Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ebel X-1 Xtremly Trendy

Ebel has come out with a seriously trendy watch collection.  The Ebel  X-1.  The design has a clunky sporty side with a distinct underlying elegance. I really like this collection of watches as they fit right into the current stylistic arena while still maintaining an ebel fluidity and sensuality so distinct in its beluga lines.
The mid-range ladies watches run from $2,500 to $7,900 price range based on gold content and diamonds.

Model# 1216117 Price: $4,900.00

The model depicted above is my favorite based on its rare color and rose gold accentuations.  The hue is the result of brushed and polished PVD-finished stainless steel. The silver galvanic dial adds a mysterious edgy charm beneath a scratch resistant sapphire crystal.  Sapphire Crystal is a must for mid-to upper range watches.  Lower Range watches like Michael Kors will have mineral crystal - not as hard as Sapphire Crystal and more prone to scratches.

Model#1216107 Price:$2,500
The women's  34mm brushed and polished stainless steel is a classy everyday watch with an elegant edge. At $2,500, this model is the most least expensive of the line; however still maintaining the exquisite representation of quality and worth.  As with the other models, the stainless steel model is water resistant to 100meters.   Click here for more info on water resistance.

Model#1216116 Price: $7,900
 At $7,900 this polished white ceramic and 18k rose gold case accentuated with a 15 diamond crown and a 48 diamond rose gold bezel is definitely the dressiest of the group.  The watch is a relished beauty suited for the most elegant of occasions and equipped for the week day wear. The movement, as all these models, are quartz.  A Quartz watch is powered by a battery and utilizes an electronic oscillator regulated by  quartz crystal.  As a result of the battery, a quartz watch requires no external energy source and thus requires little attention the actual mechanism of the timepiece.  About 90% of women's watches are quartz whereas about 60% of men's.  Obviously in the low range watches this percentage increases.  In the high range watches - where women's and men's watches run into the ten or hundred thousand mark, the percentage of quartz watches decrease; however more so for men's watches than women's watches. Whereas there is virtually no quartz watch in men's higher range watches, you still may find a couple women's watches, but as of late high-end watches for women are incorporating mechanical movements.

Mechanical movements require a constant outside source of energy provided by the swinging motion of ones arm triggering the movement of a rotor (mostly situated at the back of the watch - best material for this is tungsten), which winds the mainspring.  Watches powered this way are called automatic watches. The watch automatically winds by the swinging motion of ones arm. Manual mechanical watches require winding at the crown.    Increments of time are regulated by the precise motion of the balance wheel.
Mechanical watches require attention to the power reserve  of the timepiece, and can be somewhat of a hassle for a lady who has as many watches as shoes. If all her watches are mechanical and she does not utilize a watch winder, than more often than not her watches  have stopped calling for an exasperating excuse of lateness.
I suppose that is why many ladies watches are quartz.
As usual I went a bit off topic, but all in the name of horological education.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A. Lange & Sohne Grand Lange 1 "Lumen" A Player of Light at SIHH 2013

Every watch company wants to unveil a unique aspect to time telling, whether it be in a twist on a tourbillon; an avant garde alloy, a dashing design or an unparallelled precision in performance.  For the SIHH 2013 A. Lange & Sohne has focused on luminescence in an exceedingly interesting way. 

One can immediately identify the large luminous date which takes up a prominent position towards the top of the dial. This is the first time A. Lange and Sohne has used luminescence on its signature large size date as well as its power reserve.   An intriguing aspect of the watch is the darkened partial transparency of the dial created from sapphire crystal covering the date disc like a darkened area of a stage waiting  for its scene, but there is a very valid reason for this.  Unlike the dial hands and Indicators, the future date does not see the light of day - critical for the effectiveness of  lume (For an in depth explanation Read What is Lume?), thus in order for the A. Lange and Sohne's large date aperture to glow in the dark as soon as the next calender date appears, it would have to receive a certain amount of light prior to its appearance in the date aperture - hence the transparent sapphire crystal covering the date disc. The idea of the tinted Sapphire Crystal dial is not entirely new, but a "date targeted" change to its A. Lange & Sohne Zeitwerk Luminous Timepiece.

Now the watch itself  is a thing of beauty isn't it? The luminescence across the dial is bestowed with a flourish.  No meager dribbles 
of the stuff, like A. Lange & Sohne's earlier versions,  but thick plentiful layers of lume which glow with a clear splendor in the dark.  Of course after a couple  hours
the glow does fade, but then the alternative, tritium, which can glow for a good 12.5 years  even in a stygian grotto
has the uncomfortable  chemistry ,albeit eons of half-life's weaker, associated with another element: Radium.  Now Radium ,which is highly radioactive given its own founders, Marie Curie's, unfortunate demise and, of course the suffering of those poor young girls , has scared off a good many companies from even tentatively using tritium. One such company is Panerai. - But that story for another day.   Now I must mention the tritium used in watches today is encapsulated in tubes and as far as I've read have no ill-health effects.

Anyway I have strayed again - quite a bad thing which may send my readership plummeting into the very Stygian grotto I have aforementioned.

This watch is not for mass consumption, but rather an elite few limited to 100 pieces.  The case is crafted from platinum  - a metal often used for commemoration timepieces where the original timepiece was of steel craftsmanship, limited editions accentuating the prestige and/or watches destined to become a coveted collectors item. The manually wound movement is in-house (anything less would surely raise an eyebrow or two) A. Lange & Sohne caliber L095.2 comprised of  400 parts baring 42 jewels and capable of a 72 hour power reserve. The watch is strapped to the wrist by a hand stitched crocodile strap and secured with a platinum signature Lange prong buckle. 

I must say this is a fine piece - very fine indeed.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Skull by Romain Jerome and John Armleder

Romain Jerome John M Armleder Art-DNA watches (1 of 10 unique)

Romain Jerome collaborates with highly regarded Geneva born contemporary artist, John M Armleder in a series of ten unique  Art-DNA watches. Each watch crafted from polished steel will be presented in a unique colors.  The signature John M. Armleder skull, which he has used in countless creative backdrops - such as emblazoned on a mirror - now serves as a imposing image atop Romain Jerome's  hammered polished dial.
Manuel Emch, CEO of Romain Jerome since 2009, has a great appreciation for contemporary art.

John M. Armleder received his inspiration for the creation of the skull motif from the Amerindian culture.

Manuel Emch, the CEO of RJ-Romain Jerome, is a devoted collector of modern art,  and explained, "I have wanted to link my passions for contemporary art and watchmaking for some time now, and apply this idea of art as a unique item or limited edition to a watch ...for me it was important to work with a Swiss artist because of the company's origins, and my admiration for John M Armleder's work and his role as a model for young artists meant that I didn't have to look for long."

John M. Armleder is not simply an artist, rather an entire art philosophy.  Born in 1948, his skills cover a wide range of artistic representations such as performance artist, sculpture and painter. His philosophy focuses the fact that art in itself is a conduction of creative energy. He is renowned for his 1980's furniture sculptures , where furniture often in monochrome was juxtaposed with abstract art.  He is also associated with the Neo-Geo artistic movement of the 1980's.  A movement which is probably better described within the age of its occurrence - refer to The New York Times Article dated July 6th, 1987.

No doubt about it John Armleder is a constant example and role model of  avant garde creations and a wellspring of intriguingly unique perceptions of space. His creations are not isolated from the environment in which they exist, but command the space while embracing its unique geometry.

The case back is engraved with the signature of John Armleder and the Piece Unique. An alligator strap seals the deal with a price tag of $22,802 USD.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Roger Dubuis Excalibur 36 to Deliver Dazzle at SIHH 2013

Roger Dubuis Excalibur 36 

Make way! Roger Dubuis Excalibur 36 for women is tearing down the red carpet dressed in a dazzling display of haute horology.  She is dressed in her finest. A flurry of camera flashes illuminate a warm rich pallor of pink gold accentuated by two shimmering trains of 624 diamonds trailing along her polished bracelet. The diamonds of brilliant cut - amount to 3.79 carats.  A choker of diamonds upon the bezel surround a face of serene sensuality. Pink Gold Roman Numerals languish beneath slender hands of delicate grace.  A perfectly placed discrete seconds sub dial  mark time in increments of utmost precision.

All marvel at her beauty and grace as she steps upon the stage to receive her award. Of course this is not her first award.  The Roger Dubuis Excalibur holds the Hallmark of Geneva and we all know what a feat of accomplishment that is.  In fact Roger Dubuis, her maker, was the first brand to adhere to the new stringent requirements outlined by the Poinçon de Genève. Read about the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Flying Tourbillon Monopusher Chronograph it here. 
She is a Chronometer too given to her by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres or COSC.  It is no easy feat to attain this exemplar status. Read about it here.

Aside from her outside beauty, the Roger Dubuis Excalibur 36 has an inner beauty which is revealed in her  perfection of timekeeping.  Encased in a lovely exterior is an exceptional interior.  An exquisite cutting edge mechanical marvel , the automatic calibre RD821 makes her heart beat.  172 components function in mechanical harmony.

And if you wonder if she will tire on an evening such as this. Your Roger Dubuis Excalibur 36 has a power reserve of 48 hours.

And who is the dashing young man by her side.  A man dressed in midnight blue, rugged steel case and a black leather strap.  A vision of daring masculine ruggedness not quite masking a distinct aura of dependability and reliability.  Meet the Excalibur 42 Chronograph. His heart beats to a slightly different drum, the 280 component RD681 automatic chronograph movement baring a micro-rotor.  A micro rotor is as efficient as a regular rotor which usually commands the entire case back.  The micro rotor only takes up the space comparable to a sub dial.
Some men are hard to read and keep their thoughts hidden beneath a layer of macho repose; however all is revealed with startling clarity on the face of  the in-house Roger Dubuis Excalibur 42 Chronograph.  The sword shaped watch hands point to the hour and minute with precise intensity.  Seconds are revealed at the 9 'o'clock position and a telling 30 minute chronograph dial is exposed at the 3 'o'clock position.  As for a date, ones eyes are drawn to a discrete aperture located at the 6 'o'clock position.
This Gentleman's timekeeper holds the Seal of Geneva and the affluent Chronometer title.

Both timepieces are of unsurpassed quality destined to create a dazzling SIHH 2013 entrance.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

GTE 2013 Hublot's Zebra Stripes

Last week I blogged about watch companies and their pets.  My mind is still whirling with animal themes watches so when  spotted the Hublot's Big Bang Zebra Bang, I thought it a wonderful addition to my mental  menagerie of animal themes.  It seems Hublot is sliding down the food chain by unveiling a harmless grazer for its GTE 2013 timepiece. Read more about the Geneva Trade Show which runs from January 21st-25th.   As you recall the previous two animal themed timepieces were the Leopard Bang and Boa bang.  Stylistically Hublot is right on target with this one.
Zebra Stripes are a fashion mainstay  with a history dating back to the late 1800's.  In fact in 1793, a striped clothing frenzy became known as the "zebra period." In the 19th century it was  prisoners who donned the zebra stripes, not out of whim ,of course, but rather a disgruntled obedience. Take a leap to the "now" and one will find zebra stripes accessorizing many a wardrobe. From leggings to handbags to scarves and even commanding an entire outfit whether by night or by day. 

Hublot's Zebra Stripes 41mm ceramic timepiece for the ladies is punctuated with feminine graces. The bezel surrounding the leopard print dial is set with 48 topazes and baguette-cut spinels.

 If you are not familiar with the term Spinal, don't be to disheartened, Spinals are precious gems in themselves - thought to be part of the Corundum family.  The red spinals are often confused with rubies, but in fact are quite different stones. Spinals are found in a variety of colors - the red and cobalt blue spinal.  The purple color spinal owe its hue to iron and chromium.  Spinals require very little treatment as in nature they are flawless and transparent.

 6 signature H shaped titanium screws are embedded, polished and locked upon the bezel. 

Eight bezel set diamonds serve as hour markers and add a glamorous glitter to the dial. A trapezoid date aperture is placed at the 4.30 mark.
The dial is protected by a scratch resistant sapphire crystal  coated on the interior with an anti-reflective treatment.

  A zebra print calfskin strap affixed to a supreme comfort rubber makes for a highly comfortably and flexible strap. Without a doubt the sense of style and fashion afforded by the Hublot Zebra Stripes is impeccable, to say the least, it is the drive beneath its zebra coat which demands a mention.
  The watch is powered by a HUB4300 Automatic Mechanical chronograph movement comprising of 278 components, beating at 28,800 vph, baring 37 jewels and equipped with a 42 hour power reserve.   The efficiency of the automatic winding mechanism is heightened due to  a rare super hard high density chemical element segment known as tungsten affixed to the rotor. (chemical symbol W and atomic number 74). As a result of its high density, tungsten is often as weights and counterweights.
The HUB4300 is equipped with a Glucydur hairspring. The hairspring and balance wheel regulate the entire watch mechanism and thus determining the precision of the timepiece. However the functioning of the  hairspring is highly sensitive to change in temperature thus many higher end  modern watches use an alloy of beryllium, copper, and iron known as Glucydur.  Glucydur (or beryllium bronze) is non-magnetic and is resistant to deformation resulting from temperature change.  In addition it has superior shock resistance than steel.
Companies like Omega prefer a silicon Balance Spring - read A look at Omega's Silicon balance Spring.

This watch is water resistant to 100 meters; however, I am not sure if the strap can take a good swim.

I apologize if my posts are few and far between, but Hurricane Sandy effected by internet connection and it took longer than I thought to get back on track.  However things are returning to normal and posts should be coming on a more regular basis.
Please contact me at if you would like me to review a certain watch; link to your webpage, advertise on my site or contact me about writing articles or blogsAny other comments or criticism are welcome too. 
Thanks Vicky 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Watch Companies and Their Pets

Boucheron Grenoui
Representation of animals on peoples possessions have been around since the dawn of mankind. From the earliest cave paintings to the latest cyber pets, humans are fixated on animal motifs.
Exquisite depictions of creatures are found on many a watch.  Cartier Prowls around with a Panther; Maurice Lacrox  harbors a starfish and Boucheron has a thing for frogs and feathered friendsMB & F took a Panda for a ride atop its Thunderbolt HM4 for the Only Watch Auction 2011, while Urwerk lurks in crevices with its Tarantula Timepieces.  Urwerk is not the only one with a fascination for venomous arachnids, the  Ladoire Black Widow  has quite a bite. Concord has let its Black Spider out the cage, while Urwek heeds the call of the Phoenix. Parmigiani summons in a dragon for the Chinese New Year and Cartier captures a croc. Vacheron Constantin lets loose a flock of birds or fish if you wish, while Hermes and Angular Momentum both reign in a herd of horses. Serpents slither across the dial of a Richard Mille RM 026 tourbillon and Piaget's glittering birds perch upon a branch in a Piaget Limelight Garden Party.

Van Cleef & Arpels needs special mention in this regard,  as superb enameling creates creatures of extraordinary splendor. In the 1950's Van Cleef & Arpels wanted to increase its elite customer base and cater to a larger group of admirers.  The result was a lovely catalog named “La Boutique” in 1954 featuring brooches of 'Curious Creatures".  These playful whimsical creatures were somewhat affordable and highly collectible. With the purchase of the Cat Brooch one wanted the lion or the giraffe  ,the adorable bunny brooch or the monocled bulldog. Van Cleef & Arpels used its whimsical representation of creatures to win the hearts of many.

Lady Arpels African Landscape
To this day, Van Cleef & Arpels has been adorning the watch dials with animals of all kinds. Many gracing the face of Van Cleef & Arpels Extraordinary dials. 

Check out my all time favorites.

Lady Arpels African Landscape
Van Cleef & Arpels took great inspiration from the pioneer of science fiction, Jules Verne, and created dial landscapes of incredible wonder based on his tales.  The "Les Voyages" collection and Poetry of Time Collection.  Born and bred on the African soil, I always gravitate towards African themed depictions.
A Van Cleef & Arpel dial is not simply a beautiful image surrounded by a frame.  A Van Cleef & Arpel dial exudes an emotional atmosphere activating a variety of sensory experiences.  The giraffe themed dial creates a vivid sense of the dry hot Savannah sun where rainfall is seasonal and dappled shade is cast from small leaved trees. A bejeweled giraffe protects her offspring against the backdrop of the yellow sand and pale blue sky.  The elephant and his young one resides in a rather more tropical area where rain is abundant and  the sky is often stormy with sudden storms.
It takes rare talent to create dials such as these and each dial undergoes many processes such as  inlaying, stone selection, cutting and setting, lacquering, hand engraving and enameling to create an "Extraordinary Dial."

One of the latest Van Cleef & Arpels Collection is the Extraordinary Dials Hummingbird Collection reminding me always of a Springtime garden tea party. There are quite a few models all beautifully created and full of life.  Three techniques were used in creating these dials: setting of precious stones, champleve enamelling, as well as three-dimensional enameling. One thing I love about these watches is the  830p mechanical movement.  Often times watch companies, especially when it comes to women's watches,  create a wonderful dial of magnificent splendor and then place a quartz movement within the case. However for the Poetry of Time timepieces and Extraordinary Dials, Van Cleef & Arpels goes mechanical.

Another Van Cleef & Arpels dial I simply love is this adorable depiction of mother and baby hippo wallowing in the water.  The intricate alternating shades of watery greens epitomizes the exquisite skill of craft applied to the dial.

From the hot African sun to the frigid Antarctic air - Van Cleef & Arpels utilizes a variety of colors, precious stones, materials and techniques to create the desired look.  The ability to create a still image into a living segment of time, well that's Extraordinary. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Romain Jerome Celebrates Day of the Dead

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS Romain Jerome watch reveals a strangely "festive" timepiece for the a holiday revered in Mexico "The Day of The Dead"  The busy festive skull plastered on a signature Titanic DNA Romain Jerome case and dial captures the celebratory festivities honoring the departed. The skull is actually a representation of the traditional Mexican decorations known as "calaveras" such as wooden masks or skulls made of sugar associated with this day.  The tradition is of ancient beginnings dating back 3000 years to the Aztecs.  Back then, until the Spaniards came town 500 years ago - give or take, the day was celebrated on the 9th month of the Aztec Solar Calender presided over by goddess Mictecacihuatl or "Lady of the Dead".  She died at birth, but her legacy lives on.
The Spaniards not liking this so called Pagan ritual, but unable to stymy this tradition moved the date to November 1st and 2nd so it coincided with "All Saints Day" and "All Souls Day".

Unlike Halloween which evokes ghouls, ghosts and other ghastly depictions, DIA DE LOS MUERTOS honor the dead in celebration.  Brightly colored skull masks, skull confections and skull puppets decorate the day, much of which is spent at the graveside of loved ones. The graves are often decorated with marigold flowers and candles. Some build alters in their home for offering love and remembrance to the departed.

With so many skull motifs out there - think of Bell & Ross skull watch representing the Second World War Airborne paratroopers (Death From Above) or Corum's obsession with the creepier side of skulls - it is necessary to clearly distinguish the motif of skull representation.  I think Romain Jerome has done an exemplary job in this regard.  The brightly colored skull skillfully hand-crafted in colorful applique with champlevé decoration and cold enameled in seven symbolic colors, is clearly the skull depiction of "DIA DE LOS MUERTOS" or "Day of the Dead".  The seven skull colors signify the seven stages a departed soul must travel before finding eternal peace. The 46mm black PVD coated steel case encases an in-house Caliber RJ001 Mechanical self-winding movement.  Beneath the skull on the  mirror polished dial,  Romain Jerome has placed its signature X shape engraving  extending to the four black ceramic "paws" placed on the black ceramic bezel on either side of the lugs.  Below the 3 'o'clock position resides a polished Romain Jerome logo.  The  blackness of the dial, case and strap serve as an intense backdrop to the striking brightness of the skull. 

Black Satin brushed skeletonized hands are coated with a C1 Superluminova "blue emission" for read out in the dark.  
A "Día de los Muertos" medallion  is engraved on the case back.  The watch is affixed to the wrist with a black hornback alligator strap
Two models, one with a cross and one without, will be available in a limited edition of 25 pieces per model.

The retail price is 15,900 US Dollars

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Krieger Tidal Wave Chronoscope Watches Tells the Tide

Krieger Tidal Wave Chronoscope

With the weather the way its been on my side of the US, I have taken a new interest in the tides. In the passed, pre- Hurricane Sandy I should say,  I dismissed this oceanic encroachment as a fisherman's concern, but now with a Nor'easter baring down on us and "Coastel Flood Warnings" in effect, my entire view of tides has changed.  I am not only aware of the tides, I am preoccupied by them.  Obsessed if you will. Who can blame me.  My house is still in the dark, thanks to a water logged and likely ruined substation.  I shouldn't complain. A couple blocks from my house, the sidewalk is punctuated by heaped piles of sodden mattresses, salted electronics, molding carpets and household brick and brack.  It's almost as if the houses themselves have become awful queasy and threw up the colorful contents.
My tidal obsession together with my "where to find the shortest gas line" obsession, demands that I find a timepiece which tells the tides.
"What about a cellphone app?" , you may ask with helpful ignorance.
"Ha! Ha!" I laugh in near hysteria - ," cellphones don't work in my watery pitch dark neighborhood!"

So if you've managed to get through my long winded introduction blatantly brimming with self pity, you will find that I happened upon a brand of watches actually created by a guy called Ira Krieger who in 1987 created the very first Tidal Chronometer.  His wristwatch was clever enough to predict high and low tides.  UREKA!! Ira Krieger was effected by high tides too. No his power did not go out nor did his house flood, but it was aggravation non the less.  As a result of an unexpected high tide, his family boat could not fit under a bridge and thus could not return to the marina. So that's when his tidal obsession began.  Ira Krieger did not sit and mope about the tides, but rather set about a way to track them. Ira Krieger in listed the help of his step son, now president of Miami-based Krieger Watch Company, who suggested a watch displaying when they could leave or return  to the marina. With the help of a Swiss Watch Company, they created the Krieger Tidal Chronometer.

WARNING Off topic here - reminds me of that Chinese King Su Song - who in the time of the dragon - oh about 1000 years ago, came to a meeting a full month early. He was peeved about waiting around for a month (who wouldn't be) and commissioned the building of "Su Song Heavenly Clock Tower"

Both Su Song and Ira Krieger dealt with miscalculations of facotrs by devising a way to track them.

Although Krieger has a large selection of  Tidal Wave Watches, I have chosen the models that are highly resilient and not prone to water damage. The Swiss Quartz Movement watch is constructed either  from an indestructible special construction matte  and high polish 44mm case or Steel with PVD processing (left). A Carbon Fiber Solar Powered Bezel is engraved with a solar compass.

To commemorate 20 years of tidal prediction, Krieger unveiled the Tidal Wave  Chronoscope, which accurately predicts the hours to the next high and low tide. Tiny microscopic gears are utilized to ensure maximum precision.   The large tide indicator baring a signature Krieger counter balance points to the level of tide. A handy sub dial also indicates the tidal range, neap and spring tides. The tides and moon phase can be set via screw in push buttons.  Of course the tide is influenced by the  the moon so a sub dial moon phase is in order.  The Krieger Tidal Wave is so in tune with the world at sea that its water resistance is measured in miles. The Tidal Wave is capable of  almost half a mile of water resistance or 2640 feet. The dial is protected by a double dome sapphire crystal coated with an anti-reflective treatment.
The 20mm Rubber straps fashioned in a unique divers cut are available in a variety of colors adding an individual touch to the watch.  Bracelets for the Tidal Wave Chronoscope are available in Stainless Steel polished or Matte.  The dial is available in a variety of colors too, allowing one to mix and match to hearts content.

Editions are limited to 2000 a model, and reasonably priced at $1,850.00.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The End of the Mechanical Voting Era

By the time you read this post you've either voted, on your way to vote or not going to vote at all.
 If you have voted, depending on where you are,  you may have voted  via arduous paper ballots  aided by scanners and special pens, fancy up to date Touch-screen machines or older electronic versions of the same. Depending on your current State, some machines will provide you with a Voter verified paper record, some will not.
 Upon entering their usual polling station,  New Yorkers will notice the absence of the Mechanical Hand Lever Machine and will vote instead  on a ES & S DS200 Ballot Scanner able to read and tally a paper ballot marked with a very special marking pen. Or they may vote via an ES AutoMark.
Voters in 16 states are using  electronic voting equipment which do not provide a voters verification receipt of any kind. There is absolutely no paper trail  if discrepancy arises.  One does not have to be a statistician, or number cruncher to know paper trails are crucial for validity.
 These machines are known as direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines purchased from companies like Sequoia and Diebold.
On October 25th, 2012 President Obama cast his ballot on a 15 inch touchscreen Sequoia AVC edge, and being that he voted in Illinois, he was provided with a Verification of his vote.

So here comes the debate... Mechanical vs Electronic. Sounds a little like the luxury watch debate, but unlike luxury mechanical watches which pulled through the "quartz scare" of the 1970's when quartz watches almost extinguished mechanical watches, the trusty Mechanical Hand Lever voting machines of the 1960's did not survive the new electronic voting systems.  A push to change the individual voting process to the electronic age was made by Congress in 2002 with the "Help America Vote Act", which spent $3.9 billion on assisting states to disown the mechanical voting way.

In 2010, New York City was the last to give up the Mechanical Lever Voting Machine - which according to Forbes Staffer, Frederick E. Allen  - seems not to have been the best idea. Read " New York's New Voting System is a Disaster" .

The Mechanical Lever Voting Machine was used when JFK beat Richard M. Nixon by 0.1% where over half of the 56 million voters cast their ballots with this method. The Mechanical Lever Voting Machine has an array of levers in the front of the machine, each candidate is assigned a particular lever which is marked with the candidates name by a strip of paper. The levers are Horizontal in the unvoted position. The entire machine is situated inside a privacy curtain. The voter pulls down the lever and exits the curtain, the lever automatically returns to its horizontal position. As the lever returns, a connected counter wheel turns one-tenth of a full rotation, the tens counter drives a hundreds counter. At the end of election day, the counter for that lever indicated the amount of votes cast for that ballot. If the Mechanical Lever Voting Machine is in good working condition, it is quite reliable in that the machine is simple and a voter will have less of a chance of "pulling the lever in error" than touching a screen. However these machines are no longer being manufactured . Most states have opted for the newer more efficient electronic touch screens or direct recording electronic machines.

While many election officials rushed to embrace the new voting technology, especially those subjected to peering at Chads from punch card ballots, many people are skeptical of the security and the reliability of the electronic systems. Many of the electronic systems are unverified. In West Virginia, Colorado, Tennessee and Texas voters have reported that in the past  touch screen machines registered their vote for the wrong party or candidate. Some say the electronic systems may be susceptible to hackers. Many electronic machines do not produce a hard copy of the votes cast making it almost impossible to verify disputed results. Some touch-screen equipment used in half of Ohio's 88 counties "dropped" votes in past election when memory cards were uploaded to computer servers. Others say these electronic machines can be easily manipulated.

Hanging Chad
There two major flaws in the "Help America Vote Act":

1) No paper trails required - this issue has turned from a DRE debate to an outright "DRE war"
2) No rules requiring electronic equipment replacement.  Thus outdated electronic equipment  from a decade ago are still approved for 2012 elections.  These decade old voting systems do not provide a voters receipt.

The DRE system is wrought with  problems such as electronic malfunctions, purposeful flipping of votes or vanishing votes.
In 2010 primary and general New York State Elections, overheating of a  New York City's South Bronx machine invalidated hundreds of votes because the machine misread the optically scanned ballots.  Would that have happened with the good old Mechanical Lever Voting Machine?

When a place like New York City or any other large city votes, its is almost impossible to prove a voting error; however, at a local election in a tiny NJ County like Cumberland, glitches can be glaring even without a paper trail.
When this occurred, the rightful "victors" became the "losers".
  28 voters signed affidavits that they had voted for the losing party; however, oddly the Sequoia AVC Advantage machine showed only 10 voters cast a ballot for the losers.  The court ordered the election to be tossed out and a new election conducted.  Of course this is impossible in a National Presidential Election where voters must assume their voice is heard.
States like Maine test and retest the machines for reliability.  An excellent procedure assuming integrity of all individuals involved.

On the flip side who can forget the unfortunate "hanging chad" saga  smothering the 2000 elections in a cloud of uncertain confetti. It was after these elections that the Federal Government pushed for the electronic systems; however concerns of security breaches and tainted numbers shadow the electronic voting era.

States like Maryland and New Jersey are well aware of the implications of a paperless voting system and have even passed laws requiring a paper copy, but budget constraints have hampered the paper copy from becoming a reality. In Virginia ,a hot battleground state, passed this law too, but as a result of its large financial burden, the law was overturned.

33 states now require a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) or a Verified Paper Record (VPR) and 16 states do not.  States that do not have paperless machine and thus no independent proof of vote cast are:
 Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia

Machines that have an audit or paper trail include:

AccuVote TSX with printer
AVC Edge with VeriVote Printer
Sequoia Voting Systems' Edge2Plus
Sequoia Voting Systems' AdvantagePlus
 eSlate with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail
IVotronic Real Time Audit Log

It is going to be an interesting Election and in light of this post, I hope that the voting goes well with as few hitches as possible. Of course the good old Mechanical relics will  be sorely missed as New York State stands in line to vote for the next President of the United States.

By: V. Van Halem

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Wristwatch Tribute to the New York Spirit

Vacheron Constantin New York  Boutique Watch
Romain Jerome Lady of Liberty Watch

Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif New York  circa 2011

Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif New York circa 2011

Movado Andy Warhol Times/5 circa 1988

Piaget Protocole XXL  Watch Collection Circa 2008

Officine Panerai Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT

Micheal Kors NY Limited Edition Runway Watch circa 2012

Itay Noy City Square Columbus Circle NY circa 2009
Official NYC MTA Subway Timepiece

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Wristwatch Space Race

Mercury 7
While USA and Russia were racing to get the first man in space, there was another race in place.

The Wristwatch Space Race.

Buzz Aldrin in the Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon
Think for a moment what watch brand comes to  mind when envisioning the first watch in space.
Probably Omega.  Omega has the same effect when one thinks of the Olympics. 

You may draw a mental reference to the highly publicized image of an Omega Speedmaster around the wrist of Buzz Aldrin sitting in his lunar module during NASA's Apollo 11 mission. ( Link to Space Exploration on Omega's Website)

Before you think I am disregarding Omega's influence in space let me begin by saying that without a doubt the Omega Speedmaster was the professional moon watch chosen by NASA for its ability to withstand the adverse conditions in space.  It was the only watch NASA approved for EVA.

For more info click here on an excellent article,
 " The Moon Watch: A History of the Omega Speedmaster Professional"  by Alan A. Nelson (M.D.) and published in the February 1993 NAWCC Bulletin.

Omega was the first watch worn on the moon, but there is a watch movement still on the moon.  It is no longer working of course, but it was meant to continue humming for a year after the Apollo 11 Mission.  I use the term "humming" not "ticking", because the watch movement placed on the Sea of Tranquility was a Bulova Accutron within a NASA lunar instrument. The Bulova Accutron did not behave as well on the instrument panel of the lunar module and so Neil Armsrtong left his Omega Seamaster on board as a backup.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon on, July 21st, 1969 and the   Omega Speedmaster only became the official NASA watch  as of March 1st, 1965 “Flight Qualified for all Manned Space Missions”, but their was quite a bit of space travel beforehand, particularly the Mercury Missions and the Soviet Vostok Programme. .

Bulova Accutron Movement in Space

I suppose you can say the Bulova Accutrons were the first clocks in space.  An Accutron was installed onto the instrument panel of the Vanguard I. It was the very first Electronic Watch, and thus was quite prevalent on a Satellite. I found no mention of any clocks on the Sputniks or Explorers aside from beep intervals. (I would love any additional information on this.)

Mercury Seven Scott Carpenter Wearing an Accutron
In the late 1950's, before either USA or Russia sent a man to space, the very new NASA asked Bulova to incorporate Accutron technology into their space equipment. NASA was established on July 29th, 1958 with President  Eisenhower the National Aeronautics and Space Act in response to the Sputnik crisis.
 At that time the CEO of Bulova was Omar Bradley, a five star highly decorated retired general who served in both World War II and the Korean War.  Omar Bradley was a former classmate of President Eisenhower.
 For this new accelerated era in space exploration efforts, new advanced technology was deemed necessary. Since Accutron had come up with the most precise way of timekeeping to date, Accutron was chosen as the timekeepers on the instrument panel of space crafts.

Accutron was the world's first electronic watch, later obviated by the Quartz Watch.  1977 was the final year for Accutron 214's. Accutron's are highly collectable.

The watch boasted an accuracy of two seconds a day or one minute a month.  The Accutron 214 did not tick, but hum.  Its basic principal was that of a tuning fork, which was electrically excited and vibrated at 360 Hz. This type of accuracy provided by the Accutron was critical in space flight.  The Accutron Clocks were installed as Space Craft  Panel clocks.

Click here for more info on Accutron Watches

Accutron Movement 214
Benton Harbor News Palladium - August 12 1969
Max Hetzel:  Max Hetzel, an engineer born in Basel Switzerland, and employed by Bulova as a development engineer between the years of 1950-1959 ,developed the Accutron. 20 patents later, in 1959, he became chief of R & D. Although Max Hetzel was born in Switzerland, he was not into watchmaking per se, but rather into electronics.  He started young building radios at age 12. He felt mechanical watches were outdated and new more technologically advanced timekeepers were more prevalent for the electronic era.

His ideas did not sit very well with the Swiss - a country were mechanical watch making is a huge industry.
He moved to the USA and become an Ameican Citizen. \His success at Bulova resulted in NASA asking Bulova to incorporate all its new Accutron technology in its NASA space equipment and in 1967 his Accutrons were the only clocks on board Air Force One.

In 1969, Max Hetzel became the CEO of OMEGA's subsidiary Elresor SA.  He wanted  to develop a better movement than his own previous Accutron patent. The result of his efforts was the Swissonic, which  ,as a result of patent conflicts with Accutron, was never marketed.  Funny thin was  Max Hetzel ,the creator of Accutron, was actually working for Omega on its Megasonic Program when his Accutron movement  was placed on the moon. 

Yuri Gagarin - Vostok 1 - Sturmanskie Wrist Watch

The precision of Accutron's and the resilience of Omega were excellent aspects of space worthiness, but both brands were not the first in space.

The first watch in space was neither an Omega or Accutron, but rather a Russian made Sturmanskie Timepiece.  On the 12th of April 1961,on board the Vostok 1,  Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first man to enter space and the first man to orbit the earth.  Strapped around his wrist was a Russian Made Sturmanskie Timepiece.

 The Sturmanskie's 17 jewel movement was housed within a shock absorbent chrome plated two piece case measuring 33mm in diameter and 12mm in height.  This particular watch had a stainless steel screw in case back instead of a stainless steel snap on case back as with the earlier Sturmanskie models. Yuri Gagarin's model was highly finished with Geneva striping.   In addition the implementation of gaskets increased water resistance. The watch functioned perfectly in conditions of zero gravity.
 The watch was based on a French design, the Lip R26.  To manufacture the Sturmanskie, the 1st Moscow Watch Factory originally purchased the machinery from the French.  Due to the watches precision, resilience and reliability in adverse conditions, it was a formality to provide all new graduates from the Orenberg Flight School with a Sturmanskie.

Apollo 14
Alan Shepard - 1st Mercury Mission MR-3 Freedom 7 - No Wristwatch on Record

  On 5th of May 1961, the first Mercury Mission, the USA sent Alan Shepard into space as a pilot of the Freedom 7. He became the first American in Space.  Alan Shepard chose not to wear a watch on that mission. He did wear an Omega Speedmaster ,as did Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell, almost ten years later  on his Apollo 14 Mission to the moon on February 5, 1972. In the Apollo 14 mission, the Omega Speedmasters were worn on the outside of the spacesuit on a specialized velcro NASA black nylon strap as per the specifications of NASA. It has been speculated that Ed Mitchel - who spent 9 hours and 17 minutes working on the surface of the moon, was wearing a  Rolex Pepsi GMT Master on his right wrist and his Omega Speedmaster on his left.  So it could be that a Rolex GMT Master accompanied the Omega Speedmaster on the longest moon walk.

Gus Grissom - MR-4 Liberty Bell 7- No Wristwatch on Record:

On July 21st, 1961 Virgil "Gus" Grissom piloted the MR-4 spacecraft Liberty Bell 7 for a suborbital flight lasting 15 minutes and 37 seconds becoming  the Second American in Space. Gus Grissom returned to earth with a splash and due to the premature opening of the Liberty Bell 7's hatch, the spacecraft took on water and was sinking fast.  Gus Grissom managed to exit the space craft.  After failed efforts by the rescue helicopter to lift The Liberty Bell 7 it sunk  to a depth of 4.6 km. It was later recovered on July 20th,  1999. Besides for the pressure valve strapped to his wrist, he wore no watch on his wrist.  The Mercury Spacesuits had mirrors on the inside of both wrists and on the chest, for instrument panel read out. Gus liked watches though and owned a 24-hour Le-Coultre stainless steel military anti magnetic, shockproof, water resistant wristwatch baring a black 24 hour face, which he wore on special occasions down here on earth.
On March 23rd, 1965 Gus Grissom became the first astronaut to fly into space twice as the Command Pilot of Gemini 3, which he called Molly Brown. (From the Musical "The Unsinkable Molly Brown).  On this mission he took with him two engraved wristwatches for his sons Scott and Mark. (I could not find any info on the brand of these two watches).  Gus Grissom tragically  lost his life on January 27, 1967 during an Apollo 1 simulation ahead of the scheduled February 21st launch date.
Tag Heuer Carrera SpaceX 1887 Chronograph circa 2012

John Glenn MA-6  Friendship 7 -  Tag Heuer StopWatch on Elastic Band:

Tag Heuer also has its moments of space fame and joined in the race pretty early on. On February 20th, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth and the third American up in space on the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission. Around his wrist was a Tag Heuer Stop Watch. With his statement, "The Clock is Running", he orbited the earth three times.  The flight took 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds.  The Tag Heuer was fashioned with elastic bands to fit over the space suit.   NASA chose Tag Heuer as the watch of chose able to withstand the intense G-forces of lift off.
To celebrate Tag Heuer's 50th anniversary  the first watch company in space, Tag Heuer unveiled the 43mm Tag Heuer Carrera SpaceX 1887 Chronograph, which will is available for $5,800 USD in a limited edition of 2012 pieces. (above image)

Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute - Left Wrist

Scott Carpenter MA-7 Aurora 7 - Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaut
On May 24th, 1962 Breitling joined the Wristwatch Space Race becoming the first wristwatch chronograph to enter space.   Scott carpenter (who was photographed in a French magazine wearing an Accutron), the second American to orbit the earth and the 4th person in space,  opted for a Breitling while orbiting the earth in his Aurora 7 capsule no less than three times. In 1961 Scott Carpenter actually approached Breitling to make him a watch with a 24 hour dial - since a 12 hour dial will be useless in space where there is no night and day. A Breitling 24-hour Navitimer Cosmonaute (astronaut in French) was delivered three days before he was scheduled to leave on his Mercury-Atlas 7 mission. To celebrate 50 years of the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission, earlier this year  Breitling unveiled a manual winding  in-house  Navitimer Cosmonaute limited to 1962 pieces.  In recognition of Scott Carpenter's wristwatch - which incidentally has never been located since the famed mission - this certified chronometer chronograph sports a 24 hour display, Fahrenheit / Celsius degree conversion scale, bi-directional rotating bezel,  handy circular slide rule and a 70 hour power reserve. Engraved on the case back is the Insignia of the Aurora 7.

Towards the end of 1962, a telling sign for the Wristwatch Space Race was Bulova's highly publicized modified wristwatch strap for the X-15 pilots. All the newspaper clips from that time specifically stated these straps were for Bulova's electronic wristwatches. 
Since NASA only made the Omega Speedmaster  “Flight Qualified for all Manned Space Missions” on the 1st of March 1965, in 1962 the wristwatch space race was still on.

Wally Schirra sporting an Omega Speedmaster

Wally Schirra - MA-8 Sigma 7 - Omega Speedmaster: 

On  October 3, 1962 Wally Schirra ,one of the original Mercury Seven forged the way for Omega up in Space.  Wally Schirra, the fifth American in Space wore an Omega Speedmaster piloting the Mercury-Atlas 8 on a 6 orbit mission lasting 9 hours, 13 seconds and 11 seconds. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this historical event Omega this month unveiled at BaselWorld 2012 a “First Omega in Space” Speedmaster 1962. This Omega Speedmaster is powered by a Caliber 1861, which is based on a manual winding  Lemania 1871 Chronograph movement. (Automatics do not work where there is no gravity).  Engraved on the case back is Omega's original seahorse logo and the words, “THE FIRST OMEGA IN SPACE” and “OCTOBER 3, 1962”. This watch is not a limited edition and will appear in stores around October 2012. Wally Schirra passed away on May 3rd, 2007.

 "So I used my wrist watch for time," Gordon Cooper Faith 7

Accutron Astronaut seen on Gordon Cooper's Wrist Prior to Faith  7
Gordon Cooper - MA-9 Faith 7 -  Omega Chronograph & Bulova Accutron Astronaut: 

The final Mercury Mission on May 15th, 1963,  sent Gordon Cooper into space for 34 hours,19 minutes and 49 seconds  orbiting the earth 22 times.  He piloted the Mercury-Atlas 9 or Faith 7 and slept some.  This particular mission emphasized the need for instruments not reliant on the instrument panel.  The X-1 pilots like Chuck Yaeger of Rolex wristwatch fame and the first pilot to break the speed of sound, joked that the Mercury Astronauts had no need to "pilot" the spacecraft, as the crafts were designed for fully automatic control.  He described the Mercury 7 as "Spam in a Can".  He was proven quite wrong ,though,when due to technical problems Gordon Coopers Space capsule lost power. The situation became dicey when CO2 levels and temperature levels rose. Gordon Cooper mastered the controls and using his celestial knowledge was able to calculate the correct pitch for re-entry into the earths atmosphere. Making even a slight miscalculation would have been grave.  A sharp angle into the atmosphere would result in destructive g-forces, a too shallow trajectory would cause the tiny capsule to bounce off the atmosphere and head back into space.  Amazingly Cooper used the capsule window to draw lines determining the precise orientation before firing the reentry rockets.
So I used my wrist watch for time," he later recalled, "my eyeballs out the window for altitude. Then I fired my retrorockets at the right time and landed right by the carrier." (via Wikipedia)

Gordon Cooper's Bulova Accutron Astronaut
So which wrist watch did he use?   In actual fact Gordon Cooper was wearing two wristwatches: An Omega Chronograph and a Bulova Accutron.  As to which watch he used for reentry calculation - well the Omega Speedmaster enthusiasts will say an Omega Speedmaster and the Bulova Accutron collectors will say the Accutron. Although the majority are on the side of the Omega Speedmaster - Most of the consensus rests on the fact that Gordon Cooper brought the Bulova Accutron along on Faith 7 to double check the timing of the Omega Speedmaster. Gordon Cooper used the Omega Speedmaster to monitor the firing sequence of the retro rockets for atmospheric reentry.

 Upon returning, NASA presented Gordon Cooper with a Timex Wristwatch as a welcome back gift.  This watch cropped up at a Heritage Auction in 2009 together with a letter written by Gordon Cooper himself, acknowledging the authenticity of the watch.

With the return of Gordon Cooper in the Faith 7 the Mercury Era had ended and NASA had their sites set on the Gemini and Apollo Missions.  Every component and aspect of the Mercury Missions were analyzed by a crew of newly appointed NASA engineers.  New equipment and instruments including wristwatches worn by the astronauts  were chosen for rigorous testing.

Gemini & Apollo Missions - Omega Speedmaster Professional: 

The astronauts approached Deke Slayton, Operations Director at NASA and one of the Original Mercury 7,  to find and provide an official wristwatch for training and in-flight use. 
Deke Slayton took this request very seriously and sent an internal memo to the engineers:

Ed Mitchell Omega Speedmaster Apollo 14
A requirement exists for a highly durable and accurate chronograph to be used by Gemini and Apollo flight crews as an essential adjunct, or as a backup for spacecraft timing devices and for accomplishing time critical operations and experimental tests. In order to select a chronograph which best meets our overall requirements, it is necessary to accomplish a comparative evaluation of the better quality "off the shelf" chronographs under realistic operational conditions. The evaluation will take place during such flight crew training programs as the Gemini Mission Simulators, during spacecraft and other flight equipment testing in the altitude chambers, egress and recovery exercises, planetarium reviews, and during the first two manned Gemini flights. The evaluation will be of the basic "off the shelf" items; however, an analysis will also be made of any additional features and/or modifications that may be required.
It is highly desirable that we commence with this evaluation at an early date so that a standard flight crew chronograph can be obtained prior to the longer duration Gemini flights and the Apollo flights. The evaluation items should be available during the preflight training for the first two manned Gemini flight crews, which are now in progress. On this basis, quotations from various chronograph manufacturers meeting the specifications as listed in analogue 1, Statement of Specifications, should be reviewed by this organization by October 21, 1964. Immediately subsequent to this date, it is our intent to purchase locally at least one of each brand that meets, or very nearly meets, these specifications. Off the shelf chronographs which very nearly meet the specifications may be considered if they, in other regards, surpass the overall specifications. The manufacturer in this case may choose to reply to the request for quotations, however, NASA-MSC will make the determination as to whether or not the chronograph will be subsequently evaluated. It is estimated that a total of twelve chronographs are required for evaluation purposes.

  James Ragan - engineer - suggested a list of manufacturers: .Elgin, Benrus,Hamilton, Mido, Lucien Piccard
OMEGA, Bulova, Rolex, Longines, Gruen   Four Brands responded, providing NASA with two watches each for testing.

The testing included:

  "The tests which ensued were designed literally to test the watches to destruction. The watches were subjected to temperatures ranging from 71° to 93° centigrade over a two day period, after which they were frozen to -18° centigrade. They were placed in a vacuumed chamber heated to 93° centigrade, and then subjected to a test where they were heated to 70° centigrade and then immediately frozen to -18° centigrade – not once but fifteen times in rapid succession! When this had been completed, it was time to subject the watches to 40 g shocks in six different directions, then submit them to high and low pressures, an atmosphere of 93% humidity, a highly corrosive 100% oxygen environment,  noise to 130 decibels and finally vibrated with average accelerations of 8.8 g. In the end only one watch had survived: the Speedmaster. Interestingly, after each test the watch would settle to an average rate which was largely within the NASA imposed limits of five seconds per day during normal use."
Source: Official Omega Website

Omega did not even know that their Speedmaster was the one that qualified for man missions to space until the release of the Gemini IV mission photographs. After finding out, Omega renamed the Omega Speedmaster to Omega Speedmaster Professional.  The name stands until today.

American Made Bulova was not impressed - how could NASA choose the Swiss Brand Omega over the American Brand Bulova. Apparently there was an investigation and the Omega Speedmaster was found to  display the most integrity in space. However, I cannot deny there is much internet and forum murmurings on how Omega became the Official NASA watch, but until sound proof is found - rumors will be rumors.

It may seem strange that Omega did not know  their Omega Speedmaster had become the chosen timepiece for the NASA astronauts- but judging from a snip it  (left) from the Leader Times Kittanning, PA - May 20th, 1963 - "American Astronauts are prohibited from endorsing commercial products"

From the article however its apparent the Russians had a different take. Russian Astronaut, Gherman Titov" appeared in a Magazine endorsing a Russian-made wristwatch (probably a Sturmanskie). Gherman Titov was a highly decorated astronaut who on August 6th, 1961 who on Vostok 2 became the second person to orbit the earth and the fourth person up in space and the first to Orbit the earth multiple times (17).
The Soviets took advertisements to a new level whereby hundreds of products endorsed the Soviet Space program.

On June 16th, 1963 - on board the Vostok 6, the first women in space,  Valentina Tereshkova wore a Sturmanskie timepiece.

Strela Chronograph
Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov - Voskhod 2 - Strela 

The watch worn during the first spacewalk performed on March 18th, 1965 by Russian cosmonaut Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov during the Voskhod-2 was a Strela. He was in space for 12 minutes and 9 seconds. The Strela was actually based on the Venus Caliber 175 movement designed by horological genius Andre Frey of  Fabrique d'Ebauches Vénus S.A (now Minerva).  The Strela had a Column Wheel Chronograph and two sub dials: A 45 minute totalizer and a constant seconds sub dial. In addition a central chronograph  hand tracked seconds. The case material was a humble chrome plated base metal.  These watches were only available to the Soviet Air Force.The Strela was often said to be the Russian version of the Omega Speedmaster.

In space exploration years that followed, cosmonauts wore a variety of different brands since Russia was not as stringent as NASA in terms of  watch regulations. Often cosmonauts were spotted with, Sturmanskie,  Sekonda and OKEAH.  Other movements like the Poljot 3133 based on the Valjoux 7734-Russians purchased the machinery from the Swiss in 1974, replaced the Strela. For more info Click here for an intriguing component by component detail of the Pojot 3133 and Valjoux 7734 similarities and differences.  
After Quartz erupted on stage Digital watches were a common site around the wrists of cosmonauts.

Gemini IV Mission Photographs Shows Newly Issued Omega Speedmaster

On June 3rd, 1965  Ed White wore an Omega Speedmaster 105.003 secured with velcro and a long nylon strap to the outside of the left-side sleeve of his G4C spacesuit, during the first American Space Walk.

Click here for a well documented time-line of Omega in the Gemini and Apollo Missions.

Although the Omega Speedmasters were the Official Watch Worn by Astronauts, they were allowed to bring along a second watch.  Jack Swigert wore a Pepsi Rolex GMT on the Apollo 13 mission - Click here for an in depth look at Rolex Watches in Space. ; Timex became a favorite among astronauts later on; 

Russian Cosmonauts Sporting Fortis Timepieces

In 1994, after two years of intense testing at the Yuri Gagarin Russian State Scientific-Research Test Center of Cosmonauts Training in Star City, Fortis watches have become the official timepiece issued to cosmonauts.  The first crew to embark on a mission with a Fortis on their wrist was the EUROMIR crew.  Now all Russian cosmonauts at the Gagarin Center are presented with a Fortis.

 NASA has increased their list of acceptable watches to include the following: 

  • Omega Speedmaster Professional 3570.50.00
  • Omega Speedmaster Professional X-33
  • Casio G-Shock DW-5600C
  • Casio G-Shock DW-5600E
  • Casio G-Shock DW-5900
  • Casio G-Shock DW-6900
  • Timex IRONMAN Triathlon Data Link  
(This list is from 2008 - there may be some model changes)
The latest watch in space to make space history:


Felix Baumgartner - Stratosphere Free Fall - Zenith Stratos Flyback Striking 10th: 

On October 14th, 2012, Zenith Ambassador,  Felix Baumgartner became the first human to break the sound barrier during an 833mph free fall of 128,100 feet from the stratosphere, strapped to his wrist ,outside his spacesuit, was a Zenith Stratos Flyback Striking 10th. The Zenith Stratos was specially designed to withstand the immense velocity during the fall. The 30 mm specially reinforced stainless steel case housing an exceptional 326-component El Primero Automatic movement as well as the Striking 10 and Flyback Function.This watch is the first watch to cross the sound barrier in a near space environment.
Watch Felix