SpaceX Meets Schaffhausen: A Look At All Four Space-Flown IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Inspiration4” Pieces
The watches flown on the world’s first all-civilian orbital space mission are coming up for auction in support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
When the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on September 16, 2021, from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, its Crew Dragon Resilience capsule made history as the first orbital spaceflight with private citizens on board.
Crewmembers Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux, and Christopher Sembroski not only got their astronaut wings on that day but also completed the fifth-highest orbital spaceflight ever. Specifically, it achieved an orbital altitude of 364 miles, the highest since Space Shuttle mission STS-103 in 1999.
With the advent of privatized space flight, we face an interesting quandary. Omega timepieces are some of the only flight-qualified watches for NASA astronauts. However, with the introduction of private spaceflight companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, it’s looking more and more likely that future astronauts and space tourists will be able to wear a watch into space of their choosing.
For the Inspiration4 mission, IWC partnered with Commander Jared Isaacman to provide special edition Pilot’s Watch Chronographs to the four-person crew.
Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, said in a press release, “From our founder Florentine Ariosto Jones, who journeyed from America to Switzerland to revolutionize watchmaking, to our endless appetite for innovation, IWC is a company of pioneers. We are incredibly proud to partner with the Inspiration4 mission, which shares so many of our values, to make history together and raise funds for such a good cause.”
IWC has produced four IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Inspiration4” special edition watches to commemorate this momentous occasion. These 44.5mm pieces feature stunning white ceramic cases and unique dark blue lacquered dials painted with stars to represent the vastness experience of space.
Hidden behind a solid titanium caseback emblazoned with the Inspiration4 logo is the IWC in-house 69380 automatic winding calibre. This movement boasts a 46 hours of power reserve, which is short of the two-day, 23-hour, and 3-minute mission duration, but it’s worth noting that automatic watches don’t wind themselves in zero-g environments. That means the crew had to unscrew the crown and manually wind the movement during the mission.
Each of the four watches has a unique engraving with the name and mission value of the Inspiration4 crew member. Sian Proctor chose “Prosperity,” Chris Sembroski opted for “Generosity,” Hayley Arceneaux picked “Hope,” and Commander Jared Isaacman went with “Leadership.”
The watches come fitted to white leather rubber-backed straps with stainless steel deployant buckle. They’re, of course, not standard production models, but the general collecting public does have a chance to purchase them via charity auction. More on that later.
In the Metal
Thanks to our friends at IWC, all four Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Inspiration4” watches made the voyage to our US offices for a hands-on experience and photoshoot. It’s not every day that you get to play with space-flown watches. Heck, this might be the first and last time in my life that I’ll handle a timepiece that has gone through the experience of human spaceflight.
First impressions, these watches feel out of this world! The stark contrast between the white ceramic case and strap when paired with the rich blue dial is even more impressive in person.
On the wrist, the pieces feel substantial. But what do you expect of a watch meant to be worn in space? Besides, I don’t think astronauts are worried so much about fitting a watch under their suit cuffs as they’re focused on legibility and ease of use.
The three-register chronograph tracks elapsed hours, minutes, and seconds and features a day and date display located at three o’clock. The watch also features sapphire glass secured against displacement caused by drops in air pressure and to protect the movement from the harsh environment of space – additionally, the crown screws down to safeguard the internal mechanics. Lastly, IWC has placed a soft-iron inner case similar to a faraday cage to protect against magnetic fields.
A Good Cause
The multi-day Inspiration4 space mission was also for a good cause. In fact, part of the reason the mission was named “Inspiration4” was to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and crew member Hayley Arceneaux is a physician’s assistant for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and a pediatric cancer survivor.
The best part? All four IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Inspiration4” pieces are being auctioned to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The CharityBuzz online auction starts now and will run until November 10 at 3 pm EST.
Here are the links to the three lots.
IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition “Inspiration4" - Jared Isaacman
IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition “Inspiration4" - Dr. Sian Proctor
IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition “Inspiration4" - Chris Sembroski
The last of the four Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Editions, worn by Hayley Arceneaux and engraved with “Hope," will be auctioned at the official St. Jude Inspiration4 celebration held on November 6 in St. Helena, California (USA).