Before Scott Carpenter became only the second American to orbit the Earth and the fourth to venture into space on May 24, 1962, he was a watch guy. He viewed watches as not only a stylish accessory but a tool, especially for making one’s through the stratosphere and circumnavigating the globe from the great unknown. Prior to NASA designating the Omega Speedmaster as the timepiece of choice for the Space Program starting in 1964, Carpenter was able to pick his own space watch, eyeing Breitling’s iconic Navitimer.
Carpenter believed the Navitimer would be perfect for space travel, but requested three specific modifications from the Swiss watchmaker: a 24-hour dial so he could tell what time of day it was in space, a simplified slide rule for quick navigation calculations, and a wider bezel for ease of use while wearing his thick gloves. Breitling obliged and Carpenter wore the new Navitimer, dubbed the Cosmonaute, throughout the duration of the flight, from launch to his triple orbit to his landing in the Atlantic Ocean, making it the first Swiss watch to journey to the Final Frontier.
Honoring the 60th anniversary of Carpenter’s flight, Breitling has released to the public a new limited edition of the Cosmonaute. However, Some updates have been made, such as using platinum for the bezel, shrinking the case down to 41mm, and outfitting a sapphire display caseback to show off the B02 manufacture hand-wound movement. The movement is also engraved with “Mercury 7,” which was the name of the first seven Americans chosen by NASA to go to space, “Aurora 7,” the name of Carpenter’s spacecraft, and Carpenter’s own name.
As for Carpenter’s original wristwatch that he wore on that historic day, Breitling has just unveiled it for the first time since 1962. Having been recovered from the landing site, the watch shows understandable signs of water damage and wear. The new Navitimer Cosmonaute, on the other hand, is available for pre-order on Breitling’s website for $11,200. Only 362 pieces are being made, so we recommend acting quickly if you’re planning any upcoming space tourism trips.