Celebrating the 60th-anniversary of Navitimer Cosmonaute’s launch on the Aurora 7 spacecraft, this 24-hour dial timepiece has been re-launched, in tribute to the historic mission. At the same time, Breitling offered the first public viewing of the original Cosmonaute since 1962, telling the watch’s incredible story.
The undisputed pilot’s watch
On May 24, 1962, Breitling officially claimed the title “first Swiss wristwatch in space” astronaut Scott Carpenter orbited the Earth three times while wearing the Navitimer Cosmonaute during the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission. Designed in collaboration with Carpenter, it was a take on the aviator watch he’d encountered in his flight days; but the added feature of a 24-hour dial enabled the astronaut to tell day from night in space.
On May 24, 1962, five hours after launch, the Aurora 7 space capsule with Carpenter aboard splashed down safely in the Atlantic. The recovery operation lasted three hours, however, the long exposure to seawater caused lasting damage to Carpenter’s Cosmonaute. Breitling Provided another for Carpenter, but kept the battered and corroded piece of space history in the family archives, where it lay until spring 2022.
362 limited edition pieces
60 years to the day from the start of that mission, Breitling displayed Carpenter’s original Navitimer Cosmonaute, while also revealing a modern limited-edition tribute to it. Select collectors, journalists, and watch enthusiasts were invited to a space-themed event in Zurich, co-hosted by Georges Kern (CEO of Breitling) and former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. The event also featured a lineup of guest speakers that included members of the Carpenter family, Gregory Breitling, and historian and collector Fred Mandelbaum. Also exhibited was a Cosmonaute once owned by astronaut John Glenn and acquired at auction in 2019 by Gregory Breitling.
Georges Kern commented: “When we introduced the redesigned Navitimer earlier this year, a question on everybody’s lips was, ‘What about the Cosmonaute?’ Today, I’m thrilled to finally announce two Cosmonaute reveals: the first-ever public viewing of the watch Scott Carpenter wore into space and a 60th-anniversary limited-edition timepiece that pays tribute to its history-making forerunner.”
Faithful, but with new features
The new Cosmonaute maintains the circular slide rule for performing mathematical calculations, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association “wings” logo, the trio of chronograph subdials and 24-hour time (enabled by the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B02). It’s a faithful reproduction of the original, with an all-black dial and black alligator strap (or a seven-row stainless-steel bracelet).
But there are new features; notably, a premium platinum bezel, that makes this edition even more of a collector’s piece and an open sapphire crystal case-back providing a window on the B02 movement. It also has bridge engravings to mark the occasion, with the words “Carpenter,” “Aurora 7,” and “3 orbits around the Earth,” along with the name of the original group of seven astronauts chosen for NASA’s first human-crewed spaceflights, Mercury 7.
The first Swiss wristwatch in space
The only other Swiss timepiece to have reached orbit previously was a pocket stopwatch equipped with a strap. The Cosmonaute was not only worn in space, but designed according to an astronaut’s specifications. It’s no wonder it went on to become a hit amongst collectors and other astronauts’ wrists. As a final tribute, the caseback is engraved with the date of Carpenter’s mission, “ONE OF 362,” and the phrase “First Swiss wristwatch in space.”