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01/27/2023
 7 minutes

Moon Dust and Meteorites: Luxury Watches That Are Out of This World

By Thomas Alexander Staisch
Omega-2-1

The vastness of the cosmos has always fascinated humans. It thus comes as no surprise that watches with a connection to outer space have become cult objects. After all, who wouldn’t want to wear a piece of space on their wrist? In this article, we’ll look at timepieces that have traveled to the stars with intrepid astronauts – or that have undergone an extraterrestrial make-over using dust, rocks, and even trash from space. These watches have progressed from sober, functional tools to extravagant accessories for the space enthusiast. While we don’t know which watch E.T. would buy, we do know this: The man in the moon wears an Omega. Buckle up and prepare for liftoff in 3 – 2 – 1!

Guardians Of The Galaxy: Reliable Companions For Major Missions

Let’s begin with the watches that have earned their iconic status – and their place in this article – because they’ve been to space in one form or another:

First and foremost, of course, is the Omega Speedmaster. The Speedmaster has been part of the official gear of NASA astronauts since 1964. Ever since “Buzz” Aldrin wore a reference ST 105.012 during the moon landing in 1969, all Speedmaster Professional models have been nicknamed Moonwatch. The watch also played a vital role in the 1970 Apollo 13 mission: shortly before the moon landing, a tank exploded, and the crew had to abort the mission, turn back, and switch off all on-board clocks. The Moonwatch was used to precisely measure the duration of the fuel burn down to the second, thus saving the crew members’ lives.

The Omega Speedmaster X-33 was designed in 1998 for landing humans on Mars. In 2014, German ISS astronaut Alexander Gerst wore the successor model, an Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33. In 2022, Omega revised the multi-functional watch in the form of the Speedmaster X-33 Marstimer.

Another “frequent flyer” is the Fortis Cosmonaut Chronograph. This watch has undertaken more than 100,000 circumnavigations of the Earth, as it is part of Russian astronauts’ equipment and worn on the International Space Station (ISS).

Fortis Official Cosmonaute Chronograph – 100.000 Mal um die Erde
Fortis Official Cosmonaut Chronograph – 100,000 times around the Earth.

The first watch in orbit, however, was a Sturmanskie timepiece. The watch accompanied Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. A year later in February 1962, U.S. astronaut John Glenn wore the Heuer Stoppuhr Nummer 2915A, using rubber bands to attach the piece to his spacesuit. In 1965, Glenn’s colleague “Ed” White completed a spacewalk wearing an Omega Speedmaster Ref. 105.003.

A Rolex GMT-Master frequently accompanied the Apollo missions to space. A 1986 model with a Pepsi bezel (reference 1675) worn by Apollo 17-astronaut Ronald Evans sold at auction in 2009 for $135,000. On Chrono24, you should plan to spend around $31,000 for an unworn version.

Germans also helped create watch legends: In 1985, astronaut Reinhard Furrer carried the Sinn Spezialuhren Chronograph 142 in his luggage during the Spacelab D1 mission, making it one of the first mechanical chronographs with automatic winding in space. Fun fact: the Frankfurt-based manufacturer only found out about their watch’s journey to space after the landing!

The most expensive watch in space was a Patek Philippe Nautilus men’s watch with a gold case: this timepiece, costing around $109,000, rocketed into space aboard a Soyuz in 1992 with the “Foton 8” probe. Why? Though the capsule was unmanned, the Nautius was allowed on board because Russia was using it to research microgravity.

 

Deep Impact: Luxury Watches with a Meteor

These watches have one thing in common: they’re all unique! This is because a meteorite’s long journey to Earth causes its core to change. The gradual cooling process during travel creates individual metallic structures, called Widmanstätten patterns, which lend each watch a one-of-a-kind look that’s sure to catch the eye.

Given their specialization in “moon watches,” it should be no surprise that Omega has launched their own meteorite model with a dial crafted from the four-billion-year-old Gibeon meteorite that struck Namibia in prehistoric times. What’s more, the high nickel content of the meteorite makes it corrosion-resistant – a perfect attribute for a dial. Inside the Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite ticks the Omega Co-Axial Chronograph caliber 9300. The tachymeter scale as well as the hands and indices are made of rose gold, and the 42-mm case is made of ceramic.

Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite Chronograph – mit Meteorit-Zifferblatt
Speedmaster Grey Side of the Moon Meteorite Chronograph – with a meteorite dial.

Rolex, too, has made use of the Gibeon meteorite and in fact was the first brand to use meteorites in its watches. After the success of the GMT-Master II Meteorite, Rolex has done itself one better with the Cosmograph Daytona Meteorite. Equipped with its own Caliber 4130, the Daytona chronograph with a panda dial and Cerachrome ceramic bezel offers a power reserve of 72 hours. This timepiece will set you back at least $109,000.

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Master collection also features extraterrestrial material: The dial is sourced from the meteorite “Muonionalusta,” which crashed into Sweden 800,000 years ago. However, the material oxidizes very quickly, meaning it’s not as high-quality as the Gibeon. While the stainless steel case is paired with a silver-gray dial, the darker “ruthenium meteorite” dial is set off by rose gold. You should expect to find a Master Calendar Meteorite Dial in rose gold for around $22,000.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar Meteorite Dial – so schön kann der Mond sein
Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calender Meterite Dial showcases the beauty of the moon.

The luminous blue meteorite dial of the De Bethune DB28XP Meteorite, also made of Muonionalusta, represents the night sky and Milky Way. Furthermore, each buyer can choose an individual celestial constellation. The 43-mm case is made of ultra-hard zirconium; inside ticks the hand-wound DB2115v7 caliber. Not only is the design galactic, but also the price: You should have between $130,500 to $147,000 at the ready in order to obtain one of the only ten pieces produced. Only a space flight is more expensive!

From Dust Till Dawn: Luxury Watches With Dust and Stones from the Moon and Mars

If you’re into cosmic watches, you’ll certainly be familiar with Romain Jerome. In 2013, the Geneva-based manufacturer developed the Skylabcollection to mark the 40th anniversary of the first U.S. space station, “Skylab.” The 44-mm models in this collection, which is a continuation of the “Moon DNA” series, actually feature dust from the Moon. Additionally, the Skylab Heavy Metal, Skylab, Speed Metal, and Skylab Red are powered by the hand-wound RJ004-M movement. All models are limited to 99 pieces. For the Heavy Metal you should be prepared to spend around $10,300, for the Speed Metal around $7,300, and for the Red just under $9,200.

In 2019, photographer Thomas Henne and Florian Noller of Artifactcloud developed the Apollo 16 LM11 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Each of the dials in this limited run of 16 watches features a piece of fabric with lunar dust that US astronaut Charlie Duke had brought back to Earth. Duke also signed 12 of the 16 models. The dial is executed in brass and replicates the original lunar structure; the storage box is a model of the Apollo command capsule. Expect to shell out around $6,500 for this exclusive timepiece.

Mit integriertem Mondstaub – die Apollo 16 LM11
The Apollo 16 LM11 – made with lunar dust.

The prices for these cosmic timepieces can reach truly astronomical heights! On the occasion of the 2021 landing of the Perseverance Rover on Mars, the watch manufacturer Col&MacArthur cooperated with NASA to develop the Interstellar RED3.721. This watch, which was made possible by a crowdfunding campaign, features a dial with a 3D relief of the Red Planet’s unique landscapes. Instead of a date at 3 o’clock, the watch showcases a window with dust from a Martian meteorite. The highlighted numbers one through seven commemorate the “7 minutes of terror,” i.e., the time it took the Perseverance to enter the atmosphere of Mars and land on its surface. The list price of the RED3.721 is $1,299.

If you want to own a piece of the Moon, be sure to check out the models from Louis Moinet. The Magistralis is the first watch with a dial made from a 2000-year-old lunar meteorite. However, the price is out of this world: the moon watch is offered at a list price of about $1.1 million. Luckily, Moinet offers a more affordable option with the Jules Verne Instrument, which features a piece of moon rock at 9 o’clock. A timepiece from this limited run of watches, which Moinet no longer produces, can be found on Chrono24 for under $10,000.

Louis Moinet – in der Jules-Verne-Instrument-Reihe sind Mondsteine verbaut
Louis Moinet – the Jules Verne Instrument series features lunar rocks.

Another must-have candidate for this list is, of course, the famous Speedmaster Moonwatch Meteorite 321 Platinum, with subdials crafted from real lunar meteorites.

It is Graham, however, that takes the extraterrestrial watch to galactic extremes with the Geo.Graham Orrery Tourbillon: the tourbillon, symbolizing the Sun, is orbited by the Earth, Moon, and Mars. The latter two celestial bodies are made of real lunar and Martian rock. Limited to 25 pieces, a new model of this rose gold miniature planetarium will cost you just under $310,000.

Rocket Man: Luxury Watches Made From Space Rockets

One person’s space trash is another person’s treasure: broken spacecraft can be recycled into cult watches. These watches are truly a blast!

Romain Jerome is at it again: the Geneva-based manufacturer integrated fragments of the Apollo 11 spacecraft and spacesuits into the three 44-mm models of the “Skylab” collection. Jerome took a similar approach to their previous “Moon DNA” collection, recycling components from Russian Soyuz spaceships and ISS spacesuits. For the Skylab Heavy Metal, Skylab Speed Metal, and Skylab Red, you should expect to spend between $7,300 and $10,300.

Romain Jerome Skylab Heavy Metal – gebaut aus Teilen des Apollo-11-Raumschiffs
Romain Jerome Skylab Heavy Metal – built from the parts of the Apollo 11 spacecraft.

If you’re on the lookout for something more affordable, take a look at Werenbach. The Zurich-based manufacturer also uses original parts from Soyuz rockets in its models. For the cases of the Soyuz 01, Soyuz 02, and Mach 33 timepieces, Werenbach melts down the steel or aluminum from booster shells, hatches, engine cladding, and fairing.

Summary:

As astronomer Carl Sagan once put it: “The universe is a pretty big place.” The same applies to the world of cosmic watches. When it comes to price, you can start at under $1,000 and stop at over $1 million. Be sure to know the difference between watches that have “only” traveled to space versus those that have been outfitted with extraterrestrial material. The watches that have graced the wrists of Aldrin, Gagarin, and co. have skyrocketed to pricey cult objects; meanwhile, you can still obtain timepieces with actual pieces of the Moon or Mars at relatively affordable prices.


About the Author

Thomas Alexander Staisch

When it comes to watches, what really captivates me is the technical innovation, timeless design, and traditional craftsmanship they involve. I became a true watch fan after I inherited two elegant mechanical timepieces from my grandfather.

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