There's a galaxy of products commemorating Apollo 11's 50th anniversary, from coins to cushions, tumblers to tote-bags. But for those who really want to wear their astro-hearts on their sleeve (or wrist), the Trappist-1 NASA edition might just send them over the moon.
Brothers Mitch and Andrew Greenblatt are no strangers to the world of watches, having founded Watchismo (now watches.com) back in 1999. Ironically, Mitch had prided himself in not ever needing, nor owning, a watch, until he was mesmerized by a watch at fair in London the year before. This kicked off an interest in collecting and selling unusual watches which soon became one of those classic eBay-hobby-to-internet-kings stories.
But curating and selling watches wasn't enough. The brothers wanted to design and make them too. This was the impetus behind the creation of the brand Xeric in 2013. The brand soon made a big splash in the crowd-funding universe – at least in the watch category – having raised over US$2 million across 3 Kickstarter campaigns.
This new watch celebrating NASA's Apollo 11 mission (with NASA's full blessing) – and also raising production funds on Kickstarter – is based on the Trappist-1 Moonphase watch which the brothers launched in 2017. This isn't just a matter of cynically grabbing old stock and slapping a NASA sticker on it though. Xeric has redesigned the original Trappist-1 from the ground up for the Trappist-1 NASA Edition. Part of this process was based on feedback from backers of the Moonphase campaign, inspiring tweaks to form, materials and technology. This direct feedback system is one of many benefits of crowdfunding over traditional product-launch models for both marketers and product designers.
So, what's so special about the Trappist-1 NASA Edition watch? Quite a bit. Almost every small step of this redesign is a reverential tip-of-the-hat to either the Apollo 11 mission or NASA at large. To begin with, the framework under the domed crystal of the watch is based on the the seven-port Cupola Observational Module at the International Space Station (ISS). It's not exact, it's more of a nod, as the designers chose to create 13 windows, which allowed each of the 12 support bridges to act as an hour marker.
The domed crystal itself ties nicely into the Apollo story. Standard sapphire watch crystals were no good for space missions, because they simply weren't strong enough. So along came Hesalite, a material specially developed for NASA which has much better impact resistance and doesn't shatter like traditional sapphire crystals. So, in a further nod to the Apollo mission, Xeric decided to use the very same material for the Trappist-1 NASA Edition as Armstrong and Aldrin had for their watches as they bounced about the lunar surface.
Hesalite isn't the only tough component to this watch though. The casement is made of hand-finished 316L stainless steel, is water resistant to 5 ATM and is anchored securely to you with a 22 mm watch-strap made of leather from Horween, one of the oldest continuously running tanneries in the USA. Here, the nod to the Apollo program lies in the stitched ridges, reminiscent of the articulation points on astronaut gloves.
Down on the dial, the watch features a partial map of the constellations around the Trappist-1 system, while the sweeping second hand aligns with the map every minute to make the map complete. Both the stars on the dial and the second hand are painted with lume so the entire display glows at night. It's like your 11-year old, space-obsessed, bedroom ceiling, except on your wrist. In addition, each watch has back-filled luminous hour and minute hands, which allow double the usual amount of Super-LumiNova (the light-charged luminous material) to be used.
Movement-wise, the watch is available in two flavors, a quartz movement (the battery-powered drive that we have in most of our watches) made by Seiko, or an automatic movement (by Miyota), which charges the watch as the wearer moves and has a power reserve of 42 hours. The caseback of the quartz versions will have an engraved version of the Apollo 11 mission patch (showing a bald eagle landing on the moon) while the automatic version will have a custom rotor (viewable though a glass panel) with a similar design, but which also reveals the mechanism as it spins.
An additional feature on the automatic model is the inclusion of tiny, tritium gas-filled glass tubes on the ends of the hour and minute hands. Unlike traditional luminescent paint used in watches, these Tritium-filled tubes will glow for decades without needing to be charged by external light sources. If you need an Apollo-esque tie-in, maybe think of the longevity of the Tritium-filled tubes as being analogous to the flags (faded as they may be) that have remained on the Moon since the first Apollo mission. Or, you could just decide that having a watch that will glow day and night non-stop until you're in the retirement home is pretty cool on its own.
The watch comes in 13 models (two of which are already sold out), each with its own custom color treatment for almost all of the elements – from case, to cupola frame, to hands, dial design and watch-strap. Some of these models are normal options while others are bonus editions for hitting particular pledge targets. Except for the milestone-based editions, the standard colorways are expressly limited to a production run of 1,969 in honor of the year of the Apollo 11 mission. Each will be individually numbered.
It's worth noting that the two white models (Apollo 11 and Saturn V) also feature a Cerakote treatment. Traditionally used on firearms, Cerakote is a ceramic-based coating that can be applied to a wide range of materials to enhance durability. This is a welcome addition to an all-white watch, but it also adds $30 to the cost, regardless of whether you chose the automatic or the quartz movement versions.
Kickstarter pledges begin at $189 for the quartz version (RRP $250) and $299 for the automatic version (RRP $450). Xeric is offering a 12-month "galaxy wide" warranty. If all goes to plan, free shipping to most countries is estimated to start in December. A promo video for the Trappist-1 NASA Edition watch is available to view below.
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