Galaxy Quest - Swiss Watch Gallery | Malaysia's Premier Luxury Watch Retailer
Better With Time
April 25, 2018
Flight of the Chronofighter
April 25, 2018

Galaxy Quest

TIMEPIECES THAT HAVE MADE THEIR MARK IN SPACE EXPLORATION

In 2011, the United Nations marked the 12th of April as International Day of Human Space Flight. The date was chosen in honour of the first manned space flight carried out by Yuri Gagarin in 1961. That historic moment signalled the start of space exploration for mankind and almost six decades on, man continues to push the boundaries of science and technology to study Earth and the cosmos.

Space exploration and watchmaking share similar goals. Like national space agencies, watch brands too have invested in research and development to create timepieces that can withstand the rigours of space travel. The ability to produce a watch that is able to function with precision in an inhospitable, extra-terrestrial environment is a showcase of a watchmaker’s prowess.

Here, we highlight a few timepieces and their makers that have made the voyage into space.

TIMEPIECES THAT HAVE MADE THEIR MARK IN SPACE EXPLORATION

In 2011, the United Nations marked the 12th of April as International Day of Human Space Flight. The date was chosen in honour of the first manned space flight carried out by Yuri Gagarin in 1961. That historic moment signalled the start of space exploration for mankind and almost six decades on, man continues to push the boundaries of science and technology to study Earth and the cosmos.

Space exploration and watchmaking share similar goals. Like national space agencies, watch brands too have invested in research and development to create timepieces that can withstand the rigours of space travel. The ability to produce a watch that is able to function with precision in an inhospitable, extra-terrestrial environment is a showcase of a watchmaker’s prowess.

Here, we highlight a few timepieces and their makers that have made the voyage into space.

The First Swiss Watchmaker In Space

In 1962, the Heuer 2915A stopwatch made history when it became the first Swiss timing instrument to be used in space. US Astronaut John Glenn strapped on the modified timepiece when he boarded the Friendship 7 craft, which completed three orbits of the earth. To commemorate the Heuer 2915A, TAG Heuer released the Carrera Calibre 1887 SpaceX in 2012, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Glenn’s space trip. Based on the large 43mm Carrera 1887, the timepiece featured a vintage leather strap and an image of the Friendship 7 craft on the dial. The limited-edition timepiece also achieved its own little piece of space history after it was space-tested aboard the Space X Dragon, the first commercial spacecraft to visit the International Space Station in May 2012.

scott-carpenter-420x600

Built For Orbital Flight

When US Astronaut Scott Carpenter wanted a wristwatch to accompany him on board the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission in May 1962, he looked to the Breitling Navitimer. Carpenter however requested for a 24-hour dial to be put in place as he would not be able to differentiate night and day within the confines of space.  Breitling complied and delivered the watch, which performed admirably throughout the three-orbit flight around the earth. However, the watch was damaged during Carpenter’s splash down in the Atlantic. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of that historic flight, Breitling released the ‘Scott Carpenter’ edition of the Navitimer Cosmonaute in 2012. The timepiece, which was limited to 1,962 pieces, borrows some features from the iconic chronograph such as the 24-hour display along with a manual winding mode and the Aurora 7 mission insignia engraved on the case back.

Omega-Speedmaster-Moonphase-Master-340x435

NASA Approved

Few timepieces have had such a long and successful partnership with space travel than the Omega Speedmaster. It made the voyage into space numerous times on the Gemini and Apollo missions and it also became the first watch to be worn on the moon when US Astronaut Buzz Aldrin made his lunar walk in 1969. In total it has been worn on all six lunar landings, which earned it the moniker of the ‘Moonwatch’.  For over half a century, the Speedmaster continues its pedigree as a space watch and remains a companion to astronauts. New models such as the Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon, as well as the Speedmaster Moonphase Master Chronometer, help solidify this timepiece’s position as an icon of space exploration as well as style.

The Choice of Cosmonauts

The Fortis B-42 Official Cosmonaut Chronograph certainly lives up to its name as the official watch of the Russian cosmonaut programme for the last 20 years. To ensure that it was up to the task of space missions, the Swiss-made timepiece utilises a Valjoux 7750 automatic movement, which powers its three-register chronograph. The 42-mm Fortis B-42 is also equipped with the Incabloc shock protection and is water resistant up to 200m, eliminating any possibility of a rupture during deep-sea splash downs.

From the Edge Of Space

Felix Baumgartner made the historic jump from a helium balloon in the stratosphere in October 2012 and the Zenith Stratos Flyback Striking 10th was along for the ride. The timepiece, powered by the 31-jewel El Primero 4057 B column wheel automatic movement, not only withstood the pressures of extreme high altitude but also the supersonic drop at speeds of up to 844mph.  Tough, and durable, the Zenith Stratos Flyback Striking 10th is also highly regarded as one of the most accurate chronographs ever made.