Accutron and Bulova launch new Astronaut and Lunar Pilot watches

Two watch brands turned back the clock to celebrate the historic associations they had with the US space program.

Accutron revives its iconic “Astronaut” line. (will open in a new tab) with the release of the 2023 Accutron Astronaut “T” and Bulova continues the “Lunar Pilot” series based on watches once worn on the Moon. Both brands have been part of the Citizen Watch Company since 2008.

Accutron Astronaut, which was first launched with Gordon Cooper on the last Mercury mission in 1963, and Bulova, which sent a prototype chronograph to the moon. (will open in a new tab) along with Apollo 15 commander David Scott in 1971, both have a long history of providing the space program with timers and timing devices for use on NASA’s early satellites and manned spacecraft.

The all-electronic Accutron Astronaut watch was the first American-made watch to fly into space, and the Bulova Accutron watch was part of the Gemini capsule dashboards. Bulova Accutron tuning forks were used to “cut” starlight into scan patterns for the Apollo navigation system, while Bulova Accutron timers helped control science experiments left behind by astronauts on the Moon.

Related: Apollo Program: How NASA Feels Astronauts on the Moon

Gordon Cooper wore an Accutron Astronaut on his right wrist during his Mercury-Atlas 9 mission in 1963.

Gordon Cooper wore an Accutron Astronaut on his right wrist during his Mercury-Atlas 9 mission in 1963. (Image credit: NASA)

“There is no denying the distinguished history of both Accutron and Bulova’s involvement in the US space program,” Citizen Watch America President Jeffrey Cohen said in a statement. “The meaning of relationships and in particular the technology of tuning forks led to the creation of the Accutron brand as the standalone brand it is today.”

Instead of using a balance-wheel mechanism like almost all watches before it, the Accutron was the first to successfully use a battery-powered tuning fork that gave more accurate timekeeping. Due to its high frequency, it could withstand the high G acceleration and extreme temperatures associated with flying at high altitude. The Accutron Astronaut thus became the US Air Force’s choice for its pilots flying the experimental X-15 rocket plane.

New Accutron Astronaut

Based on the iconic 1968 watch, the new 2023 Accutron Astronaut “T” features a partially exposed caseback and distinctive Day/Night bezel. (Image credit: Citizen Watch)

To commemorate its space history and as the first in a new series, Accutron has created its new Astronaut model based on the 1968 “T” version. The 2023 model, which is limited to just 300 pieces and sells for $3,500 a piece, is made in Switzerland and features a 41mm stainless steel case and a partial display case back to show the internal movement. The dial features Super-LumiNova hands and markers to enhance its functionality in low light, and the watch reverts to the Day/Night bezel that was part of the original vintage design.

The new Astronaut does away with the tuning fork movement that made it famous and instead uses the more modern Swiss mechanical movement Sellita GMT.

For the first time, the new Bulova Lunar Pilot is exactly the size of the original watch that landed on the moon.

For the first time, the new Bulova Lunar Pilot is exactly the size of the original watch that landed on the moon. (Image credit: Citizen Watch)

Bulova also continues to expand its Archive series with two new Lunar Pilot models. (will open in a new tab)a chronograph based on a prototype that was clandestinely flown to the Moon on Apollo 15. The watch was only the second brand to be worn on the lunar surface, after David Scott’s NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster crystal was lost on a previous walk.

An authentic Bulova Apollo 15 chronograph sold for $1.6 million in a 2015 auction. (will open in a new tab), which led to the company launching new models. The latest Lunar Pilot watch, which costs $895 each, is the first to accurately reproduce the size (43.5mm) of a moon-flying watch and comes in two colors, one with a two-tone blue and white dial, and the other in a classic black that represents original.

For more information on the 2023 Astronaut Edition (will open in a new tab) Golden Lunar Pilot (will open in a new tab) hours, see listings on the Bulova website.

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