How do you pack for a trip to space? Six passengers on the Blue Origin space flight launching, December 11, 2021, need to ponder that very question. One of them is NFL champion, award-winning journalist and Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan, and among the personal items he's bringing is a watch that's appropriately out-of-this-world.
It would seem that there's no need to pack a toothbrush and extra socks, as the last Blue Origin flight (in October 2021) lasted only around 11 minutes. Rather, Strahan is taking personal and sentimental items, as he told People magazine. Personal effects he's allowed to bring are limited to three pounds and, interestingly, among them are no fewer than two watches.
He's taking his grandfather's pocket watch as well as a wristwatch from the high-end independent Swiss watchmaker DeBethune. Even among the most esoteric watch companies DeBethune is easily at the far end of creative, avant-garde horology. The particular model Strahan is flying with is called the DB28 Kind of Blue Z and it represents the brand well, also feeling thematically and chromatically on-point for the Blue Origin flight.
More like a producer of wrist-bound art than time-telling devices, DeBethune is the kind of watchmaker that produces highly complicated, technical and extensively hand-finished watches for collectors that are spending in the five- and six-figure range. The company generally takes inspiration from science fiction, and Trekkies are sure to notice references to the Star Trek franchise.
It seems appropriate for a space mission in that sense (Star Trek actor William Shatner was on the previous Blue Origin flight), but also due to DeBethune's predilection for the color blue as seen applied to nearly every surface of the DB28. The watch itself is 42.6mm wide in a titanium case with "artisanal and natural treatment of the metals" to achieve the blue finish, and is powered by an in-house-developed movement. Around the 6 o'clock position is an orb that displays the moon phase in 3D. Such watches are made in very limited quantities, and prices are typically well into the $100,000 range.
Needless to say, this watch isn't comparable to something like the Omega Speedmaster which was actually a functional part of astronauts' kit, and the DB28 is perhaps better seen as representing a love of space, technology and artistry. Michael Strahan is a "guest" of Blue Origin, the commercial space company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whereas four of the other passengers are paying "space tourists." The other objects he's taking with him, are also interesting: a lucky $2 bill, his Super Bowl XLII and Pro Football Hall of Fame rings, a sentimental pearl necklace, and 12 shell casings from the 12-gun salute at his father's funeral.
The launch is scheduled for December 11 [update: rescheduled from December 9], 2021, from Van Horn, TX, and is the 19th flight of the New Shepard spacecraft. If you're a Strahan and Blue Origin fan, you can even buy a collab sweatshirt as a more affordable alternative to the watch.