This is one of the few times I have seen a watch at auction and thought to myself “damn, I need to be there for that.” This is the very ultra cool Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk watch. There are only six of these watches in the world, and Seiko made them to celebrate Richard Garriot’s ‘celebutrip’ to the ISS (International Space Station) with the Russians. The story is actually kinda sad if you ask me. Richard Garriot became famous as a video game designer. Fame came with the Ultima series of computer RPG games, and most lately, the MMORPG game Tabula Rasa was supposedly interesting, but a flop. Anyone, Garriot become a millionaire and watches so much to go to space. His dad was an astronaut, and he just wanted the same thing for himself. Garriot reportedly spent the bulk of his fortune to get the Russians to take him to space. Lots of training and quasi-gulag living, and he did it. Maybe a bit anti-climactic… but maybe he can eventually turn it into another marketable game franchise.
I don’t exactly know why Seiko wanted to make a watch for the occasion, but it was around the time the Spring Drive movement was still new, and they needed some publicity. Whatever the reason, they made this awesome timepiece, specially made to be used in free space (not just in a pressurized shuttle). The watch uses the Spring Drive movement and is in a large 48.7 titanium case. Big and very light at 92.5 grams. The watch comes on the fabric Velcro strap and is made to be worn over a large space suit (as you can see).
The obvious watch to compare this Seiko Spacewalk watch to is the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moon Watch. The Seiko has a ton of advantages in my opinion. Sapphire crystal, much more accurate movement that is also an automatic (Spring Drive is basically a mechanical movement but it has a quartz regulator as opposed to a balance wheel), GMT second timezone hand, power reserve indicator, date (!), and probably much better lume. Not to mention that it weighs less. The pushers are massive and placed at the top of the case so that you can press them with gloves, while the crown is easy to turn, and also on the top. The dial is not only easy to read, but very cool looking (neat blue glowing GMT hand).
Seiko wanted to make 100 of these watches, but I don’t think they got around to it. According to Antiquorum Seiko only made 6 of these watches. Which is a damn shame, cause I want one so badly. One of these timepieces is going to be auctioned off by Antiquorum in September. Estimates are that the watch will go for between $10,000 – $20,000. The watch will never be the classic watch that the Omega Moon Watch is, but it is certainly something important. Glad I don’t live in New York, or I would be at that auction next month.
UPDATE: On Sept. 24th the Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk watch worn by Richard Garriot was auctioned off at a price of $45,600.
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