With Felix Baumgartner’s amazing “Mission to the Edge of Space” having been completed this past Sunday, October 14th, the last few days have been very exciting for those interested in space exploration, daredevils, or chronographs. There has been an amazing flow of website updates, videos, articles, blog postings, press releases, press conferences, Tweets and all other manner of communication. Of course, the watch freaks are proud of the fact that Zenith was one of the sponsors of the mission and Baumgartner and his team have been wearing Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th chronographs. [You can read all about the Zenith Stratos Flyback, in this Hodinkee posting.]
Today, I received some images in a press kit from Zenith, which I want to share with our readers. As you might imagine, these images do a great job of showing the connection between Felix and his Zenith El Primero chronograph, especially immediately after the landing. I hope that you will enjoy these photos! Click on any of them for a high resolution version (1,550 pixels wide).
Immediately after landing (above), we see Felix Baumgartner in his suit and helmet. Note that he is wearing the Zenith Stratos Flyback chronograph on his right wrist, outside the space suit. This was the position of the chronograph during the mission, including the jump.
Minutes later, Felix has removed his helmet and gloves. We see that he continues to wear the Stratos Flyback on his right wrist (outside his spacesuit), but now we also see a Stratos Flyback on his left wrist (which would have been inside the spacesuit). We are seeking clarification about whether he wore both these chronos throughout the mission or whether he might have strapped on the second one after he landed. Numerous photos taken in the days before the jump show that he wears his watch on his right wrist — yes, just like Steve McQueen — so the appearance of a watch on his left wrist, inside his spacesuit is all the more mysterious.
Above is a photo of the actual Zenith Stratos Flyback chronograph that Felix wore during the mission, taken soon after the completion of his Mission. Note that the date shows the 14th (of October). This photograph was taken at 3:24 PM (Mountain Time), which is slightly more than three hours after Baumgartner had landed.
Although I don’t believe that Baumgartner actually used the chronograph to time any segment of the mission, detail-oriented watch freaks will study the readings on the chronograph and wonder whether the elapsed time shown on the chronograph relates to some aspect of the mission.
Studying the chronograph closely and recalling that (a) the chronograph minute recorder is at 6 o’clock, (b) the chronograph seconds recorder is at 3 o’clock, and (c) the center-mounted chronograph hand is showing 1/10 seconds (and making a full revolution every 6 seconds), we conclude that Felix’s chronograph is showing an elapsed time of 4 minutes, 27.o seconds. Baumgartner’s free fall was officially timed at 4 minutes, 20 seconds.
Perhaps someone from Zenith thought that it would be interesting to have the chronograph indicating approximately the duration of the free fall, for the official post-jump portraiture of the watch. Of course, there is the possibility that Baumgartner used the chronograph to time his free fall (starting the chronograph when he jumped from the capsule and stopping it shortly after he deployed the parachute), but I have not heard this reported.
Above is a reference photo of the Zenith Stratos Flyback chronograph. From this angle, we can see the 1/10 second markings indicated by the center-mounted hand. The reading on this chronograph is 20 minutes, 20.0 seconds.
For a complete explanation of the operation of the Zenith El Primero Striking 1/10 chronograph, have a look at the Hodinkee posting covering the watch. This image showing the functions of the sub-dials is very useful; perhaps Felix had it taped to his wrist during the mission!!
For a timeline of the Mission to the Edge of Space, have a look at this blog posting by The Telegraph.
Additional Reports about Felix Baumgartner and his Zenith Stratos Flyback Chronograph.
The following are articles and postings that cover the Mission to the Edge of Space, with an emphasis on his Zenith Stratos Flyback Chronograph: