Tough, hardy watches that would survive in outer space
As space travel becomes an eventual reality in our lifetime, we have so many things to consider. Namely, what should we pack? And importantly, what watch should we wear? Our everyday watch just isn't going to cut it, what with the lack of gravity and incredible pressure changes and temperature fluctuations during the initial take-off. What we need is a timepiece that is efficient, hardy, tough and, let's face it, is good-looking to boot.
The inclusion of Breitling in this list is not just because the Navitimer holds the claim to being the first Swiss watch that was orbited in space. The truth is, we would have featured the Breitling Emergency regardless. As its name suggests, the watch is essentially an SOS signal on your wrist - if you find yourself stuck in an emergency situation, you can activate the dual frequency location beacon. It'll transmit your coordinates to satellite-based search and rescue team Cospas-Sarsat. We're pretty sure that Cospas-Sarsat doesn't have a Guardians of the Galaxy-style band of space warriors as yet, but by the time SpaceX is ready to take off in 2023, they'll have plenty of time to assemble their motley crew of saviours.
You know the drill by now - yes, the first watch to land on the moon was the Omega Speedmaster Professional, strapped on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin back in 1969. Omega was one of four companies to submit a watch to NASA, who had placed an appeal for a timepiece hardy enough to endure space travel. Its many properties, including being resistant to extreme temperatures, humidity, shock and pressure, made it suitable for the mission. Today, some astronauts still wear the Speedmaster when in space, and it has achieved cult status for this stratospheric achievement. The Speedy has undergone various transformations in many years, but it'll always be known as the original moon watch, and for that, it deserves a place on our list.
It was a marketing masterpiece: in 2014, Victorinox launched the Inox collection with a campaign that showed the watch being run over by bulldozers and being dropped from a 10m height. Brilliant. Let's just say that when you're in space, you'll want a watch that's undergone some 130 tests of strength, resilience and toughness. Victorinox are makers of the Swiss army knife and utility tools, and their experience in that sphere has enabled them to create military-grade timepieces. Thankfully, unlike other military timepieces, the Inox isn't as bulky, and cuts quite a handsome figure.
Trust the Japanese to create the world's "toughest watch of all times" - the Casio G-Shock is the brainchild of engineer Kikuo Ibe, who wanted to create a shock-resistant watch that'd withstand any strenuous condition. The G-Shock , which stands for Gravitational Shock, is built for surviving any condition. Each G-Shock includes a stopwatch, countdown timer and backlight, and has been built on the tenets of resistance to electric shocks, gravity, low temperature, vibrations, water, and shock. Will it endure the pressures in space? We can only test it and find out.
Back in 1962, a Tag Heuer pocket watch accompanied US Astronaut John Glenn on his mission aboard the Friendship 7 craft, and would orbit the earth thrice. Fifty years later in 2012, the Swiss watchmaker would partner up with Elon Musk's SpaceX, to create a tribute wristwatch called the Carrera Calibre 1887 SpaceX Chronograph. The timepiece pays homage to the original with its white dial, black indications, and the fact that the minutes, and not the hours, are displayed. The dial is inscribed with "First Swiss watch in space", and a drawing of two SpaceX crafts. Interestingly, a prototype version of the timepiece also joined an exploration in 2012, on-board the Dragon pressurised spacecraft that detaches from the main rocket when in orbit. The watch came back in one piece, and was still ticking. While this particular timepiece is in the Tag Heuer museum, the Carrera Calibre 1887 SpaceX Chronograph is limited to 2,012 pieces. By the way, the Swiss watchmaker also signed a deal with China's Mars Exploration Program, which is set for 2020.