WATCHING TIME

THE STORIES BEHIND FIVE OF THE MOST ICONIC WATCHES OF ALL TIME 

What makes a Rolex GMT-Master special? The moon, for starters.

BY ED ESTLOW

07 JUNE 2016

70 REACTIONS

Apple wrist products, smartphones and Fitbits notwithstanding, actual watches are cool again.

And the backstories are often even cooler.

We’ve teamed up with vintage and pre-owned watch dealer Crown & Caliber to bring you the origin tales on five of the most iconic timepieces. These are stories that involve war, polo and a surprising amount of space travel.

Read on. You’ve got time.

Rolex GMT-Master
Everybody knows the story of how Pan American World Airways, the pioneers behind the intercontinental flight of the same name, got together with Rolex to design the GMT-Master. They tackled the project so their pilots could maintain a regular sleep schedule and not fall asleep at the wheel. But that’s old news.

The real dirty little secret of the GMT-Master is that at least couple of them made it to the Moon. Jack Swigert wore one on the Apollo 13 mission (you know, the one during which the command module almost blew out from under Swigert, James Lovell, and Fred Haise; pretty sure they made a movie about it). Some claim it was the GMT and not the NASA-authorized Omega Speedmaster that Swigert used to time critical rocket burns as a crippled Apollo 13 limped home. That one hangs on a plaque at Rolex HQ.

And several missions later, Apollo 17 Commander Ronald Evans wore his GMT-Master clear down to the lunar surface, albeit under his space suit. There it stayed for a little over three days. When he got home, he took his buzz-pencil and hand engraved the case back with “FLOWN ON APOLLO XVII 6-19 DEC 72 ON MOON 11-17 DEC RON EVANS.” The watch sold at auction in 2009 for $131,450. Not bad for an illicit piece of history, eh?

Patek Philippe Nautilus
Patek Philippe commissioned famed watch designer Gerald Genta to design this one in 1974. Even though he’d done thousands of watch designs in his career, at this point he was fresh off designing the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. One imagines he must have been a little tapped out in the inspiration department.

He was eating lunch during a break in the 1974 Basel Watch Fair when inspiration finally struck. He borrowed a paper and pencil from the waiter and did the first sketches of what would become the Nautilus in about five minutes.

Breitling Cosmonaute
You can guess by the name of this watch that it’s got a spacefaring background. When Korean air combat veteran Scott Carpenter was selected for the Mercury space program, he realized he’d be orbiting — and going through day/night rotations — so fast that he could lose track of whether it was day or night back at Mission Control in Houston.

So he went to his buddies at Breitling and discussed the problem. The solution was a watch with a 24-hour dial: the Cosmonaute, based on Breitling’s famous Navitimer platform. Carpenter’s was delivered to him a mere three weeks before his mission. Although his Mercury Aurora Seven mission only lasted five hours, the watch functioned well in space.

Unfortunately, upon splashdown and recovery, Carpenter dipped his watch hand in the sea and the non-water-resistant watch was toast (the Navitimer was notorious for its lack of water resistance). Here’s where the story gets interesting. NASA apparently sent it back to Breitling for repair, but it was never returned.

No one has seen that particular watch in 54 years. But the Cosmonaute is still being produced today.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso
A sport watch refers to a diver or other ticker made for exploration. And the Jaeger LeCoultre is probably the original sport watch. In 1930, an executive of the forerunner to JLC was in India on business. He was approached by an army officer who played polo in his spare time. It seemed the officer kept breaking the crystals on his watches and needed a solution.

The watch executive considered the problem and discussed it with his associates back in Switzerland. The Reverso, a watch with the case that can flip over to protect the dial side and crystal, is what they came up with. It has seen size changes and dozens of versions in the 85 years since it debuted, but the base model is remarkably like the one that first saw the light of day in 1931.

Omega Speedmaster
Ah yes, the Moon watch. Originally conceived in the late 1950s as a racer’s watch (and said tales about the Rolex GMT-Master notwithstanding), the Omega Speedmaster is the official Moon watch — as designated by NASA. One still goes into space on nearly every U.S. astronaut’s wrist.

The fable goes that NASA engineers went undercover to several jewelers in Houston to buy off-the-shelf timepieces to test for use in space. This story is great, like an actress being discovered in a drugstore at Hollywood & Vine, but it’s generally acknowledged to be untrue.

No matter.

What is true is that the Speedmaster proved to be so tough in tests that, to this day, it’s still the only timepiece approved for spacewalks. And Swigert’s GMT-Master be damned, the Speedy is credited with timing the rocket burns that got Apollo 13 home and saved the crew’s necks.4

Watch nerds everywhere count at least one Speedy in their collection. Watch blogFratelloWatches pioneered the concept of “Speedy Tuesday” on social media, one day each week where aficionados post photographs of their beloved watches in various poses: the nerdier, the better.

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PRINTED CAR – BRAINSTORM

The Printed Car – Business Insider

Is this the future of manufacturing? To some degree I believe it is, although eventually I see many such items being grown rather than printed.

WORKS IN PROGRESS

For the rest of this week I will not be posting any original content to this blog or any of my blogs. Recently, due to my work schedule and other obligations, I have had very little time to work on the overall construction and the technical aspects of my blog(s). I had planned to complete those aspects of my blogs long ago but other things kept interfering.

So this week I have decided to spend the entire week finishing my originally conceived construction-plans of my blogs to make it easier for new business partners, business writers, inventors, investors, manufacturers, and venture capitalists to find me and to communicate and work with me.

To that end I will spend the rest of the week finishing my original plans and retooling this site.

As I said, as it stands now I plan to add no more original content this week so as to finally finish my original designs without interruption or any more delays.

However you can still find a great deal of useful content in the various Categories already present on this blog, and on the Categories of all of my other blogs. Just pick the categories that interest you and browse at will. Uncategorized will allow you to find everything.

I will also be sharing useful articles, content, and posts I find on other sites as I run across them and time allows. But most of my time this week will be spent on blog development.

Thank you for being a Reader and Follower of my blogs, I appreciate your patronage and hope you find my blogs enjoyable, entertaining, and most especially, useful.

S’PLANATION

The Tech That Drives The New Tesla Model S, Explained

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The Tech That Drives The New Tesla Model S, ExplainedExpand

Last night, Elon Musk took the wraps off the new Tesla Model S. Dual motors and all-wheel drive don’t just make it faster, a new sensor array will make it safer too. Let’s break out each innovation, figure out what it is and how it works.

THE FUTURE

Indeed.

This May Well Be The Coolest Feature On The New Tesla

Elon Musk is touting one incredibly futuristic option on the new Tesla.

Produced by Matt Johnston and Alex Kuzoian.

IT’S THE D, BRO

Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit - Day 1

Need a few more breadcrumbs to follow until Elon Musk “unveils the D” (and something else) tomorrow? During an interview tonight at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, Tesla’s CEO told Walter Isaacson a few juicy tidbits about his news, without really revealing anything — other than what we’ve already seen. According to Musk “One of the things is already there, and people just don’t realize it.” Also, some of the internet’s guesses (dual engine? autonomous driving? AWD?) are apparently on track, as he said people are “directionally correct,” but that they don’t “appreciate the magnitude.” You can watch a clip of of the interview embedded after the break and leave your own theories in the comments, we’ll be reporting live from the unveiling in LA tomorrow night to find out the truth.

THE SLIP SUIT

This morning while walking in the woods with Sam I was watching a leaf fall, saw it hit a spider’s web (a big one) then turn in a certain way, slip the web, and continue on to the ground.

Suddenly I was hit by a superb idea for a new type of ballistic armor I’m going to call the Slip-Suit. The basic idea will not be to absorb impact from projectiles, but to “slip impact.”

The way I have the Slip-Suit envisioned it should easily be able to be created using current technologies and current materials, though some materials may have to be reconstructed or realigned din design of the suit to function properly.

Also the idea is so close in basic concept to some of the functions of my Aisthpleis Suit that I am seriously considering seeing if they can be integrated in some way. But both suits are so radical in function that their separate technologies may not be integrate-able. It may be possible to put a Slip-Suit beneath the Aisthpleis, but because the Aisthpleis relies so heavily on direct contact with the human body that may not be possible. It may be possible to coat certain areas of the outer surface of the Aisthpleis with parts of the Slip-Suit material (The Slippage) but I’ll just have to see.

This will be a fairly high-tech development so I’ll need the Museus to eventually help me build and capitalize it.

I have classified it – (HT) 1f,g,h:4c:5:7:8

 

The whole incident also gave me an idea for a much more advanced type of personal suit I’ll call the Explacesure Suit. But this idea is really along the liens more of a science fiction development, than a Real World Invention. The technologies involved and the energy consumption rates that would be required would be enormous and well beyond current technological limits.

As a matter of fact Explacesure is really base upon a defensive combat system I designed for human spacecraft back when I was a kid.

So Explacement will probably have to remain more just a speculative concept and an idea I use in my fiction writings, rather than a viable product invention.

INDIA AND THE UNITED STATES: SPACE EXPLORATION PARTNERS

Excellent, and I think India would make a superb partner for us to team with in the field of Space Exploration. Their business and corporate environment could use some work (I once tried to unsuccessfully arrange an international licensing agreement there and it failed due to multi-layered corruption and over-regulation), and we should ourselves gravitate more and more towards Private Space Exploration efforts (such as SpaceX), but when it comes to technological innovation and invention India would make the US a very well qualified and excellent partner.

So I look forward to our teaming together, especially in working towards Mars.

To tell you the truth once China finally revolts and becomes a Real and Free Republic I’d like to see them join us and India in joint space-exploration enterprises as well.

India, U.S. Agree to Joint Exploration of Mars

NASA’s Maven beat ISRO’s Mangalyaan to Mars.

Reuters

India’s satellite Mangalyaan has only been orbiting Mars for a week, but already space scientists back on Earth are planning their next mission: this time in tandem with the U.S.

 

On Tuesday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration signed an agreement to work with the Indian Space Research Organisation during future explorations of Mars. They also agreed to join forces in observations and scientific analysis from their respective satellites currently orbiting the red planet.

 

Last week, NASA’s Maven satellite entered Mars orbit two days before India’s Mangalyaan. Maven is the first spacecraft to explore the upper atmosphere of Mars, Mangalyaan is studying the surface of the planet to look for evidence of methane among other tasks.

 

India became the first Asian nation to reach Mars and the only country in the world to have done so on its first try.

 

The $74 million venture was far cheaper than comparable voyages and just over a tenth of the cost of NASA’s latest mission to Mars. The success, analysts said, puts India in the big league and promotes it above China and Japan in space exploration. Chinese and Japanese missions to orbit  Mars have so far failed.

 

In 2020, the two space agencies plan to launch the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar,  or NISAR, mission to observe the Earth and measure changes in its land surface.  “Nisar will improve our understanding of key impacts of climate change and advance our knowledge of natural hazards,” NASA said in a statement.

 

For that mission, NASA will provide the L-band synthetic aperture radar, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid state recorder, and a payload data subsystem, the statement said. ISRO will provide the spacecraft bus, an S-band synthetic aperture radar and the launch vehicle, it added.

 

The tie-up between the space agencies “reflects the strong commitment NASA and ISRO have to advancing science and improving life on Earth,” Charles Bolden, NASA administrator said in a statement after he signed the agreement.

THE GOOD MACHINE AND THE BAD MACHINE from THE BUSINESS, CAREER, AND WORK OF MAN

There is the good machine and the bad machine. The good machine emulates the way God works, the bad machine emulates the way hell works.

IS OUR SHEER VOLUME OF SUCCESS MAKING SUCCESS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT?

Fascinating, and watch the videos for these links.

Part of me thinks this is absolutely superb and it has all kinds of beneficial real world applications. As well as all kinds of varied inventive and fictional implications.

Another part of me says, “Remember, your government loves you…”

The last thing these stories and videos made me think of is this: I have often wondered if the Industrial revolution did not occur in the ancient world, as in the modern, because technology was basically carefully controlled and the mechanisms for spreading and disseminating it were not readily available.

For instance in ancient Greece and Rome and in Byzantium (as well as elsewhere) you had some fairly moderate degree of useful technology rather widely disseminated, but only rather small and isolated pockets of much higher technology (such as Greek Fire) and information (great libraries and invention facilities – museums), like at Alexandria (for instance).

But our world may be turning out to be the opposite in function but with the same general end-effect. You have so many pockets of really high, and often advanced proprietary technology, and such a crowded marketplace for disseminating this information and these artifacts (the internet for instance) that it may be becoming nearly impossible for even the most advanced technologies to gain a proper dissemination and general marketing foothold.

That is the sheer number of extremely crowded clusters of high tech projects and the fact that so many highly valuable scientific and technological and business projects are competing at the same time along a very crowded information highway may actually either be reducing the spread of beneficial new technologies, or regulating and reducing that spread to very small and tightly controlled niches and geographies.

In other words we are the working opposite of our ancestors, they had a relatively small number of high tech advances they were creating as the result of a relatively small number of individual geniuses but the ability to share information and the desire to keep such advances secret probably greatly limited the spread of their beneficial advances and technologies.

On the other hand we have a huge number of very important projects underway simultaneously, at countless facilities and under the auspices of hundreds of thousands of brilliant people, all competing for attention at the same time, and the overall net effect is that once again we are subtly suppressing the spread of our own advances and technologies.

Our sheer volume of success is making it almost impossible for everything that should flourish to actually flourish.

As to the last story I am sure we are at a much more advanced stage of development by now.

Fast-Running Robot Cheetah Let Off Its Leash

Army Tests Flying Robo-Sniper

THE SCIENCE, AND THE ART, OF TECHNOLOGICAL AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT

A friend posted this article earlier today on his Facebook page and I have enough personal interest in the subject and the idea occurs often enough in my own inventions, business projects, and writings that I thought I would comment here on the Launch Port.

The iron could have been inserted later, but my general supposition is that Iron, and possibly even Steel development occurred long before what is historically accounted, in certain isolated areas or as a result of individual experiments by certain particularly gifted smiths.

The “Ages” we attribute to history are really just generalizations on wide-spread (what we would call today industrial and/or historical) development. History implies within the very term that there must be an historical record of a thing, and that this record must be available for recognition and study. Without an historical record of some kind there is no history, but whether any particular thing actually exited or not sans an historical record, that is an entirely separate matter.

But smithing used to be art as much as science and some genius (or geniuses) at any particular period of history (or prehistory or non-history) could have easily leapt well ahead of his contemporaries and either the local ruler(s) suppressed wide-spread dissemination of such techniques or the smith himself (for personal and economic reasons) simply kept the secrets to himself and only manufactured small numbers of such artefacts or weapons. Then again local logistical matters and proper supplying may have prevented iron making en masse (as happened with the Hittites and Egyptians), or it could have been a one-off experiment or even an accident that smith was never able to properly reproduce. My father used to be a tool and dye maker and I saw him conduct any number of one-off experiments which he did not properly document or detail and then he later had trouble reproducing.

We moderns, because of our peculiar “industrial techniques” (that is we concentrate as much upon reproducible manufacturing techniques as we do experimental manufacturing methods) think of manufacturing as purely a science, but I suspect most of our ancestors tended to look upon smithing as primarily an art or at the very least an individualized enterprise of high personal skill and craft. We are scientists who like to mimic art in our productions, they were likely artists who were also proto-scientists, but only proto-scientists. Strict record keeping and precise reproduction was probably not a big concern in their worldview. Actually individualization was probably a far bigger concern for them and for their rulers.

Then again you have those recent historical cases of things like the +Ulfberh+t swords where long materiel trade lines combined with unique individualized skill and craft operations to produce weapons and artefacts well ahead of the rest of the world. That is to say there was some localized sub-masse production but for logistical, military, and economic reasons not mass production.

(After all someone has to be the best in the world – just look at US weapon systems compared to most of the rest of the world. Some archaeologist in the far-future, if records are lost or compromised, might assume that there was no US Superpower Age until much later than actually really occurred because the rest of the world is decades if not centuries behind us. The Truth is that is some respects we’re just decades or centuries ahead of everyone else in our weapon systems development, they are not necessarily decades or centuries behind us.)

I suspect the real Truth is that it is a normal thing throughout history and pre-history for some geniuses or particularly cunning individuals to leap well ahead of the curve where the rest of the world is concerned, and when you have ages or eons where it is uncommon to keep records or to store such records properly or even near the artefacts these geniuses create then it is easy to assume that nothing occurs until it becomes obviously apparent to everyone via mass production, or through common usage. But small scale or individualized examples of the thing might have very well existed centuries before such things become common. And because of their small number of productions it is easy to see such examples misplaced, looted, or destroyed and therefore not available for historical discovery or examination.

Truth is someone right now is creating something decades if not centuries ahead of everyone else but it won’t become recognized and it won’t be the “Age of X…” until that thing is widely recognized or able to be mass produced for whatever reasons or reasons.

http://www.humanistictexts.org/sumer.htm#4%20Praise%20of%20Urukagina

 

Introduction

Our oldest written records come from the civilization of Sumer, which arose in around the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now southern Iraq. The chief cities such as Uruk, Nippur, Ur, and Lagash play a prominent role in the history of the region, being built and destroyed many times over as wars developed between the city states and between them and the surrounding tribes. The Uruk period, 3,750-3150 BCE, saw the emergence of warrior kings, magnificent temples, intensive agriculture by means of irrigation, and the first pictographic writing in 3300 BCE. The early kings gained mythical status,  most notably in the case of Lugualbanda and Gilgamesh, whose myths have survived

Pictographic writing evolved into the cueiform script, made with a reed pressed into soft clay. As clay lasts far longer than vegetable materials, Sumerian cuneiform documents dating as far back as 3100 BCE have been found. A flourishing cuneiform literature in the Sumerian language developed, reaching its peak in the centuries around 2000 BCE. The Sumerian language is not part of the Indo-European group and was replaced in the second millenium by Semitic languages as tribes from the Western deserts and elsewhere moved into the fertile crescent and conquered the area, giving rise to the civilizations of Babylon and Assyria. 

Some insight into Sumerian values can be gained from praise poems written for kings. While the kings may not always live up to this praise they show the type of achievments that they wished to be remembered by. The ones used here to provide characteristic extracts praise Urukagina (Uruinimagina, c 2350) and Gudea (2141-2122), who ruled from Lagash, and Ur-Nammu (2112-2095) and Shulgi (Culgi, 2094-2047), who ruled from Ur. Urukagina appears as a social reformer, getting rid of gross abuses of power that had taken hold in Lagash. He ruled for only eight years, after which the abuses must have returned, because Gudea, a few centuries later, instituted similar reforms. Gudea was also an energetic builder of temples, the most elaborate being at Girsu. The surviving text describing its construction provides insight into the richness of his city state and the dispersed regions from which Sumer acquired resources. As he is not recorded as a constant warrior, many of these materials were probably acquired in trading…

 

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