Eugene Cernan's Watch

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by sderek, Jan 10, 2015.

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  1. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    It appears that the Omega that Cernan wore on the moon had a stainless steel case made by the Star Watch Case Company, but I can't find a reliable reference stating this is the case. Any ideas?
     
  2. bobbee53

    bobbee53 Banned

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    Which one? :)

    Well, I read the Wikipedia entry, but then I read their source of info regarding the watch having a Star Watch Case and apparently They did not start supplying cases for the Speedmaster until six years after Cernan's final moonwalk, in 1978!

    http://www.northernpartners.com/star_watch_case.htm
     
  3. everydaycats

    everydaycats Registered User

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    Having a family member that worked on the Apollo program I know for a fact many companies did 'one-off' work that was never labeled or mentioned; Star Watch Case company certainly could have been one of these companies. If the watches that these guys wore were made for the trip(anyone know?) then it would not be beyond possible that SWC made the cases.
     
  4. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    #4 sderek, Jan 12, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
    I doubt it was a one-off. The Star Watch Case company was contracted by Omega to make cases, because of NASA's commitment to The Buy American Act. It's a matter of when exactly they started making the cases for Omega/NASA. Alan Nelson mentions the fact that Star was making the cases in his 1993 article about the Omega's Moon Watch, but the wording is a little vague. It doesn't spell out exactly when Omega started making the cases for NASA. Nelson's article makes it sound like Cernan's Omega watch case was made by the Star Watch Company, but I'd like to verify that fact.
     
  5. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    The fourth sentence should read "It doesn't spell out exactly when the Star Watch Case Company started making cases for the watches Omega supplied to NASA.".
     
  6. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    #6 sderek, Jan 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
    Jack Linahan's 2006 article about the Star Watch Case Company states clearly that the watch worn by Wally Schirra had a case made by the company, and states he wore it on the last trip to the moon, but there were other trips to the moon after Shirra's. And there is no mention of Cernan's watch.

    It appears that Linahan got his information from this 1994 article in the Luddington Daily News, but the newspaper claims that Schirra wore the watch ON the moon, but Schirra was part of Apollo 7 in 1968, and there was no moon walk on that mission.

    I wonder if people just got the name of the astronaut wrong? Apollo 17 was our last trip to the moon, and Cernan was on that crew. Perhaps some researchers mistook Apollo 7 for Apollo 17?
     
  7. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    #7 sderek, Jan 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
    After reading Alan Nelson's article again, I can say I'm 99% certain that Eugene Cernan's watch did have a case made by the Star Watch case company. Nelson's article suggests the watches with the Star cases were completed by November 1972, and were completed with the purpose of being used for the Apollo 17 mission in December of that year.

    I've found three references that suggest an astronaut wore a Star cased watch, 1 of them suggests that the astronaut was part of the last mission to the moon and one of them suggest the watch in question was worn on the moon. 2 of them say the astronaut wearing the watch was Schirra (who was part of Apollo 7, NOT the last mission to the moon, Schirra never walked on the moon, and there was NO moonwalk on Apollo 7). So the most likely explanation is that Cernan was the astronaut referred to, and they just got his name wrong. The similarities in the numbers 7 and 17 explain a lot.

    It's still unclear how many of the Star cased Omega's were used by NASA. Perhaps all of them after November 1972, and before the company closed?
     
  8. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    #8 sderek, Jan 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
    I should also point out that Nelson's article suggests that the first cases Star produced for Omega/NASA were finished in 1972, but Schirra retired from NASA in 1969.

    Another possible point of confusion is that Schirra was the first astronaut to wear an Omega in space in 1962.
     
  9. Hawk53

    Hawk53 Registered User

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    I admire your persistence in trying to get to the bottom of the story. It sounds like you're getting some conflicting information.
     
  10. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    I'm in contact with the NAWCC library to see if they can help me verify this information.
     
  11. RON in PA

    RON in PA Registered User
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    I was in the NAWCC Library yesterday working with Nancy when an E-mail came in requesting info on this, sderek, it was probably you. We checked all the Omega references available and there was no mention of the Star Watch Case Co., only the Swiss case companies. It is possible that there is no hard evidence for this other than Nelson's article. Hopefully something may have turned up since yesterday, but without Star factory records (and you know that wc cos. didn't keep records for all practical purposes) I doubt it.
     
  12. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    #12 sderek, Jan 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
    I found some information that suggests the Star Omega models tested for NASA in 1972 were 145.022's with caliber 861 mvt's (but I'm not sure how reliable it is), and Cernan's moon watch is a model 105.012 with a caliber 321. It's possible that NASA just used the watches they had in stock vs using the 1972 Star Omegas, for the Apollo 17 mission.

    I did find this info that suggests at least 1 Star Omega did make it into space. http://monochrome-watches.com/auction-hammer-bonhams-auction-reinhard-furrer-omega-speedmaster/

    Perhaps all the claims about a watch with a Star case worn on any Apollo mission were just wishful thinking and conjecture.


    I spoke with someone at the National Naval Aviation museum that houses the watch Cernan wore on the moon. They promise to get back with me next week with all the information they have.

    A picture of the back of the watch should solve the riddle once and for all.


    I've also put in a request for information with NASA.
     
  13. Hawk53

    Hawk53 Registered User

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    It will be interesting to hear what they have to say. Sounds like you're on the right track.
    Do you think the Smithsonian might have anything in their database?
     
  14. Jeff Hess

    Jeff Hess Moderator
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    terrific thread!
     
  15. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    Thank you! I love a good mystery. I'd love to get to the bottom of this. I'm especially interested to find out if there is documentation of just how many Star cased watches Omega supplied to NASA and when they were supplied.
     
  16. APG85

    APG85 Registered User

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    Here's a picture of Gene Cernan's watch which he wore on Apollo 17. I took the picture at the Naval Air Museum.

    Cernan's Watch.jpg
     
  17. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    It appears that he actually wore 2 Omegas in space.
    The one worn on the Gemini 10 mission is too early have had a Star case.
    I've seen several pictures of the 105.012, but none of them show the case back. But, as it is marked "Swiss" on the dial, it's almost certainly in a Swiss case. I've also been told that the lugs are clearly different than those used by the Star watch case co.

    I'm in contact with a curator from the Naval museum, and she promises to provide me with pictures of the case back, along with a packet containing all the information they have on the watch.
     
  18. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    There is one other angle I could pursue. Wally Schirra's watch was purchased by him. I'm fairly certain that the Star Watch Case company did produce many cases for Omega wristwatches over the years, perhaps his watch did have a case made by the Star watch case company after all.
     
  19. APG85

    APG85 Registered User

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    Cernan flew on Gemini 9, Apollo 10 and Apollo 17. It was normal for astronauts to wear a new watch on each mission. I don't believe I ever read that any of them ever "re-cycled" any of their flown, issued gear for another mission.

    There's been a lot of discussions about astronaut watches on the message board on Collectspace.com over the years. There are many "experts" who post regularly on a variety of space related subjects.
     
  20. sderek

    sderek Registered User
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    #20 sderek, Jan 29, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2017
    Thanks. There is evidence to suggest that Cernan wore one watch on all 3 missions (#28, the one with the metal bracelet), and the other (#67, the one with the velcro band) was worn only on Apollo 17 (and on the surface of the moon). He wore 2 watches on the 17 mission, but only brought #67 to the moon's surface.
    Here are Cernan's words...
    #67 is at the Naval museum
    #28 is at the Omega museum in Bienne, Switzerland.
     

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