Monde et Montres...

Monde et Montres...

Watches in Space - 6 : Who except Omega?

Continuation of Watches in Space - 5 : Omega Big Time

French version: Les montres dans l'espace - 6 : Et à part Omega?


Bulova resistance

In 1967, for Apollo program, and under pressure of Bulova and some american senators angreed that it was a swiss watch that was accompanying spatial missions, NASA launched again a tests campaign, and this time again Omega was the only watch to have a satisfying behaviour. Bulova saved the face, puting their Accutron mouvement in the Apollo on-board instruments.

In 1972, before end of Apollo program, Bulova striked back, helped by the "Buy American Act" saying that 51% of the watch value had to be produced in the United States.Omega Succeded to fill the rules of the act, building the watch cases and mounting the watches on the american ground. It had been more tensed for Bulova who in fact bought Swiss mouvements, made them modified in the United States, and sent them back to swiss for final mounting: they had to put in the balance the 23 000 dollars of Research and Development spent for this program to be compliant with the "Buy American Act"! But once again, Omega watches had been the only one to have satisfying behaviour during NASA tests.


The General Omar Bradley, former Commander in Chief of US forces during the Normandy debarkation, then Commander in Chief of US armies from 1949 until his retirement un 1953, had been the Chairman of the board of Bulova between 1958 and 1973. We can think that it was a reason for the Bulova stubbornness, with the support of american administration. But quality of Omega watches won.


After that, fot the Spatial Shuttles (from 1981), watches hadn't to (or just a little) to go outside in spatial vaccuum, Bulova and other brands came to space: ROles, Fortis, Fyita (China), ... But Omega is still present, even the Russians using some, like Alexei Leonov who had a Speedmaster, a X33 and a Flightmaster!


And except Omega?

In 1996, David Scott, membre of the Apollo 15 crew on the moon (take off 26th of july, 1971) indicated that the glass of his speedmaster poped during an extra-vehicule mission, and he had to use his Waltham watch during the next extra-vehicule mission (source: In fact after an auction that occured October 22nd 2015, we know that it was not a Waltham watch, but a Bulova. So Omega Speedmaster was not the only watch to have been worn in vaccuum on the moon.


As said before, with the develoment of manned flight without extra-vehicule exits, many brands participated to the travels:

  • Bulova (of course!)
  • Fortis (With German astronautes, and had also some agreements with the russians)
  • Yema (with french Spationautes)
  • Glycine
  • Breitling
  • Casio
  • Rolex (we think that Rolex participated to many flights, since Gemini program, but only on personal decision of the astronautes, and has never been qualified by NASA).
  • Sinn (also with german astronautes)
  • Fiyta (with chinese taïkonautes)



continuation: Watches in Space - 7 : Continuation ... and end?


Back to introduction: Watches in Space - 1 : Introduction.

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