ED: This is the first in a series of collaborative articles with analog/shift – “Curators of exceptional vintage wristwatches.”
Mankind: we are, for better or worse, a fickle bunch with all of our endless faults, questions, uncertainties and frailties. However, and not to lose heart, we do keep on, we keep doing things. And occasionally we do a GREAT thing. Like a great feat, or quest, crossing, adventure, home run, even a revolution or two. Only a few select brave souls can accomplish such endeavors, of course, but fortunately for the rest of us, we are able to connect with these events and these remarkable people through their legacies, first and foremost, but also through the things they use to accomplish their feats. When I was a kid, for instance, a pair of Air Jordans made you and MJ veritable brethren, connected through a common love of groundbreaking, bad-ass sneakers.
For other more “adventurous” events, however, periodically involving mountains, space, oceans or racetracks, there is only one truly reliable and stalwart tool: the watch.
Increasingly in this age of social media and massive technology overload, we are losing vital connections, or at least watching them significantly shift. We walk around on this wide planet with eyes downcast, staring into the tiny, mysterious worlds of our smartphones. We can’t even put them down during dinner parties, at the movies, or when out with chums for a beer, inexhaustibly tweeting, updating, liking and posting our hearts out. It can quickly begin to feel like a thin existence, like a life packed with weird, distant communications and rapid-fire, shallow snippets of connections. I post, therefore I am.
Which is why, I would argue, that a solid mechanical watch, made of metals, ceramic and sapphire, with tiny internal gears that inconceivably fit together and work to provide a strong and true service is appreciated now more than ever. Wearing and relying on a mechanical watch is a beautifully interdependent relationship…you literally need each other to track time. And if you connect the watch to a massive historical feat of mankind, it’s pure magic.
THUS, following is a quick snapshot of three such timepieces that connect us to timeless events, and allow us to share in a little bit of greatness:
The OMEGA Speedmaster
“FLIGHT QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS.” That just about sums it up. In the early 60’s, two NASA officials were charged with finding the best chronograph to outfit their budding Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space missions. After extreme testing (possibly the most extreme testing in all of horology), including zero gravity, magnetic fields, extreme shocks, vibrations and temperatures ranging from 0 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, only one watch remained standing: the OMEGA Speedmaster. The Speedmaster went on to become the first watch worn on the moon and also made a significant contribution in the rescue of the Apollo 13 space mission from potential disaster.
Go ahead wear one, if you dare.
The Rolex Submariner
Rolex introduced the legendary Submariner in 1954 at the Basel Watch Fair. Since that time, the Submariner has undoubtedly become the world’s most recognizable luxury sport watch. Ever. Exactly one decade after its introduction, the Sub was put into severe action by the Navy and was an integral tool in their SEALAB programs (I, II & III). These programs were essentially underwater habitats testing the limits of saturation diving with humans living in isolation for extended periods of time. The knowledge gained from the SEALAB expeditions helped advance the science of deep sea diving and rescue.
Oh, and James Bond, Chuck Yeager, Che Guevara and Steve McQueen also wore one.
The Heuer Autavia
The Heuer Autavia is steeped in sports chronograph history, especially motorsports. One particular Autavia, the white dial “Jo Siffert” Autavia, bears great importance as it was branded by the legendary championship Porsche racer as he won the ’68 British Grand Prix, Daytona and Sebring all in one year. The fate of the watch (and Jo) were sealed in greatness a few years later when Jo tragically died a hero when his BRM crashed and caught fire pinning him in the wreckage.
For more street cred, car lover and funny guy Jerry Seinfeld can frequently be seen sporting his own Siffert Autavia.
And there you have it…hopefully a little ammo to put down your iPhone and pick up a piece of history.