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 for all of 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.
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.
As with any vintage Seiko, originality is key - and given the ready supply of Asian market 6139s and aftermarket parts, it is increasingly difficult to find an honest example. But we like a challenge, and we've turned up this spectacular example for your consideration. In absolutely fantastic condition, this piece is completely original with the exception of a replacement crystal. The case, bracelet, dial, and hands are minty-fresh, and the pepsi bezel hasn't been worn down or replaced like so many others. Even more exciting is the presence of a French calendar wheel, indicating that this example was originally a European market piece, making it a rare find.
If you're a fan of aviation history you'd be hard pressed to find a more interesting and significant timepiece at this price point, don't miss it!
For a bit more information on this interesting timepiece, check out our piece on DreamChrono, HERE.