Swatch, known for its colorful wristwatches, has found its latest palette in NASA's iconic astronaut gear.
The Swiss watch brand is ready to launch its new Space Collection this week with hues taken from the garments worn by space shuttle crew members.
"Who said the sky's the limit? We're taking a giant leap with a brand-new collection taking inspiration from space," Swatch teased on its website.
Scheduled to go on sale on Thursday (June 3) at select Swatch stores and on the company's website, the Space Collection includes five models, three of which are designed using Swatch's new material innovation: Bioceramic. A mix of two-thirds ceramic and one-third bio-sourced plastic, the new watches are both resilient and resistant, while still being silk-like to the touch.
Leading the new looks is the "Extravehicular," a 47mm "Big Bold" chronograph inspired by the white extravehicular mobility unit — EMU, or spacesuit — that was first worn in space by NASA astronauts Story Musgrave and Don Peterson in 1983. The two STS-6 spacewalkers inaugurated the use of the EMU, which is still in use at the International Space Station today.
The similar-in-style Big Bold Chrono "Launch" borrows its bright orange color from the Advanced Crew Escape Suit, or ACES — the "pumpkin" suit that astronauts wore to launch and land on the space shuttle from 1988 through 2011. NASA has modified the ACES to be used on its next exploration missions as the Orion Crew Survival System (OCSS), to be worn on Artemis launches to the moon.
Both the "Extravehicular" and "Launch" chronographs feature three sub-dials, evoking the appearance of the Omega Speedmaster that Apollo astronauts wore on the lunar surface (Omega and Swatch are both owned by the Swatch Group). The second hands on both models rest at the "10" mark, as a nod to the final 10-second countdown leading up to a launch.
The third "Big Bold" watch in the set is the "Jumpsuit" with a "NASA-blue" color theme. The model "echoes the everyday go-to blue jumpsuits," or flight suits, that astronauts wear when making public appearances, press conferences and when training on board T-38 supersonic jets.
The Space Collection also includes two wristwatches in the more classic Swatch-style.
The "Space Race" Gent features a black-and-white color set "inspired by the 20th Century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States to achieve superior spaceflight ability." The model has a silver-colored face with a mirror-like finish.
The "Take Me to the Moon" derives its name from Frank Sinatra's recording of "Fly Me to the Moon," which was among the songs carried to the moon by the Apollo 11 first lunar landing crew in 1969. The New Gent model has a transparent case.
All five of the watches sport wristbands emblazoned with NASA's "worm" logotype.
The white "Extravehicular" will retail for $160, the orange "Launch" for $165 and blue "Jumpsuit" for $125. The "Space Race" is priced at $95 and "Take Me to the Moon" at $85.
To celebrate the release of the Space Collection and the 25th anniversary of the first Swatch watch launching with Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier on space shuttle mission STS-75 in 1996, Swatch sent a Big Bold Chrono Extravehicular into the stratosphere on a high-altitude balloon flight.
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Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.