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Indian Watch Company Bangalore Sent a Watch in Space and It Survived (And it’s available too…)

The Apogee Karman celebrates India's Space Program and it now needs to accompany an astronaut on a mission to defend the Indian Space Watch title.

| By Denis Peshkov | 6 min read |

A few years ago, we introduced you to Bangalore Watch Company, a brand established in 2018, originating from India, and dedicated, among other things, to honouring modern India’s technological advancements. True to its name, the Bangalore Watch Company’s Apogee collection pays tribute to India’s space research program. These timepieces are infused with stylistic cues reminiscent of the 1960s-1970s when the Indian Space Research Organization became active. But now, it’s more than just celebrating the Indian space program, it’s about participating in it, testing it in Space and making sure it comes back sound and safe. (Spoiler alert: this new Bangalore Apogee Karman survived its first stratospheric flight)

The founders of Bangalore Watch Company aimed to go beyond merely offering timepieces inspired by space. They set out on an ambitious journey with the Karman Line Project, aspiring to create watches inspired by space and qualified and tested for space travel. Nirupesh Joshi, co-founder and creative director of the brand, articulated their vision, emphasizing the importance of rigorous testing on the ground to ensure the watches are fully prepared for space challenges.

This image is a render, not an actual image in Space.

Over two years, the project underwent planning and execution, creating two specially built watches. These timepieces were subjected to a rigorous testing regimen, including evaluations under excess and negative atmospheric pressure conditions. This comprehensive testing approach was essential, as the watches would need to withstand the vacuum environment of space and extreme temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius. Nirupesh Joshi highlights, “The combination of pressure and temperature change tests instilled us with confidence to proceed with sending the two prototypes for Spaceflight qualification.

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In early 2024, the company partnered with a UK-based space-engineering firm to orchestrate a stratospheric flight. An ultra-light carbon-fibre spacecraft, hoisted by a high-altitude balloon, served as the vessel to transport an Apogee watch to outer space. The press release detailed that during this expedition, the prototype watch endured the rigours of the harsh environment, reaching an altitude of 114,000 feet (35 kilometres) before safely returning to Earth, fully functional and intact.

Earth’s atmosphere photographed from the International Space Station. The orange and green line of airglow is at roughly the altitude of the Kármán line – Photo by NASA, ID ISS043-E-143486

A note about the concept of the Karman line and its relation to outer space. Named after Theodore von Kármán, a distinguished engineer and physicist, the Karman line represents a proposed boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, situated at an altitude of 100 km. This delineation regulates aerial activities: below 100 km, it falls under the domain of aeronautics, while beyond this threshold, it transitions to astronautics. However, it’s worth noting that the Karman line lacks a concrete basis in physical properties, with its placement at 100 km primarily serving as a mnemonic device. Some advocates have proposed lowering it to 80 km – in the US, for instance, crossing this threshold would qualify an individual as an astronaut. It’s important to clarify that the Apogee watch did not breach the Karman line or enter outer space; rather, it ascended to the altitude of the triple point of water, where water can no longer exist in its liquid state outside Earth’s atmosphere. At 35km, it also marks the upper limit of the ozone layer, beyond which there’s minimal protection against UV radiation. While some contend that this boundary should be considered the threshold of outer space, many more argue that 35 km above Earth falls short of the conventional definition of outer space.

Also, this story brings to mind the Red Bull Stratos mission of 2012, during which Felix Baumgartner descended from a space capsule lifted by a helium balloon to approximately 39km above Earth’s surface. He reached speeds of 1,342 km/h during the free-fall while wearing a standard production version of the Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th, which, after extreme differences in pressure, temperature, altitude, and acceleration, remained in perfect working condition upon his safe return.

Ascending to 35km and safely returning the watch to Earth marks a remarkable achievement for the Bangalore Watch Company. As Nirupesh Joshi explains, the project encountered numerous challenges, including flight dynamics, weather conditions, and selecting the launch site. However, the most significant challenge was testing the watch before the flight.

This image is a render, not an actual image in Space.

The Apogee watch demonstrated resilience during testing, exhibiting “no visible timekeeping issues, condensation, or other problems despite the extreme pressure and temperature changes.” Notably, the watch was not housed within a pressurized capsule but suspended outside the craft in space. As the balloon was remotely deflated, the watch reached almost 350 km/h speeds during the free-fall and experienced temperatures as low as -60°C. It’s truly a remarkable feat to consider.

The Apogee Karman Line series

The Bangalore Watch Company Apogee Karman Line series, already dubbed the “Indian Space Watch” retains the essence and functionality of its predecessors. Yet, this release boasts features that set it apart from its closest civil counterpart, the Apogee Extraterrestrial.

Crafted with a nod to the iconic helmet shape of the 1960s, the 40mm wide and 12mm thick Unibody case is now forged from Black Cerasteel – a material blending high-grade steel with an outer ceramic coating. At 2 o’clock, a crown adorned with a globe image allows effortless operation of the bidirectional, second-time-zone inner bezel. Meanwhile, the crown at 4 o’clock, embellished with the brand’s logo, is dedicated to winding and setting functions.

This timepiece ensures clarity and durability with a domed sapphire crystal featuring two layers of AR coating. The screw-down caseback bears a 3D embossed image of India’s first satellite launched in 1975 – a tribute echoed across other Apogee references. With a water resistance of up to 100m, the “Indian Space Watch” is as functional as stylish.

The dial is crafted from a meteorite and coated blue through a PVD process. Along the periphery, traditionally black on all Apogee versions, a rotating bezel displays an additional time zone. Rhodium-plated square applied indices and baton-style hands, filled with luminous material, ensure legibility in any light condition. A circular date window at 6 o’clock adds practicality; above it, a latitude-longitude corresponding to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre – a homage to its significance as the launch base in Sriharikota – graces the dial.

In the Karman Line edition, the Bangalore Watch Company opted for the Manufacture La-Joux Perret G100 movement, distinguishing it from other references in the Apogee collection powered by the Sellita SW 200-1. This upgrade grants the new watch 68 hours of autonomy when fully wound, ensuring uninterrupted functionality for its essential features.

The new Bangalore Apogee Karman Line watch is worn on a genuine leather strap closed with a steel tang buckle with the company’s logo. The Bangalore Watch Company offers the new reference as a limited edition of 50 pieces. The price is INR 2,40,000 (USD 2,850 approximately), and it can be ordered via the brand’s website  starting today.

1 response

  1. I love this watch! Why so? Answer: It has the appearance of Zenith shadow watch with a substantially lower price. I would buy this watch when I actually know the cost.

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