In science, space and time are intimately linked. So it's no surprise that some new high-end watches are looking to space travel and technology to attract the timepiece connoisseur. From taking the first, cautious steps on the moon to commanding a space station or plotting escape from a desolate planet, these high-tech, space-themed watches may put you in an exploratory mind-set for the holidays.
Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 ($1,995 - $2,400)
When Citizen unveiled the new Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 in October, it enlisted the aid of famed scientists Brian Greene and Oded Aharonson to ponder the nature of time itself. "We don't know what time is," Greene said at the unveiling, adding that humanity has been really successful at building devices that measure time at ever greater accuracy. But a fundamental definition of time? "We just don't know," he said.
The Citizen Satellite Wave line of GPS watches harnesses the precision of global positioning satellites to instantly sync to the right time — in only 3 seconds, if given the time zone. Or, it can figure out its location anywhere in the world within 30 seconds. It has a superlight, titanium analog frame and two wedge-shaped buttons designed to echo the body of a satellite.
Plus, the dial's look is inspired by the satellites' power-giving solar panels, which is not surprising, considering the Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F900 runs on sunlight. The entire watch face takes in light to power the mechanism; it can last up to 7 years in the dark before dying by entering a special power-save mode.
Martian Alpha Watch ($280)
This new Martian Alpha watch combines aspects of a smartwatch with a reliable analog body — perfect for people stranded on Mars with no cell reception. The watch runs off of an ordinary, long-lasting watch battery, plus a five-day rechargeable one powering a small screen that can display text messages and notifications, take voice commands and let you know the weather. Plus, customized vibration patterns can be programmed to notify users of different events.
It might not have much to do with space, but the analog watch plus subtle smartwatch interface could be an out-of-this-world combination.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award ($7,350)
The watches worn on the moon were all the same, rigorously tested model (with one exception — see next entry): Omega Speedmasters. The astronauts on NASA's first crewed spaceflights picked out the watches to wear on their own, but afterward, they were chosen officially after extensive testing — one particular Speedmaster model was the only one to survive temperatures over 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius), being frozen, experiencing 40 times the normal pull of gravity, being in a 100 percent oxygen environment and more. Then, it was sent to the moon as NASA's official watch.
Omega's newest Speedmaster commemorates the Apollo 13 mission's 45th anniversary in 2015 and NASA's Silver Snoopy award, which the mission's astronauts received upon their safe return to Earth. The award celebrates outstanding achievements in spaceflight safety and mission success — and the astronauts certainly earned them after recovering from an in-flight explosion and landing safely. The watch is black and white, like a comic strip, and has messages on the face referencing the Apollo 13 mission as well as a small sleeping Snoopy. The iconic cartoon figure appears again on the back, engraved floating in space, as on the real Silver Snoopy award.
Special edition Bulova moon watch replica ($550)
The only privately owned watch worn outside on the moon was recently auctioned off for $1.625 million. A replica of that watch, a Bulova prototype design brought as a backup by Apollo 15 commander David Scott, will go on sale in January 2016 for a significantly less-lofty price.
The watch will come with two straps: one leather band and a Velcro one based on the kind that affixed it to the astronaut's arm on the moon's surface. It also has superluminous hands and a new calendar display added on to the original design. Not bad for a $1,624,450 discount!
Giorgio Fedon 1919 Space Explorer ($351 - $695 on Amazon)
SpaceTek, a company working to accelerate the commercial space agency, and the watch company Giorgio Fedon teamed up with retired astronaut Clayton Anderson to put together an official Space Explorer watch. SpaceTek hopes astronauts aboard their planned Private Space Station (with a launch date of 2017) will wear these watches to stay on track. They bear Anderson's signature on the back as well as an 8-hour glow, the day and date, and a stopwatch.
Anderson himself has spent 152 days on the International Space Station and conducted six spacewalks outside of the station — operations that rely on precise timing and choreography to lead astronauts through the dangerous open-space tasks without harm.