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  Early astronaut and cosmonaut watches (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   Early astronaut and cosmonaut watches
JakeE
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posted 10-17-2008 01:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for JakeE   Click Here to Email JakeE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kevin, thank you for your detailed response.

As I mentioned, I plan to write a super-detailed article on the watch space race in the future. I intend to cover every watch I know of in this article and I am excited to see the documents you speak of so I may incorporate the information from them into the story.

Please seek to understand a few things. First is that I am a Rolex watch historian which means I try to dig up as much meaningful true history as possible. Sometimes I hit a dead end and other times I hit it out of the park.

The person I did the podcast interview with seems to be a very credible witness but also understand this is an extremely sensitive subject for them. After I mentioned how significant this story was, after I recorded the podcast, they got really uneasy with me.

This is purely speculative conjecture on my behalf, but if I understand it, they seemed to be saying that somebody from Omega paid somebody at NASA to make the choice.

From their tone and lack of specific detail, it would appear this was NOT documented and I agree that if it can not be documented that it is just a story.

Since you interviewed many NASA pioneers, you know building trust and rapport is very time consuming and challenging. I don't want to do anything to alienate my source and once my article that will accompany the podcast is done, I will release them.

With all the people I interview, I give them editorial review because I want them to feel 100% comfortable with what I publish. As a matter of fact, I tell people before our interview that I am only here to document and celebrate their life, which is why I think people feel so comfortable with me. I don't dive bomb my interviewees or try to trick or embarrass them. In the final analysis I am simply telling their story.

I will say that the person was NOT an astronaut.

Thank you for your kind understanding in this matter.

Lou Chinal
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posted 12-20-2008 05:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had a conversation with Gordo Cooper about just this subject. It was in the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Fla. Gordo was really into it, we talked for about 10 minutes.

Cooper felt the "G" forces had a definite effect on the mechanical wind-up movement. He hit the start button right at 20 seconds and checked it at about T+7 minutes it was a little bit slow, the Bulova was right on.

Gordo looked at both watches again about 20 minutes into the flight going by just the time of day - not the mission time. Again he found the Omega a few seconds slow. He wished he carried Carpenter's Breitling aloft for a comparison but the idea was soon lost to a busy flight plan.

KC Stoever
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posted 01-05-2009 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I heard a charming Breitling story yesterday that also happens to capture Carpenter's sense of humor ca. 1964. Elite master diver Bob Barth tells the story. He was aquanaut for Sealabs I, II, and III.

So Bob and Scott meet during training for Sealab I in Florida ca. late 1963. Naturally, conversation soon turned to hardware, specifically, Scott's fancy Breitling (the replacement Breitling). He obliged Bob's curiosity about what Bob called "the astronaut watch" and took it off his wrist for Barth to inspect (and admire) more closely.

"What's this?" Barth asked, poking at a kind of bulge on the caseback. It was kind of a button that provided a little give if you pressed down on it fairly hard.

"Oh, that," Carpenter replied gravely. "Breitling made that especially for Mercury astronauts since they knew that we might be lonely, up there in space all alone." He's stringing Bob along, who is still listening earnestly. "And so Breitling decided to install a special button for us Mercury astronauts."

"We could press the button if the solitude got to be too much for some of the guys," he explained. "And Breitling designed it to push back. It was like having a buddy right there inside the spacecraft."

By now, Bob's awe began to wear off a little. He realized Scott was pulling his leg. They had a good laugh.

The little button? Access to the battery, Bob recalled.

kr4mula
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posted 01-06-2009 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's nice to see an example of one of the guys besides Wally Schirra as having a sense of humor.

I think the Bob's conclusion is a little muddied by time, however. The watch Breitling gave to Carpenter was certainly a mechanical movement (the Venus 178), not an electronic one, thus didn't have a battery. It was hand-wound. I suspect the bulge was just the typical slightly domed caseback that's typical of Breitlings with a chrono (the thicker movements need more room). Perhaps Bob was used to seeing the very thin, non-chrono watches fashionable in that period that typically had flat casebacks?

KC Stoever
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posted 01-06-2009 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Kevin. I don't know much about these elite watches but I was surprised nevertheless to hear that the Breitling would have a battery case. Let me run down this detail and post what I learn from the Breitling owner himself ;-)

kr4mula
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posted 01-07-2009 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I always eagerly anticipate what "the man himself" has to say about any of these topics and find it personally very flattering that someone of his stature bothers to engage with the enthusiasts like us... even when prompted by his daughter!

Sigh, if only it were possible to get a watch autographed, I'd grab the first Cosmonaut I could find for the next time Mr. Carpenter does a signing. My buddy and I did engage Tom Stafford in a discussion about Omegas a couple of years ago at a signing, since he's closely linked with that company in a formal way, but I'm still partial to Breitlings...

mercsim
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posted 01-07-2009 08:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"The man himself" is ALWAYS gracious and eager to talk to enthusiast. I met him at a signing once but didn't ask him to sign anything. He asked why and I told him I prefer not to put value on those kinds of things. I would always remember meeting him so why did I need an autograph that someone would just dispute over one day. He laughed...

We talked about our watches and it was great to hear him relive the details of his Breitlings. He sent his flown one back after it got water in it and never saw it again. He did a "Hmmm..." and said he should call Breitling and track it down one day (Kris?, Kris?)

Meeting him and spending 10 minutes talking to him is my greatest space history memory!

The following X-mas my wife gave me his book, autographed.

KC Stoever
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posted 01-10-2009 06:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's a nice story, Scott. Thanks.

About the replacement Breitling and its mysterious caseback, Carpenter had this to add today. "Bob forgot the punchline!" which was, when the button "pushed back, it made you feel wanted."

And then he explained that the joke really belonged to Bill Dana, who concocted the wide-eyed anecdote to all "the big astronaut watches" worn by the guys.

So, what about the "button" Bob says he saw on the caseback? The button that he thought was the battery case, I asked my dad.

"An invisible soft spot," he replied, channeling Bill Dana.

That pushed back?

Well, everything hard "pushes back" he explained patiently--especially if you suggest it to the suggestible.

Lou Chinal
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From: Staten Island, NY
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posted 01-11-2009 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ha-Ha-Ha! Great story, Kris.

It reminds me of Pete Conrad telling one reporter(he had this guy hook line & sinker) about the secret compartment for the cyanide pill, in the watch.

kr4mula
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From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 01-12-2009 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the story and clarification, Kris. You gotta love the irreverance with which those guys take/took this stuff that occasionally seems greatly importance to some of us!

Out of curiosity, what watch does does the esteemed aquanaut/astronaut wear these days?I wonder if it's considered gauche to wear one with your own name on it, a la the Scott Carpenter edition of the Cosmonaut? On the other hand, I could see his colleagues giving him a hard time about it either way.

KC Stoever
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posted 03-13-2009 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kevin, sorry for neglecting this good question.

Carpenter wears a Breitling Navitimer for everyday, and sometimes one of his Omegas.


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