Sputnikfest 2014


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Saturday, May 26, 2012

So I was reading the Wall Street Journal this past week (no, can't say I am a subscriber - this was a copy I picked up in the waiting room of a local financial institution) and I saw a full-page full-color advertisement for a watch.  The theme of the ad was 1962 - 2012 - the 50th anniversary of the first watch in space!  The Navitimer Cosmonaute was on Scott Carpenter's wrist when he orbited the earth three times in the Aurora 7 space capsule in 1962.  Here is a link to the website for the Swiss watch maker Breitling, promoting a limited edition reproduction of that watch.  Check out the interesting video with some neat space program footage from 1962.  I did a little searching to try to see how much one of these watches might set you back, but the price doesn't seem to be plainly listed anywhere.  I suspect this is one of those items where "if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it."  One clue might be the fact that the original vintage Navitimer Cosmonaute watches, when they do come up on eBay, sell for between 3 and 4 thousand dollars.  I find the name of the watch interesting.  The United States had "astronauts" - from the Greek words "astron" (star) and "nautes" (sailor), meaning "star sailor."  The Russians had "cosomonauts" - from the Greek words "kosmos" (universe) and "nautes."  1962 was the height of the space race.  This watch was made by the a Swiss company and adopted for use by NASA, but why would the Swiss not have called the watch the "Navitimer Astronaute"?  Were they subtly signalling who they thought was leading in the race at the time?  1962 is also the 50th anniversary of the piece of space debris from Sputnik IV making landfall in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  The celebration - Sputnifest 2012 - starts at 12 noon on September 8.  I don't think I'll be buying a Navitimer Cosmonaute to check the time - my $19.99 ShopKo special will do just fine, thank you.  Planet Terry

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