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Wittnauer was established in 1884 and quickly gained a reputation for excellence. Their chronographs were favored by pioneering aviators like Amelia Earhart. Under the ownership of Longines, Wittnauer continued to produce exceptional chronographs at a more competitive price point than its Swiss counterparts.
Their dependability in aviation applications attracted the attention of NASA in the early 1960s. In March of 1965, NASA approached six leading watch brands for submission in a series of grueling tests, the object of which was this: to produce the first watch certified for use in manned space flights.
Rolex's entry to the contest was the Valjoux 72-based racing chronograph, the Daytona. The Navitimer, ref. 809, was Breitling's entry, and had already left Earth's atmosphere on the wrist of American astronaut Scott Carpenter during his historic space-flight on May 24, 1962. Other entries included the Omega Speedmaster and a chronograph by Wittnauer.
NASA's Qualification Test Procedures included timing tests that involved running the chronograph for several hours. The watches were decompressed for 90 minutes, and exposed to temperatures from 0 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, intense vibration for 30 minutes, and then had to withstand shocks of 40 Gs. Of all the watches that underwent these intense trials, only the Omega Speedmaster passed each trial intact. The Daytona stopped running twice and the second hand warped. As for the Wittnauer, the Wittnauer's crystal warped and disengaged from the case during the decompression and high pressure tests.
There's no clear documentation of Wittnauer's submission to the test procedures. Advertising material following the tests proclaimed that the 242T was Wittnauer's entry. While some attest that it was in fact this watch, the ref. 235T, that endured all those excruciating tests, there is little concrete evidence to substantiate those claims. Still, it's easy to see why the rumors about this model abound; capturing the essence of a mid-century chronograph, from the perfectly-proportioned steel case with elegantly tapered lugs, and the dial with outer Tachymètre scale printed in blue, this piece is as functional as it is beautiful.
Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Wittnauer Reference 235T. Valjoux 72 manual winding chronograph movement. Circa 1960s.
Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition over all, with sharp bevels on the tapered lugs and no signs of over-polishing. Small blemish on lower left lug. Case shows minimal signs of wear from age and use. Dial is in exceptional untouched condition, retaining crisp colors in the telemeter and tachymeter scales. Luminescent elements on the hour markers and hands have gained a handsome even patina. Unsigned crown. Unsigned screw case back.
Includes one 18mm handcrafted leather strap and two 18mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
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