Do you want to know about the watches that have traveled to outer space? Are you looking to buy a watch that astronauts wear to space?
Outer space is a fascinating as well as a very dangerous place. You need to have special types of equipment to survive there, but does it mean you need to have a special type of watch to keep time in the space? Or a normal watch can survive there and can tell you the time? What watches do astronauts wear to the moon or space? Which are the watches that were worn to the space previously?
These questions are as exciting for a watch aficionado as space travel for an astronaut. So, I have researched extensively and I have found out all the watches that have been worn in space to date. The watches worn by NASA astronauts, Russian Cosmonauts, Apollo astronauts, the first automatic watch worn in space, the first watch worn on the moon, etc. you will find them all in this article, so keep reading and see if you like any of them.
But before we look at the watches let us first look at some of the important questions that I am sure you must be wondering about too.
- What Are The Watch Features That Astronauts Require?
- Why Do Astronauts Wear Two Watches?
- What Is Mission Elapsed Time And Why It Is Important?
- What Watches Do Astronauts Wear Or Have Worn To Space?
- Do Astronauts Wear A Special Kind Of Watch?
What Are The Watch Features That Astronauts Require?
Do astronauts use a normal watch that just shows time or do they use feature-rich watches?
They neither use watches that just show time nor do they use feature-rich watches. However, the timepiece should have the following features:
The chronograph is one of the most important features of a watch that an astronaut uses. Since, in space, astronauts do a lot of experiments so they need a reliable chronograph that they can use to measure the elapsed time of an experiment.
2) Dual Time Zone
Astronauts need to keep track of their mission time and they may also want to keep track of their home time zone so the watch should feature a dual time zone.
3) Date Window
Astronauts may want to keep track of the date so the watch should feature a date calendar.
Astronauts may need to measure the speed of certain objects so a tachymeter can come in handy.
Why Do Astronauts Wear Two Watches?
You must have seen astronauts wearing two or sometimes wearing more than 2 watches in the pics or videos. But have you ever wondered why do they wear two watches?
Astronauts need to keep track of the MET(Mission Elapsed Time), if you do not know what MET is then do not worry and just keep reading, I have explained this in the next heading. They may also want to keep track of the current time and the time in their home time zone. So one watch is used mainly to keep track of the mission elapsed time and another watch is used to keep track of the current as well as the time in their home time zone.
You might see them wearing the third watch too, this watch is specially designed for astronauts to keep track of their body activities. It is like a fitness band that keeps track of the different body parameters of astronauts to see how their body is getting adapted in space.
You can watch the below video for more clarity.
What Is Mission Elapsed Time And Why It Is Important?
MET or Mission Elapsed Time is the total time taken for the mission to get completed. It starts from the moment the spaceship takes off and ends when it lands back on the land. Keeping track of the MET is important for astronauts as well as for NASA because they can know how much time they have spent in space and how much time is left. Also, many events are scheduled according to the MET and need to be done at a specific time. So astronauts need a timer that can keep track of the MET for the smooth functioning of the overall mission.
What Watches Do Astronauts Wear Or Have Worn To Space?
Let us look at the watches according to the chronological order they were worn on the space.
Strela was the first-ever watch that was worn in outer space. It was worn to space in March 1965 by Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov. Alex was also the first-ever human being to walk in space. He was the Russian cosmonaut and was part of the Russian Voskhod space program. The exact time that he spent outside the spacecraft i.e. in outer space was 12 minutes and 9 seconds. During this time he was wearing a Strela watch.
Strela is a Soviet brand and the watch that was worn on the space was powered by a Russian mechanical movement. The features of the watch included a continuously running seconds hand and a chronograph that could measure an elapsed time of up to 45 minutes. It had a stainless steel case back and a chrome-plated bezel. You can buy the newer versions of this watch from Strela’s official website.
2) Omega Speedmaster
Omega Speedmaster was the first-ever watch that was worn on the surface of the moon. Overall it was the second watch to be worn in outer space. This Omega watch was worn by Edwin Buzz Aldrin, who was a NASA astronaut and was part of the Apollo 11 space shuttle. He was wearing a NASA-certified Omega Speedmaster when he walked on the moon in 1969 alongside Neil Armstrong. Since then Omega Speedmaster has been the first choice of NASA till today.
Omega Speedmaster has a mechanical hand-wound movement, its case and bracelet are made up of stainless steel, and it’s protected by a sapphire crystal on the top. Chronograph and tachymeter are other features of this watch.
3) Rolex GMT Master
Rolex GMT Master has been a popular choice of NASA astronauts other than the Omega Speedmaster. It was first worn to space by Jack Swigert in 1970 when he traveled in Apollo 13. Since then many NASA astronauts have been seen wearing a Rolex GMT Master watch.
This watch was made up of stainless steel and had 18k yellow gold highlights in the bracelet and in the case. It had a 24-hour bezel to keep track of another time zone, a date window, and luminous hands and markers.
Rolex does not make these watches nowadays, but you can buy the Rolex GMT Master 2 watch which is the upgraded version of the GMT Master.
4) Bulova Lunar EVA
Like Rolex GMT Master, Bulova Lunar EVA wasn’t the officially certified watch to be worn on the space. But it was worn by Colonel Dave Scott when his NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster stopped working while he was part of the Apollo 15 mission in 1971.
Like other watches on this list, this watch also featured a chronograph and a tachymeter. It had luminous hands and markers and its case was made up of stainless steel.
Bulova has re-released this watch under the Bulova Lunar Pilot Chronograph name and you can buy it if you want.
5) Seiko Speed Timer 6139
Seiko Speed Timer 6139 is believed to be the first automatic watch to be ever worn in space. It wasn’t certified by NASA but Colonel William R. Pogue took it as his second watch when he was part of the Skylab 4 mission in 1973.
This watch was made up of stainless steel and was powered by an automatic movement. The interesting thing to note here is that before this, it was believed that watches with automatic movement would not work in zero gravity. Other features of the watch included a tachymeter, chronograph, and a date and day window.
This watch is not available today but you can buy a similar watch under Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Series.
6) Sinn 142 Chronograph
Sinn 142 Chronograph has been worn to many spaceflights as a second choice of astronauts. It was first worn by Reinhard Furrer while he was part of the D1 Spacelab mission in 1985.
It was an automatic watch that was made up of stainless steel, had a chronograph, luminous hands and markers, a day and date window, sapphire crystal, and a 24-hour sub-dial.
7) Fortis Cosmonaut Chronograph
Like Omega Speedmaster is a certified watch to use in space for NASA astronauts, similarly, Fortis Cosmonaut Chronograph is a certified watch to use in space for Russian cosmonauts. It is developed by the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in 1994 and is given to every Russian cosmonaut going to space. It was worn to space later in the same year.
Fortis is a Swiss-based watch manufacturer and its Fortis Cosmonaut Chronograph is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement. Like the Omega Speedmaster, it also had a chronograph and tachymeter and it also showed the day of the week and date of the month through a cutout window.
Today, you can buy the latest iteration of this watch.
8) Omega Speedmaster X-33
Omega Speedmaster X-33 was jointly developed by NASA and Omega in the year 1998 and it was worn by NASA astronauts later in the same year on the MIR space station.
This watch was made up of titanium and is an analog-digital watch. It runs on a quartz movement and has a small digital screen in the middle to show different information. It has features like chronograph, alarm, perpetual calendar, bi-directional rotating bezel, etc.
You can buy the latest edition of this watch nowadays.
9) Breitling Watches
This watch is worn by astronaut Scott Kelly most recently i.e. in 2015. Scott Kelly was selected by NASA to spend almost a year in space. Kelly is a watch lover and he took 4 watches with him when he went to space. Two of them were obviously Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch and Omega Speedmaster X-33. However, the other two watches belonged to Breitling. One was the Breitling Navitimer 1461 and the other was the Breitling Superocean Heritage.
a) Breitling Navitimer 1461
Breitling Navitimer 1461 is powered by an automatic movement and is a COSC certified watch. Its case is made up of stainless steel and can be paired with a leather strap or a stainless steel bracelet.
This timepiece features a chronograph, slide rule bezel, and displays the date, day, month, and moon phase. The watch is protected by a sapphire crystal and has a water-resistant rating of 30M.
b) Breitling Superocean Heritage
Breitling Superocean Heritage watch follows an all-blue theme and has a blue dial, band, and bezel. Its case is made up of stainless steel and the band is made up of rubber. This timepiece is powered by an automatic movement and features a chronograph that shows elapsed hours, minutes, and seconds. It also features a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, uni-directional bezel, date window, and a water-resistant rating of 200M.
Do Astronauts Wear A Special Kind Of Watch?
No, astronauts do not wear a special kind of watch to keep time. As you can see all the above-listed watches are normal watches and do not have anything special. However, they do have an exceptional build quality and can withstand the toughest atmospheric conditions. And as discussed earlier there are certain watch features like chronograph, dual time zone, etc. that astronauts use when in space. Therefore any watch that has an excellent build quality and has certain features can be worn in space.
What Watches Do NASA Astronauts Wear?
NASA astronauts wear Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch.
Would A Rolex Work In Space?
Yes, Rolex GMT Master was worn in space and it did work in space.
Do Astronauts Use Mechanical Watches?
Yes, astronauts use mechanical watches.
Do Quartz Watches Work In Space?
Yes, quartz watches do work in space.
Does NASA Still Use Speedmaster?
Yes, even today Omega Speedmaster is the first choice of NASA.