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Cosmonavigator
A true space watch

I recently received this Cosmonavigator as a special gift from my friend Alex with contacts within the space industry. It's a Russian watch/instrument specifically designed for use onboard space crafts in low Earth orbit (LEO), such as Salyut, MIR, or the International Space Station ISS. It's in itself an unusual piece of engineering and design with a fascinating history, but what makes this particular example extra interesting is that it's flown on two actual space missions! But more on that later - here is the watch in question.


The colors of the dial serves a purpose, see technical section



The bezel is turned with the left crown


Serial number 164 of 350
History

The watch was designed by Vladimir A. Dzhanibekov, a cosmonaut and twice appointed Hero of the Soviet Union. Dzhanibekov was born Vladimir Aleksandrovich Krysin on 13 May 1942. In 1964 he married Liliya Munirovna Dzhanibekova, who was a descendant of Jani Beg, also called Djanibek Khan, medieval ruler of the Golden Horde. As her father had no sons, Dzhanibekov took his wife's family name in order to honor her ancestry and continue her line of descent, an unusual step for a husband in the Soviet Union. In 1970 he was selected into the team of cosmonauts. Dzhanibekov made five flights: Soyuz 27, Soyuz 39, Soyuz T-6, Soyuz T-12, and Soyuz T-13. In all he spent 145 days, 15 hours, and 56 minutes in space over these five missions.


Vladimir A. Dzhanibekov

Dzhanibekov got the idea for the design of the Cosmonavigator during a rescue mission to the Salyut-7 space station. That Salyut-7 rescue was a classic bit of flying by Dzhanibekov and the flight engineer cosmonaut Viktor Savinykh. They had to dock the spacecraft to a tumbling station with no beacon, just a laser rangefinder, sharp eyes and razor reflexes.


The view of Salyut-7 from Soyuz T-13 after undocking and beginning of the journey home

The critical task of saving "The Dead Station" is regarded as one of the most dramatic flights in space history and is described in Viktor Savinykh book "Diaries From A Dead Station" in 1999. The story was also dramatized in the movie "Salyut-7" in 2017 and is available on Amazon.


Left: The book "Diaries From A Dead Station", right: The movie "Salyut-7"

The watch/instrument is intended to determinate the Earth point which the spacecraft is flying over at the current moment of time. The following quote is from the homepage of Right Move, the retailer of the watch back then:

"It was September of 1985. Salyut-7 station... It is midnight in Moscow. It is also our local time. Maintenance work going on... Ice age. The flood at the station has already passed. Viktor Savinykh is cozily sleeping in a sleeping-bag in front of me. The "deaf" circuits without communication with control are ringing.
- I wonder where we are flying?, I'm asking almost in sleep. Above clouds I assume...

Falling asleep I idly thinking that it would be great to have a watch with a globe like the one on the central stand. Or, with a map on the dial. But to have it on my hand... and without need to leave the warm sleeping bag to check... and soon getting back in again thinking that I was right and we were actually over clouds and under clouds were waters of the Atlantic ocean... all right,.. water is there where clouds are. Why our planet called the Earth and not the Water?.. This was the way the idea of "Cosmonavigator" was born.

It became possible to realize this project only 18 months later with practical help of my old friend Pavel P. Grankin, officer in reserve, who is Head of the "Right Move" (Верный ход, sometimes translated to Right Move) company now. Financing was provided by Center of Exploitation Land-based Space Infrastructure (TSENKI) of Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos)."

The Cosmonavigator was made in a limited series of 350 pieces. The first pieces were presented to cosmonauts before flight by Roskosmos. Then later some remaining pieces were sold via the Right Move store. In 2003, the Cosmonavigator was awarded Watches of the future at the Russian Design competition.


Right Move booth at the Moscow Watch Salon in 2004


Vladimir Dzhanibekov himself at Baselworld in 2006 (photo courtesy of Ill-Phil)


Another photo from Baselworld

Press reports on Cosmonavigator watches

The following articles are no longer available in their original locations, but are instead retrieved from local copies saved by enthusiasts. They were originally written in Russian and translated by Google. They came out quite decent and I just made some minor grammar corrections afterwards.

The eleventh expedition to the ISS will take flight a space-navigator watch designed by cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov

Interview of Vladimir Aleksandrovich Dzhanibekov in the magazine "Behind the Wheel", 29 March 2005

The Russian-American crew of the 11th expedition to the ISS will take on flight special orbital-space-navigator watches developed by cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov. The head of the Federal Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov, handed the watch to Sergey Krikalev and NASA astronaut John Phillips, as well as European astronaut Roberto Vittori, flying on an ISS visiting mission.


John Phillips, Sergey Krikalev, Roberto Vittori, Salizhan Sharipov, and Leroy Chiao onboard the ISS

By this wrist instrument, astronauts can at any time determine which point of the Earth they are above,' said the author of the invention, who himself flew into space five times and spent in orbit a total of 145 days.

The principle of operation of the device is simple and original. The watch dial with a 24-hour scale is divided into 16 sectors according to the number of turns that the station makes per day around the Earth, explained Dzhanibekov. "Based on the map of the Mission Control Center with a grid of turns, I marked all continents and oceans with different colors and transferred the markings to the dial," he said.

Russia with the CIS countries and Europe are marked in red, Asia is yellow, Africa is black, Australia is green, South America is orange, North is dark blue. Ocean open spaces are painted in blue. According to Dzhanibekov, the space navigator was commissioned by the Russian space department at one of the domestic watch plants. The watch is mechanical and requires a winding every day, but in the future we plan to improve the design and make them electronic, '' said the inventor. Although, according to the experience of space flights, electronic devices in space sometimes fail, he said.

For the crew, the `Fortis` watches, the official astronaut chronographs, were also specially ordered in Switzerland. "These are single copies, issued only for the 11th expedition and visiting mission," the Russian Space Agency said. And for the ISS-11 commander Krikalev, Swiss watchmakers made an exclusive version in a titanium case. The kits also include two straps and special small screwdrivers for winding watches.

Correspondent of ITAR-TASS Elena Zubtsova.

New time of Vladimir Dzhanibekov

Article in the magazine "Behind the Wheel" No. 8 April 2007

Watch from cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov? That's right - readers participating in our contests have a chance to win this collection device for measuring time. And not only time: the versatile knowledge and hobbies of Vladimir Dzhanibekov made it possible to look at watches from a completely different perspective. The legendary astronaut himself told us what the watch is and what it is intended for.

GZR: Vladimir Alexandrovich, tell us how the idea of creating Cosmonavigator watches came about.

V.A.: If you look at the projection of the trajectory of a spacecraft flying above the Earth, it looks like a sinusoid, and each subsequent revolution is offset from the previous one. The period of revolution of the spacecraft, that is, the time during which it makes a revolution around our planet, is approximately 90 minutes. Based on these data and knowing the initial time, it is possible to calculate over what part of the Earth at what moment in time the spacecraft is located. The idea of this watch is that, looking at the dial, you could immediately determine where the spaceship is now. To do this, I came up with a special limb, the sectors of which are painted in different colors, representing continents: Europe and Russia - red, Asia - yellow, Africa - black, Australia and New Zealand - green, North America - blue, South - orange, and oceans and the seas are naturally blue.

GZR: But does the circulation period depend on the flight altitude?

VA.: Of course, the Cosmonavigator also has a certain error for this reason. We give the crews of spaceships such a watch before flying, but this is more of a souvenir, which the cosmonauts then, for example, give to their friends. Nevertheless, their families can very well follow these hours where they are flying now, and even in the Mission Control Center, staff can use the clock, so to speak, as a first approximation. There are thoughts to create a more accurate device that could be adjusted depending on the period of treatment, and it would work very accurately. But this is not an easy task for watchmakers, it turns out to be a complex and expensive mechanism, and such things should be done already for a specific customer who will pay for all this.

GZR: And the astronauts?

V.A.: Also, of course, gets. Especially unpleasant when this particle flies through the eye. The feeling is that close to the eye, notice, open, the flash worked - after that, at least half a minute you see nothing. Imagine going to bed, and then you have a few flashes in the eyes. And you won't fall asleep without a pill. It happens that if a particle flies especially "successfully" through the brain, all short-term memory is erased. That is, what happened yesterday, you remember, and what you did today - you completely forgot. Therefore, you need to record everything, keep diaries, recording what is happening.

GZR: Since we have switched to health, tell us about the Biorhythm watch.

V.A.: It has long been known that all human organs live by a certain rhythm, replacing active and passive phases. This is established in ancient Chinese medicine. And, interestingly, even if a person moves, for example, from Russia to America and lives there for many years, his biorhythm practically does not shift, well, for a maximum of one hour. But what will happen if we break away from the earthly rhythms, now the lunar and Martian expeditions are being prepared? Nobody knows that. Anyway, it's not yet clear how to use the change in the activity of our organs, how to adjust our lifestyle to the biorhythm. There is very little information on this subject. It turns out that for several thousand years, humanity has not advanced very far in this matter. Probably, because no one especially thought about it. So it occurred to me to make a watch that would indicate which organ is active when we have, and which one is passive. Maybe this kind of souvenir just prompts someone to seriously address the issue of human biorhythms, and it will be useful. In a word, it turned out such a riddle, a puzzle, a reason for reflection. Well, the watch, of course.

GZR: Vladimir Alexandrovich, I can't help but ask myself about the automotive topic: what do cosmonauts, people who moved faster in space than anyone else, think about cars and roads?

V.A.: You know, I like to repeat that the road is not space. In the sense that, in my opinion, there are even more dangers on it. I have changed many cars in my life, all domestic, now I drive a Niva. Of course, there are complaints about ergonomics and comfort. Last year, I almost got a heat stroke in traffic. It's good that I always carry a supply of water with me, this saved me. Now I'm thinking of changing the Niva to a foreign car that is more comfortable. I will pick up a small SUV. I like this class of cars most of all because of its versatility and the convenience of boarding and disembarking, I do not need to bend as much. As for the dangers, I, for example, at the wheel of a car and at the controls of an airplane had, imagine, thirteen accidents and incidents. About one of them, when Kamaz flattened my "Zhiguli" almost into a cake, having covered it with his trailer, he even wrote about it in the magazine "At the wheel". And all flights into space were more or less regular. So I would like to urge all participants in the movement to take road safety very seriously and carefully, the road will not forgive a careless and frivolous attitude.

Interviewed by Leonid Klimanovich

Technical Details

Movement

  • Made due special order by Chistopol watch factory "Vostok"
  • Precision 2423 caliber
  • Hand winding, 24-hours scale
  • Energy reserve 38 hours
  • Functions: hour, minute, second
  • Diameter: 24 mm
  • Height: 3,95 mm
  • Jewels: 17
  • Frequency: 19,800 beats per hour (bph)
  • Shockproof balance
  • Average service time - 15 years

Case

  • Size: 42*42*12 mm
  • Material: stainless steel
  • Waterproof: 3 ATM
  • Crystal: mineral
  • Additional crown for turning the navigation hand

Details

  • Weight: 190 grams
  • Guarantee: 24 months
  • Supplied with patented author's box

The watch is fitted with a 24-hour movement with a navigation hand. A spacecraft in LEO makes 16 circuits around the Earth at a 200 kilometer high circular orbit a day. The orbit period makes 90 minutes per circuit. During this time the Earth turns to a certain angle. So the start of next circuit falls to new coordinates.

The first circuit is defined by geographic coordinates of the launch site of the particular spacecraft.

Next circuits repeat the first one with a change of number over the equator 1-2-3…14-15-16… and 1-2-3… again, and so on, forming a beautiful pattern of the spacecraft trajectory on the flat surface of the map.


Illustration from the watch manual

The Cosmonavigator watch is designed for orbits with planes inclined to the earth equator at an angle of 51 degree. Those are working orbits of the space stations Salyut, Mir and the operating International Space Station, as well as docked spaceships of the Soyuz series and soon the Falcon 9.

Navigation accuracy depends on the orbit period. If the height increase, the circuit period is increasing as well. This is why the watch is provided with an option of a simple but regular correction of the sector position hand related to the hour hand.

Space Missions

This particular watch took part in two separate missions and flew with a total of five different space crafts: Soyuz TMA-5, Soyuz TMA-8, the International Space Station, and the space shuttle Atlantis.

Soyuz TMA-5/ISS-10

The mission of the Soyuz TMA-5 spacecraft to the International Space Station in the fall of 2004, was originally intended to be a routine exchange of a rescue vehicle onboard the outpost. The so-called "taxi crew," would fly Soyuz TMA-5 to the station, spend a week onboard and then parachute back to Earth inside the reentry capsule of the previous Soyuz TMA-4 spacecraft. However, the Columbia accident in February 2003 and resulting grounding of the Shuttle fleet left Russia as a main "caretaker" of the station and the Soyuz spacecraft as the only vehicle capable of rotating crews onboard the outpost. The Soyuz TMA-5 mission was assigned to deliver the 10th long-duration crew to the ISS. It would be the fifth Russian vehicle used for such purpose in the ISS program, the fourth since the loss of the Shuttle and ninth spacecraft from the Soyuz family launched toward the ISS.


Soyuz TMA-5 launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in 2004

The commander of the mission was Salizhan Shakirovich Sharipov, RKA, born 24 August 1964 and a Kyrgyzstani cosmonaut. He was accompanied by the flight engineers Leroy Chiao, NASA, Yuri Shargin, RKA, and Roberto Vittori, ESA.


Salizhan Sharipov floats in the Zvezda service module of the ISS

Sharipov brought the Cosmonavigator to the ISS in honor of Salyut-7 historic rescue mission and as a respect to Vladimir Dzhanibekov, commander of the mission and watch inventor. To commemorate this event, he also delivered Dzhanibekov's actual art devoted to the Salyut-7 mission. It belongs to a set of seven artworks showing the Salyut-7 story. Here the painting can be seen on the wall onboard ISS with a Sputnik model floating in front.


Painting of Salyut-7 by Dzhanibekov onboard the International Space Station

Sharipov took some cool pictures of the watch/instrument in zero gravity.


Cosmonavigator floating in front of a porthole with the Earth in the background (photo courtesy of Alex Panchenko)


The watch hovering in another area inside the space station (photo courtesy of Alex Panchenko)

After 193 days in the station the Expedition 10 crew returned to earth on 24 April 2005 after a soft landing in Kazakhstan together with Italian Roberto Vittori who had flown up with the Expedition 11 crew on Soyuz TMA-6. A few weeks after the landing, Sharipov signed documents certifying that the watch indeed took part in the Soyuz TMA-5 / ISS-10 mission.


Sharipov with the Cosmonavigator after the landing (photo courtesy of Alex Panchenko)

Soyuz TMA-8/ISS-13

The mission of the Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft had a goal of delivering and returning the 13th long-duration crew to the International Space Station. The launch was scheduled for March 30, 2006 (the launch was originally scheduled for March 22, 2006).


Soyuz TMA-8 preparing for launch on March 30, 2006

Expedition 13 crew consisted of the ISS commander Pavel Vinogradov of Russia and Flight Engineer and Science Officer Jeffrey Williams of the US. During the launch onboard Soyuz TMA-8 they were joined by the first Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes. Pontes was expected to return to Earth with the Expedition 12 crew after around a week aboard the station.


Photo taken at training center before the mission. From left to right: Marcos Pontes, Pavel Vinogradov and Jeffrey Williams

In 2006 June 2, Pavel Vinogradov and Jeff Williams conducted a 6-hour 31-minute spacewalk out of the Pirs docking compartment to repair a vent for the station's oxygen-producing Elektron unit, retrieval of experiment results and replacement of a camera on the orbiting laboratory rail car system.


Expedition 13 commander, Pavel Vinogradov, participates in a spacewalk

Vinogradov also had some fun with the Cosmonavigator onboard the ISS. Note the picture of Yuri Gagarin in the background.


Pavel Vinogradov having fun with the watch and the official patch of Expedition 13 (photo courtesy of Alex Panchenko)

The Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft, undocked from the station on September 29, 2006, at 01:53 Moscow Summer Time. Onboard were Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, both from Expedition 13, and American businesswoman Anousheh Ansari, who arrived to the station on September 20, 2006, onboard Soyuz TMA-9, as a space tourist. The spacecraft successfully touched down at 05:13 Moscow Time in the predetermined region 87 kilometers north of town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. The watch, however, was not onboard on the Soyuz return flight. It returned to Earth onboard the space shuttle Atlantis with the STS-115 crew together with other cargo that was destined for US soil.


Concluding mission STS-115, Atlantis and her crew returned to Kennedy Space Center and approach a landing before sunrise on Runway 33

Short after the landing of Soyuz TMA-8, Pavel poses with his watches and signed the certificates, just like Sharipov did two years earlier.


Pavel and his Cosmonavigators (photo courtesy of Alex Panchenko)


Documents

In addition to the actual watch, I also received some documents and photos.


Signed instruction manual with official stamps from Soyus TMA-5 and the ISS


Certificate signed by signed by Sharipov, Vinogradov, and Dzhanibekov (see translation below)

FEDERAL SPACE AGENCY
Ground Operations Center
Space infrastructure
Watch company "Right Move"

CERTIFICATE

NAVIGATION CLOCK INSTRUMENT
"COSMONAVIGATOR"

The device-watch "Cosmonavigator" created by order Ground Operations Center space infrastructure for the Federal Space Agency. The author of the idea and design of the pilot-cosmonaut Vladimir DZHANIBEKOV. Watch devices made by Russian watch company "Right Move". Limited edition of 350 copies.​
V. DZHANIBEKOV


Certificates of authenticity that the watch flew on two missions
New version?

The original Cosmonavigator is sold out since many years, but there is another version available, although with an unclear origin. It is marked as Slava Spetsnaz Collection Designer Series and features a Miyota 6М17 caliber quartz movement. I don't know if it has any relation to Dzhanibekov who designed the original version, or if it's a homage that was just "inspired" by the design ques. It's available at smirs.com as of this writing. The 12-hour movement makes one wonder however, if it has any practical use as an instrument of space flight.

A different version of a Cosmonavigator of unknown origin

Conclusions

Watches related to space flights have always enjoyed special interest from collectors around the world and the Cosmonavigator is no exception. What sets it apart though is that while many of the watches used in space over the years were standard of-the-shelf products that happened to be popular at the time (or issued to pilots by the air force), the Cosmonavigator is one of the very few watches that was actually designed specifically for the purpose of space flight.

In my opinion the Cosmonavigator is interesting both as a watch/instrument and a piece of history. Not only does it look nice, it has fascinating stories behind it - from the first idea of the design that Dzhanibekov got on the dramatic Salyut-7 rescue mission, to the flights of onboard Soyuz TMA-5 and TMA-8, the International Space Station, and finally the Space Shuttle Atlantis, all in good hands of renowned Russian cosmonauts.

So there we are - I hope you enjoyed this rather winding journey through history lane of space travels. A big thanks to Alex Panchenko who made this project possible. He provided not only the watch, but also many of the photos and valuable knowledge about the background stories. You can marvel at his extensive collection of Soviet/Russian aviation and space collectibles at his website: USSR-AIRSPACE, Cosmonaut and Aviation collectibles.


Watch, documents, photos, and an original patch from TMA-8
 

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WOW what a fantastic watch and the story behind it!

Thanks for posting this fascinating information so that we all can enjoy the history.


:)
 

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I'm incredibly envious just because I know how rare these watches are as-is, and you got one of the best examples I can imagine. Good job writing this information up for everyone as well.
Enjoy!
 

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Pretty cool �� space watches don't get much better than this....wear in the best of health mate
 

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Mod. Russian, China Mech.
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Thanks for sharing the most comprehensive coverage of the Cosmonavigator that I have ever read :-!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Congratulations to this addition to your already impressive collection!
You managed to get some really good pictures :-! this watch is a nightmare to photograph!

Did you know that you can find one one display in the Woolsthorpe Manor, the birthplace and was the family home of Sir Isaac Newton.

Phil
I did not know about the watch being on display at the Woolsthorpe Manor, but I would be interested to learn more about it. Yes, I agree that it's hard to take decent photos of this watch due to its shiny curved surfaces. I do have a new camera rig which helps, but still lack a polarisation filter to my macro lens. Hence the annoying reflexes.
 

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Thank you for such an amazing post. Remarkable. I'm at a loss, simply have no words. And thank you even more for sharing and let us droov over this rare, magnificent watch,
Best regards
 
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