the blue and red in the tachymeter. The case is tonneau or barrel in true Seiko style, with strange lines that curve in towards the dial, and sharp facets on the lugs. There were many cases used on 6139’s, and this arguably most distinctive. On the original H-link bracelet, it comes together to be one of the coolest and most iconic instantly recognisable chronographs ever made.
A design feature that is remarkably ahead of its time, was the multi-function crown, many watches in the 6139 (world time, Pogue, etc) featured rotating internal bezels. As fine as that is, it’s the fact that the main crown doubles as the bezel crown thats innovative. When the crown, which you might notice is flush with the side, is in normal position, it can be rotated to turn the bezel. You then push it in 2-stops to change the day, 1-stop to change the date, and pull it out one stop to change the time… This watch is from the 70’s They may have been Cheap they may have been mass produced. But they were Undeniably TRULY innovative