Sunday, September 25, 2005

First Entry - Historic and Famous Watches

Sean Connery, as you know who, wearing his no-date Rolex Submariner, model 5508. In later appearances, he wears the Submariner with scuba gear and a black and grey NATO strap. Of course, 00-agents always carry spare watch straps with them...

Well, this is my first entry into LJ [edit -this was written before the migration from LiveJournal to Blogspot], so pardon me if I do something wrong or don't yet have the hang of it.

I decided to create a blog to write about watch-related topics, but, more specifically, the actual catalyst that finally got me to pull the trigger was the topic of historic and famous watches. Watch collecting can be such a broad hobby that it's helpful to impose a theme or some constraints in order to help focus both research efforts and provide a sense of financial prioritization for purchases.

While I enjoy collecting watches of many types, I thought the theme of historic and famous watches would be an interesting one around which to build a collection. Sadly, I have so far been unable to find a good list of famous watches - and thus here we are.

I'm going to bound my list of famous watches in a few more ways:

1. Candidates can be famous for participating in an important historical event, for being a notable 'first' in watch design, for advancing horological science in a meaningful way, or all of the above.

2. The watches need to be within (sane) financial means of most watch collectors, which, in my mind, imposes an upper limit of a few thousand dollars for the most expensive pieces. There are some horologically significant watches from the likes of Audemars-Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Daniel Roth, and the like, but I'm going to exclude these from this list on the grounds that they're not very attainable for most folks.

That being said, here is the first pass at a list, in no particular order:

--Breitling Navitimer:

Worn by Scott Carpenter, Mercury astronaut.

--Fortis B-42 Official Cosmonaut:

Some type of Fortis watch was apparently used by astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, but I don't know yet which model. [edit - I've since learned that, supposedly, the model on the ISS is the B-42. Not confirmed yet. The Fortis Official Cosmonaut Chronograph lines are also authorized separately by Russia's space agency. Very confusing.]

--Hamilton Ventura:

World's first battery-powered watch. Now also available as a reissue, although I think the reissue is a regular quartz watch. Also worn in the 'Men in Black' movies, but I won't let that count against it.

--Omega Seamaster 300 M:

Worn by the post-1995, Pierce Brosnan James Bond. Normally I wouldn't count just a product placement, but a) Bond has such longevity and is so iconic that he's not just a movie or a book and b) in many movies the watch plays an important part due to some built-in gadgetry.

--Omega Speedmaster:

We all know why this one is important. However, there seems to be some debate about which calibre was actually first on the moon. There is strong speculation that Cal. 321 was actually first worn on the moon, first worn by Schirra in 1962. This makes an interesting case for collecting 'pre-Moon' Speedmasters. Cal. 861 was probably used on later missions on the moon, as well as on Skylab and Soyuz.

--Poljot Strella:

Worn by Alexy Leonov on the first walk in space in 1965. I've seen a few vintage ones on eBay. Poljot makes a few different re-issues of this, all of which use the Poljot 3133 calibre, which was not the one used by Leonov. From an external point of view, the cyrillic-dial watches bear the closest resemblance to what Leonov used in 1965.

--Poljot Shturmanskie:

NOT most of the current 'Yuri Gagarin' chronographs, which, while seeming to be pretty cool looking watches, and are allegedly pretty sturdy, don't bear much resemblance to what Gagarin actually wore as the first man in space in 1961. I'm still trying to find a consistent source for a modern re-issue that at least looks externally like what Gagarin wore, even if the internals are different.

--Rolex GMT Master:

Worn on Apollo 13 by Jack Swigert, in addition to his government issued Speedmaster. There is some debate about whether the GMT or the Speedmaster was used to time the critical engine burn that ended up saving the lives of the ill-fated Apollo 13. Note that this is not the GMT Master II, so vintage would probably be preferred. Also unknown is which bezel Swigert had - black, black and red, Pepsi colored, or what.

--Rolex Submariner:

Bond's other watch, used by Connery and Moore through the 60's and 70's. Vintage would be coolest. Although I suppose it might be more correct to refer to the Seamaster as Bond's other watch, given this one was first.

--Seiko Spring Drive:

The *what* you ask? Well, it's brand new for 2005, finally being released after 28 years of development. It's the first new watch movement technology in ages, and the first of the 21st century. Don't know the price yet, though, and can't seem to find it for sale anywhere yet.

So, that's a start. I'd love to have the list grow over time. Feel free to write with your suggestions or nominations.

Some other famous watches that would be interesting to know include:

What watch was worn when Hiroshima was bombed? Alternatively, what watch was Oppenheimer wearing when the bomb was first tested in White Sands, New Mexico?

What watch did Charles Lindberg wear on his flight across the Atlantic?

What watch was worn by the first Chinese 'taikonaut' in space?

What watch was JFK wearing when he was shot? Wait, maybe I don't want to wear that....

I'd love to expand the types of events covered by this list. Right now it seems pretty astro-heavy. If you've got other suggestoins, feel free to let me know or reply to this entry.

Time to eat lunch and play with my new Seiko Orange Monster!


David, the Watchnerd


Anonymous Santiago said...

Does anyone know the watch that deckard wears in Blade Runner?

4:44 AM  
Blogger DD said...

I love that movie and even own the DVD, but I don't recall anything about his watch.

Do you have a screenshot, or a link to one?

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Synchronar 2100 must be added to the list since it has atleast 10 World's first or only valid claims.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Phillip said...

Well I know that JFK was wearing an Omega watch at his Inauguration, wich Omega recently bought for their museum at an auction.

On the List I would also add Buddy Holly's diamond encrusted Omega wrist watch, which he wore when he died in a plane crash in 1959.

3:32 AM  
Blogger Phillip said...

Another famous watch(-es) are Kim Jong Il's collection of omegas: "In the three years from 1998, Kim used the extra aid merely to indulge himself. The number of US$1,000 [HK$7,800] Omega watches he imported from Switzerland tripled to total US$10 million in 2001." -

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