During the 1960s, the Navitimer timepiece by Breitling was heralded as the king of Pilot watches. At the same time, however, the world was going beyond air travel and into space exploration. This bought about a different kind of competition between watch brands, trying to see who can get their brand into the arm of the astronauts making the daunting space missions.
We all know about Omega’s Speedmaster and the legacy it has with the first watch being on the moon, but there was another watch that actually went into space first, a timepiece by the famed Swiss brand Breitling. Breitling’s vast experience in pilot watches helped them rise to the top of the pack when it came time to pick a brand for the space mission. On the 24th of May 1962, during the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission, Breitling was able to claim the title of “first Swiss wristwatch in space”, as the astronaut Scott Carpenter orbited the Earth three times while he wore the Navitimer Cosmonaute model.
Carpenter was very familiar with Breitling’s aviator models during his flight days, so he personally asked for the Navitimer Cosmonaute. The Navitimer Cosmonaute is a variation of the Aviator timepiece, with a 24-hour dial included distinguishing day from night in space.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the famous Mercury-Atlas 7 mission, and to mark this special occasion for the brand Breitling has not only unveiled Carpenter’s original Navitimer Cosmonaute but also released a special modern-day version of the timepiece as well. Breitling is releasing the 2022 Navitimer Cosmonaute in a special limited number, 362. The three represent the number of circumnavigations of the Earth and sixty-two referencing the year 1962 in which the mission took place.
The Navitimer Cosmonaute carries all the iconic details that make the Navitimer what it is. From the circular slide rule for the mathematical calculations to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association “wings” logo to the panda dial design with contrasting tri sub-dials. The main ingredient that separates the Cosmonaute from other Navitimers is the 24-hour time. A new movement, the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B02 was designed specifically to carry the 24-hour time.
This latest version of the Cosmonaute is as faithful to the original as it can be. Looks and design-wise the new Cosmonaute replicates the original with its all-black dial and strap choices of black alligator strap and seven-row stainless steel bracelet. The main difference comes in the use of materials, which now for the 41mm case features a platinum bezel. The timepiece has beige coloured superluminova which besides the touch of red on the bezel inscriptions, adds more colour to the monochrome dial.
As mentioned earlier, the movement inside is the Breitling Manufacture Caliber B02 movement. This is a mechanical manual (hand) wound movement that operates at a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4hz). This COSC-certified movement also gives out a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. A difference between the original 1962 Cosmonaute and this 2022 edition is the case back. Now with an open sapphire crystal caseback, a glimpse into the B02 movement is shown. The movement decorations feature special bridge engravings to mark the 60th anniversary. Engravings such as “Carpenter”, “Aurora 7”, “3 orbits around the Earth”, and “Mercury 7”.
This latest edition of the Cosmonaute pays homage to the original 1962 timepiece while giving it a very modern update. A true testament to Breitlings aviation watches, the Cosmonaute carries with it a part of watch history that not a lot can boast about. With the Carpenter’s Cosmonaute being named the “first Swiss wristwatch in space”, the model available to the public shortly after kept the same design and specs, so that collectors can be a part of the ground-breaking history.
Georges Kern, Breitling CEO is delighted with this latest creation, in celebration of the Space mission’s 60th anniversary as he states “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.”