A New Year’s Treat Part III – The Apollo 14 Watch Undressed

An amazing year at SIHH, and a real double-treat with the new calibers and new look for the Overseas heart.  

I promised to return with more details of the Apollo 14 presentation watch described on New Year’s Day: http://www.thehourlounge.com/en/vacheron-constantin-discussions/new-years-treat-634848.

The owner succeeded in locating a watchsmith to remove the case back and take photographs.  These revealed the missing details.  This Apollo 14 presentation watch is based on the model reference 6351, which made an appearance in the early 1960s.  V&C’s catalog of 1967 disclosed a retail price of $1,395 in platinum and $895 in gold.

A New Year’s Treat Part III – The Apollo 14 Watch Undressed

There are a few clues to the Apollo watch’s provenance as a special order.  The serial number has an unusual appearance, clearly punched with a different set of dies than the reference number.

A New Year’s Treat Part III – The Apollo 14 Watch Undressed

The secondary case number, consisting of the last three digits of the serial number punched on the inner edge of the case, appears to have been over-stamped and intentionally obscured.

A New Year’s Treat Part III – The Apollo 14 Watch Undressed

The movement is V&C’s pride, the 17-jewel ultrathin caliber 1003 with Geneva Seal.

A New Year’s Treat Part III – The Apollo 14 Watch Undressed

With case and movement serial numbers, VC’s Heritage Department were able to verify the piece is from 1971.

Having tied up these loose ends, I’ll close the chapter on this interesting and exciting timepiece which may, according to the owner, find its way to an auction house.  I’ll be interested to see how it fares.

Interestingly, the connection between V&C and the Apollo astronauts didn’t begin with this watch.  NASA’s website revealed that in 1968 the famous comedian and entertainer, Bob Hope, broadcast his weekly variety show from Houston’s Manned Space Center where he hosted the crew of Apollo 7.

A New Year’s Treat Part III – The Apollo 14 Watch Undressed

Astronauts Walter Schirra, Don Eisele, and Walter Cunningham subsequently received Vacheron & Constantin watches from Hope as a token of appreciation.

A New Year’s Treat Part III – The Apollo 14 Watch Undressed

A New Year’s Treat Part III – The Apollo 14 Watch Undressed

The distinctive reference 6704 also featured the caliber 1003.  While Schirra’s watch was on a strap, Cunningham’s watch appeared in a Sotheby’s auction sporting an integrated gold V&C bracelet.

A New Year’s Treat Part III – The Apollo 14 Watch Undressed

The perfect ending
01/26/2016 - 20:01

of the trilogy. Thank you Dean for this interesting story! yes

Thanks for this. Much appreciated. I am quite surprised the Crew of
01/27/2016 - 06:13

Apollo 7 were given VC's, especially considering the way '"they behaved"', espcially with Houston, while in orbit. Much was resting on Apollo 7 to be a PR blessing for NASA, since this was the first manned Apollo flight after the tragic Apollo 1 launchpad fire. Apparently one or two of the crew of Apollo 7 were not well (cold) while in orbit, and they were quite irritable duing their communications with Mission Control Houston.

Ultimately Apollo 8 paved the way for glory again for NASA.

Interesting background
01/27/2016 - 19:12

Well it wasn't NASA that gave the Apollo 7 crew their V&Cs.  Bob Hope surely had a sense of mischief when he put Barbara Eden on stage along side the real astronauts, as she was starring in the TV comedy show I Dream of Jeannie as the paramour of a fictious astronaut played by Dallas star Larry Hagman.

Interesting background

Thanks Dean, all is well that ends well. butthe big story now is to find out
01/27/2016 - 11:15

the story behind the ordering of this watch!

Agreed, lets hope for a sense of fair play
01/27/2016 - 18:57

When you ignited this quest back in 2011 it was to help the Patrimony department with the American Heritage project.  Although its been a long time, I hope this watch now reveals enough details to track that original order.  If they are successful, I further hope the archivists return the generosity of the watch owner, and satisfy the curiosity of all Vachonistas, by disclosing what they find.  I realize this isn't their usual course, but I think they should appreciate that one must give as well as take!

in retrospect
01/27/2016 - 23:13

I just came back from running and thought about this post, that the last line wasn't necessary. The Heritage Deptartment does us all a great service with their gratis serial number checks and I've taken advantage of it repeatedly.  OTOH, I must have pages of unanswered questions sitting over there, hence there is often a lot of speculation noted in my posted articles.  Perhaps it is simply unrealistic to think I could have a scholarly relationship with VC, but that is my dream.

Story behind the Apollo 11 patch design
02/02/2016 - 19:52

Story behind the Apollo 11 patch design

This episode of the American Antiques Roadshow featured the story behind the 1969 Apollo 11 mission patch.  Really gives insight into the design process.

Click here for the video: http://www.tpt.org/antiques-roadshow/episode/appraisal-1969-apollo-11-logo-design-archive/


An epitaph for Edgar Mitchell - last Apollo 14 astronaut dies age 85
02/06/2016 - 06:29

NASA Press Release 5 Feb 2016:

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, lunar module pilot on Apollo 14, passed away Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla., on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing.

Mitchell joined Apollo 14 commander Alan Shephard, Jr., the first American in space, in the lunar module Antares, which touched down Feb. 5, 1971, in the Fra Mauro highlands. Shepard and Mitchell were assigned to traverse the lunar surface to deploy scientific instruments and perform a communications test on the surface, as well as photograph the lunar surface and any deep space phenomena. It was Mitchell’s only spaceflight.

Apollo astronaut Edgar MitchellApollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell in front of a graphic of the mission patch.Credits: NASA 


Mitchell and Shephard set mission records for the time of the longest distance traversed on the lunar surface; the largest payload returned from lunar surface; and the longest lunar stay time (33 hours). They were also the first to transmit color TV from the lunar surface. Mitchell helped collect 94 pounds of lunar rock and soil samples that were distributed across 187 scientific teams in the United States and 14 other countries for analysis.

"On behalf of the entire NASA family, I would like to express my condolences to the family and friends of NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. "As a member of the Apollo 14 crew, Edgar is one of only 12 men to walk on the moon and he helped to change how we view our place in the universe."

Mitchell was drawn to the spaceflight by President Kennedy's call to send astronauts to the moon. "After Kennedy announced the moon program, that's what I wanted, because it was the bear going over the mountain to see what he could see, and what could you learn, and I've been devoted to that, to exploration, education, and discovery since my earliest years, and that's what kept me going," Mitchell said in 1997 interview for NASA's oral history program.

"To me, that (spaceflight) was the culmination of my being, and what can I learn from this? What is it we are learning? That's important, because I think what we're trying to do is discover ourselves and our place in the cosmos, and we don't know. We're still looking for that."

In his book "The Way of the Explorer", Mitchell wrote, "There was a sense that our presence as space travelers, and the existence of the universe itself, was not accidental but that there was an intelligent process at work.”