(Above, astronaut Kelly flashes a victory sign after landing, wearing a Speedmaster Professional; photo via AP Images.)
American astronaut Scott Kelly recently returned to Earth after a record-breaking 342 days in space – a record for any American astronaut (though not the absolute record; currently that’s held by cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who was aloft on Mir in 1995 for a staggering 437 days). The purpose of the experiment was to further study the long-term effects of weightlessness on the human body – critical information for any contemplated human-crewed mission to Mars, for instance. Kelly’s twin brother provided a comparison benchmark, and interestingly enough, Mark Kelly is also an astronaut (making them the only siblings ever to have both been space travelers). The Kelly brothers aren’t just astronauts; it looks like they’re both into watches – let’s take a look at what Scott’s been seen wearing, both in space and on Earth.
The first and most visible watch on Commander Kelly is, of course (and it never ceases to tickle us pink to be able to say this) an Omega Speedmaster Professional. The Speedmaster is still in space, working for a living, to this very day, thanks to its adoption by Roscosmos (the Russian Federal Space Agency) as the standard issue watch for Soyuz crews, and also for cosmonauts doing EVA at the ISS. The Speedmaster’s history of use in space goes back much further than that, of course, but we still feel that every Speedmaster Moonwatch owner gets a little bit of a spring in their step whenever we see one on an astronaut’s wrist today. The Speedmaster first flew in 1962, with Wally Schirra, and it’s been in more or less continuous use in spaceflight for 54 years, a fact that never ceases to delight us. In the top image you can clearly see it on his wrist as he emerges from the Soyuz recovery vehicle.
The other Speedmaster, of course, that’s getting a lot of air and space time is the Speedmaster X-33. We had one in for review last year and we gotta say, in terms of sheer practicality as an aerospace mission watch it’s pretty much got the field to itself. The alarm is extremely loud and it has a plethora of features specifically designed for long-term use in the icy emptiness of interplanetary space (or, at least, low Earth orbit) and Commander Kelly had some good things to say about it as well, as you’ll see in the video below (jump to 7:08).
If you’re wondering what the other watch that Commander Kelly is wearing might be, it is, as he mentions in the video, a sleep tracker that he had to wear for the entire duration of the flight. He doesn’t mention the specific model but it looks to us a lot like one of the models made by Actigraph.
Now, as Commander Kelly mentions in the video, he also brought another watch aloft with him (and you can’t blame the gentleman for wanting a little variety in his life; 342 days in space is a lot of days in space). He doesn’t mention the specific model but after a little looking around, we’re pretty sure what what’s on his wrist is a Breitling Navitimer Annual Calendar 1461. And, as he mentions, it was a gift from his brother and fellow astronaut, Captain Mark Kelly, former Navy aviator and the veteran of four Shuttle missions.
Commander Kelly wasn’t alone for the ISS Year Long Mission, however; he was joined by another veteran space traveler: cosmonaut Mikhael Korniyenko. We think it’s safe to assume that Korniyenko had the same model Speedmaster on his EVA suit as Kelly (as we’ve mentioned it’s the Roscosmos standard issue watch for that particular suit, and as such is used on EVA by all ISS crew members). Korniyenko, however, wore at least one other watch, which you can see below: A Fortis Official Cosmonaut’s Automatic Chronograph.
By the way, that Fortis was flown, not just worn for the publicity image, we’re happy to say. Below, cosmonaut Korniyenko, shown servicing the Russian Bioemulsion Experiment during the mission. And the sharp-eyed among you may be wondering what the watch is with the yellow dial on Commander Kelly, on the left – that’s a
Breitling Aerospace. Update: a sharp-eyed reader’s pointed out to us that this is not an Aerospace, but much more likely to be an Emergency; the signature antenna is just visible.
It’s always fantastic to see the Speedmaster (both Professional and X-33) still working for a living in the icy coldness of interplanetary space. It’s interesting also though, to see what guys for whom accurate time is much more of an essential than most of us choose to wear in addition to the usual kit – and nice to see that Fortis, which has a long-standing relationship with Roscosmos, is still getting flight time. We’ll close with some comments shared with us by NASA’s Kirk English last year:
“The Omega Speedmaster Professional is issued by Energia
“The X-33 is worn by most because its alarm is really loud. ESA crewmembers now wear a new version of the X-33, with more functions and a new color scheme.”
Check out our full photo coverage of the Speedmaster in space throughout history right here. For a look at the Speedmaster specifically designed for long term space flight, check out our review of the X-33.
Don’t have the HODINKEE App yet? Get years of amazing watch content plus new stories, breaking news, and access to great new features like HODINKEE Live, free on iOS.