why watch brands are driven by the new space race

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The clothing decisions of the astronauts are hardly laborious. You have to wear a space suit and that’s about it. Clearly upset by such restrictions, Jeff Bezos decided to go very deep in his clothes when he exploded in space in July. After his 11-minute flight, the tech titan descended from his spaceship on the desert land of West Texas in an unusual outfit. Bezos wore a cowboy hat and boots, presumably to insist that space was the last frontier.

Increasing the symbolism, he then posed for photos holding the glasses of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. On his wrist, Bezos wore an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer.

Jeff Bezos, in cowboy hat and Amelia Earhart glasses, has his eyes on the conquest of space. Credit:Getty Images

To be fair, this was a flawless choice, with Omega being recognized as the watch brand that first conquered space. In the early 1960s, NASA purchased a range of chronographs from different brands in an effort to find the most reliable watch for their astronauts. The watches have undergone the most rigorous tests in the history of watchmaking. The Speedmaster was the only one to pass.

Naturally, Omega has dealt with this lunar connection ever since and many Speedmaster models wear case backs with the engraving: “Flight Qualified for all Manned Space Missions”. But it is not the only watch brand to be fascinated by space. This year Rolex released an Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona with a dial carved out of a 600 million year old meteorite. Other watches to have left Earth’s orbit include the Breitling Navitimer and the Seiko “Pogue” 6139.

This eagerness to aim for the moon is driven by the brand’s positive associations. Space travel demonstrates the technical resilience of a watch, while astronauts are fearless figures who exude all the “good things”. Watches and space are therefore a marriage made, if not in the sky, then slightly below, among the stars.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer;  Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona;  Breitling Navitimer.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Master Chronometer; Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona; Breitling Navitimer.

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But it’s hard to ignore the fact that in the 21st century, a watch is less of a time-indicating device than a remarkable status signifier. And space is the ultimate flex.

We can all see the moon, but for most of us it is forever out of reach. Perhaps this is why so many of the richest men in the world – Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson – are spending millions launching their rockets. Any bog-standard oligarch can own a superyacht. To show you that you are truly evolving to the next level, the stakes are no longer soaring, they are intergalactic.


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