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Did NASA Just Kick Off a New Space Race for Watchmakers?

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Coordinated Lunar Time is coming in 2026. Which watch brand will be the first to make a Lunar GMT?

closeup of rocket seconds hand on omega speedmaster dark side of the moon watchOmega

It was just this week that Swiss luxury brand Bovet accomplished what had been the last major challenge of mechanical timekeeping by creating a worldtimer that could automatically account for Daylight Saving Time. But before the dust has even settled from that impressive achievement, it appears as if a new time zone challenge is on the horizon for the world’s top watchmakers.

With moon missions ramping up for the first time in 50 years, the White House has tasked NASA with creating a standard of time for the moon and other celestial bodies by the end of 2026, according to a new report from Reuters. The system will be known as Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC), an outer space equivalent to the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) network of time zones we use here on Earth.

The White House has tasked NASA with creating a standard of time for the moon and other celestial bodies.

Due to gravitational differences and other environmental factors, time works differently on the moon than on Earth, with the difference averaging out to about 58.7 microseconds per day. That doesn’t sound like much, but space missions require perfect precision, and the LTC will help ensure that future coordinated missions on the moon run smoothly by keeping everyone involved in sync.

This will likely require setting up a system of atomic clocks on the moon like we have on Earth, but I’m mostly interested in how LTC will be tracked here on our planet. Specifically, from my wrist.

We don’t yet know what LTC will look like, how many time zones it will include or how it will function. But once those details emerge, I’m betting a number of watch brands will start figuring out a way to track LTC accurately. Watch brands love being the first to do something, whether it’s landing on the moon, reaching the bottom of the ocean or scaling Mount Everest, and creating the first Lunar GMT seems like catnip for certain brands.

But which brand will be the first to do it? Here is the shortlist of Vegas favorites.

Omega (-300)

omega digital analog watch with mars in the backgroundOmega

The smart money is on Omega. The Speedmaster maker is the space watch brand, with a history of NASA-certified watches dating back to the early 1960s. The Speedmaster was famously the first watch worn on the moon and has been worn on countless astronauts since.

Omega’s more technologically advanced quartz-powered Speedmaster X-33 is favored by many modern astronauts, and there’s even a version that’s been developed for future Martian missions. When it comes to the question of what watch astronauts will wear to track LTC, the answer will almost undoubtedly be an Omega.

Citizen (+700)

three citizen moonphase watches on a tableCitizen

Citizen may seem like an odd choice here, but hear me out. The Japanese brand isn’t really known as an astronaut favorite, but it has historically been a pioneer in radio-controlled atomic watches.

Just last year, the brand launched the first-ever atomic-synced moonphase watch in the Tsuki-yomi A-T, so if LTC ends up being beamed to Earth by some satellite signals, you can bet Citizen will find a way to link up with it.

Jaeger-LeCoultre (+1,000)

jlc reverso watch showing complex celestial complicationsJaeger-LeCoultre

Has a JLC ever been worn in outer space? I doubt it. The historic luxury brand is best known for its art deco-inspired Reverso dress watches and its fancy Atmos desk clocks. But JLC is also a master of celestial complications, with mechanical movements capable of tracking three different types of moon cycles simultaneously alongside a perpetual calendar. If any brand can come up with a mechanical solution for accurately tracking LTC, I say it will be JLC.

Rolex (+5,000)

rolex watch in outer spaceRolex

Do I think Rolex will make a Lunar GMT? No, I don’t. But I’m also not stupid enough to count out Rolex. The brand has a history of both innovation and exploration (many astronauts have worn GMT-Masters in space, for what it’s worth), and it has shown an increasing willingness to do the unexpected in recent years. So who knows? Maybe The Crown will blow all of our minds and unveil a GMT-Master III Moontime at Watches & Wonders 2027.

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