On April 8, 2022, the Axiom Space Mission lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). Among the four-person crew of flight AX-1 was Eytan Stibbe, impact investor, philanthropist, and leader of the Israeli-designed Rakia mission to space. On his wrist was the Jacob& Co. Astronomia Tourbillon Bucherer Blue.
The Axion Mission, which concluded with the safe return of the astronauts on April 25, witnessed the first time ever that a Triple Axis tourbillon was sent into space.
Now, Jacob & Co. and Bucherer Blue – two of the world’s most famous names in watches – and Sotheby’s – the world’s premier destination for art and luxury, have joined forces to hold a single-lot charitable auction exclusively for this history-making watch on July 26.
“From our first dedicated Space Exploration sale in 2017 to our auction of Omega Speedmasters in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, Sotheby’s has been a pioneer at bringing together the world of space and watch collecting, offering some of the rarest examples in each category,” says Josh Pullan, Head of Sotheby’s Global Luxury Division.
He adds: “We’re thrilled to be part of this journey, which marks the first haute horological tourbillon to travel into orbit. The shared spirit of innovation brought Jacob & Co, Bucherer, and Sotheby’s together for this project, and we are honoured that the auction of this special timepiece will also benefit charity.”
On offer with no reserve – and bidding starting at $1 – proceeds will be donated to benefit the Davidson Institute of Science Education. This Israeli non-profit organization serves as the educational arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science. The organization believes in connecting people to science, initiates, organizes, and operates a wide range of educational programs.
“The Astronomia Bucherer Blue Tourbillon is a truly unique, groundbreaking timepiece that elevates the art of watchmaking above the Earth, above time,” says Benjamin Arabov, CEO of Jacob & Co. “So the very idea of sending this special Astronomia into space, as you can imagine, was very exciting. It is only fitting that the Astronomia should revolve around the Earth. The watch had the same viewpoint on us as we usually have on it. This mirroring is typical of the way I envision the creation of timepieces.”
Patrick Graf, Chief Commercial Officer of Bucherer, adds: “Bucherer Blue is our platform for bringing to life daring projects with innovative partners. Together we strive to create the extraordinary and celebrate the drive and curiosity of our NextGen customers.
“Jacob & Co.’s exceptional timepieces, imaginative power, and can-do attitude make possible what seemed impossible before. Powered by the internationally renowned auction house Sotheby’s, this collaboration brings the Bucherer Blue philosophy to a whole new level, and we are incredibly excited that the Astronomia Bucherer Blue went up to space, pushing boundaries beyond the expected.”
The Rakia mission, along with the Astronomia Blue on Mission Leader Eytan Stibbe’s wrist, spent 17 days, 1 hour and 37 minutes in space. The space crew orbited the Earth 273 times at an altitude of 250 miles at nearly 17,500 mph, covering a distance of over 7 million miles in total.
Eytan Stibbe, upon returning to Earth, said: “The Astronomia Tourbillon Bucherer Blue timepiece continued to accurately display the time during the launch and return to earth, enduring extremely high G-forces and also micro-gravity while in space.”
Following its return from space, Astronomia Blue embarked on a public exhibition tour in New York City, first at the Bucherer 1888 Time Machine flagship store from July 11 to 17. From there, it moved to Sotheby’s New York, where it will be on display till July 25.
The Astronomia Blue wristwatch is a true horological wonder, imparting an otherworldly quality to the idea of a timekeeper. The complex movement, for one, is built around a gravitational triple-axis tourbillon. The dark Blue starry background mirrors the deep, captivating colour of the firmament (“Rakia” in Hebrew).
The pronounced domed case, made of anti-reflective sapphire crystal, essentially features a microcosm in which four satellites turn in constant motion. These include the dial, tourbillon cage, a spherical diamond that reflects the moon, and a magnesium lacquered globe that reflects the Earth. All finished in the Bucherer Blue colour scheme.
The Astronomia Blue is in itself a captivating timepiece. However, as the first triple-axis tourbillon to reach the exosphere, its allure is even more entrancing, making it an extraordinary one-of-a-kind.