Last night, Buzz Aldrin, the second man ever to walk on the moon, tweeted that he is currently designing a Mars watch for Omega. Aldrin’s watch could very well just be a special edition, but considering Aldrin’s background in mechanical engineering and his use of the #GYATM hashtag (Get Your Ass to Mars), it makes some sense the intention here is for a watch suitable for a mission to Mars.
What would a Mars-ready watch look like? As Hodinkee reported this morning, there’s a decent chance this would be some form or evolution of the Speedmaster. It will need to be dependable enough to go without service for a couple years. While the original Speedmaster was only in use on the Apollo 11 mission for about eight days, by many estimations a Mars mission would take about two and a half years to complete. And if the watch were worn on the outside of a space suit on the surface of Mars, it would have to operate at temperatures around negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit; presumably Aldrin and the other engineers and watchmakers working on it would have to take into account the super-fine dust on the planet’s surface, which is small enough to find its way into tight seals and abrasive enough to cause some serious damage. For example, in 2009, NASA’s Spirit rover lost function in two of its wheels when dust played a significant factor in wearing out the rover’s wheel bearings.
Assuming this watch really is going to Mars, Aldrin and Omega have a while to work on it. NASA suggests that manned missions to Mars won’t happen until the 2030s. We’ve reached out to Omega for further comment.