Bulova Chronograph Flown to moon on Apollo 15

Submitted by astronut on February 19, 2014 - 9:41am

Hello  - I just came across this forum on Bulova watches and hope someone can help me solve a mystery,

I found this entry on Wikipedia regarding watches worn by astronauts on the moon:

In 1971, Apollo 15 commander David Scott's issued Speedmaster lost its Plexiglas crystal during EVA-2. For EVA-3, the final lunar surface EVA, In a 2011 interview, Colonel Scott stated that he wore a Bulova Chronograph watch, model number 88510/01, NASA Part Number SEB12100030-202 that he had agreed to evaluate for the company. Because of the commercial interests involved and the revelation of the Apollo 15 postage stamp incident, NASA withheld Bulova's name for years afterward. Therefore, while the Speedmaster was the first watch worn on the moon, it is not the only one, as Omega often claims on its watches and in marketing materials.

My question is, which Bulova watch would have been identified as "88510/01" ???   Since it is comparable to an Omega Speedmaster, I presume this is a manual wind Valjoux chronograph which Bulova made around 1970. Does that model number match anything anyone is aware of ??

Thank you

Posted February 19, 2014 - 11:54am

Actually it was both the stopwatch AND a chronograph.  The stopwatch was used INSIDE the spacecraft during earth to moon engine burns. The watch was actually used on the lunar surface when the Speedmaster lost its crystal as described above. Dave Scott auctioned the stopwatch a few years ago and still owns the watch, but no picture has ever been released of it, thus my question. Thanks.

Posted February 19, 2014 - 11:59am

Here is a quote from the gentleman who actually owns the Stopwatch: " The watch has been (and still is) stored away in a safety deposit box. Dave retrieved the stopwatch for auction and found that both the stopwatch and the chronograph were made by Bulova."  So does the number 88510/01 correspond to any known Bulova wristwatch?

Posted February 19, 2014 - 2:26pm

This would be the first I have heard of a Wristwatch, from where are You receiving the information?

Quote from Paul Fraser Collectibles, link above.

"The specialised timepiece was not only carried to the lunar surface and back, but was also used to time the duration of the mission's critical Descent Orbit Insertion (DOI) manoeuvre, which had to be terminated within exactly 0.3 seconds to ensure that Falcon didn't crash into the Moon"


No mention of the Omega losing a Crystal:

"It was feared that Scott's standard-issue Omega Speedmaster watch wouldn't be up to the job, so this Bulova stopwatch was obtained from the manufacturer via a friend of Scott's. With its bright, clear dial and large plungers and crowns the watch proved well suited to the job."


Reverend Rob
Posted February 19, 2014 - 2:33pm

Scott's crystal blew out on the 2nd EVA. I found several references to it, including someone mentioning the watch hadn't been depressurized properly in the air lock. I'll see if I can find the link. 

Posted February 19, 2014 - 5:40pm

In reply to by Reverend Rob

Soooo, He just so happened to have a Bulova Chronograph Wristwatch with Him onboard?

Sorry I don't quite Buy it.

Posted February 19, 2014 - 5:54pm

The information I posted above is from Wikipedia, but more recently, the gentleman who purchased the Stopwatch at Bonhams discussed above has also posted the information about the wristwatch being in Dave Scott's safe deposit box. It also describes how he was approached by Bulova in the first place to fly the stopwatch and chronograph.  It is on a website called "Collectspace" and here is the link to the postings if you want to read more.



Posted February 19, 2014 - 4:17pm

These were 2 of the Chrono's Bulova was producing at the time...The Deep Sea 666 and Stars & Stripes...

Reverend Rob
Posted February 19, 2014 - 8:17pm

The Astronauts often had their own backup watches with them, a fact mentioned by both Aldrin and Armstrong. 

I'm betting the watch would more likely have been a Deep Sea, because of the pressure rating. This is the link to the Wiki info, also mentions the Bulova watch:


Posted February 19, 2014 - 8:10pm

The Deep Sea was my 1st thought, but it also could have been a prototype watch that tested the new 14EFAD movement like the one that Mr. Baker has posted here...88510/01 does not sound like a production model number, they were just 3 or 5 digits in the catalogs and on the hang tags and I don't ever remember seeing one start higher than 4xxxx.

This is a neat mystery to speculate on, but hopfully Mr. Scott will eventually come forward and resolve it.


Reverend Rob
Posted February 19, 2014 - 8:24pm

A very cool watch, and the first of the Auto chronos, a joint venture by Hamilton/Buren, Heuer, and Breitling. A Dubois-Depraz chronograph module on the Buren 1281. Hamilton liked the Buren company so much, they bought them out. 

Being so new, it may not have been first choice to be tested as a flight watch. The micro-rotor needs a bit more movement than regular automatics, and the astronauts would have been sitting still for long periods. Still, it could be hand wound for more power reserve, but I wonder if they wouldn't have kept things simple with a similar manual Swiss chronograph like the Omega, a Piguet design. 

Posted February 19, 2014 - 8:32pm

In reply to by Reverend Rob

When you have a former General lobbying NASA for your product testing, all sorts of things can happen...

Posted February 20, 2014 - 4:41am

Q:  How do You activate a Wristwatch size Chronograph on the Lunar surface while wearing a pressurized Space suit?

A:  You don't.

One of the many fears were a puncture, rip or tear in the material and the Gloves worn weren't exactly designed for precision.

Sorry, it's a nice story but a bullshit story that makes absolutely no sense.

Welcome to the Internet....

Posted February 20, 2014 - 5:32am

In reply to by FifthAvenueRes…

That's a great looking Hollywood studio film set....great attention to detail!! :-)

Is that a watch he is wearing on his right arm?

Posted February 20, 2014 - 5:45am

In reply to by FifthAvenueRes…

Mark you must have not searched hard enough for an astronaut on the surface wearing a watch. Maybe not for accurate split second timing but they obviously worn them for a reason.

Posted February 20, 2014 - 4:42pm

In reply to by FifthAvenueRes…

Indeed every Apollo astronaut on the lunar surface wore the Omega Speedmaster on their spacesuited arm using an extra long black velcro strap that you see on Buzz Aldrin's right arm just above his glove in the photo above.  The watch was used as a timer, not to tell time of course! It was important for the astronauts to know the elapsed time from when they pressurized their suit inside the cabin before they egressed to the surface since there was less than 8 hours of oxygen on their back to last the entire spacewalk.  The watch was started while they were still inside the cabin, thus there was no need to adjust anything on the watch while they were on the surface with gloves on their hand.   In the case of Dave Scott, his Speedmaster's crystal popped off during his second moonwalk on Apollo 15.  Prior to his egress for his final third moonwalk, he attached the Bulova Chronograph on the strap in place of the Speedmaster.  Below is the only photo we have of him wearing that watch on that third moonwalk (his left arm)- hopefully with the help of people on this forum, we can narrow down which Bulova it was based on the limited information we have.

I hope my explanation makes sense to you!

Thank you to everyone here who has posted info!


Apollo 15 Bulova Timer


Posted February 20, 2014 - 7:38pm

In reply to by astronut

If that is a Bulova then I'm getting excited as the dial seems very much lighter in colour (certainly not black like the Omegas), which narrows down the field of candidates, especially ones with large sub second markers. 


Posted February 21, 2014 - 11:53pm

In reply to by astronut

1970/71 Bulova Chonos we have on site:

Chronograph 'C' is the only round case chronograph that appears to match the above photo in size, shape and dial color. The more I look at the photo, if it is a Bulova Chrono, then I would say it's a Chrono 'C".


Posted February 20, 2014 - 4:43am

Not sure about the pressure aspect, but in looking at the half dozen chrono's we have identified so far on site (that fit the era) the only one with the large sub-second markers is the Chrono 'C', all others don't have sub-second markets or are very small.

I'd like to think it was a Chrono 'C', but hey that's just me because I own one :-)

1970 Bulova Chronograph 'C' - AKA Stars and Strips

Posted February 21, 2014 - 9:00pm

In reply to by mybulova_admin

Can you please tell me the diameter of this watch?   I am trying to gauge how it compares in size to an Omega Speedmaster.  Thank you

Posted February 22, 2014 - 12:35am

In reply to by mybulova_admin

Wow. - that is right on identical to the Speedmaster diameter - thank you.

Posted February 20, 2014 - 6:03am

Found this wonder bit of information.

In 1962, NASA decided to equip the astronauts of its future Gemini program with a highly accurate, legible, resistant and reliable wrist chronograph.

Donald K. Slayton, head of the flight Crew Operations, took action to select the chronographs :

For the purpose of comparison tests, NASA purchased chronographs different brands from Corrigan's, a large retailer in Houston, Texas the following watches where purchased : Elgin, Benrus, Hamilton, Mido, Piccard, Omega, Bulova, Rolex, Longine and Gruen. Of theses only 3 where selected for the comparative evaluation testing :

Longines, Omega and Rolex (Omega movement : Omega 321 , Rolex movement : Valjoux 72 , Longines : Longines 13 ZN)

1965 first qualification program :

Model tested : probably 105.012 no documents found for the moment to firmly state this , but for sure a Speedmaster equiped with Omega 321 caliber

High temperature: 48 hours at 71º C followed by 30 minutes at 93º C. This under a pressure of 0,35atm and relative humidity not over 15%.

Low temperature: Four hours at -18º C.

Temperature-pressure: 0,000001atm and temperature raised to 71º C. Temperature then lowered to -18º C in 45 minutes and again raised to 71º C in 45 minutes. This cycle was repeated fifteen times.

Relative humidity: 240 hours in relatuve humidity of at least 95% and at temperatures varying between 20º C and 71º C. The steam had a pH value of between 6,5 and 7,5.

Oxygen atmosphere: Exposure to 100% oxygen atmosphere at a pressure of 0,35atm and a temperature of 71º C for 48 hours.

Shock: Six 11 millisecond shocks of 40g each in six different directions.

Acceleration: Linear acceleration from 1g to 7,25g within 333 seconds.

Decompression: 90 minutes in a vaccum of 0 10-6 atm and a temperature of 71º C and 30 minutes in the same vaccum but at a temperature of 93ºC.

High pressure: Exposure to 1,6atm for one hour.

Vibration: Three cycles of 30 minutes (lateral, horizontal and vertical), the frequency varying from 5 to 2000cps and back to 5cps in 15 minutes. Average acceleration per impulse 8,8g.

Acoustic noise: 130dB over a frequency range from 40 to 10000Hz for 30 minutes

Results of the tests :

Omega Speedmaster : gained 21 minutes during decompression test and lost 15 minutes during the acceleration test , the luminescence of the dial was lost during the test

Rolex Daytona : stopped running on two occasions during the relative humidity test and during the high pressure test when the sweep second hand wraped and press against the other hands

Longine Wittnauer : Crystal warped and disengaged during the high pressure test , same fault occured during the decompression test

Final conclusion : the Omega chronograph performmed satisfactorily

In 1965, NASA chose the Omega Speedmaster Professional as the official chronograph for the space program.

With the first Gemini flight (GT3) with astronauts Grissom and Young, the Speedmaster Professional became part of the standard equipment issued to the astronauts. The watch was worn on the outside of the pressure suit with the use of a large black velcro band.

The Speedmaster was worn during the first walk in space by an American, Edward White, in 1965. Two speedmasters were worn by each Gemini astronaut one set on mission time , the other one on GMT or Huston time.

1972 qualification tests :

Omega Model tested : 145.022 according Omega

1. Vacuum testing
The chronograph shall be subjected to a vacuum of 1x10-6 Torr or better for a total of 72 hours. During the first 10 hours of testing the temperature of the items shall be increased to 160 (+/-10) degrees F. The temperature shall then be returned to 78 (+/-10) degrees F for the remainder of the test.

2. Oxygen Atmosphere/Temperature Test
The test items shall be placed in atmosphere of 95 +/-5 percent oxygen at a pressure of 5+/-0.1 psia and a temperature of 155 +/-5 degrees F for 72 hours. Gas samples extracted from the chamber area shall be analyzed for organic and CO content per test number 6 of D-NA-0002.

3. Low Temperature
The test items shall be lowered to 0 +/- 5 degrees F. This temperature shall be maintained for 10 +/-0.5 hours. The test items shall be allowed to return to ambient before functional testing.

4. Acceleration
The test items shall be subjected to 20's +/- 2 g's in each direction of the three (3) perpendicular axes.

5. Random Vibration
The test items shall be installed in a fixture and submitted to 7.8 g's RMS for 5 +/-0.1 minutes, as defined in figure 2 in each of 3 axes. The test fixture with the test items shall then be submitted to 3.2 g's for 12 +/-0.1 minutes as defined in figure 1, in each of the 3 axes [Eds. Note: Figures not provided].

6. EMI Test
The test items shall be subjected to all applicable requirements of Mil-STD-461A, if an electromechanical movement is employed.

7. Humidity Testing
The test items shall be submitted to a humidity test per MIL-STD-810B, Method 507, Procedure I, except minimum temperature shall be 68 deg F and maximum temperature shall be 120 deg F.

Results of the tests :

During humidity test the bulova watch stopped three times, and stopped again during the acceleration test. According to the criteria, it must be conclued that the Bulova chronograph is not appropriate for the Apollo missions.

__________________________________________________ _______________

1978 qualification tests :

The topic of astronaut timepieces was quiet for several years until 1976 when Bulova became interested in supplying time pieces for the Space Shuttle missions.

Once again, NASA initiated a competetive solicitation. A new deadline was extended several times so Bulova could participate.

In September 1978, astronaut chronograph watches wishing to be considered for the space shuttle program underwent yet another round of prescribed space flight environmental testing.

This included:

Low temperature
Shock testing

The test where acheived by two independant laboratories : one in Switzerland : the Neuchatel Observatory and the LSRH and one in the US : : Approved test laboratories of Chatsworth in California

Omega submit 3 different models of watches for thoses tests : the Speedmaster Professional (cal 861) the Speedmaster "125" (cal 1041) and the Speedsonic (cal tuning fork 1255)

The technical evaluation team determined that, of the chronographs submitted by Bulova for space flight environmental testing, no single watch was exposed to all environmental tests. Also, one watch failed in salt-fog testing and all 3 watches exposed to vacuum testing failed. Accordingly, the Bulova chronographs were determined to be in non-compliance with the specified environmental requirements.

Once again, the Omega Speedmaster professional chronograph was superior to the other chronographs tested. The Speedmaster Professional met all environmental requirements, had the highest technical score, and was offered at the lowest price. Therefore, the Omega was accepted for procurement. The watch was offered to NASA at the cost of $0.01 per watch. NASA bought a serie of 56 watches after thoses tests

The 3 Omega models presented to the 1978 qualification :

The Speedmaster professional
The Speedmaster "125"
The Speedmaster "Speedsonic"


This still does not disprove in any way that a Bulova watch was worn on the surface of the moon.
Astronaut M2
Posted May 26, 2018 - 4:13pm

In reply to by mybulova_admin

This story that NASA bought watches to test has been proven to be false, That's not how NASA operated, At least in the 60's...    

Reverend Rob
Posted February 22, 2014 - 9:44am

Fascinating. I may be wrong about this, but to get properly suited up, you need help, and didn't this mean one guy stayed inside the LEM at all times? That would mean that if they were doing any chronograph measured time tests, the chrono would have to be activated by the guy sending the man out the door. I agree it would be impossible to operate a chronograph with those gloves on while doing any kind of EVA. 

Good stuff, and I find it bizarre that despite the Speedmaster gaining 21 minutes during the decompression test, and losing 15 in the acceleration test, it was deemed 'satisfactory'? Better than the others, but still....

edit: The crew of the LEM was two. Apparently they had enough room inside to suit up individually, and could do this unassisted. I didn't know it was flown standing up, as there were no seats. 60 cubic metres is the inside volume. 


Reverend Rob
Posted March 17, 2014 - 2:14pm


So that's it! A Chrono C on the moon! WOOT! 

Bul-O-VAH! Bul-o-VAH!

Posted March 17, 2014 - 4:49pm

In reply to by Reverend Rob

It will be wonderful if Mr Scott can one day confirm this.

Also the Apollo 15 badge may also give us a clue that the Chrono "C" is the watch in question.

Apollo 15 badge

RED WHITE and BLUE anyone?

Posted March 17, 2014 - 7:00pm

The price on Chrono C's just went up some more....

Posted March 18, 2014 - 9:38am


The Chrono 'C' assuption at collectspace.com  is based on information put forth in this thread.

"However, I have talked to several well-versed Bulova watch experts who have concluded that this watch, known as the 'Chrono C' is by default the likely one that Dave Scott used on the moon.

The reason being is Bulova in 1970-71 did not have many chronograph wrist watches in their line — the Accutron at the time was still their most popular line, and there was never a "chronograph" Accutron made.

This particular model is a "triple register" (i.e. three sub dials) just like the Speedmaster and was the only one in their line at the time (and like the Speedmaster it used a non-glass Hexalite/plastic crystal). The only other chronos in their catalog in this period were two-register "Deep Sea" diver type watches. "

The truth is "at that time" We don't really know how many Chronographs were being manufactured by Bulova, in fact if there's a 'C' then there ultimately has to be an 'A' and a 'B', possibly a 'D', 'E' ect.

FACT: There is no hard evidence to indicate the Bulova Chronograph was the 'C'.

The Watch We currently know as the 'Bullhead' being a more likely candidate based upon the Crown and Pusher positioning.

Posted March 18, 2014 - 4:43pm

FACT: the Bullhead is not cased in a 43mm round case.

Bulova Bullhead Automatic wristwatch

Whilst I agree that we have absolutely no hard evidence, when has that stopped us from putting forth our best guess based on the information we have and the years of experience in collecting and IDing vintage Bulova watches.

AT THIS PRESENT TIME....there is no other 'known' 1970/71 Bulova Chronograph other than the Chrono "C" that resembles the watch in question.

Mark please stop always being so negative and look at the positive and possibilities.

I/we are not saying it is 100% the Chronograph "C", I/we are simply saying that at this time it's the most likely of candidates, fitting the description.

Posted March 22, 2014 - 9:35am

In reply to by mybulova_admin

No negativity here Stephen, merely commenting with a err of caution.

The Chronograph 'C' has already been publicly acknowleged as the Chrono worn on the Lunar surface for all of the World to see. This information is shown to be incorrect as the image displayed below of the actual Watch clearly shows.

We should all know by now that if there is a 'C' variant of any Bulova Watch model there will  undoubtably be at the very least an 'A' and a 'B' variant to preceed, ad or no ad.

Reverend Rob
Posted March 18, 2014 - 5:47pm

As I stated before, I don't see it being the Automatic, it was still very new and requires quite a bit of movement to stay wound. Has this really been a cyclic event? We said something based on what they said and now they are saying something based on what we said? 

Larry is going to post some pics after getting permission from Scott. 

Posted March 19, 2014 - 8:05am

Update to this post from Collectspace.com


NASA of crew personal equipment for Apollo.


Page 22 or 2.12-20 in the document.

Quote: Chronograph with watchband - "Accutron Astronaut" watch featuring sweep second hand, stopwatch control and changeable time zone dial


I find this very interesting as there is no such beast....is there? Certainly not from our limited knowledge.

The interesting part is that is was an Accutron Chronograph with stopwatch function.....did such a watch exist back in 1968/69?

So far we haven't come across such a watch.

Posted March 21, 2014 - 9:54pm

It is both my great honour and privilege to finally put closure to the belief that a Bulova Chronograph wristwatch was indeed used on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 15 mission, worn by Commander Dave Scott.

Commander Dave Scott

I recently sent Mr Lawrence McGlynn an email asking him to forward it on to Mr Scott. In that email I introduced myself and the myBulova.com community, and made mention the important work we are doing to recapture the history of this great American watch company. My email to Commander Scott requested permission for Mr McGlynn to publicly release the photos of the watch to be shown here on myBulova.com.

A week or so later I received a reply from Mr McGlynn advising that Commander Scott had read my email and as a result agreed to the release of a number of photos, confirming the fact that it was indeed a Bulova watch he wore on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 15 mission.

The following photo is courtesy of Mr McGlynn and Dave Scott, which I'm delighted to present here for the first time ever on myBulova.com

I would like to add a big thank you to both of these gentleman for allowing this information to be finally made public and to further add yet another amazing facet to Bulova's incredible long history, one that previously was only speculation.

I present to you the Bulova 'Moon' watch.

Dave Scott - Apollo 15 Bulova Chronograph wristwatch

Note the time in this original photo: 11:15:33

Posted March 21, 2014 - 11:08pm

In reply to by mybulova_admin

Wow - so there you are - a true clone of the Omega Speedmaster!  Was this model ever mass produced? Could it have been the same movement found in the Chrono-C?  Thanks so much for posting! You certainly scooped the folks over at Collectspace!

Posted March 21, 2014 - 11:44pm


Interesting looking pushers on the side, not really crowns, more like bars that must hinge in the center.

You saw it first right here on mybulova.com!

Geoff Baker
Posted March 22, 2014 - 6:26am

Wow, I am in awe on this watch ( and of course the myBulova scoop ). I grew up in the 60's and followed the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs closer than my favorite baseball team.  This is an amazing piece of WORLD history. Thank you you Commander Scott and Mr McGlynn - can we have MORE photos!!??

Posted March 22, 2014 - 9:49am

If a little more information could be obtained I'd suggest an honorary entry into the Watch database. Good stuff!

Reverend Rob
Posted March 22, 2014 - 10:47am

The Speedmaster made its debut in 1957, a design by Claude Baillod, with a 321 manual column wheel chronograph movt. The 321 ebauche was designed and executed by Lemania, which Omega owned at the time, in 1942. 

The 7736 by Valjoux is what we find in the Chrono C, and is very likely what is in the watch flown to the moon also. This was a rebranding of the famous cam switched Venus 188. Venus folded in 1966, and Valjoux acquired the company and made versions of the 188 until 1973. I don't know who designed the case for the Chrono C, or the watch pictured above, it would be interesting to find out. 

Posted March 23, 2014 - 7:11am

We at least know what the Bulova Chronograph "B", "C" and "D" look like.

Could Mr Scott's be the "A"?

Bulova Chronograph "B" & "D"

It appears that the Chronograph "C" and Mr Scotts chrono were the only triple register chronos of this period as all others we see are only dual.

Posted March 23, 2014 - 11:12am

IMO the models named 'Deep Sea' will not be the same as those named simply 'Chronograph'.

We will eventually see:




Posted May 15, 2014 - 6:02pm

Commander Scotts' watch was made after the "C" was released, so can't be the "A".

That serial no. 88501/01 would appear to be a prototype number, as bulova watches have a five number model no. followed by a single number followed by a letter, either a "Y" for yellow, or "W" for white, as below in the childishly orange-ringed model numbers!


Posted May 20, 2014 - 10:27am

Something else that made its way up there...

June 1969 publication.

Posted July 7, 2014 - 8:26am

  It looks like Commander Scott's was not the first Bulova wrist watch in space...


...yet this photo taken just before his flight in February 1962 shows him wearing a Heuer stopwatch held by elastic bands.

Maybe the above article was just clever marketing by Bulova, as Accutron clocks were definitely used.

Posted August 8, 2014 - 5:13am

Here is the part of the eva2 transcript that shows all pertinent information regarding the Bulova moon watch.

Please note, the below is not a link. It is the only way I can paste info on mybulova at this time.


http://142:14:22 Scott: "Verify cabin at 3.5." Okay, cabin's at 3.5. Suit circuit's locked up at about 4.4. My PGA is coming through 5 and decaying. And let's slip on a watch. [Dave may have had his watch hanging from the instrument panel and, in any event, he is now putting it on and is probably starting the stopwatch function.]

[Scott, from a 1996 letter - "I do not recall ever having looked at my watch after egress. In the cabin after EVA-2, I noticed that the crystal of my Omega had popped off sometime during the EVA. Therefore, on EVA-3, I used my backup watch (which was) of a similar type. It worked just fine during the even higher temperatures of EVA-3."] [In Dave's 1996 letter to me, he said that the back-up watch was a Waltham. After further researching the issue for an article on watches, Dave wrote in early 2014, "Frankly, back in 1996 I just made a mistake -- it was a Bulova, not a Waltham. When you asked in '96, things were a bit hazy after 25 years, and I hadn't fully researched many of the ancillary parts of the mission. However, more things are coming into focus these days as more people are researching Apollo."

[Ken Glover has provided a video frame frame EVA-3, showing the watch Dave was wearing at that time. See, also, AS15-88-11863.]

Posted November 17, 2014 - 7:13am

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to travel across America with my family. Part of the great journey was a visit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. During that visit I found myself standing in front of the very suit featured above, that of Commander Dave scott.

Stephen Ollman with Commander Dave Scott Apollo 15 space suit
Commander Dave Scott space suit