When I was 3 and a half years old, my parents made me watch the 1969 landing on the moon live on television. It is the earliest memory I can recall and I have been fascinated with space ever since. In my adult years, my love of watches naturally led to an appreciation of space watches and timepieces. My most recent addition to my collection is a watch I wanted when it came out five years ago but have only just recently purchased-the Accutron Astronaut Limited Edition. High initial price was the main reason I didn’t get one then but I never forgot about it and I was lucky enough to procure a new one a few weeks ago at a much better price than the original issue.
Issued by Bulova in 2007, the Astronaut LE pays homage to the original Accutron Astronaut that was a product of Bulova for most of the 1960’s. The original Astro, like all Accutrons of that time, contained the revolutionary electronic tuning fork drive movement that was the father of the modern quartz watch (Hamilton’s Electric was the grandfather). The movement combined the jeweled gear train of the mechanical watch and the battery power source of the electric watch with solid state transistors and a small tuning fork which split a second into 360 equal pulses, which at the time allowed for unheard of “accuracy through electronics”-hence the name Accutron was born. The watch also was unique in that it didn’t tick like a mechanical watch….it hummed with the steady and pleasant F-sharp tone of the tuning fork. The original Astro was a bit larger and beefier than the dress Accutron watches and it featured an additional 24 hour GMT hand and a GMT scale deeply engraved in the rotational bezel. This watch quickly caught on with test pilots, many of whom became the first astronauts and their choice of this particular model earned it the permanent name of Astronaut in the Accutron lexicon. Accutron tried diligently to be named as the official wristwatch used by NASA in the Apollo program but this honor went to Omega-still, Accutron got its share of the publicity because it went with them-the on-board space capsule timers and chronometers were all Accutron units and several Accutron timing devices were set up and left in place on the moon to record various things.