It's not really nerdy to be enthusiastic about the NASA space program's history: carry around an official Space Pen and get a Snoopy pin for your lapel and hipsters will glance sideways in knowing approval — but watches in particular are a great way for fans to show their passion and feel connected to the story, and there seems to be a full-blown trend of NASA watches that's emerged in recent years.
It makes sense, too: the space program is compelling for its mix of science, adventure, nostalgia and now-retro technology, and watches themselves share some of the same attraction. Of course, for authenticity it's hard to beat the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch that NASA tested and selected as official gear for its many space missions, but more and more watchmakers are getting in on the action for less than the Moonwatch's $6,000+ price tag.
The watches that today carry the NASA logo aren't necessarily affiliated with the US government agency like the Speedmaster is. There are regulations for using the NASA logo, but brands can apply for permission in a process that doesn't seem overly stringent — similar to the way many watchmakers have gotten permission to use the British Ministry of Defense's "Broad Arrow" symbol. The watches below shouldn't be thought of as some collaboration with NASA, but the agency has probably given approval for the use of its branding.
Some of the watches below are limited editions that sold out quickly and can even be hard to find on the secondhand market, another testament to their popularity. They might be worth hunting for, but they also suggest a trend that'll surely see more such watches in the future — and you're advised to act fast when you do see one you love.