Something of an alternative “Moon” watch, the Bulova Lunar Pilot was unveiled eight years ago as a remake of the watch worn by American astronaut David Scott. It retains all the distinctive features of the original but made affordable thanks to a quartz movement. But now it’s a become a bit more luxe with a meteorite dial inside a scaled-down case.
As a space-watch aficionado, I find the Lunar Pilot more interesting than its more famous counterparts because of the unique yet contemporary design, particularly the modern typography on the chronograph registers.
After its debut, the Lunar Pilot was made more wearable with a smaller case size of 43.5 mm in diameter. Not much has happened since then, either in terms of dial variety or other innovation, limiting its appeal beyond a niche audience. Therefore, the meteorite dial version is a welcome development, particularly since the material is still uncommon in this price segment.
The meteorite edition, however, is pricey for the Lunar Pilot. It costs at US$1,495, a US$600 increase over the model with the standard dial. This price hike is arguably warranted since such dials are typically, but not always, found on more expensive timepieces. Despite being a limited edition, it is a run of 5,000 pieces, which isn’t exactly “limited”; a smaller edition size would have made it more compelling.
A space rock dial
This is the latest addition to the space-inspired chronograph model introduced in 2016 that’s a remake of the ref. 88510/01, the model worn by NASA astronaut David Scott during the Apollo 15 lunar mission in 1971. Notably, the watch worn by Mr Scott was his own and one of two Bulovas he took on the mission; the other was a stopwatch. Mr Scott then sold the actual chronograph worn on the mission watch at Boston-based RR Auction in 2015 for US$1.6 million.
The Lunar Pilot of 2016 had a black dial with the modern-day Bulova logo and a large, 45 mm case. Following this, Bulova launched a smaller 43.5 mm model with similar dimensions as the vintage original, that was also available in a range of dial colours. The latest version identical in design to the regular production 43.5 mm model, though the materials differ: the case is a combination of titanium and steel, while the standard models are entirely steel.
And of course the dial is a slice of the Muonionalusta, considered the oldest known meteorite on Earth but common enough that is often used on watches. Like all such dials, the meteorite first undergoes an acid etching process to accentuate the Widmanstätten pattern – the randomly-linear motif formed by the crystalline structure of the material – before being polished and varnished.
The meteorite Lunar Pilot retains the NP20 High Precision Quartz movement (HPQ) found in the standard model. Running at an ultra-high frequency of 262.144 kHz, the chronograph can record elapsed times of up to 1/20th of a second. Like most Bulova movements, it is made in Japan by Citizen, the parent company of Bulova.
Key facts and price
Bulova Lunar Pilot Meteorite Limited Edition
Diameter: 43.5 mm
Material: Titanium and stainless steel
Water resistance: 50 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and chronograph
Winding: High Precision Quartz
Frequency: 262.144 kHz
Power reserve: Unavailable
Strap: Leather strap
Limited edition: 5,000 pieces
Availability: At Bulova retailers and Bulova.com
For more, visit Bulova.com.
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