Searching for the most authentic NASA watch strap?
I've owned a Speedmaster for over 40 years, and always thought it would be cool to have a NASA strap linked to the Apollo program to go with the watch, but the ones available never looked like flown ones sold at auctions
or from the NASA image archive, and that always puzzled me. It wasn't until I chanced across a website that hosted the NASA watchband specification SEB12100030
that I realized everyone else had got it wrong and if I wanted one just like the astronauts wore I'd have to be make it myself.
I believe that, like OMEGA's decision never to replace the Speadmaster's hesalite with new and better crystal, maintaining an unbroken connection to the past is an important consideration when owning a reminder of the Apollo space missions. And so began a number of years of acquiring the right materials, necessary skills and reference data to make an authentic NASA watch strap - although I mean authentic here as in "authentic ethnic cooking" rather than authentic suggesting provenance.
Why you should look no further
Only a few years ago the unique selling point of my watchbands was that they faithfully followed the NASA design drawing like no others sold elsewhere. As the resources I unearthed became widely read, many vendors started following these freely available designs too, effortlessly replicating my claims while understandably disregarding their lack of the original matériel
Fortunately, for the more aware enthusiasts I had a head start and was able to secure now extremely rare to obtain:
- Mil-spec vintage Velcro® brand hook and loop tape from 1970's U.S. Defense Supply Agency stock. While hook and loop tape has improved over the years, increasing in durability for military applications by decreasing its softness, the original non-scratchy "pile textile" is exactly the same stuff used in the Gemini and Apollo programs - and rebuts the forgiveness for discomfort with lesser copies that "a NASA Velcro strap was never meant to be worn off the spacesuit".
- Olive Drab colored mil-spec binding tape that exactly matches the now discontinued shades used in the 1960s Apollo era. Building on my research, I even match the O.D. shade to the type of watchband and NASA mission.
- A working vintage typewriter with the correct font and spacing as used by the original NASA Manned Spacecraft Center for Apollo labeling (with a video of my one-finger typing further down!).
It is difficult to convey through digital media the genuine look and feel of a historic artifact, but I would suggest that by encroaching on "The Ship of Theseus Paradox"
(linked for the germane commentary by contributor engineerbill
) I've come about as close as is possible to re-creating the real thing short of supply from the original NASA-MSC Flight Crew Integration Division workshop with the Apollo issue watchband
or later Boeing Aerospace Operations contractors with the Space Shuttle issue watchband
If you are somewhat less ardent, a NATO style watch strap
is available with an exclusive, comfortable and fray-resistant mil-spec Velcro® brand loop tape with mil-spec O.D. tape in any of the genuine colors from earlier space missions, ink stamped with the NASA part and serial numbers.
Other authentic Apollo replicas
Having started with an OMEGA Speedmaster moonwatch and then authentically made the accompanying NASA watchband, why not attempt (I thought) the two white NASA watchband
types made from Teflon® coated glass fabric
? These eye-catching Apollo mission homages frame your moonwatch quite unlike any other watchband.
Continuing with the "wrist-wear" theme, exclusively offered here are unparalleled reproductions of two lunar EVA flight gear items: a minor addition to the range with a wrist mirror as worn on Apollo 16
, and a major contribution to any serious space collection of a replica Apollo 13 Lunar Surface Cuff Checklist