Wittnauer 242T Chronograph
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Wittnauer 242T Chronograph

Due to the Omega Speedmaster’s historic connection to NASA and the Moon Landing, it is, without question, one of the most significant watches ever made. And yet it was not the first—or only—watch to be considered for the task. Watches made by several other brands were up for consideration, including some made by Rolex, Breitling, Omega, and Wittnauer. 

Rolex's entry to the contest was a Valjoux 72-based chronograph, the predecessor to the Daytona. The Navitimer, Reference 809, was Breitling's entry; moreover, Scott Carpenter wore one during his historic spaceflight on May 24, 1962. Other entries included the Omega Speedmaster, worn by Walter Schirra and Ed White during their respective missions, and a chronograph by Wittnauer. 

The tests that NASA subjected these watches to were grueling and comprehensive, meant to simulate conditions that they would endure in space, as well as the uses to which the astronauts would put them.

Since the astronauts would need to time a variety of tasks, the chronographs were left running for several hours. To simulate the cold vacuum of space, as well as the inferno of reentry, they were decompressed for 90 minutes and exposed to temperatures from 0 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, to recreate the tumultuous launch conditions, the watches were exposed to intense vibration for 30 minutes, and then had to withstand shocks of 40 Gs.

There's no proof from either Wittnauer or NASA that the chronograph submitted by Wittnauer was this watch, the Reference 242T. However, advertisements following the Qualification Test Procedures did proclaim the 242T as Wittnauer's entry into the contest. Whether this is true or not, the 242T certainly met the requirements that NASA set forth: it had to be a wrist-worn chronograph that was both water-resistant to 50 meters and legible under both low and high light conditions.

Therefore, it’s perhaps not a coincidence that the 242T shares aesthetic DNA with the other watches that were put to the test; however, the 242T had enough unique elements to make it stand out among its contemporaries.

Unlike the Speedmaster and the Cosmonaute, the dial of the 242T has a chapter ring in decimal time. This feature, useful in aviation, breaks a 24-hour day into 10 decimal hours consisting of 100 decimal minutes, comprised of 100 decimal seconds. Although it also appears on chronographs made by Gallet and Meylan, it’s rarely seen, and poses an attractive alternative to the tachymeter or telemeter tracks on chronographs of the era.

Although the 242T never made it to space, it has become more and more popular among collectors who are looking to explore the wider world of vintage chronographs. With its handsome dial and Valjoux 72 movement, this particular 242T has all the makings of a classic. We've been lucky to offer a few on our site over the years, but they've quickly flown off to new homes; snag this one before it does!

Details

SKU: AS02426

Stainless steel case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). 242T, Reference 8024. Valjoux 72 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall with signs of moderate use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers. Hands have been professionally colored to match. Signed crown.

Includes one 20mm light brown leather strap.

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