The watch worn by Commander Dave Scott during the Apollo 15 moon mission is set to go to auction this October.
The sale of a timepiece worn by an astronaut is a rare occurrence as the standard Omega chronographs issued to the select dozen spacemen who have stepped foot on the Moon have all been officially owned by NASA, making them government property, and are now housed within government-owned organisations.
An exception to this is the Bulova Chronograph Worn by Scott as he saluted the American flag at the start of EVA-3. It will hold the title of being the only lunar surface watch in private hands when it is auctioned off at the RR Auction Space and Aviation Auction, which is taking place October 15 to October 22.
The minimum bid for the watch will start at $50,000 (£33,000).
The precision timepiece is a key piece inherent to the success of Apollo 15’s third and final lunar surface traverse. The mission was time-critical and it was vital that Dave Scott and Jim Irwin fulfilled all of their objectives on EVA-3, including exploration and specimen collection at Hadley Rille which verified significant volcanic layering, stereo photography at ‘Station 10,’ and Commander Scott’s iconic ‘Galileo Test.’
Once the astronauts had completed the EVA-3 tasks, they required sufficient time to depart the Moon and rendezvous with the CSM in lunar orbit. The Bulova Wrist Chronograph ensured that both the crew and Mission Control had confidence that the Lunar Module would depart successfully.
Full of aeronautical and horological history, the watch has significant wear from exposure on the moon and residual rust from its presence at splashdown and recovery and the Velcro Watchband exhibits expected wear as they were worn on all three Apollo 15 EVAs.
Colonel David R. Scott—Gemini 8 Pilot, Apollo 9 CMP, Apollo 15 CDR—amassed a combined 546 hours in space, was the seventh man to walk on the Moon and the first astronaut to operate the Lunar Rover on the Moon’s surface.
An excerpt from Scott’s five-page detailed letter, which confirms the watch’s background story and use in the mission, reads: “Among the decisions I made, the monitoring of time was perhaps most important. The Bulova Lunar EVA (Wrist) Chronograph and attached velcro wrist strap was worn by me on the lunar surface during the third EVA of Apollo 15, and then in lunar orbit and return to Earth. The primary use of the wrist chronograph on the surface of the Moon was to track the elapsed time of consumables use (oxygen, water, and battery) in the Portable Life Support System (PLSS) backpack…”
"Our mission was to basically double the capabilities and requirements of previous missions, including especially the duration of EVAs outside the Lunar Module. At the moment of liftoff, I was fully responsible for the mission and the safety of my crew. Among the decisions I made, the monitoring and use of time was perhaps the most important…
"Time is of the essence during human lunar expeditions—and exploration time on the surface is limited by the oxygen and water (for cooling) we can carry in our backpacks. Knowledge of precise time remaining was essential. As a backup to the standard issued Omega chronograph, I carried and used a Bulova chronograph on the lunar surface. This unique strap was worn during each of my three EVAs on the lunar surface.”
The lot can be viewed on the RR Auction website. Online bidding begins October 15.