7.12.2023 | 5 MIN
A legend revived. No Speedmasters or Moonswatches but a watch that actually walked on the moon. Or more accurately, their blueprint. The Bulova Lunar Pilot is a modern reissue of a legendary model. It comes in several versions and here we'll take a look at the one that seems to have fallen off the moon. Although that's not entirely true either. Make yourself comfortable, I'll introduce you to the Bulova Lunar Pilot Quartz Chronograph 98K112.
How about a letter written to the lucky winner of the auction of the original moonwatch?
I am delighted that you are becoming a participant in this magnificent moment, as I was a few decades ago. The year was 1971, and we were about to embark on the Apollo 15 mission, the fourth manned mission to the Moon. Our first mission was to explore the southeastern rim, known as Mare Imbrium or the Sea of Rain. The Lunar Module Falcon spent 66 hours and 35 minutes on the lunar surface.
Me and James (James B. Irwin) 18 hours and 35 minutes. We were transported by Rover-1. We also collected 82 kg of lunar material on the surface for further exploration and travelled 27.5 km using the Rover. It was the longest distance on the Moon at that time. The Rover never let us down, it was a great rover. But the same could not be said for my watch. Not that Speedmasters aren't a great tool but with a broken glass, they're not even for show.
The Omega was a government approved watch for NASA purposes. We were packing them as part of our space gear at the time. What more could you ask for? Perhaps the heat from the sun, which warmed the glass enough to crack it on one of the previous surveys, helped. Knowing the exact time was crucial for us. You need it to see how much oxygen and water is left. So I had to reach for the backup. The American company Bulova gave me a prototype of their watch. They wanted it to be tested on the mission.
What they didn't know at the time was that their dream would become a reality. Perhaps it was fate. I kept the strap, which was long enough to encircle my arm and my gear, and the Omega was replaced by the Bulova. Little did I know that this watch would go down in history with us.
Now you have a piece of history in front of you. I'm delighted that the watch is back in the right hands. Please leave its patina of history for others to admire. That way you can see the moon dust every time you look at the watch. You can go back in time, as I did in writing this letter.
Sincerely, USAF Colonel David Randolph Scott."
At the time, the watch was auctioned for $1.6 million at RR Auction and was personally delivered by its original owner, astronaut Dave Scott. The original mechanical watch with Valjoux 72 movement had a black dial, steel case, tritium luminescence coating, acrylic crystal, and a government-issued cloth Velcro strap – large enough to encircle a spacesuit.
Source: www.bulova.comThis was a prototype in the personal possession of the astronaut. The watch was not intended for free sale, so the model was not well known to the public. This changed only in 2015. Yes, this is the same year that the auction of the original piece took place.
The re-release of the "moonwatch" kept the original design and even the strap was as close to the original as possible and bore the mission designation.
The younger version of course, features modern watchmaking advances such as a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating and a safer version of luminescence. The fundamental difference is the quartz movement compared to the original mechanical movement. We'll get to that later.
In 2023 (2022-2023) the second reissue of the lunar chronographs will be released. Here the biggest difference from the previous version is the size. Although it is still a chunky watch, the measured numbers are already slightly more acceptable than the previous piece. At the same time they are parametrically close to the original prototype in terms of dimensions.
The case size is 43.5 mm, case thickness is 13.2 mm and lug to lug dimension is 51 mm. Although the chronographs sit firmly on the hand and feel smaller, some owners of narrower wrists may already have a problem. I would definitely recommend a personal fitting here.
The name of the movement's movement is proudly borne in the middle sub-dial of this blue and white panda. But what does the aforementioned 262 kHz mean? A conventional quartz movement uses a frequency of 32,768 cycles per second. The ultra-high-frequency quartz movement labeled "Precisionist" vibrates eight times faster at 242,144 cycles per second. That's the aforementioned 262 kHz, giving us a maximum deviation of +/- 10 seconds per year! The seconds hand thus resembles almost an automatic movement in its movement.
The structured 3D dial evokes the lunar surface.
The plastic indices are richly covered in luminescence as is the case with the simple hands, which look compact with the overall appearance of the watch.
The stopwatch is operated by side sabers (with just enough resistance) and there is no accidental tripping on the back of the hand. Compared to the Speedmasters, it looks more spacey than a sport chrono. The crown is embellished with the Accutron logo and is not screw-on.
Water resistance has settled at 50m, who would swim in space either, right? The dial is screw-on and if you forget what legends you are dealing with, just look at the beautiful engraving that will remind you of all the information.
Just to brag, on closer inspection you can see an unaligned armorial with indices here and there. However, it's nothing that can't be missed (thanks to the nicely layered dial structure) and it doesn't give the same faux-pas impression as on misaligned divers.
In the wooden box you get the watch on a steel bracelet with a butterfly clasp.
This is very well designed and thanks to the speedwatch, easily swappable for the leather NATO strap that's also included.
If all steel bracelets had this feature, I would wear them a lot more often than I do now, where NATO straps are the predominant choice for me due to their simplicity. Keep it up Bulova!
There are many chronographs on the market. In a similar price range you can choose for example the Seiko Speedtimer or a cheaper option, the Tissot PRS 516. However, nowhere else will you get such precise quartzes, moreover with such a rich history, as here. The Bulova Lunar Pilot is a winner! Your only excuse is to invest in a real Omega Speedmaster.