Above, Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso at the 88th Academy Awards; Photo by REX/Shutterstock
We enjoyed taking a look at some of the watches that found their way onto wrists on the red carpet at this year’s edition of the Academy Awards, but we’ve got one more for you – one which several of you pointed out to us that in our haste, we’d forgotten to make sure came along with the others. Ironically, or maybe aptly, enough, it was the watch worn by none other than Matt Damon, who was up for an Oscar for his performance as astronaut Mark Watney, in the film The Martian.
That watch was from Van Cleef & Arpels, and it was probably the most appropriate watch anyone wore: the Astronomie Poétique Midnight Planétarium. This is a watch that shows the position of all five planets visible to the naked eye – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. This is an astronomically accurate, mechanical planetarium wristwatch – stare at it for 12 years and you’ll see Saturn make one revolution around the Sun.
As you know if you’ve seen the film (spoilers ahead if you haven’t) Damon plays engineer/botanist Mark Watney, who’s accidentally left behind on Mars after a violent sandstorm forces an evacuation. While evacuating, Watney is struck by flying debris and presumed dead by his crew mates, who rendezvous with their orbiting mothership and begin the journey home to Earth. It’s not until the vessel (the Hermes) is well en route that it’s discovered that Watney, against all expectations, is still alive. The strict laws of physics and orbital mechanics, however, mean that the Hermes can’t just turn around, and the next Mars mission is four years away. Watney, therefore, has to figure out how to survive on Mars with a food supply that, even with severe rationing, will leave him dead of starvation long before the next Mars mission gets there.
The watch, with an astronomical module designed by Christiaan Van Der Klaauw, was covered by HODINKEE in depth in 2014 and you can read our complete coverage right here. It’s actually a great fit, not so much for an astronaut (of course) but for the film, whose entire rhythm revolves around the positions of the planets, and when the changing positions of Earth and Mars relative to each other makes it possible to rescue Watney. Interesting enough, Damon’s character in the film wore a mechanical Hamilton wristwatch but for the Oscars, Damon wore a watch that really captures the (much) larger picture of astronomical relationships that governs the hard-sci-fi world in which the film’s tale of ingenuity and survival is set. If you haven’t seen the film and you’re a fan of old-school brains-against-the-odds, hard science fiction, I recommend it.
The Midnight Planetarium is 44 mm x 14 mm in rose gold; the relative position of the six innermost planets is shown on an aventurine dial. Read about it at Van Cleef & Arpels online.
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