(This article by Roberta Naas first appeared in her column on Forbes in 2022 and then on ATimelyPerspective.com in November 2022. It has now been updated.)
Just last week in Oshkosh, IWC had a small presence at their show — on the wrists of aviation pilots and with Polaris Dawn watches that will go up in space on a mission now slated to take off in late 2023.
For nearly 100 years, Swiss watch brand IWC Schaffhausen has been known for its ingenious, highly functional pilot’s watches. The brand was first to create a soft inner iron case back in the 1930’s that rendered its pilot watches anti-magnetic. Now, IWC soars to new heights by supporting the Polaris Dawn human spaceflight mission and creating a special Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Polaris Dawn series of watches. The series is incredibly special in that just four pieces are being made, each to be worn in space and then auctioned to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The Polaris Dawn watches are bright white ceramic created using a complex manufacturing process where zirconium oxide is mixed with other metallic oxides in a specific ration and then sintered at extremely high temperatures. The 44.5mm watches boasts beautiful “space” blue dial (whose color is more reminiscent of the blue oceans of Earth as seen from the dark of space) designed to support the Polaris Space mission that will take place by year-end 2022. Each of the titanium case backs of the four watches is engraved with the name of one of the four crew members who will wear his or her watch on their five-day mission. When the watches return to Earth they will be auctioned to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
The IWC Polaris Dawn chronographs feature dozens of stars on the blue lacquered dials along with the mission logo. The automatic chronograph is powered by the IWC Manufacture-made caliber 69380 that offers 46 hours of power reserve, chronograph function, date and day display, small hacking seconds, soft-iron inner case to protect against magnetic fields, glass secured against displacement that can be caused by drops in air pressure, a screw-in crown and more. It is water resistant to six bar – a measure of atmospheric pressure that is equivalent to 60 meters. Each watch boasts a rubber strap.
The Polaris Dawn mission is the first of three human spaceflights that are part of the Polaris Program working with SpaceX. The mission is commanded by Jared Isaacman, American entrepreneur and mission commander of last year’s Inspiration4 mission. (That mission was the first all-civilian mission and it helped to raise more than $240 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital).
Throughout the mission, scientific research focused on advancing human health on Earth (the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital tie-in) and on understanding long-duration space flights and their effects on human health. The individual will be in space for five days, will attempt the highest Earth orbit ever flown and will attempt the first commercial spacewalk. In addition to Isaacman, the crew includes retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Scott “Kidd” Poteet and SpaceX Lead Space Operations Engineers Sarah Gillis and Anna Menon.