The other Space Race watch.
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Thread: The other Space Race watch.

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  1. #1
    Member ljb187's Avatar
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    Nov 2009

    The other Space Race watch.

    This post started life in the Sales forum, but the watch is long since gone so I'll update it here.

    Bulova's Spaceview and Astronaut wristwatches as well as their Accutron 214 movement have a nice history which, due to Omega's icon, aren't really talked about all that much. Are they more important historically than the Speedmaster? Have they accomplished more? I think so. I could be off-track again, but I consider the Spaceview a skeleton watch and think it's one of the best looking and most legible examples of the style ever made. The info below was grabbed off the Internet so I'm no expert, but I think I've got these facts straight - or at least as straight as Internet facts can be. Feel free to correct me if something significant is missing or wrong:

    • First fully electronic watch (no balance wheel)
    • First "smooth sweep" seconds hand. The tuning fork oscillates at 360's also the reason for the trademark hum
    • First wristwatch to be certified as "railroad approved"
    • By far the most accurate movement of it's time: In 1960 it was rated at +/- 2 seconds per day. My 47 year old refurbished Spaceview was running at -5 sec/day on the same battery four years after purchase
    • Starting in 1958 the 214 was installed satellites, worn on the wrist test pilots & astronauts, but most importantly it was the primary clock/timing device on 40+ space missions - including Apollo 11. A 214 movement has been resting in the Sea of Tranquility for the last 45 years
    • Adopted by the X-15 / A-12 programs (pilots as well) and used exclusively on Air Force 1 in the late 1960s

    I realize I'm mixing wristwatches and their movement here, but figured it was more expedient to combine things.

    1967 Spaceview

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    1965 Astronaut (not my old watch / pic). It works like the old GMT Master. Rotating bezel with a 24 hour hand.

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    The note is a flat F# (not useful at all to musicians as I found out in a great exchange PMs on the sales forum)

    I had some pretty good pics of a period advert, but they're misplaced now. If I find them I'll update this post.
    Last edited by ljb187; October 19th, 2014 at 00:48.
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  2. #2
    Member James A's Avatar
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    Jan 2014

    Re: The other Space Race watch.

    Hi ljb187,

    Nice post. Here is an early counter top point of sale ad.

    And here is Buzz with his Space view.


  3. #3
    Member BrentYYC's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
    Calgary, Canada via Marin County, California

    Re: The other Space Race watch.

    Quote Originally Posted by ljb187 View Post

    • Starting in 1958 the 214 was installed satellites, worn on the wrist test pilots & astronauts, but most importantly it was the primary clock/timing device on 40+ space missions - including Apollo 11. A 214 movement has been resting in the Sea of Tranquility for the last 45 years
    I'll just add a bit of clarity, because the ambiguous way it's worded makes it sound like Bulova wrist watches were used as the primary timing devices on space missions, which is incorrect.

    With the exception of a couple of early flights where astronauts wore their own Bulova watch, and Apollo 15 where Dave Scott took a Bulova hand timer (stop-watch) because he wanted to time burns to 1/10th of a second, no Bulova watches made it into space back then. The Bulova timing equipment that was used in the U.S. space program were the timers built into the instrument panels (it wasn't clear in the quote, above). It was indeed Bulova tuning-fork technology that was used for mission timing, as part of the CM and LEM instrument panels, but as far as worn watches go the Omega Speedmaster was always the primary 'worn' timing instrument in those days once NASA decided to flight qualify and spec. a watch for all missions.

    As far as 214 movements being left on the moon goes, there are several of them up there as the result of the ascent stages of the various lunar modules crashing into the moon after being discarded (with the 214 movement built into the control panel). In Apollo 11, the movement was used as the timing mechanism in the surface experiments package left behind, so it, indeed, sits on the Sea of Tranquility. No Bulova wrist watches were ever left behind, though, because none of them ever made the trip.

    Having said that, it's definitely true that the Bulova 214 movement has a legitimate (and important) place in space history, but the Spaceview watch, unfortunately, does not (although I would love to own one... very cool watch).
    Last edited by BrentYYC; October 19th, 2014 at 19:49.
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  5. #4
    Member ljb187's Avatar
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    Re: The other Space Race watch.

    Thanks for the great replies!

    James A: That X-15 placard is one of the coolest pieces of watch memorabilia I've seen...more about that plane in just a second. Buzz Lightyear seems to really like his Spaceview too - I'm going to miss mine.

    BrentYYC: Thanks a lot for filling in the gaps and providing clarity to my post. One of the reasons I reached a little - besides the watches being called Spaceview and Astronaut - was the Astronaut's association with the X-15 and in turn that incredibly high-performance aircraft's links / contributions to NASA and the space program...Perhaps Space Age would have been a little more accurate that Space Race?

  6. #5
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    Feb 2006

    Re: The other Space Race watch.

    As long as we are talking about watches that went into space, how about the most totally forgotten about watch that went into space and the most entirely forgotten space program. East Germany had a space programs and a East German Cosmonaut was sent into space on a Russian rocket, spending a week or so at the Russian Soyuz space station. He wore a Ruhla quartz watch. At the time in East Germany it had been decided that Ruhla would make quartz watches and Glashutte (GUB) would quietly keep on doing whatever they were doing. Glashutte did make quartz clocks for navigation, but no watches that I'm aware of. The East German. I tried to get one of these watches, but unfortunately Ruhla would not sell it as it was some sort of special model.

    Ruhla does not exist anymore, which will come as no surprise.

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