This Affordable Seiko Pays Tribute to a Legendary Space Watch

Rewind the clock back to 1973, the year that NASA launched the Skylab 4 mission to the first American space station. Strapped to a Saturn IB rocket, William R. Pogue, Gerald P. Carr, and Edward Gibson blasted into space within an Apollo command module and spent the next two-plus months conducting experiments in zero gravity.

Now fast-forward 12 years to 1985, when astronaut Reinhard Furrer wore an automatic Sinn model 140 chronograph on his wrist during the Spacelab D-1 Mission. For many years, the watch-collecting community was under the impression that this timepiece constituted the very first automatic chronograph worn in space. However, in 2006, previously unseen (or unnoticed) photographs of Colonel Pogue surfaced in which he was clearly wearing a Seiko ref. 6139-6002—an automatic chronograph—during the Skylab 4 mission. Horological history was thus rewritten, and interest in the 6139 “Pogue” positively exploded.

The grand irony of this whole story is that the 6139 was never even issued to Pogue—much like the Bulova chronograph ref. 88510/01 that belonged to astronaut David R. Scott, it was a personal watch, in this case purchased at the PX at Ellington Air Force Base. In fact, Pogue never even wore it on EVA (spacewalks), doffing it in order to don his NASA-issued Speedmaster. None of this, of course, has stopped collectors from clamoring for a 6139 reissue, but none has been forthcoming. (And this despite the greater watch industry, including Seiko, reissuing just about every reference under the sun in recent years to capitalize on the vintage watch craze.)

Until now. Seiko has indeed finally reissued the “Pogue” (sort of). The thing is, the 6139-series chronograph is an odd watch—its automatic chronograph movement powers a single 30-minute register and a central chronograph seconds hand, plus a day-date display at 3 o’clock. And as there isn’t another watch in the current Seiko catalog with such a feature set, the brand doesn’t have a movement to power it. However, the (still fairly new) Seiko Speedtimer format—with its 41.4mm steel case, triple-register chronograph with date and power reserve indicator, and solar-powered movement—is an excellent platform in which to reissue a colorful, funky chronograph, and that’s precisely what the Japanese company has done.

The Speedtimer SSC947, while far from a one-to-one reissue, marks the closest the collector community has come (thus far) to a modern Pogue. It retains the ref. 6139-6002’s positively wild colorway, with a yellow sunray dial and a blue and red outer tachymeter scale, but due to its Caliber V192 solar movement, the layout is different: In place of a lone 30-minute totalizer above 6 o’clock, it’s got a triple-register display with a 24-hour indicator at 3 o’clock, a 60-minute totalizer at 6 o’clock, and a running seconds counter at 9 o’clock. (The 60-minute totalizer also doubles as a power reserve indicator, which is pretty neat. The totalizers are also black rather than color-matched yellow, which provides some welcome contrast.) The day-date display is also gone, but there is a date window at 4:30, and the watch has a six-month power reserve once fully charged.

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