Seiko Pogue: A Closer Look At The First Automatic Chronograph In Space

Jun 30, 2021
Seiko Pogue: A Closer Look At The First Automatic Chronograph In Space

Ask anyone about a Japanese watch brand they are most familiar and comfortable with and there is a high chance that the name Seiko will come up. Throughout its 140-year run, the brand has wowed watch connoisseurs and casual wearers alike with their amazing watches. Indeed, the quality and appearance of Seiko watches are easily on par with the releases of celebrated Swiss watch brands such as Rolex, Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe.

One outstanding Seiko model is the original, trailblazing Seiko Pogue. The Seiko Pogue comes from the iconic Seiko 6139 line which was released when automatic watches were slowly catching on. Known for being the first automatic chronograph in space, this versatile vintage watch features vibrant and bold aesthetics, coupled with the artistic Pepsi top ring design that you will surely love even at first sight.

In this article, we will find out what makes the watch worthy of being added to your growing collection, and why it still remains a highly sought-after Seiko piece despite the release of other innovative chronographs over the past years. Why is it called “Pogue”, and why is it considered such a significant timepiece from the brand? Furthermore, what is the difference between the Seiko 6139-6002 and the Seiko 6139-6005? Allow our simple guide to help you in clarifying any confusion regarding the Seiko Pogue watch. We’ll tell you all about its origins, specifications, and other nitty-gritty details before you purchase your very own piece.

Up Close with the Seiko Pogue 6139-6005

Since we’ve already done a guide on the Seiko 6139-6002 before, now is the time to finally put the spotlight on the True Pogue, or the Seiko 6139-6005. Since its release in 1971, this watch has certainly left an impression, not just on collectors but also on general masses who craved an automatic watch that exceeds expectations. Considered as a quintessential piece from the company, it has a refined finesse and charm that remains underrated by many. If you have been curious about what this timepiece has to offer, below are the spectacular features and specifications of the 6139-6005 variation of the Seiko Pogue. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the watch before you make a purchase.

  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Case dimension: 40mm
  • Movement: Seiko Automatic Calibre 6139
  • Water resistance: 70 metres

Case

One of the first things we immediately look at when deciding which watch to get is the case. It is extremely important that a watch’s case is durable while still being appealing enough to be instantly eye-catching. The exterior of the Seiko 6139-6005 can definitely attest to this, as it embodies an unconventional yet head-turning concept that only Seiko could ever pull off.

Like other models in the 6139 line, the 6005 sports a case size of 40mm, with a wide and well-defined appearance. This makes it the perfect watch for gentlemen whose wrist types are on the bigger side. Bringing a balanced and symmetrical look together, the 19mm lugs with sharp ends also complement the sturdy structure of the bracelet as well as the size of the case. The case of the 6005 has a gorgeous satin finish, giving it a sleek and commanding look. The incorporation of layers in the construction of the watch allows spectators to admire all the exterior aspects of the timepiece. While the layout may appear slightly peculiar, rest assured that the watch remains extremely comfortable on your wrist.

With regards to the crown, the model we have been dissecting has a simple and accessible one made with stainless steel, which operates smoothly at all times. It has no special emblem, but the bold patterns around its edges give it a more daring look. Although the crown is not protected by any crown guards, it still garners attention because of its peculiar placement, making this watch a truly collectible item. Rather than having an exposed body like most other watches in the market, the crown that comes with the Seiko Pogue 6005 is hidden, demonstrating the brand’s creativity. If you want to adjust the time, you can just simply pull on it and rotate it in whatever direction you are most comfortable with. To change the date and the day, you can simply push the crown one or two times. This is truly an amazing feature for a watch released during the 1970s,  proving how Seiko values form and function equally in all their pieces. What’s also great about the crown is that it can also be utilized to rotate the inner bezel, just like its close sibling, the 6139-6002. Moreover, the pushers for the chronograph function click in a trouble-free manner. Wearers need not worry about the pushers wearing thin or not clicking well, which is important for a vintage model like this one.

Caseback and Water Resistance

The caseback of the Seiko Pogue 6005 is very minimalistic. It is somewhat plain but conveys all the information you need to know about the watch. Made of tough stainless steel, the caseback gives the watch optimal security against any threats ranging from slight impacts and specks of dust to anything moisture-related like rust. Its sleek, fluted surface looks shiny even from a distance and gives the impression of clean professionalism. Text detailing all the important technical facts about the watch, such as the reference number and the material used for its composition, can also be found on the caseback. The signature medium-sized Seiko logo found in the middle of the caseback is surrounded by imprinted text indicating the watch’s serial number and country of origin. Matching the “Water70mResist” inscription on the dial, you can also find text on the case back that reads “Water-Resistant”. These details are all extremely important for checking the authenticity of a true Seiko Pogue 6005 watch and its production year. This is especially true given how many fake manufacturers there are out there, who produce cheap, substandard replicas of these iconic timepieces. Many of these fake replicas alter parts of the original watch and sell for a higher price as a way of deceiving people, especially newcomers to the watch business. As such, it’s important to pay attention to all these details on the caseback when purchasing your own Seiko Pogue 6005.

Being an older chronograph watch, the Seiko 6139-6005 comes with an average water resistance rating of 70 meters. This means that you can bring this timepiece to your trips to the pool or casual water sports activities. However, you need to exercise extreme caution when at the beach or other water bodies with huge depths, since the Seiko Pogue 6005 does not have the ability to withstand extreme water pressures. For instance, you cannot make this watch your companion during your scheduled professional water sports activities such as diving, surfing, or rowing.

Material and Crystal

Just like most Seiko watches, the case and lugs of the Seiko 6139-6005 model are all made out of durable stainless steel. This is a plus, as it has anti-corrosive qualities which allow the watch to look pristine and clean even through years of use. Furthermore, stainless steel is a completely hard material, so your Seiko Pogue 6005 will be very resistant to scratches and minor bumps. This is good for those who commute on a daily basis when going to work, as you do not need to worry about the safety of your watch’s overall structure. While stainless is a cheaper material than titanium, gold, or rose gold, it is still a great material to use in watches. It does not get affected by any kind of moisture or temperature, which can be useful if you’re someone who sweats a lot even when doing minimal or small movements. Furthermore, you are unlikely to get any skin reactions or irritations, considering the superb quality of the steel the watch comes with. With all these strengths, it is no surprise that the Seiko 6139-6005 receives a lot of hype from people in the watchmaking field.

Although this model does not feature the sapphire crystal that most luxury brands use to protect a watch’s face, it can still resist small scratches — adding to the overall gorgeous look of the surface. This is mainly due to the Hardlex crystal that serves as the timepiece’s main barrier. Famous for being Seiko’s legendary invention and proprietary mineral crystal, it is able to handle slight collisions very well.  Unlike sapphire crystal, Hardlex crystal, which is made out of silica, is also anti-reflective. This means that you can read the time accurately even in places where there is an abundance of light, without having to worry about reflective glares. Hardlex crystal is also cheaper than sapphire, which explains why it is used in many mid-range watches. Regardless, the powerful component always delivers excellent results when it comes to giving a clean and easily readable appearance. It is a good guarantee when it comes to the safety of the Seiko 6139-6005’s face.

However, since the Hardlex crystal is only created by submerging it in heat, there is no guarantee that it will not chip off. To avoid such inconveniences, you might want to avoid bringing the Seiko Pogue 6005 to outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain climbing. Total replacement of crystals and resorting to custom ones can be pricey, so it is best to take preventive measures and not risk damaging the Hardlex crystal. That being said, considering the inexpensive price of the Seiko 6005 crystals, we think that it is still a good bargain, even though it would be better fitted with a stronger protective outer layer.

Bezel

The Seiko Pogue 6005 also comes with an outer bezel with a Pepsi-inspired design. This bezel first appeared on Rolex’s pioneering piece, called the Rolex GMT Master. This is a very distinguishing feature for the 6005, as the layout deviates from the usual, with the red-blue colour scheme contrasting well with the vibrant yellow dial. The rareness of this Pepsi-themed bezel makes the 6005 an extremely sought-after piece for watch collectors, much like other watches in the Seiko 6139 lineup that possess the same Pepsi-themed aesthetic.

Matching the hue of the case, bracelet, and lugs, the texts around the top ring are in a beautiful silver tone. The contrast of the clean silver text with the darker red and blue hues of the bezel makes for easy legibility. As a chronograph model, the bezel of the 6005 is also equipped with a tachymetre scale. This comes in handy when calculating precise periods of time as well as speed and distance.

As previously mentioned, this model also comes with a bright yellow rotating internal bezel. Much like the 6139-6002 model, the inner bezel of the 6005 variant can be controlled using the crown placed at the 3 o’clock position. These inner bezels come in a variety of different colours. For instance, certain Seiko 6139 models with blue dials come with blue-coloured inner bezels. However, so far, there have been no reports of any white- or black-coloured inner bezels in any models of the Seiko 6139. There are some Seiko 6139 watches that appear to have white indicator top rings. However, these were actually originally yellow in colour, and later turned white due to continuous exposure to UV rays. Thus, as far as we know, Seiko has never made any version of the Seiko 6139 with white or black inner bezels.

Dial

Seiko Pogue Ref. 6139-6005 on wrist
Seiko 6139-6005 | Photo from borgsauce_wis on Instagram

Exhibiting an unusual yet attractive theme, the dial of the Seiko 6139-6005 is truly breathtaking to look at from any angle. Since it is a chronograph, this watch comes with a sub-dial, dedicated to this function, which completely covers the 6 o’clock mark. The numbers and texts inside the sub-dial are written in a readable font and a cool black tone, which is very easy on the eyes. Adding to its great list of features, this model also comes with a date and day window at the 3 o’clock position. The silver frame and black background both give the window more definition and a high-tech feel.

Appearance-wise, the dial of the Seiko Pogue 6005 is in a vibrant yellow tone in a sun-ray finish. All hour-markers, and the hour and minute hands in baton-style are in fancy silver colour. On the other hand, both the chronograph and seconds hand, which are in a deep red hue, creating a fun and artistic contrast. The addition of an inverted triangle-shaped marking at the top of the dial makes it easier for wearers to adjust the rotating inner bezel. Furthermore, the markers, hands, and indices are all coated with luminous elements powered by Tritium technology. This gives the watch better visibility in the dark or at night. Adding to the vibrantly contrasting design of the dial, all other texts found in the dial are in black colour, with the exception of the signature just below the 12 o’clock position. These texts are written with a gorgeous and minimalist font, which is unobtrusive and easy to read.

Movement

Like other Seiko 6139 watches, the Seiko 6139-6005 runs on an automatic calibre called the Calibre 6139B automatic movement. This movement has been adored by fans due to its amazing life and power. It is an upgrade from the brand’s pioneering mechanism, called the 6139A, which was used for the first batch of Seiko 6139-600x timepieces. Certainly, the 6139B movement is jam-packed with innovation, proving Seiko’s dedication to coming up with the best inventions for all. For instance, this movement comes with a centre chronograph wheel and a simplified chronograph bridge for greater durability and smoothness.

Moving to the more technical aspects of the 6139B movement, this 27mm calibre with a height of 7.1mm beats at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour. It uses a traditional mainspring and is equipped with Seiko’s Diashock technology, which preserves the watch’s precision and gives wearers greater serviceability. The movement also comes with a component that allows for the instant setting of the day and date. All in all, the Seiko 6139B is a robust, efficient movement, which can serve you for many more years to come.

The Origins of the Seiko Pogue

For decades, watch enthusiasts believed that the Sinn 140 held the distinction of being the first automatic chronograph in space. A product of the German watchmaker Sinn, the Sinn 140 was worn by German astronaut Reinhard Furrer during his NASA Spacelab D1 mission in 1985. However, this all changed in 2007. It came to light that the Seiko 6139-6005, also known as the Seiko Pogue, was the true owner of this title.

According to several reports, United States Air Force (“USAF”) pilot Colonel William Pogue brought a Seiko 6139 watch with him during his voyage to space in 1973.  Along with pilots Gerald Carr and Edward Gibson, Pogue was part of the NASA Skylab 4 mission. Pogue wore the Seiko 6139 for 84 consecutive days, alongside the official watch of the expedition, the Omega Speedmaster Professional. The Seiko 6139 then returned from its trip to space whole and in excellent condition, as if it has never left its original packaging. But how did Pogue end up with two timepieces for the mission in the first place?

Why Is It Called the Seiko Pogue?

Six months before his visit to space, Pogue found that he needed a watch for his pre-flight preparations. Specifically, he needed a piece that could accurately tell how long it took for a spacecraft engine to run out of power and completely burn. That period of time was critical for astronauts. It was the amount of time astronauts had to come up with feasible solutions to worst-case scenarios such as mechanical failures and threats of crashing. While looking for the perfect timepiece, Pogue came across the Seiko 6139-6005 at the Ellington AFB Exchange in Texas. Taking a chance on it, he proceeded to utilise the watch’s astonishing functionalities and performance in accordance with his needs.

Colonel William Pogue
Colonel William Pogue Wearing the Seiko Pogue | Photo from Heritage Auctions

Impressed by the performance of the Seiko 6139, Pogue decided to make the watch his companion during his mission. The practicality and reliability of the timepiece were remarkable enough that Pogue went ahead with his decision even without the official approval from NASA’s authorised personnel. Although he was not able to use it during his EVA Spacewalk, the Seiko 6139 helped him in other vital processes that kept the spacecraft engines up and running.

Since the revelation that the Seiko 6139 was the first automatic chronograph in space, the 60025 variation of the Seiko 6139 became popularly known as the “Seiko Pogue” or “Pogue”, after its famous owner, astronaut William Pogue. Seiko itself has never released an official statement acknowledging the nickname, but it quickly caught on among fans. The “Pogue” nickname is used to distinguish the Seiko 6139-6005 from other Seiko 6139 variants that have been released.

Seiko 6139-6002 vs. Seiko 6139-6005

Despite the fame surrounding the Seiko Pogue, there is still a lot of debate regarding the actual model of William Pogue’s watch. While some argue that it was a Seiko 6139-6002, many devotees of the brand insist that it was actually a Seiko 6139-6005, with the “Water70m Resist” text on the dial. The confusion is unsurprising. Seiko is fond of coming up with many variants that differ mainly in terms of face layouts and movements, for one specific model. This can lead to major confusion not only to long-time watch enthusiasts but especially to casual wearers who are not that well-versed in horology.

However, careful inspection of the watch’s parts, particularly the exterior ones, as well as ample research, reveals that the Seiko 6139-6002 and Seiko 6139-6005 have certain noticeable differences.

William Pogue never disclosed the exact model and reference number of his Seiko 6139. However, the original photo owned by Heritage Auctions, the company which sold the astronaut’s watch in October 2008 for the benefit of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, shows that the timepiece he had for 35 years was most likely a Seiko 6139-6005. Sometimes called the “True Pogue,” the watch looks identical to the 6002 variant, except for minor variations in the dial.

front view of Seiko Pogue 6139 watch
Seiko 6139 Model Worn By Colonel William Pogue | Photo from Heritage Auctions

Colonel Pogue’s watch comes with a minuscule 6139-6005T dial code between the 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock positions. This inscription can only be found in the 6139-6005 watches. Rather than the words “Chronograph Automatic,” which you can find in a 6139-6002, there is instead an “Automatic” inscription on Pogue’s watch, suggesting that his watch is not a 6002 variant. Other texts on Pogue’s watch include the “Water70mResist” and the small “17J” below the centre-point of the hands. While the Seiko 6139-6002 also comes with the word “Water70mResist” on the left of the dial, it does not have the “17J” logo underneath the central hands, so this watch is unlikely to have been a Seiko 6139-6002.

Aside from these details on the dial, the 6139-6005 models had been produced solely for international consumers, particularly the American market in the early 1970s. The 6139-6002 variant, on the other hand, was only released in the Japanese market. Many argue that it would make more sense for Pogue to have owned a 6139-6005 timepiece since it was an exclusive release for the American audience. It is also more likely that a 6139-6005 watch was the variant available at the AFB Exchange, where Pogue bought his Seiko Pogue watch since its serial number is in line with the production period of all 6139-6005 models.

side view of Seiko 6139-6002 watch
Photo from Wanderlust_JVH on Flickr

Until Seiko issues an official clarification, it is impossible for anyone to put an end to the ongoing discourse regarding the two watches. For now, most people refer to both the 6002 and 6005 variations as “Seiko Pogue” watches. The 6005 version also goes by the name “True Pogue” for a clearer distinction between the two. In fact, many fans actually consider all Seiko watches with yellow dials to be Seiko Pogues. However, this doesn’t really help, since it only adds to the confusion regarding the whole Seiko 6139 range.

Amidst all this, however, is the fact that both the Seiko 6139-6002 and the Seiko 6139-6005 will always remain game-changing chronograph pieces among the diverse Seiko lineup. It is important to note both watches have been vital to the formation of Seiko’s history and distinct identity. Both timepieces are regarded as some of Seiko’s best vintage models because of their striking appearances and excellent craftsmanship. Not only that, but they also make for great starter pieces because of their affordability and easily comprehensible features. Whether you are an expert in navigating time using different kinds of wristwatches or still in the process of learning about watches work, you will surely find satisfaction in donning either a Seiko 6139-6002 or a Seiko 6139-6005 on your wrist. Their masculine and sporty vibe also make them very tempting pieces to get your hands on.

Why should you buy a Seiko Pogue watch?

  • It comes with a reasonable price tag. This comes as no surprise considering Seiko advocates cost-effectiveness above all. However, this does not mean that the parts it uses for its products are of cheap or low quality. In fact, the brand is considered one of the best manufacturers of quartz watches, which says a lot about their reputation in the industry. There are a number of Seiko 6139-6005 models that can be found on trusted online secondhand markets for around $300 to $700 USD. This is a similar price range to that of the Seiko 6139-6002. Getting one for around $300 to $400 is a steal, considering how some owners resell their True Pogue pieces for three or four times higher than its usual range. So, if you happen to stumble across one in mint condition, you should not think twice before snapping it up. This is not only because its price may increase in the future but also because you will be getting a chance to wear a piece of Seiko’s remarkable history on your wrist. You just have to be extra careful to use reliable sellers, since all Seiko vintage pieces are prone to counterfeits as well as major alterations by fake manufacturers.
  • It comes with a versatile design. While it boasts unusual colours, the Seiko Pogue is not too flashy. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it will surely blend well with all of your outfits and is suitable for most events.

Final Thoughts

All in all, Seiko was able to prove their innovativeness and expertise in chronograph watches with the Seiko Pogue. Despite the many debates surrounding its background, no one can deny that it holds a great position in the history of the brand. Though often compared to the Seiko 6139-6002, the Seiko 6139-6005 variation is still worthy of much praises considering its cutting-edge movement, efficient features, and striking appearance that makes it truly exceptional. It is the perfect representation of a vintage watch that does not need any fancy introductions. The True Pogue is solid proof of how Seiko never stops pursuing excellence above all. If you are looking for an affordable vintage piece that can make you stand out effortlessly, the Seiko 6139-6005 is your best bet.

Want to know more about other fantastic Seiko models you should definitely consider as your next wardrobe staples? Make sure to check out our articles, specifically our guides on the Seiko Shogun and the Seiko Alpinist.

Featured image from Slices of Light ✴on Flickr

 

 

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