The highest price ever paid for astronaut-owned memorabilia was seen this week when a Florida businessman purchased the Bulova-made wristwatch of Apollo astronaut Dave R. Scott for $1.6 million at a Boston auction house. Scott set foot on the lunar surface in 1971 while wearing the timepiece, which still bears traces of moondust from his four hour moonwalk.
The item is unique because the standard watch chosen for NASA Apollo astronauts was actually an Omega Speedmaster, which has been used on all piloted NASA missions since 1965.
Bulova’s Accutron watch was taken by Scott on the Apollo 15 mission as a backup, which he would need when the crystal on his Omega became detached following his first two moonwalks of that mission. He can be seen posing while wearing the watch in photos from that mission that were taken on the lunar surface.
The Accutron was the world’s first electronic watch, the first to ever receive a U.S. railroad certification and did in fact see use on 46 NASA missions in the 50s and 60s. Because it could not achieve a dustproof certification, however, it was unable to win the title that would later be claimed by Omega.
According to auction specialist Cassandra Hatton from Bonhams, there is a price hierarchy based on the distance an item has travelled from Earth, as well as other factors, “If it left Earth’s surface, its x-amount. If it went on a lunar orbit, the amount is higher. If it lands on the moon, it’s even more, and if it went onto the lunar surface and came in contact with lunar dust, that’s primo.”
These auctions often bring the thoughts of people like space enthusiast Erich Fischer back to memories of that era, “When I see some of these items, I think back to the days when they were alive and well in a NASA or contractor lab, surrounded by engineers in bunny suits, being checked with oscilloscopes and cameras. Now they are handled like household items discovered in grandma’s attic.”
The Accutron Astronaut, the model worn on Apollo flights: