3 November 2008
Media - Tourism (Good)
The Little Watch That Can…
Or will. Someday
by G B Leatherwood
During his flight to the International Space Station from 10 October to 24 October 2008, video game designer and first second-generation astronaut Richard Garriott had to planned a spacewalk outside the International Space Station wearing a to-die-for timepiece: the Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk watch. Alas, neither Garriott nor the Spacewalk walked in space.

But even though the watch has yet to prove spaceworthy, Seiko is confident in its design. The Spacewalk is the result of 28 years of development, specifically designed to work in weightlessness, vacuum, extremes of temperature ranging from -4 to +160 degrees F., withstand the pressures and vibrations of launch and landing, and survive even a possible water splashdown if the steppes of Kazakhstan aren't available. It has 416 parts and was designed and built in-house in Seiko's Suwa laboratories.

Space tourist wannabes can get their hands on one for US$25,000, but you'll have to get your order in now. Only 100 have been made, ten will be available in the US, and one dealer, Arizona Fine Time of Scottsdale, AZ (www.arizonafinetime.com) will get three. The owner, Mitchel Hirsh, has already held one in his own hands following a demonstration by Seiko factory representatives. "It’s a fantastic work of art," he said, "and one of them is going to be mine."

In his blog about his trip, Garriott said that Space Adventures, the company that brokered his trip, will be "…working hard to get the watch an opportunity to be tested outside the ISS."

Seiko has stated that they will let everyone know when this will happen. Better luck next time.
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G B Leatherwood 3 November 2008
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