There’s a type of watch that we cover sometimes on the site that I like to think of as a “high concept” watch. This is a watch that is trying to tell a very specific story through the timepiece itself, either in its design, how it’s made, or both. It exists for a reason outside the normal bounds of why watches come into the world – to provide a human being with the opportunity to tell time, on their wrist, at a glance. In order to really “get it,” it requires an explanation. A good example off the top of my head is the excellent Urwerk UR100V made with Collective last year. Sure, once you grasp the unique time telling apparatus it’s a pleasantly funky piece of high horology, but its connection to a specific retired space shuttle and its one of a kind passive complication deepen its meaning considerably. Bulova’s D-CAVE Computron (the one you have to buy in the Metaverse, or something like that) is another that comes to mind. You could even call the MoonSwatch high concept, although I think if you’re in the right headspace that one is easy enough to appreciate for its blast of color alone, depending on your planet of choice. A new watch that is being announced today strikes me as fitting squarely into this high concept watch category: the Awake Mission to Earth.
A logical place to start with the Mission to Earth watch is its association with NASA. This is, more than almost any watch I can think of, a “space watch” through and through. Awake tells us that the design, which is simple enough on its surface, is NASA approved, and you’ll notice the famous logo on the watch’s strap and case flank. But that’s really just the start of the space connection. The Mission to Earth was conceived with the fairly lofty goal of recreating “the sensory and emotional shock felt by astronauts” when viewing the earth from space. Excuse me, but…what?
And this, naturally, is where the blockchain comes in. Each Mission to Earth watch has a unique marker built directly into its sapphire crystal. This identifier works with the Arianee protocol, a blockchain technology firm that Awake has partnered with for this project. The crystal uses an NFC tag that can be read by a phone camera, which gives the user access to an app (the Awake Earth Observatory) that taps into cameras on the International Space Station, thus giving each Mission to Earth owner a live look at their home planet. The blockchain tech here also works as an authentication tool for the Mission to Earth, allowing users to see a complete history of the watch since its initial sale, and (hopefully) significantly reducing the likelihood of a stolen watch successfully being passed on to a new owner illicitly.
This is a genuinely new way of introducing blockchain technology, which is the starting point for cryptocurrency and NFTs, into watches. We’ve seen a number of watches introduced in recent years that include NFTs that give users access to unique experiences or provide a platform for authentication, but this is the first watch I’m aware of that incorporates the blockchain tech into the physical watch itself, while still giving users access to something “extra” on the side, although I’ll note here that anyone with an internet connection can watch a stream of an ISS camera pointed toward the earth at any time. Still, this is clever, and based on images the brand sent us in their press packet, it looks like they (or someone) has gone through the trouble of creating a nice user interface for the app. The ISS website, by comparison, has something of an early 00s vibe and might be in need of an update.
OK, so that just about covers what makes the Mission to Earth a high concept watch, but what about the rest of it? At the end of the day, it’s still a thing you wear on your wrist to tell the time. In that regard, what we have here is a fairly standard, but nice looking, three-hander in a titanium case. The dial is light grey with a matte finish that Awake says is inspired by the panoramic observation window inside the ISS. The aluminum rehaut, in red, has a fairly on-the-nose nod to the space-faring inspiration for this piece, with a countdown from “10” to “Lift Off” spanning the upper portion of the dial. The red and grey is a nice and clean combination, though, and the crown gets an accent that matches the rehaut, as does the tip of the seconds hand.
The watch is powered by a Miyota 9015 automatic movement with a custom, skeletonized rotor. One would assume the use of this movement keeps the case fairly thin, but unfortunately Awake hasn’t provided that information at the time of this writing. The 40mm titanium case is a fairly standard shape and size, though, so unless they’ve done something tricky with the lug angles that isn’t apparent from photos, there shouldn’t be too many surprises in how this watch wears. The Mission to Earth is mounted to a white strap made from a material called Biopoly which is, of course, inspired by space suits. Awake describes the strap as “lightweight and ultra-resistant,” but they neglect to say what, exactly, it’s fighting against.
Only 250 of these watches will be produced and the watch carries a retail price of 990 EUR. Each watch comes in a presentation box that includes a tiny piece of a billion year old asteroid, because why not? If high concept watches don’t appeal to you, then obviously the Mission to Earth will be an easy skip. But it’s kind of fun to imagine that there is someone out there (hopefully 250 someones) for whom this is exactly what they’ve been looking for in a watch. It’s also, in a way, admirable just how many details of this watch can be traced back to the ISS, space travel, or something adjacent to it (trust me, I’ve only scratched the surface here). For more information on the Mission to Earth, check out Awake’s website here.