Following LN's post on famous wrists: VC the 1st aviator watch?

Today many brands boast their affiliation with aviation but only one was present when the Wright brothers made the first flight in the history of aviation on Dec 19, 1903, and that's Vacheron Constantin.

Following LN's post on famous wrists: VC the 1st aviator watch?

The Wrights took to the air on 17 December 1903 from the beach of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, making two flights each from level ground into a freezing headwind gusting to 27 miles (43 km) an hour. The first flight, by Orville, of 120 feet (36.5 m) in 12 seconds. The next two flights covered approximately 175 and 200 feet (60 m), by Wilbur and Orville respectively. Their altitude was about 10 ft above the ground.

The "instrument" used by the Wright brothers was a chronometer movement from Vacheron Constantin housed in a steel case with lugs enabling a long strap to be attached to the case and worn on the thigh.

Initially made in a series of five, one example is now exhibited in the Vacheron & Constantin museum in Geneva. 

Cartier can say what they want but the Santos flight was in 1906, 3 years after the Wright brothers making VC the 1st airborne flight watch!!!

Following LN's post on famous wrists: VC the 1st aviator watch?

Following LN's post on famous wrists: VC the 1st aviator watch?

Following LN's post on famous wrists: VC the 1st aviator watch?

Following LN's post on famous wrists: VC the 1st aviator watch?

Following LN's post on famous wrists: VC the 1st aviator watch?
Amazing piece of news! No wonder, it's VC ;-) Thanks Alex (nt)
10/06/2008 - 14:17
Even though I love VC...
10/06/2008 - 15:42
As a person who loves my contry, a have to say that there is a lot of controverse about who made the fisrt flight in history. many poeple believe that it was the Wright brothers, but as you can check in this post, it was not something really amazing. First of all, their plane did not even take off on its own. It used a mechanism that pushed the plane to take-off speed. The flight was too short and their landing was not that successful. That was merely a glide... Some time after this, the Brazilian Alberto Santos Dumont took his plane, 14-bis and took of in Paris (by itself), flew several miles and landed properly. On the ocasion, Santos was wearing a watch that he asked his jeweler friend Cartier to make for him. That watched looked prety much the same as the contemporary Cartier Santos. And even if this does not convince you, some years later, he designed another plane, called Demoiselle. This is considered to be the most important plane ever created, as it was the first one to use the commands as they are today, and it was a revolution in plane design. It was much more stable and easier to control than all the previous planes. But anyway, this does not change the fact that this is an incredible watch! Thank you for reading, and have a pleasant day!
Sometimes First is not Finest
10/06/2008 - 19:30
I appreciate your sentiments and the context of the Wright Bros vs Santos flights but...the first powered flight, regardless of how inelegant it may have been, was the Wright Bros.  Perhaps we shouldn't place so much importance on being first as it does tend to downplay the contribution of others.  BTW, Richard Pearse of New Zealand claimed to have completed a first flight a year before the Wright Bros but history/politics/nationalism has come to the judgement that his was not "controlled" enough to qualifty. OTOH, I'm absolutely thrilled to learn of this historic V&C watch!  Interesting that the factory saw a need for a production run of five...what confidence in an activity that at the time must have been viewed as madness.
I have just been told by an aviation historian that most certainly the
10/07/2008 - 18:30
watch could not have been worn on the very 1st flight as the pilot was lying on his stomach to fly the plane, however for the subsequent flights of 1904 certainly the watch was used.
Do you think Santos was inspired by Wright brothers?
10/06/2008 - 16:36
In any event, both VC and Cartier today do not shine in aviation watch. Perhaps, with such a pioneer status, VC should consider (may be they have) to re-issue their aviation watch. Regards Ling
Amazing photos (of the watch)!
10/06/2008 - 21:26

The crown is very cute: ) Why was it not designed to be worn on the wrist?

Exactly how big is this watch? Can the seconds be read in the air

if the watch was wearing on the thigh?

We shall rather look into the future rather than arguing over the past,

is there any Swiss watch manufacturer participate in the space watch making? Omega, a guess?? What mechanical changes have to be made and/or what materials will be used to adapt to outer space conditions? I have very little knowledge in space science or watch making, but I'd love to know more, it's fascinating : ) 

it was worn on the thigh because the pilot needed to have his
10/07/2008 - 11:39
hands occupied piloting the plane and to prevent him from having to glance at his wrist the watch was worn on the thigh as to enable a fast and safe reading of time. as for space travel  I don't know if watches need to be specifically modified , however I believe that other than Omega, Sinn and Fortis have been part of certain space travels.
Space watches
10/07/2008 - 19:27
Having owned an Omega Speedmaster "Moonwatch", I've done a bit of reading on space watches.  I suppose the two most significant were the Speedmaster, which was tested and issued by NASA to astronauts, and Breitling's 24hr dial Cosmonaute that Scott Carpenter wore into space as his private watch before NASA went to the Speedy. The Nov 2006 issue of International Wristwatch dropped a bit of a bomshell with it's article on the "first" (here we go again  ) American space watch worn by John Glenn in 1962, which was a Heuer stopwatch on an elastic band around his arm.  Now we have to ask the Russians what Gagarin was wearing in 1961? AFAIK, they did not do anything special with space watches but relied on manual wind movements until 1985 when a Sinn auto chronograph was worn by a German astronaut during a Spacelab mission.  The Fortis Cosmonaut's chronograph first appeared when it was used on an EVA at the space station in 1994.  I remember my first reaction was to think an auto wouldn't wind without gravity but the law of inertia was proven to work in space too! I highly recommend a great article on space watches in the June 2006 issue of WatchTime.
It's very nice to find such an old watch for the start of aircraft.
10/06/2008 - 23:10
But I am sorry to say that the first one to make a plane fly was Clement Ader, a French guy from Eastern Paris. He took off with its plane l'Eole on October 9, 1890! It's much earlier and you can find a nice sign at Gretz, the city close to Paris where it occured. All the best, Patrice
A steam-powered airplane!
10/07/2008 - 01:46
Thanks for the info on Ader, Patrice .  I love that his steam-powered machine, the Eole, resembled a bat.  Perhaps he would have worn a 6694 if he could
Re: A steam-powered airplane!
10/07/2008 - 02:29
Here it is "in the flesh" or one much like it. Its in the Musée d'arts et Metiers in Paris... well worth seeing and not crowded. I visited it in April after the SIHH.  Unfortunately I didn't take notes on the details of this aircraft or its flight(s). But it was certainly fascinating. I lightened up the second photo so you could see the steam canister in the back. It really does look like a bat! Joseph
Re: Re: A steam-powered airplane!
10/07/2008 - 02:30
This one is actually a twin engine version. JB
Thank you Dean and Joseph for complementary infos
10/07/2008 - 15:20
Next time you are coming to Paris, Joseph, do not hesitate to tell me or Alex, so that we could arrange a meeting together with a nice lunch or dinner... Cheers
Ca sera delire!
10/07/2008 - 18:04
Merci, Bien sur, avec plaisir, mais a mes frais! Joseph
Re: Following LN's post on famous wrists: VC the 1st aviator watch?
10/08/2008 - 02:22
A fascinating piece of history to learn of. Thanks Alex for sharing with us. Best regards, Matt