THE SEIKO POGUE STORY
A HISTORY OF THE SEIKO 6139 AUTOMATIC CHRONOGRAPH
Colonel William Pogue’s personal Seiko ‘Pogue’ 6139-6005 chronograph / Credit: Heritage Auctions
Seiko chronographs are extremely popular, be it mechanical or quartz. There are four main movements that collectors look for: the 6139, 6138, 7A28, and 7A38. All of these vintage Seiko chronograph calibers power different, notable models. However, there is one model that really started all the craze and remains the most sought after: the Seiko Pogue.
Apart from the story of Col. Pogue and his time in space, there has been a lot of debate as to which is the ‘real’ Seiko Pogue; the 6139-6002 or the 6139-6005. Some things are, of course, widely agreed upon – William Pogue wore a yellow dial 6139 chronograph. The debate ranges around whether the case was a 6002 or 6005…And while evidence points to 6005 (i.e., the sale of Col. Pogue’s personal watch worn in space), there still exists some doubt.
The 3rd Skylab mission crew (left to right): Gerald P. Carr, science pilot Dr. Edward G. Gibson, and command module pilot William R. Pogue
William ‘Bill’ Pogue was an American astronaut known for his service on the Skylab space station. Pogue was born in Okemah, Oklahoma on January 23rd, 1930, to Alex and Margaret McDow Pogue and became an astronaut in 1966. This was after an already decorated career in the US Air Force, at the age of 36, where he notably served as a Thunderbird pilot. Pogue was made a Colonel and had 7,200 hours of flight time! While he never went to the moon, he was famously part of the Skylab mission in 1973 and stayed there for almost 3 months – 84 days – until February 1974! Pogue was pictured during the mission wearing a yellow dial Seiko 6139 chronograph – which is where the nickname ‘Pogue’ comes from as it is one of the rare space watches of the world.
However, according to Heritage Auctions and excellent work by Anthony Kable of Plus9time, Colonel Pogue did not wear a 6139-6002 as is widely reported, but instead wore a 6139-6005! This is confirmed by documents from Heritage Auctions’ auction of Pogue’s personal effects on October 7th, 2008. Pogue provided a personal letter certifying that it was his original timepiece worn on the mission, but omitting the full case code with the watch case only officially described as ‘600x’. Pictures of the watch from Heritage Auctions, however, indicate that it was a 6005. He also included a receipt, indicating that he purchased the vintage Seiko 6139 chronograph on June 13th, 1972 for only $71! Imagine that on a Seiko rubber strap! Col. Pogue writes in his letter that he did not wear the Seiko on the spacewalk but put it on once they were in orbit with his NASA-approved Omega Speedmaster on his right wrist and the Seiko Pogue on his left. He wore the watch until his retirement in 2003 and when the watch was auctioned in 2008, proceeds went to fund the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
Seiko ‘Blue Pogue’ 6130-6005
Given that the only confirmation of the watch being a Seiko 6139-6005 is that the dial code corresponds to dials presumably used only for the 6005 case, there is still some mystery to it. However, this evidence is, in our opinion, far stronger than that offered for the 6002 case being the one of the ‘real’ Seiko ‘Pogue’. Nonetheless, it is a warm reminder of the stories and their protagonists that attract all kinds of collectors to certain timepieces.