January 05, 2022
The golden era of the US Space Programme has left us with many wonderful memories, from Gemini to Apollo, and eventually the Space Shuttle. In parallel to the amazing machinery and human endeavour associated with space travel, history has given us names which will forever be etched into the human spirit. Armstrong, Enterprise, Mercury, Skylab, Saturn V. The list is long and completely synonymous with the exploration of space.
This richness of names left the ZULUDIVER Lunar Strap development team with the tough job of actually selecting designations for this new series of straps inspired by the original NASA Velcro straps worn by US Astronauts during their journeys from Earth to the Moon. When the final list of 10 names was approved were delighted with them and thought you may appreciate a little background behind our choices.
This striking grey strap will create the iconic Moonwatch look. This was the first Lunar strap and prototypes were tested on a 2011 Speedmaster Moonwatch. It was against this platform that designs and colours were judged. The moondust grey Tranquillity strap is named in honour of the landing site of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module in the Sea of Tranquillity (Mare Tranquillitatis). No Earth-bound telescope could see enough detail to confirm the viability of the several proposed landing areas, so information was collected from earlier Lunar orbiter and unmanned lander images.
The views of the Sea of Tranquility taken on the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 - Image credit James Stuby based on NASA Image Wikipedia Commons.
Considerable thought on the part of NASA went into the final selection of the Sea of Tranquillity based on ease of approach, estimated fuel use and the flat nature of the terrain. That selection process ultimately left us with the immortal words: “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
The Horizon strap is the only model in the collection with earthy tones. Its more militaristic look gave inspiration for it to be named after an audacious Classified US Army project in the 1950s to construct a military base on the Moon.
The Project Horizon Lunar Landing-and-Return Vehicle - Image credit Public Domain Wikipedia Commons.
The feasibility study was eyewatering in cost with logistics requiring over 40 rocket launches to get components to the Moon to locate just 12 soldiers who would defend against a possible Russian Lunar Attack. Of course, the Moon was never militarized but Project Horizon will always be one of the most ambitious military space plans of all time.
Black with a bold red stripe, Redstone is a visually powerful strap which pays homage to one of the most famous space rockets of all time. The original Redstone rocket was a surface-to-surface ballistic missile developed by the US Army in the 1950s. Before the advent of purpose-built space rockets like the Atlas and Saturn V, early sub-orbital missions were launched on the top of existing missiles. The Mercury-Redstone was deployed to launch the very first test Mercury capsules and paved the way for all future manned missions.
The Mercury-Redstone launch - Image credit Soerfm Wikipedia Commons
The Gemini strap is black with a single blue line which represents the point in the Earth’s atmosphere where midnight blue turns to black. All of the Gemini crew saw this phenomenon when they orbited the Earth in their tiny capsule. The Gemini Project was the critical pre-cursor to Apollo and tested countless mission parameters such as manoeuvring, docking and even prototype space suits. Many of the Gemini crew would go on to be Apollo astronauts although several cited these early missions as more intense than the final moon shots, such was the rudimentary technology and experimental nature of these orbital flights.
By NASA / James McDivitt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Gemini 4 will forever be a favourite in the watch world as it gave us one of the greatest Speedmaster in Space images when Ed White was photographed during a space walk, floating above our home planet, with his Omega strapped outside his suit.
White with centre stripes in the US flag colours the Eagle strap is the ultimate homage to the early Apollo missions when white Velcro watch straps were occasionally used with mission watches. There is one particularly famous image of the astronaut Wally Shirra, prior to Apollo 7 lift-off, with his Speedmaster on a rare white band. Eagle was the name of the Lunar Lander which took Armstrong and Aldrin to the Moon’s surface in 1969 and this pure Apollo inspired strap could only have one name.
Wally Shirra with his Speedy proudly on wrist - NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Whilst everyone knows the “Eagle has landed” phrase to the ZULUDIVER team the creation of this strap was more inspired by Neil Armstrong’s evocative words when the lander first separates from the Command Module; “The Eagle has wings."
The black, silver, and grey colours of the Mercury capsule have been perfectly replicated in this variant of the ZULUDIVER Lunar Strap. The 1960s Mercury ships looked impossibly small and fragile yet the famous Mercury Seven, test pilots with “the Right Stuff”, strapped themselves into the craft, smaller than a family car, to be launched into orbit on top of an Atlas rocket reaching a speed of 28,000 kph. Mercury was the fore runner to Gemini and served to put American astronauts into orbit challenging the earlier orbits from the Russians.
The Mercury Capsule replica at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA - Image credit Ciar Wikipedia Commons.
Red, white, and blue have been selected to honour one of the most famous spacecraft of the Apollo era. It was on the Odyssey capsule that the ill-fated crew of Apollo 13 made it back to Earth after a life-threatening explosion in the CSM (Command & Service Module) which ended the mission en-route to the Moon. In NASA’s most stressful 6 days the combined skills of the crew and mission control calculated how to fly the spaceship manually back to Earth.
The Apollo-13 capsule on the recovery ship - Image credit NASA Wikipedia Commons.
The plan ultimately involved jettisoning the ruined CSM and the crew using the now redundant Lunar Lander Aquarius, attached to the re-entry capsule Odyssey, as a lifeboat to get them home safely. The Lunar Odyssey strap is our homage to this most amazing of missions.
Bold orange stripes capture the colour at the heart of our sun, Sol, and the word Solaris refers to all things connected to our star. It is in every way an amazing body, 93 million miles from Earth, at the centre of our solar system. Apollo 10 travelled around 40,000 kph yet it would take 156 days to reach the Sun. At speeds we are more accustomed to it would take a modern jet airliner 19 years make the same journey.
In NASA history there have been (allegedly) two crafts named Aurora. For certain there was Mercury-Atlas 7 which was designated Aurora 7,however this is not the ship which lends its name to this variant of the Lunar strap. Based on the classic ZULUDIVER Bond style we wanted a name connected to secrecy and spacecraft, and nothing seemed more fitting than the mythical AURORA Project of the 1980s. Always denied by the US Government the AURORA was purported to be a beyond top-secret hypersonic spy aircraft which would fly at extreme heights and speeds; so much so that it requires astronauts to pilot it.
The Mercury-Atlas 7 launch - Image credit NASA Wikipedia Commons.
Project Aurora may be fact, or it may be fiction consigned to the X-Files, however our strap acknowledging this shady program is very much a reality.
In dark blue and black representing the colours of deepest space the Andromeda Lunar strap takes its title from the Andromeda Galaxy. A spiral galaxy 2.5 million light-years from Earth, Andromeda is the closest galaxy to our Milky Way and can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation Andromeda.
With twice the number of stars as our galaxy, we can only speculate about what discoveries lie waiting in Andromeda for future explorers, but we do know that at its centre lies a massive black hole designated M31. Whether humans ever visit M31 is pure science fiction but you can begin your journey into deepest space with the ZULUDIVER Andromeda Lunar strap.
About the Author: Richard Brown
About the Author: Richard Brown
I truly believe one of the best partners in exploration and adventure is a fine watch. Over 30 years of collecting, my fascination with the technical capabilities of both vintage and modern timepieces has never abated and it is a privilege to be able to share this passion through writing.More Articles by Richard Brown