When we think of space watches, the Speedmaster is naturally the first timepiece that comes to mind. They’ve been flight worn by astronauts since the early 60s, and the newest iteration of the Speedy even found its way to the wrist of a certain billionaire space tourist recently. It’s the icon, but by no means is it the only watch that has slipped the bonds of earth’s atmosphere and found itself on the wrist of an intrepid explorer. This week Bulova is unveiling a tribute to their own piece of space watch history, an anniversary edition of the Lunar Pilot, released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 15.
The mission commander of Apollo 15 was astronaut David R. Scott, who became the seventh man to walk on the moon and the first to drive the Lunar Rover on this very mission. During the mission, Scott was wearing a Bulova chronograph that had been gifted to him, and the new limited edition version of the Lunar Pilot seen here commemorates not only Scott’s wearing of the watch on Apollo 15, but a partnership between Bulova and NASA that lasted from the 1950s through the 1970s that produced watches, clocks, and other devices using their state of the art Accutron tuning fork movement.
The Lunar Pilot is a three register chronograph that Bulova created specifically for spaceflight. It probably doesn’t really need to be said, but spaceflight is an exercise in precision, and the timing of various events is critical to ensure that life support systems operate properly. A watch can also serve as a backup timer to any onboard timers that might fail during flight, so a chronograph was likely a truly handy tool to have, particularly during the high stakes lunar missions of the Apollo era. Bulova is deservedly quite proud of their track record in space, noting that their equipment consistently performed without any issues through a variety of difficult conditions that a poorly engineered watch simply couldn’t handle.
The 50th Anniversary Lunar Pilot Limited Edition is meant to evoke the original Lunar Pilot, but has been given some key updates to reflect a more contemporary design, and the significance of the anniversary. The watch is a modern 45mm in diameter and crafted from grade 5 titanium, and the accents in gold on the subdials and pushers are a reference to the golden anniversary of Apollo 15’s successful mission. Unlike the original watch that was driven by a tuning fork movement, the new limited edition uses Bulova’s high frequency 262 kHz quartz movement. It ships on a gray leather NATO strap that complements the tone of the case and dial, and has a gold tone caseback with an image of an astronaut standing on the moon and text commemorating the mission.
The new Bulova 50th Anniversary Lunar Pilot Limited Edition is limited to 5,000 pieces and has a retail price of $995. More information can be found on Bulova’s website right here.