What Was The First Watch In Space?
The first watch to be worn in open space, outside a spaceship, was the white faced Strela, worn by Cosmonaut Alexi Leonov on June 12, 1965. This was a mechanical two register chronograph with a 45 minute totaliser and a continuously running second hand.
Issued in the 1950's to Russian pilots, this became the watch issued to cosmonauts for 20 years.
Other Watches That Have Been To Space
Breitling Navitimer Ref. 809
American astronaut Scott Carpenter launched into space on May 24, 1962, wearing a modified Breitling Navitimer made of stainless steel on his wrist. The watch featured a Venus 178 hand-wound calibre, specially converted for Breitling.
Fifty years later, Breitling launched a limited edition of that watch, which, just like the original watch from 1962, had a 24-hour display, a slide rule bezel, and a manual-winding movement.
Omega Speedmaster chronograph
Selected after a series of rigorous testing and its high level of precision and reliability, the Omega Speedmaster chronograph was chosen by NASA for the U.S. space program in 1964.
Program requirements called for a manual-winding wrist chronograph that was water-proof, shock-proof, anti-magnetic, able to withstand temperatures ranging from 0 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and accelerations of up to 12 g's. NASA first certified the Omega Speedmaster as the chronograph for the Gemini program and then issued it to astronaut Neil Armstrong for use during the Apollo 11 mission of July 1969.
While the Speedmaster was the official watch issued by NASA, some astronauts brought their own watches to space. During the Apollo missions, the Rolex GMT-Master was worn by astronauts such as Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Gene Cernan. While the design has changed very little over the last 60 years, Rolex has improved the technology within and provides even greater value with a longer power reserve. The latest reissue of the “Pepsi” GMT-Master II is the reincarnation of the classic.
Sinn Chronograph 142
German Astronaut and physicist Reinhard Furrer wore his personal Sinn 140S in black during the Spacelab Mission D1, in 1985. This chronograph was powered by the Lemania 5100 movement and utilises a large 44-mm steel case finished with either a sandblasted or a matte black PVD coating.
Which Watches Are Used By Today's Astronauts?
OMEGA has always been the official watch of NASA, (particularly when it comes to spacewalking), and one of their most iconic timepieces is the Speedmaster. Having been a part of all six lunar missions, the legendary Speedmaster is an impressive representation of the brand’s adventurous pioneering spirit.
Designed especially for space explorers, the Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 is an innovative upgrade of the Speedmaster Professional X-33 released in 1998. The new Speedmaster Skywalker X-33, powered by an advanced quartz calibre, has been designed to meet the exacting needs of astronauts and features a variety of impressive functions.
The OMEGA Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” remains a true icon in the world of watchmaking and is built in the classic 4th generation style that was worn by Apollo 11 astronauts during history’s first moon landing.
This historic watch features a black dial covered by a hesalite crystal and graced by a small seconds sub-dial, 30-minute recorder and 12-hour recorder along with a central chronograph hand. The black bezel, with its tachymetric scale, is mounted on a 42mm stainless steel case and presented on a matching bracelet.
At the heart of this chronograph is OMEGA’s mechanical calibre 1861, the famous manual-winding movement that was worn on the Moon.
In 1969, the same year we set foot on another world, OMEGA introduced the Speedmaster Mark II, a timepiece with a streamlined case. Now, OMEGA proudly introduces the classic chronograph in an updated form.
The 1969 Speedmaster Mark II was equipped with the hand-wound calibre 861 while today’s model is powered by the Co-Axial calibre 3330, a self-winding movement complete with an Si14 silicon balance spring and a column-wheel chronograph mechanism.
This Mark II features a matt black dial protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, with small seconds sub-dial at 9 o'clock, a 12-hour recorder at 6 o'clock and a 30-minute recorder at 3 o'clock, as well as a central hour, minute and chronograph seconds hands. The transparent tachymeter scale on the sapphire crystal is illuminated from beneath by an aluminium ring filled with Super-LumiNova.
At the heart of this chronograph is the exclusive OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 3330.
In celebration of the 2-year countdown to the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020, the event’s Official Timekeeper produced this Speedmaster model, limited to 2,020 pieces.
The bracelet and casing are all wrought from high-grade stainless steel, while the brushed blue dial is contrasted with stark white markers, ensuring maximal legibility in a variety of lighting conditions while evoking 2006's much-lauded Gemini IV special edition timepiece.
The Speedmaster’s famous tachymeter scale is shown on a blue anodized aluminium bezel ring. On the caseback, OMEGA has embossed the Tokyo 2020 logo, while inside, the famous OMEGA Calibre 1861 is included.
To celebrate the shared history of the global watchmaker and the famous American space agency, OMEGA and NASA teamed up to create velcro straps with astronaut-friendly fixtures and bold branding.
The NASA MN Strap is a tribute to the exploits of the venerable American space agency and a superb complement to the watches made famous by them, such as the OMEGA Speedmaster.
Written by Kate, for Watch Obsession.