Watch collectors love mysteries. Perhaps the ultimate mystery arises when the watch of a highly-visible celebrity or public figure disappears from public view. Yoko Ono gave John Lennon a Patek Philippe reference 2499 perpetual calendar chronograph two months before he died, but the public has seen only two photos of him wearing the watch. Pablo Picasso was photographed wearing three watches – made by by Jaeger-LeCoultre, Patek Phillippe and Rolex, respectively – but none has been seen since his death in 1973.
So what about the first Swiss wristwatch that was worn in space, the AAA UK replica Breitling Cosmonaute watches that Scott Carpenter wore on May 24, 1962, when he became the second American astronaut to orbit the earth? Carpenter was photographed wearing his Breitling as he trained for the flight. We can see the chronograph in photos as he flies the Aurora 7 capsule on May 24, 1962. We also see the watch on his wrist as he sits in a life raft in the Atlantic, waiting to be taken to the recovery ship. But the watch has not been viewed by the public in the 60 years since splashdown. Not on Carpenter’s wrist, not in a museum or NASA archives, not in the showroom or catalog of an auction house or dealer. It disappeared like a comet streaking across the sky.
And now, at last, it’s surfaced.
The Mercury Seven, the first seven astronauts selected to go into space, were heroes throughout the free world, darlings of the media who were on the covers of magazines and made regular visits to the White House. Every aspect of their training and flights was photographed exhaustively, by NASA and the media, and thousands of these photographs are available today through various collections and archives. We can see the Mercury Seven astronauts wearing their high quality Breitling fake watches in numerous public appearances, such as press conferences and in parades.
Compared with other watches regularly worn by the Mercury Seven astronauts, Scott Carpenter’s best Breitling Cosmonaute replica watches was easy to spot. In this period, Carpenter was the only Mercury Seven astronaut to wear a chronograph, and at 42.5 millimeters across the dial, the Breitling was considerably larger than the Accutron Astronaut or the LeCoultre 24-hour watches worn by the other astronauts.
Today, Breitling is displaying the watch for all to see. Beyond showing us the watch, Breitling has provided documents and information that provide an incontrovertible explanation and proof of where the watch has been all these years. As it turns out, after covering 76,021 statute miles in orbit on May 24, 1962, the watch has lived a rather sedentary life. The watch was in the possession of Willy Breitling, third-generation owner of the company, from 1962 until his death in 1979. Upon his death, his wife inherited the watch – and upon her death, the watch became the property of their son, Gregory Breitling. Gregory Breitling continues to own the watch as part of his private collection. Recently, however, he has made the decision to share the watch with the world on the 60th anniversary of Carpenter’s flight.
To understand how the watch came to rest in the safe of Gregory Breitling, and how it has come out today for the public to see, we start from the beginning, with the stories of two young men – a watch enthusiast who was into space and a space enthusiast who was into perfect Breitling copy watches.
Watchmaker Willy Breitling was born in 1913 and in the late 1950s developed an intense interest in the space programs. Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter was born in 1925, and believed that the wristwatch could be an important tool in space exploration. Both Breitling and Carpenter were intensely curious; both were courageous in charting new courses; both were committed to solving problems.
Breitling Chronomat And Navitimer
In 1932, five years after the death of his father, Willy Breitling took the reins of the company that his grandfather had established in 1884. Willy Breitling was committed to the approach that had brought success to his father and grandfather, seeking to develop and produce innovative Swiss made replica Breitling watches that would be particularly well-suited for use by aviators, businessmen, scientists, engineers and sportsmen. Fred Mandelbaum, a watch collector and Breitling’s brand historian, highlights some of Breitling’s innovative achievements from the early years: “Breitling patented watches for motor racing in 1905, launched the world’s first separate ‘pusher at 2’ wrist chronograph in 1915, and applied for the patent on the first dual pusher chronograph in 1933, adding a separate reset pusher at 4. But, of course, the company’s most enduring innovation would be the incorporation of a slide rule into a chronograph, with the Breitling catalog offering this useful ‘tool’ for the past 80 years.”
With its name signifying that it was designed as the CHRONOgraph for MAThematicians, Breitling introduced its Chronomat in 1942, as the first chronograph to incorporate a slide rule. The handheld slide rule (which dates back to the 17th century) incorporates pieces of wood that are marked with multiple scales, with the pieces of wood being moved back and forth to perform mathematical operations, with the results read on a clear cursor. While handheld slide rules may incorporate numerous scales, the circular slide rule incorporated into the Chronomat had only two scales – one printed on the dial and one printed on the rotating bezel. The Chronomat was designed for science and engineering, as well as various mathematical operations, with most models having two registers (for running seconds and chronograph minutes).
In 1954, Willy Breitling, would develop a slide rule chronograph to address the specific needs of a new and growing market: Pilots. He had become intensely interested in aviation and realized that the chronograph that would incorporate a flight computer could serve as an important navigational tool for pilots.
The Navitimer chronograph was based on the Chronomat (with the name being a contraction of the words NAVIgation and TIMER). Developed in collaboration with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Breitling proudly suggested that the scales on the fake Breitling Navitimer watches for sale allow the pilot to carry out 18 common air navigation operations, including multiplication/division, conversion of nautical miles into kilometers, degrees Fahrenheit into degrees Celsius, gallons into liters, fuel consumption, kilometers per hour, kilometers per minute or second, average descent and elevation. The Navitimer chronograph incorporated a third register, giving it the capacity to time up to 12 hours, and the dials were all black (compared with the Chronomat’s variety of dial color schemes). Both the Chronomat and the Navitimer used snap-back cases, but with its round pushers the Navitimer was described as being “water-resistant.”
Engineering The Perfect Watch For The Astronauts
Each of the seven Mercury astronauts had a special responsibility for the development of the Mercury spacecraft. For example, Alan Shepard focused on recovery of the astronauts upon landing and egress from the capsule, and John Glenn focused on optimizing the cockpit and the flight simulator. Scott Carpenter was assigned responsibility for the capsule’s onboard navigational equipment, with the Breitling replica watches wholesale to be worn by the astronauts falling within his realm.
At this time, NASA had not selected a single watch to be worn on the Mercury flights and was not supplying watches to the astronauts. Instead, any astronaut who chose to wear a watch on his flight would select and procure his own timepiece. Carpenter was happy that he would be responsible for the choice of watches to be worn by the astronauts – or at least the recommendation of watches.
Carpenter’s daughter, Kris Stoever, reports that her father was definitely a “watch guy.” She tells the story that when he was enlisting in the Navy after high school, he wrote a letter to his father describing the type of watch that he wanted. “He wanted to have the coolest watch among the aviation cadets, as a way of distinguishing himself. Beyond the look of the watch, he also believed that Breitling super clone watches online site could be important tools for pilots, helping them in many critical situations.”
Carpenter was committed to training and to being prepared for any situation. “The important thing is to be prepared at all times,” Stoever explains, “and to train for disaster, to train and then to train some more, and to have every piece of equipment that you need for an emergency. That means a watch, and a slide rule, and a knife, and a screwdriver. That means a life raft, and more important than the equipment, you had to have the physical strength to perform your mission and the mental strength to solve problems.”
Stoever suggests that Scott Carpenter viewed the watch as a particularly important piece of equipment for the astronauts. “They were preparing for things that might go wrong. That would mean coming down in Africa or Borneo. If you landed in Borneo, and you had a watch and a slide rule, this might be critical for your survival. If you find a known star or constellation – which my dad could do – then the watch with the slide rule probably saved your life.” Stoever suggests that her father had supreme confidence, in part arising from his intense training, and took pride in overcoming his fears.
From the start, Carpenter had a vision of the watch that would be ideal for use by the astronauts. In an interview several years ago, Scott Carpenter described how he first became familiar with the Breitling Navitimer. “Early on in Project Mercury, for an unmanned Atlas launch, I went to Perth, Australia and flew with the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force),” he explained, “and it was there I saw the Breitling Navitimer, which had been issued to the RAAF pilots … My thought was that the Navitimer would be what the American astronauts would like to have.”
Carpenter believed that three modifications to the Navitimer would make it the ideal instrument for astronauts.
Like substantially all watches and chronographs, the Navitimer had 12-hour indication, meaning that the hour hand rotated around the dial every 12 hours. Carpenter believed that for the astronaut orbiting the earth every 90 minutes, and seeing multiple sunrises and sunsets over the course of a 12-hour period, 24-hour indication would be preferable.
For this reason, the clock mounted on the panel of the Mercury capsule used 24-hour indication, and was set to UTC (Universal Coordinated Time). This 24-hour indication would allow the astronaut to know the time of day, without needing to consider whether the time shown was AM or PM. With relatively minor modifications, the Venus 178 movement of the Navitimer could be used for 24-hour indication.
Simplified Slide Rule
The slide rule incorporated into the Navitimer had three scales, two printed on the dial and one printed on the rotating bezel. The two standard slide scales (known as the C and D scales), allow for multiplication and division. The third scale printed on the dial of the Navitimer was an Hours / Minutes scale (HH:MM), used to make time / distance computations. (For example, if a car is travelling at 74 miles per hour, how many miles will it cover in 3 hours and 30 minutes? Or if a plane is flying at 180 miles per hour, how long will it take to fly 500 miles or to burn a given amount of fuel?) This third scale translates minutes (shown on the inner slide rule scale) to hours, which are shown in HH:MM format.
Carpenter realized that the third HH:MM scale on the Navitimer would be of no use to astronauts and that the dial would be more legible with the deletion of this scale. Deletion of this third scale would allow more room for the numerals marking the hours and improve the legibility of the watch and its slide rule scales, by making the dial less busy.
So that the slide rule could be used by an astronaut wearing thick gloves, Carpenter requested that the bezel of the Navitimer be made wider. The bezel of the modified watch would measure approximately 42.5 millimeters across, from one side to the other, while the standard Navitimer bezel measured approximately 40.5 millimeters across.
A Cold Call From An Astronaut
Having determined how he wanted the new astronauts’ watch to be configured, Scott Carpenter contacted Breitling’s U.S. distributor, Wakmann Watch Co., in New York City, to request the modifications and to see whether they would be able to produce the watch in time for his flight. Gregory Breitling reports that when the U. S. distributor contacted his father about producing a watch for Scott Carpenter to wear on his flight, Willy Breitling was ecstatic. “My father had become intensely interested in the competition between the U.S. and Soviet space programs,” he said. “He had designed a very futuristic desk clock (the “Baby Moon”) depicting a Sputnik in space. We would stand outside our home spotting Sputnik in the night sky. For Scott Carpenter to ask him to produce the chronograph that he would wear on his flight was beyond my father’s wildest imagination and he was determined to produce a watch that would be satisfactory to Carpenter.”
The watch that Breitling produced for Scott Carpenter was a one-off that would serve as the prototype for the new Swiss movements fake Breitling Cosmonaute chronograph watches. The watch incorporated the modifications requested by Carpenter, and the dial was marked with the AOPA logo, with “Navitimer” printed across the bottom of the dial. The caseback was marked “806,” the reference number for the Navitimer, and because it was a prototype the case had no serial number. So that Carpenter would be able to wear the watch on the sleeve of his spacesuit, Willy Breitling procured a special steel bracelet.
Carpenter was designated as the astronaut for the MA-7 mission on March 15, 1962. Breitling was timely in producing the watch for Carpenter, and on May 19, 1962, five days before his flight, Carpenter sent a letter to the President of Wakmann Watch Company confirming his receipt of the watch. Carpenter wrote, “Just between the two if us, I plan to take it with me. I hope it stands up under the environment.”
The First Swiss Wristwatch Goes Into Space
The first four Mercury flights are best understood as two pairs of flights. The first two flights were suborbital, with Alan Shepard becoming the first American to fly in space (May 1961), with a duration of 15 minutes, 28 seconds, and Gus Grissom corroborating this flight (July 1961), flying for 15 minutes, 37 seconds. In February 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, completing three orbits in 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds. On May 24, 1962, Scott Carpenter duplicated this flight, also orbiting the earth three times, with a flight of 4 hour, 56 minutes and 5 seconds. Subsequent flights would extend the astronauts’ time in space, with Wally Schirra completing nine orbits in October 1962 in just over 9 hours, and Gordon Cooper completing 22 orbits during his 34 hours in space.
The objective of Scott Carpenter’s mission was to corroborate the ability of an astronaut to orbit the earth, while Carpenter would perform certain scientific experiments during the flight (including being the first U.S. astronaut to eat solid food in space). Carpenter’s Aurora 7 capsule reached an altitude of 166.8 statute miles in its orbits, requiring just over 88 minutes for each orbit. With a top velocity of 17,549 miles per hour, the total distance covered by Carpenter’s flight was 76,021 statute miles. The maximum force during the flight was 7.8 Gs.
Due to mechanical issues during the flight, Carpenter “overshot” the intended landing area by 250 nautical miles (approximately 460 kilometers), with splash-down occurring at 12:41 EST (17:41 UTC). There was urgent concern within NASA, the White House, and the media about whether Carpenter could be found in the open sea, and it took a nerve-wracking 39 minutes for search planes to locate him.
While the preferred protocol was for the astronauts to remain in their capsules until reached by naval frogmen, realizing that it might take some time for the helicopters to locate him and with the absence of any effective ventilation system in the capsule, Carpenter made the decision to disembark from his capsule and move to the small rubber life raft carried by the capsule. As importantly, the Aurora 7 capsule was listing and Carpenter would make several dives to stabilize the capsule and prevent it from sinking.
With Carpenter on this small life raft in the open seas for three hours, his watch became soaked with seawater. Records show that Carpenter was lifted from the life raft at 3:40 EST (20:40 UTC) and the hands of Carpenter’s Cosmonaute stopped 66 minutes later, at 21:46 UTC (4:46 EST).
With this, we can say that the first Swiss wristwatch to be used in space completed its mission, providing Carpenter with the time from his lift-off until he was recovered from the ocean. Indeed, Carpenter had selected a watch for flying in space, even if it may not have been the ideal watch for diving in the open seas.
Breitling had supplied the first replica Breitling Cosmonaute watches shop to Scott Carpenter for his flight, and Gregory Breitling believes that the company retained ownership of the watch. With the watch now waterlogged from its time on the sea and in need of service or preservation, Carpenter sent the watch back to Breitling.
When Willy Breitling received the watch back, he faced a dilemma. It would have been easy enough for him to disassemble the watch, replace those parts that had been damaged by the water (for example, the dial, hands and movement) and reassemble a perfect-looking watch. With the first execution Cosmonaute going into production soon after the Aurora 7 flight, Breitling would have had all the parts required, so that the “flown” watch would have been a flown case, with all the other parts being fresh, new “replacement” parts.
Gregory Breitling recalls that when Willy Breitling looked at the watch, he realized that he had a “sacred” piece of history that should not be rebuilt or restored. It had stopped at 21:46 on the afternoon of May 24, 1962, and that was an important moment in the history of the United States space program and in the history of Breiting and the Swiss watch industry. This was the watch Carpenter wore on his flight and that ran until he had been rescued. This was the “original” watch, and like every other watch, it could only be truly original if left undisturbed. Willy Breitling chose to leave this sacred object untouched, not even removing the sludge from inside the watch or cleaning the crystal.
Cosmonautes For The Astronauts
As soon as the Cosmonaute went into production, Breitling sent Carpenter a new watch to replace the flown watch. Carpenter wore this on a regular basis. At some point, when it was serviced, the hands were replaced with the style of hands that were used on later models of the Breitling Cosmonaute fake watches for men.
Gregory Breitling confirms that in addition to sending Carpenter a replacement watch for his flown Cosmonaute, the company provided each of the Mercury astronauts with a Cosmonaute chronograph. We see photos of some of the Mercury Seven astronauts wearing these 2022 Breitling replica watches over the years.
The best quality Breitling Cosmonaute replica watches owned by John Glenn was recently acquired by Gregory Breitling in a public auction, after being sold in an estate sale of John Glenn’s personal property.
When the community of enthusiasts who collect “space watches” and other space memorabilia began to emerge, circa 2000, the whereabouts of Scott Carpenter’s flown Cosmonaute was a recurring topic of discussion. Breitling’s re-issue of a series of Cosmonautes honoring Scott Carpenter also evoked the question, “Where is the original Cosmonaute that he wore into space?” Today, we know that this watch was put away in Gregory Breitling’s safe, in unrestored condition, but rather than this simple answer, which Occam would have suggested, there emerged several explanations of where the flown Cosmonaute had landed. The fact that Scott Carpenter owned the “replacement” Cosmonaute that Breitling had provided may have also created some confusion among those trying to track the flown watch.
Over the years, three explanations of the whereabouts of Scott Carpenter’s flown Cosmonaute emerged in the community of collectors, and ironically each of these explanations was more complicated than the reality that the watch was resting in Gregory Breitling’s safe. With Breitling SA no longer owned by the Breitling family, inquiries of the company usually evoked the response that the watch had probably been destroyed, after its time in the sea, following the splashdown. A second theory was that the waterlogged watch had been restored with incorrect components, and was in the possession of a private collector. A third was that the flown Cosmonaute was owned by the Breitling family and had been restored to the specifications of the early Cosmonautes.
The First Swiss Wristwatch In Space Makes Its Debut In 2022
Gregory Breitling explains that Scott Carpenter’s flown China fake Breitling Cosmonaute watches remaining hidden from the public view all these years was not based on any decision of the family to seek to maintain its confidentiality. His family was no longer involved with the company, and had other priorities: “We did not just spend our time looking at this space watch or wondering what we should do with it. We were occupied with other things.”
All this changed in 2017, when Breitling SA was purchased by a private equity firm and Georges Kern became the company’s CEO. Gregory Breitling has appreciated the fact that the current Breitling catalog has been inspired by the heritage models that were developed by members of his family: “When you see a Breitling from across the room, you should be able to recognize that the watch is a Breitling. This is the essence of a brand, having a distinctive look that is consistent over the years and decades.” More than this, Gregory Breitling has developed a close relationship with Georges Kern and Fred Mandelbaum, and believes that the contributions of his family in building Breitling have come to be fully appreciated by today’s company.
“People are interested in these historic watches right now,” he said. “With the internet and the auction houses, people can learn the history of these watches, and I am happy to support today’s Breitling in sharing the story of this watch.”
As shown today, Scott Carpenter’s flown Breitling Cosmonaute replica watches paypal illustrates what a watch will look like if literally “worn hard and put away wet,” and then retrieved 60 years later. Predictably, the movement shows heavy rust on most of its parts, with only the main chronograph bridge and the wheels remaining relatively pristine.
The dial has the look of “lava planet” (Mandelbaum’s term), with the numerals remaining prominent and the AOPA logo clearly visible at the top of the dial. The time-of-day hands are distorted and appear to be frozen in place, with debris from the dial appearing to having grown to fill the area between the hands. The chronograph needles are visible, but also seem to be coated with a sludge that has frozen them into their positions. The crystal is coated with a thin layer of residue, so the details of the dial become less visible when the crystal is in place. With the crystal in place, the Breitling Cosmonaute flown by Scott Carpenter appears otherworldly, looking more like the surface of a distant planet or meteor than a precision instrument that would be used by an engineer or astronaut.
The Scott Carpenter Limited Edition
To mark the 60th anniversary of Scott Carpenter’s flight, which earned for Breitling the distinction of being the first Swiss wristwatch in space, and to celebrate the first public display of this historic watch, Breitling has today introduced a new Limited Edition version of the Cosmonaute. The Navitimer B02 Chronograph 41 Cosmonaute Limited Edition pays tribute to the Cosmonaute designed and worn by Scott Carpenter, while incorporating features that make the watch an ideal instrument for today’s enthusiasts.
The basic elements of the “Scott Carpenter” Cosmonaute are carried forward – the all-black dial with three registers (12-hour capacity); large Arabic numerals for 2 through 24, matching the warm tome of the hands; and legibility enhanced by the simplified slide rule, with only one scale printed on the dial. As the engineer Scott Carpenter provided the specifications for the watch that he would wear into space, the engineers at Breitling have incorporated features that will make the Limited Edition more appealing to today’s enthusiasts. Rather than being oversized to accommodate the astronaut’s gloves, the bezel follows the contours of the case, with a serrated finish. A date display incorporated into the hour register would not have been required by Carpenter, but is often demanded by today’s customers.
Perhaps the most unexpected feature of the new Limited Edition Cosmonaute is the use of platinum for the bezel. While fighter pilots and astronauts would have a natural preference for the durability of stainless steel, the incorporation of a unique bezel using a precious metal highlights that it was the bezel that made the “Scott Carpenter” Cosmonaute different from all the others. As Mandelbaum notes, “The wide bezel specified by Scott Carpenter for his Cosmonaute was a defining element of his watch, and the platinum bezel of the Limited Edition model is also a unique feature. The use of a precious metal announces that this watch marks an important historic event and will endure forever.”
The caseback is marked to indicate that it pays tribute to the “First Swiss Wristwatch in Space,” while markings on the movement – visible through the sapphire crystal – feature the name “Carpenter” and the Aurora 7 logo. We see a drawing of the Mercury 7 capsule, with a summary of what it achieved, “3 orbits around the earth.” The manual B02 movement offers a power reserve of 70 hours, with a thin construction that allows the case to have a thickness of 10.9 millimeters (at the bezel), which is thinner than the vintage predecessor, at 11.25 millimeters.
In a 2008 interview, Scott Carpenter acknowledged that he had always been fascinated by Swiss perfect fake Breitling watches. While the three previous astronauts – Shepard, Grissom and Glenn – flew without wristwatches, Carpenter took the initiative to design an entirely new type of watch that would be the ideal tool for his mission. Always interested in aviation and spellbound by space exploration, Willy Breitling was the perfect partner for Carpenter in the creation of this watch. Carpenter captured the essence of their unique collaboration when he stated, “I’m fascinated with airplanes because they’re such fine machines. So is a watch.”
For Scott Carpenter and Willy Breitling and their fine new Cosmonaute chronograph, it was “mission accomplished” on May 24, 1962. Sixty years later, enthusiasts can share in their story and in Breitling’s tribute to this fine watch.