An extraordinary job requires an extra special wrist watch. Why would it be any different for someone who happens to be spending their working day hovering miles above the Earth’s atmosphere?
Astronauts may not be on the same planet as everyone else but this doesn’t mean they can lose track of time. Like most things in space, the zero gravity conditions, pressurised cabins and bulky space suits means that any run of the mill wrist watch won’t be fit for the job. A wrist watch suitable for an astronaut needs to be an ingenious feat of engineering and built for the harshest of conditions with unrivalled standards of durability. A space watch is high tech and specification laden, something any gadget lover would love to get their hands on.
Only a few watches have managed to make the grade. Here are the models which have been taken to infinity and beyond.
The Omega Speedmaster
Often hailed as the ultimate space watch, the Omega Speedmaster has been worn by astronauts since 1962. The watch has been designed for both intra and extra vehicular activities- inside it can be worn on the wrist just like it would be on earth, and when astronauts are exploring the galaxy it’s placed over spacesuits with the help of a Velcro strap.
The watch passed all of NASA’s tests- surviving extreme heat, cold, fog, shock and water, along with many other elements it would likely be faced with in space. This is why this is the only watch which NASA certifies for spacewalks.
The watch was later redeveloped to create the Speedmaster X-33, a quartz which offered greater accuracy and timing functions.
Rumour has it that the astronauts in the failed Apollo 13 mission used the watch to time the critical engine burn which helped them return safely from the moon.
When Alexi Leonov was the first astronaut to ever make a spacewalk he was wearing the Strela- the first watch to ever be worn outside of a spaceship. This is the Russian space watch of choice and was commonly worn by astronauts for 20 years having originally been designed for pilots. The watch came in a variety of designs and colours, making it both a practical and stylish choice.
Later renamed as the Cosmonaute Navitimer, the Navitimer model created by Breitling was the first watch to be worn in space by an American. Scott Carpenter wore the watch on the Aurora 7 Mission on May 24, 1962. The model also made watch history by being the first in space with a 24 hour display.
Tag Heuer Stopwatch
Tag Heuer proudly was the original Swiss watchmaker to make it into space on the first manned U.S. orbital which took place in 1962. John Glenn wore a Heuer stopwatch Reference 2915A on the Mercury-Atlas 6 “Friendship 7″ spacecraft, fitted by attaching it over the space suit with elastic bands.
Which watch do you think is out of this world?