The true Seiko Pogue Chronograph - 6139-6005

A few years ago it was discovered that the first automatic chronograph in space was a Seiko 6139 worn by Colonel William Reid Pogue during the Skylab 4 mission from November 16, 1973, to February 8, 1974. This was identified by watch enthusiast David Bruno who noted mention of a Seiko watch in a transcript from the Colonel. David then contacted Col. Pogue and received confirmation from him that the watch in question was a yellow dialed 6139.

Col. Pogue wore the watch for many years and in October 2008 the watch was auctioned to raise funds for non-profit Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. For the sale the watch was provided with the original layaway receipt, instruction manual and a letter from the Col. confirming the history of the watch.

The original auction information can be seen on the Heritage Auctions site at the following link - William Pogue's Seiko 6139 Watch Flown on Board the Skylab | Lot #41138 | Heritage Auctions

If you look at the original description on the Heritage Auction website it just lists this as a "6139-600x Seiko watch" and in the letter from Col. Pogue he also does not list the full case code.

If you look at the original purchase receipt it does not list the exact model of the watch but instead just states "Seiko Watch".

In the communication between David Bruno and Col. Pogue the complete casing number is also not confirmed.

Luckily the original watch is clearly pictured in the images provided by Heritage Auctions.

Here you can clearly see the watch face markings and the dial code of 6139-6009T. This dial type was only provided on the 6139-6005 model. The text on the -6009T dial states “WATER 70m RESIST”, “AUTOMATIC” under the Seiko logo and “17J.” between the central hands and the Suwa logo. The 6139-6005 was produced for the American market from 1971 to 1973. 

Col. Pogue purchased his watch directly from the Army and Airforce PX. The watch was placed on layaway on the 10th of June 1972 and was picked up on 13th. The watch has the serial number 190945 indicating the case was produced in September 1971. This would line up with the production period of the -6005 model and it would seem logical that the US market -6005 would have been available through the Army PX at that time.

At the same time the -6005 model was being produced Seiko was also manufacturing the 6139-6002. This model also had the text “WATER 70m RESIST” on the dial but below the Seiko logo it states “CHRONOGRAPH AUTOMATIC” and there is no “17J.” text below the central hands.

In Col. Pogue’s letter he does state that the watch had been “rebuilt” on two occasions as this was his daily wearer for many years. When this occurred it would have been extremely unlikely that the dial would have been changed and if it had been it almost certainly would have been replaced with the later dials 6139-6009T with no text at the 9 o’clock position. These dials were used on US market watches from 1973 till the end of the models production and would have been the standard service part at the time.

Consequently the correct model number for a “true Pogue” chronograph is the 6139-6005 and not the 613-6002 that it is regularly incorrectly attributed as.