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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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From: McLean, VA, USA
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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.

MOL
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posted 10-04-2015 11:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MOL   Click Here to Email MOL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to the RR Auction catalog we now know the entire serial number from the back of this mysterious Bulova. And thanks to that number, a mystery can now be solved.

In the late 1960s to early 70s, Bulova owned a Swiss watch company known as Universal Geneve. The case number from Dave Scott's Bulova matches exactly the case numbers found on the Universal Geneve chronograph model known as the "Space Compax." This watch featured a triple register just like a Speedmaster, but used a Valjoux 72 movement. In fact was meant to compete with it as this article from 2005 discusses.

So clearly Bulova decided to modify the dial and change the side pushers for this Apollo 15 prototype. But now we know what movement was inside.

Today the Space Compax is a very sought after watch by collectors and in fact is forged quite a bit. A good way to spot a fake is to look on the back of the case. If you see an engraved scuba diver, it is a fake. The only thing that is engraved on the back of the watch is the long serial number.

TLIGuy
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posted 10-05-2015 01:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for TLIGuy   Click Here to Email TLIGuy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great information. Thanks for passing it along.

Larry McGlynn
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posted 10-05-2015 06:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent information and thanks for correcting my movement information. I updated my post in the RR Auction thread on this site.

Lou Chinal
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posted 10-05-2015 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't clean too much, that's moon dust on it.

Marc05A
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posted 07-04-2018 06:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc05A   Click Here to Email Marc05A     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just read the Apollo 15 crew technical debriefing, but I couldn’t find any mention of the Omega Speedmaster glass popping. I assume that this information would be the kind of thing that the Crew Systems Division people would like to know about, but not a word about it in the report.

Do you know if the Speedmaster was brought back to Earth for post-flight analysis? Is there any record somewhere about this?

Larry McGlynn
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posted 07-04-2018 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Larry McGlynn   Click Here to Email Larry McGlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You would have to ask James Regan, the former NASA engineer who was in charge of the watches. He now works with Omega.

levasseurj
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posted 07-05-2018 08:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for levasseurj   Click Here to Email levasseurj     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll be seeing Jim next week while Omega is in town for additional conservation work on the chronograph collection so I can ask him directly. He and I have discussed this situation in the past, but I can't presume to speak for him.

As I understand it though, the chances of a crystal just popping off a chronograph is incredibly small. I suspect the lack of comment in the mission report might indicate that no actual report of a problem was ever filed with Mr. Ragan. He's a very 'by the books' kind of guy.

328KF
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posted 07-05-2018 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't cite the source immediately, but there was a known temperature issue with the crystal that perhaps Mr. Ragan can explain further. The J missions operated on the lunar surface with a much higher, and therefore hotter sun angle. Moving in and out of shadow, with the accompanying temperature fluctuations, could cause the plastic crystal to soften and flex enough to pop off.

Charlie Duke lost his on the surface as well. I believe he does make mention of it in the postflight report, and there is at least one good image from the EVA where you can see the dust-filled face of the watch.

I think with the generality of some of the questions during the debriefs - open-ended references to "crew equipment" - Scott may have simply forgotten to mention a relatively minor issue with all of the other details he was being asked to recall at the time.

Philip
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posted 07-06-2018 03:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The incident with Duke's Speedy was reported in the Apollo 16 mission report:
At depressurization, just prior to the third lunar extravehicular activity, the Lunar Module Pilot noted that his chronograph crystal was gone. The chronograph hands and face were not hit. However, about 12 minutes later the movement stopped. Most likely, warpage caused by thermal cycling allowed the differential pressure across the acrylic crystal to pop it out of the case. The exposure to and penetration of lunar dust contamination about the Lunar Module Pilot's sleeves probably caused the failure of the chronograph movement.

These chronographs are certified to a maximum temperature of 160° F. Testing has demonstrated that in the range of 190° F, the crystal is weakened to the point where internal pressure can push the crystal off. For the chronograph to reach a temperature of 190° F, direct continuous exposure to incident solar radiation normal to its surface is required for approximately 12 minutes.

These chronographs are tested at the Manned Spacecraft Center when received, again before shipment to the Kennedy Space Center and again just prior to flight. The Apollo chronograph is a secondary timing device and is not critical to mission success or crew safety. There are no plans for corrective action.

CMD_OVRD
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posted 08-18-2018 12:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CMD_OVRD   Click Here to Email CMD_OVRD     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently stumbled across a silent film from Apollo 15's return to Houston. The screenshots were the best I could do, but they give a pretty good view of Scott's Bulova. Enjoy!

Philip
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posted 08-19-2018 03:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Bulova chronograph can also been seen during recovery in this composition of two photos:

CMD_OVRD
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posted 08-19-2018 10:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for CMD_OVRD   Click Here to Email CMD_OVRD     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The one on the left has been about the best photo of the watch up until it went up for auction. I’ve never seen the one on the right before. Thanks for posting that!

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