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  Apollo 15: David Scott's watches on the moon

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Author Topic:   Apollo 15: David Scott's watches on the moon
collocation
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Posts: 370
From: McLean, VA, USA
Registered: Feb 2004

posted 01-20-2014 12:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for collocation   Click Here to Email collocation     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am probably wrong but I understand that Dave Scott had watch problems on his flight and had to use his own Waltham chronograph, does anyone know the model that he used; if this is indeed an accurate story.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-20-2014 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
David Scott did wear a watch other than his Omega Speedmaster out onto the surface of the moon, although it wasn't his personal watch, nor was its manufacturer Waltham (despite Scott, himself, leading many to believe such for many years).

NASA's post-Apollo 15 press release ("Articles Carried on Manned Space Flights") offered some details:

...Scott had on board two timepieces (a wristwatch and stop watch) that were not part of the normal mission equipment.

During the preflight training period, Scott had agreed to evaluate these timepieces for the manufacturer at the request of a friend. Thinking they might be useful, particularly for the possible emergency timing of a manually controlled propulsion maneuver, Scott carried them on the mission but without prior authorization.

NASA has deliberately withheld the name of the manufacturer of the timepieces to avoid commercialization of this unauthorized action.

After his second EVA on the moon, Scott noticed that the crystal had "popped off" his Speedmaster, so he decided to make use of the chronograph he flew for his friend for the mission's third and final moonwalk. In 1996, Scott wrote in a letter (as noted in the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal):
Therefore, on EVA-3, I used my backup Waltham watch [which was] of a similar type. It worked just fine during the even higher temperatures of EVA-3.
That would seem to confirm it was a Waltham-brand chronograph, and there has been speculation over the years about what model Waltham it was, but two more recent revelations have confirmed otherwise.

In "Falling to Earth," Al Worden cited NASA Administrator Jim Fletcher's testimony before Congress:

Fletcher told [committee chairman Clinton] Anderson that Dave had "carried a Bulova chronograph and a Bulova timer on the Apollo 15 flight, and these were not approved as items to be carried on the flight." Only two people at NASA knew about them, Dave explained: he and Deke. And even Deke didn't know until after the flight.
In 2012, David Scott sold the flown Bulova timer and provided more details about its (and the chronograph's flight) aboard Apollo 15 to collector Larry McGlynn, who coincidentally wrote about it this month:
In March of 1971, Bulova's representative, General James McCormick approached David Scott through a senior ranking officer, Colonel Frank Borman, to consider carrying a Bulova chronograph on his Apollo 15 mission to Hadley Rille in the Apennine Mountain range on the Moon. Scott agreed to "make every attempt to give the Bulova Chronograph a full evaluation" and, so, a Bulova watch was packed and stored in the lunar module for the flight.
It is not clear why Scott previously wrote that the watch was made by Waltham, but the record now seems to be clear that the chronograph (and timer) was provided by Bulova.

328KF
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posted 01-20-2014 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The way I read Larry's article, Dave Scott never confirmed that it was a Bulova wristwatch. the quote "make every attempt to give the Bulova Chronograph a full evaluation" seems to be attributed to McCormick, the Bulova representative, not Scott.

I have spoken with Scott about this on several occasions. He immediately identified the brand as Waltham, but does not remember which model it was. The last time I saw him at the ASF show a few years back, I took along some photos of various Waltham models and he took quite a bit of time looking through the 8 or 10 pics before settling on the one he thought it was.

He also told me that the actual watch has been locked away in a safe deposit box since the flight and he has not looked at it since. Scott makes it apparent that he has little interest in settling this old mystery. I was hopeful that when the stopwatch appeared at auction, his wristwatch might soon follow, but so far, no such luck.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-20-2014 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How likely would it have been for Scott to carry a stopwatch and chronograph of different manufacture?

We now know the timer was made by Bulova, and Fletcher's 1972 testimony stated both the chronograph and timer were Bulova made.

As neither the chronograph or timer were of his own choosing, and given his own account that he hasn't looked at it in the four decades since, is it possible that Scott is simply misremembering the make of the watch?

Larry McGlynn
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posted 01-20-2014 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, that is actually the case. Dave made a mistake. Dave discussed it with Eric Jones 25 years after the fact and mistakenly remembered the backup watch as a Waltham watch. The watch has been (and still is) stored away in a safety deposit box. Dave retrieved the stopwatch for auction and found that both the stopwatch and the chronograph were made by Bulova. As Dave pointed out recently, this was a minor part of a major event that he participated in back in 1971. He reserves the right to be corrected every so often. Eric Jones has been notified by Dave over a week ago and the ALSJ is being updated at some point in the future.

I purchased the stopwatch directly from Dave Scott in 2011. In 2014, as I researched the Bulova stopwatch for "The Watches of Apollo" article, Dave was extremely helpful in pulling all of his documents on the whole watch issue. I have photographs of the Bulova Chronograph model 01 now, so, yes, it is a Bulova watch.

As for the the quote that I used in my story, it was from Dave Scott in a letter written by Dave to H.C. Titchell, Bulova VP of Public Relations on April 2, 1971. A summary of the letter is posted in the Bulova House notes on the matter.

328KF
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posted 01-20-2014 07:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Larry, did you photograph the actual watch worn by Scott or did he provide you a photo? If so, is it possible that you could post it here?

Thanks for all the information!

Larry McGlynn
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posted 01-21-2014 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have to ask permission.

chet
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From: Beverly Hills, Calif.
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posted 01-22-2014 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for chet   Click Here to Email chet     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So is it now safe to say the ONLY three watch brands used on Apollo missions were Omega, Bulova and Rolex?

LM-12
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From: Ontario, Canada
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posted 01-22-2014 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does AS15-82-11168 show Dave Scott wearing the backup watch?

328KF
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posted 01-22-2014 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, it does. He wore it for the entirety of EVA 3. There are no good photos of it any closer than that.

MOL
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From: Los Angeles, CA
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posted 02-22-2014 11:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MOL   Click Here to Email MOL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems from reading the replies from Larry McGlynn that he cannot post a photo of the actual watch without Dave Scott's permission. However, I have talked to several well-versed Bulova watch experts who have concluded that this watch, known as the 'Chrono C' is by default the likely one that Dave Scott used on the moon.

The reason being is Bulova in 1970-71 did not have many chronograph wrist watches in their line — the Accutron at the time was still their most popular line, and there was never a "chronograph" Accutron made.

This particular model is a "triple register" (i.e. three sub dials) just like the Speedmaster and was the only one in their line at the time (and like the Speedmaster it used a non-glass Hexalite/plastic crystal). The only other chronos in their catalog in this period were two-register "Deep Sea" diver type watches.

Of course, what is really neat about this watch is the "Red White and Blue" motif, which I think nicely goes well with the Apollo 15 patch design!

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 02-23-2014 09:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MOL:
Of course, what is really neat about this watch is the "Red White and Blue" motif, which I think nicely goes well with the Apollo 15 patch design!
Horological aficionados refer to the Bulova Chronograph "C" as the Stars and Stripes chrono.

Kizzi
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From: Manchester, England
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posted 03-19-2014 05:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kizzi   Click Here to Email Kizzi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to add fuel to the controversy, check out this official 1969 document from NASA of crew personal equipment for Apollo.

Page 22 or 2.12-20 in the document.

Quote: Chronograph with watchband - "Accutron Astronaut" watch featuring sweep second hand, stopwatch control and changeable time zone dial

MOL
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From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 03-19-2014 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MOL   Click Here to Email MOL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting — but very unlikely that an Accutron Astronaut would ever have been used for EVA on the lunar surface. Most likely this list was referring to equipment used inside the Apollo spacecraft cabin, which makes sense since an Accutron timer flew in the cabin of every Gemini spacecraft.

First off, the Accutron Astronaut watch never had any "stopwatch" feature. It was a single sweep second hand with an additional hand to show a second time zone. Also, the watch was battery powered. NASA's decision to select the Omega Speedmaster for lunar EVA was due in part to the fact that it was a manual-wind mechanical watch. There was no concern on the effects of the extreme thermal conditions which could harm the circuitry and operation of a battery powered watch.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-22-2014 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Larry McGlynn:
I have photographs of the Bulova Chronograph model 01 now, so, yes, it is a Bulova watch.
Larry has now shared the photo he mentioned previously (as quoted), of the Bulova chronograph that Dave Scott wore on the moon.

Greggy_D
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posted 03-22-2014 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That face design/functionality is almost a clone of the Speedmaster (or vice versa)!

YankeeClipper
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From: Dublin, Ireland
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posted 03-22-2014 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for YankeeClipper   Click Here to Email YankeeClipper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Outstanding Larry!

This is a very interesting timepiece, as over at mybulova.com you can see some of its DNA shared with other period production Bulova chronos of the 1970s. However it really does imitate a Speedmaster - especially in the black dial, triple sub-dial positions, identical hands, time division markers, tachometer scale graduations etc. A significant difference is the use of flat wide pushers (better for gloved hands) to activate the chronograph functions.

I guess the remarkable similarity to the flight-approved Speedmaster is understandable - you would want the same functionality and you wouldn't want to be adapting to a completely differently designed timepiece in the middle of a lunar mission. It would be interesting to see what is "under the hood". Are we even correct to assume this is a manual-wind mechanical watch?

I wonder how Bulova would have fared had they dared to try marketing this in the 1970s - I could see Omega, and possibly the US Congress, having the mother and father of all conniption fits. Especially if Bulova exploited Omega's wayward Hesalite crystal! Could Bulova even market it for the 50th anniversary? Personally I'd love to see it - maybe as a limited edition. Watch aficionados and space fans would certainly be willing buyers.

Rick Mulheirn
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From: England
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posted 03-23-2014 04:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great watch Larry but it looks like it could do with a good clean...

TLIGuy
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From: Virginia
Registered: Jul 2013

posted 03-23-2014 06:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for TLIGuy   Click Here to Email TLIGuy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for sharing this fantastic information. For us space watch junkies always on the hunt for more information this is quite a major revelation.

So was this model not commercially released or was it a prototype? A quick search this morning comes up empty.

All times are CT (US)

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