A remake of the original space fake watch – with multiple upgrades.
One of the names synonymous with the era of space pioneers is the Breitling Cosmonaute, worn by Scott Carpenter on the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission in 1962, making him the second American to orbit the Earth, and the Cosmonaute the first Swiss-made wristwatch Let it go into space.
The Cosmonaute has been part of the Breitling catalog in various forms in the decades since, but now on the 60th anniversary of Carpenter’s launch into space aboard the Aurora 7 spacecraft, Breitling has launched a remake, the Navitimer B02 Chronograph 41 Cosmonaute Limited Edition. The 362-piece edition is faithful to the original in terms of design, but has upgraded luxury in the form of an internal Calibre B02 and a platinum bezel.
I’ve always liked the Navitimer’s unique aesthetic – it’s actually an aviation instrument – and the Cosmonaute is essentially a more complex version of the same thing, making it more of an instrument. While all of these features are of very limited use in the modern world, it’s still an attractive watch with significant historical importance.
This in turn makes the Cosmonaute remake an appealing watch, especially since Breitling has done a good job of replicating the original. The diameter remains the same, but the modern version is necessarily thicker due to the in-house B02 movement, which is definitely the most important upgrade to the entire watch. Derived from Breitling’s flagship B01, it is a well-constructed movement that is one of the best industrially produced chronograph movements at its price point.
But the remake does go a little too hard and looks like an old-school original, as Breitling remakes often do (as is the case with AVI and aeronautical remakes).
It might have disappeared without the knockoff of the vintage Super-Luminova, which is now all too common to have been over-exploited by the fashion cheap watch industry. It’s a small issue that doesn’t detract from the appeal of the entire package.
Then there’s the date, which usually doesn’t work out well with remakes, but does a great job in this case. The date window sits within the hour register, making it discreet enough not to get in the way of the design.
day and night indicator
According to Breitling, the Cosmonaute was created at the request of Carpenter in the early 1960s. The astronaut is said to have been a navy pilot in the U.S. military during which he met Navitimer ref. 806, one of the leading pilot watches of the time.
Carpenter was then selected to be part of the “Mercury Seven,” the seven Navy pilots selected for the first U.S. space flight program, “Project Mercury,” where he found a Breitling cheap watch to wear into space . His request was simple: an aviation timer that could indicate whether it was day or night on Earth, enabling a 24-hour display, which is now the defining feature of the Cosmonaute.
The remastered version retains all the key ingredients of the retro original, including the black sub-dial and stripped-down slide rule bezel, without the hour and minute scales found on standard aviation chronometers. This is another change requested by Carpenter because the hour and minute scales calculate distance traveled in time, which is not needed in space.
Another detail is more subtle: the bezel is slightly wider than the Navitimer’s to make it easier to rotate when wearing a spacesuit.
But it’s not a one-on-one remake. The differences are the recessed textured registers (the original had a flat dial) and the added Breitling logo on the dial.
However, the adjustment that really matters is movement. It is the B02, which is a manual version of the B01 self-winding, modified to have a 24-hour display.
Equipped with a column wheel and vertical clutch, the movement is visible through the open back, suggesting it is more refined than a typical Breitling movement.
Breitling Navitimer B02 Chronograph 41 Cosmonaute Limited Edition
Ref. PB02301A1B1A1 (steel bracelet)
Ref. PB02301A1B1P1 (leather strap)
Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 13 mm
Material: Steel, Platinum Bezel
Waterproof: 30 m
Movement: Calibre B02
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, date and chronograph
Winding: Manual winding
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 70 hours
Strap: Alligator leather or stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp