Accutron Space Watches
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Thread: Accutron Space Watches

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  1. #1
    Member D1JBS's Avatar
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    Accutron Space Watches

    Hi all,

    I've been researching the history of watches in space flight and was intrigued to learn of the 'underground' loyalty many NASA astronauts had for Accutron watches during the 1960's. Previously I had associated the 'official' Omega Speedmaster as the timepiece of choice for early space pioneers, but it turns out that Bulova supplied NASA's official timepieces for a decade prior to the Apollo moon landings. Omega only clinched the deal after a controversial trial in the mid-sixties.

    Pictorial Timeline:

    1957: NASA approached Bulova to design a time-keeper for Project Vanguard. When Vanguard I made orbit on March 17 1958 it took with it the first Accutron in space:

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    Bulova Accutrons subsequently become the official provider of time keeping mechanisms for all the Vanguard, Tiros, Explorer, Relay, Syncom, Pegasus, Mercury and Telstar programmes. Despite issuing Omega wristwatches to Apollo programme astronauts, the panel clocks in the LEM and Command Module are still Accutrons for all Apollo missions.

    1962: 17th July Robert M White takes the X-15 on its first flight to the limit of space, achieving a top speed of 3831mph at an altitude of 60 miles. On his wrist is the Accutron Astronaut, just visible on his left wrist in the picture below.

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    1962: Accutron Astronauts are issued to all pilots in the A-12 'Blackbird' programme.

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    CIA pilot Frank Murray later claims the Accutron was "the only watch that could sustain reliable operation in the A-12 cockpit environment". He is pictured below wearing his personal Astronaut.

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    Whilst Scott Carpenter is better known for wearing his Breitling Cosmonaute Navitimer on the 1962 Mercury 7 mission, in the famous picture below (from the cover of Paris Match) he wears his own Bulova Accutron Astronaut.

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    1963: Gordon Cooper orbits the earth 22 times in 'Faith 7' wearing an Accutron Astronaut on his right wrist (pictured below) and an Omega Speedmaster on his left wrist (not visible). He reports that the Omega lost time as a result of the severe G-forces experienced during take off. The Accutron functions perfectly throughout and becomes the first American wristwatch worn in space.

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    1964: Gus Grissom wears an Accutron Astronaut on the Gemini 3 training missions, lent to him by stand-by pilot Wally Schirra (who earlier wore the first Speedmaster in space - his own watch)

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    Finally, this lead to my personal hunt for an original 1960's Bulova Accutron Astronaut - my favourite being the black-dial 24 hour model with day/night bezel...this 'M8' 1968 model finally arrived last week:

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    Wonderful, idiosyncratic 'humming' watches and a fascinating hidden history.
    Last edited by D1JBS; April 6th, 2012 at 22:10.
    joeuk, howards4th, Genebe and 2 others like this.
    "An extravagance is anything you buy that has no earthly use to your wife".

  2. #2
    Member joeuk's Avatar
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    Re: Accutron Space Watches

    congrats on a great time piece, I have been eying up accutron the past few weeks now, even thinking of selling some vintage watches. Omega speedmaster was still used a lot of astronauts and also the omega x-33. The speedies claim is for the first watch worn on the moon. I have seen a seller from Bulgaria selling a few accutrons they look to be in really good condition but always would like to know if anyone else as bought from here before. Great time pieces and heard the hum on an omega f300 and does sound cool and as a sweeping hand. Always was put off by the repair side of these watches and parts but what the hell.

  3. #3
    Member howards4th's Avatar
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    Re: Accutron Space Watches

    Congrats on an AWESOME time piece!! The Astronaut is one of my favorites. Thanks for the write up and the great pictures. Enjoy that Astronaut.

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  5. #4
    Member pacifichrono's Avatar
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    Re: Accutron Space Watches

    My 1966 hasn't been to space (yet), but it's still in nice shape.

    howards4th, D1JBS and Genebe like this.
    Regards from Sunny San Diego..........Tom
    ____________________________________________________
    "There are two kinds of people in this world, my friend, those with loaded
    guns and those who dig!"................Blondie to Tuco in TGTB&TU (1966)


  6. #5
    Member clockwatcher64's Avatar
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    Re: Accutron Space Watches

    Congratulations! A beautiful watch with a unique movement and fascinating history.
    Thanks for sharing your research.
    Current line-up:

    Omega Seamaster 225580
    Omega Speedmaster 145.012 (1967 pre-moon)
    Omega Memomatic (vintage, 1970)
    Seiko Orange Monster
    Casio G-Shock GA-100
    Vintage Omega Seamaster (1960)
    Vintage Bulova Accutron Snorkel (early 70's)
    Vintage Wittnauer Electro-Chron (circa 1960)

  7. #6
    Member baronrojo's Avatar
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    Re: Accutron Space Watches

    I love these watches...I have the reissue but would love to add an original one to the mix.

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