Bad Moon Rising: Five Watches You Should Never Take Into Space
A new space race has been ignited by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Plus, the very real possibility of civilian space tourism through Virgin Galactic and SpaceX. And don’t forget to sign up for Space Force!
Of course, this enthusiasm has also engendered plenty of articles celebrating the timepieces that have actually been to the moon (or at least close proximity to it).
These timepieces — The Omega Speedmaster, the Seiko Pogue, the Sinn Space Chronograph, Fortis B-42 Official Cosmonauts Chronograph, The TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 SpaceX — were designed to withstand massive oscillations in temperature (93ºC to -18ºC), forces of up to 40Gs, corrosive oxygen environments, humidity, noise, and vibrations. Few watches passed the litany of tests. Fewer still made it out of Earth's orbit.
But now we’re on the cusp of a new age of lunar exploration—one that might see everyday people blasting off into orbit. Does this mean that just any timepiece should go into space?
The answer is no. Here’s a list of five watches which might not make the journey.
Don't get me wrong. This retro reissue is cool as hell. But digital watches have either LED or LCD screens. One type is sensitive to light direction, the other to temperature—so both become problematic when an astronaut goes outside for a spacewalk. Also, the little pushers are hard to work with space gloves on.
Cool as it may be, leave the Computron at home!
While not a total “homage” to classic aeronautical timepieces, the differences that distinguish it don’t make it more distinguished. For example, it is only water-resistant to 100m, which is an issue when your space capsule splashes down in the Atlantic.
But the biggest argument against Invicta is this: What if next time around, we contact intelligent life on the moon? And what if they see you wearing an Invicta? So embarrassing!
GEORGE DANIELS SPACE TRAVELLER
The Space Traveller was produced in 1982 to honor the astronauts that English watchmaker George Daniels so admired as a child. Theoretically, it is meant to be useful in space by displaying both mean-solar and sidereal time simultaneously (sidereal time is based on the amount of time it takes the Earth to turn on its axis: by measuring the Earth’s transit of a fixed star, one is able to measure the actual time it takes for the Earth to turn on its axis).
Daniels only produced two of these timepieces. Earlier this month, one of them became the most expensive English watch ever sold, selling for a stellar $4.6 million USD at a Sotheby’s auction. It surpassed the previous English record held by the other George Daniels Space Traveller, which sold for $4.3 million in 2017.
Sadly, a pocket watch is not that practical in zero gravity. Plus, this baby could pay for the next moon mission, which is why, despite its name, you should definitely NOT take this watch to the moon. Your insurance would never cover it.
PIERRE CARDIN ESPACE
Did you know that in the 1960s, designer Pierre Cardin designed spacesuits for NASA? In fact, in 1970 Cardin became the first and only civilian to wear the suit that Neil Armstrong wore on the moon (the story is that while touring NASA HQ, he slipped a guard a $50 to let him try it on).
Cardin was known for his shiny and futuristic fashions, so it made sense that his sensibility would appeal to space travelers. His love of all things bright and shiny led Cardin to produce the Espace Collection of watches in 1971. These space-age timepieces were styled from metal blocks, lucite cubes, layered disks, with arching silhouettes and flying saucer-shaped domes. And they were powered by a hand-wound Jaeger FE-68 movement.
So while inspired by the space race, a 47-year-old watch is maybe not the most appropriate timepiece for space travel. It’s hard enough to get one serviced here on Earth.
TIMEX x PEANUTS MARLIN AUTOMATIC FEATURING SNOOPY
The Omega Speedmaster Snoopy is one of the holiest of grail watches. Omega was awarded a Silver Snoopy certificate after the astronauts of the Apollo 13 mission used Jack “Houston We Have A Problem” Swigert’s Speedmaster to calculate re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Since then, Omega has produced a handful of limited edition Snoopy Speedmasters (One with a blue Snoop, and another in white fully adorned Snoopy). The odds of getting your hands on either seem out of this world.
So when Timex announced that it was producing a Marlin Automatic featuring the world-famous flying ace on the dial, it seemed like a low cost and accessible alternative to paying tribute to the Space Agency's favorite safety watchdog.
Unfortunately, this timepiece is sold out. Which is just as well, even if you are flying business class on Virgin Galactic you still want a watch with a chronograph function, you know, just in case you have a problem.
(Modified images are used purely for satirical purposes)