Bangalore Watch Company unveils the Apogee Karman Line – India’s first space qualified watch

It celebrates Bangalore Watch Company’s successful test of an Apogee prototype, which completed a stratospheric flight 114,000 feet (35 kilometers) into the Earth’s atmosphere and returned safely in working condition.

Bangalore Watch Company™ (BWC) is an Indian luxury timepiece brand, founded in 2018 by husband-wife duo Nirupesh Joshi and Mercy Amalraj. Both are former high-end software consultants, who left promising careers in Hong-Kong, returned to India, and founded BWC. BWC’s wristwatch collections “tells a story inspired by 21st century India”, such as a homage to HMT, Indian Air Force, cricket, and the Indian space program. Each collection is produced in limited quantities.

The Apogee collection was launched in 2021, “as a celebration of the Indian space program”.  Ever since, it has earned the moniker “the Indian space watch.”  BWC wanted to push further ahead.

“We didn’t want to stop at creating watches that were merely inspired by Space. We wanted to see if we could build them to be qualified and tested for space,”  said Mercy Amalraj, Co-Founder of BWC.

“Space is an unforgiving environment. There is no gravity, no oxygen, and extremely low temperatures. Automatic watches are usually built for use under normal circumstances, but testing our watches in Outer space and seeing if they’ll function normally, is a huge challenge. But that is exactly the type of challenge we wanted to take on and push the capability of the Apogee watch,”  said Nirupesh Joshi, Co-Founder and Creative Director of BWC.

BWC collaborated with a UK based space-engineering firm to send an Apogee prototype into space and return it safely to Earth. It took BWC two years of planning and execution to be able to do so. Aspects like flight dynamics, weather, launch location, and testing the watches on the ground so they do not fail in space were taken into consideration. BWC named this endeavor the Karman Line Project. Karman Line is an imaginary boundary 100 km above the Earth, believed to be the starting point of outer space.

In early 2024, “an ultra-light carbon-fibre spacecraft, carried by a high-altitude balloon, transported an Apogee watch to outer space, exposing it to the harsh environment of outer space.”  The spacecraft reached a peak altitude of 114,000 feet or 35 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, which is about three times the height of commercial airliners, “before being remotely guided back to Earth for recovery.”

The Apogee prototype faced extreme conditions of space and space travel, such as a temperature of -65°C and extremely high g-forces during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Despite it all, it remained functional throughout its journey. Several 4K cameras captured Apogee’s flight and its return to Earth.

To celebrate this monumental achievement, BWC has unveiled the Apogee Karman Line wristwatch, a 50-piece limited edition series, similar to the space-going Apogee prototype. Each Apogee Karman Line wristwatch is individually numbered.

Dial

Its dial is crafted from a piece of the blue-coloured Muonionalusta meteorite. Discovered in Sweden after its fall from space, the Muonionalusta meteorite is older than the Earth. Each dial is unique. The dial features diamond cut rhodium hours, minutes, seconds hands and 11-indices. Except for the seconds hand, each is coated with C3 Grade-A Super Luminova®.

The latitude and longitude coordinates displayed on the dial, slightly above the date window at 6 o’clock, are of Sriharikota, a barrier island off the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Sriharikota falls under the state of Andhra Pradesh, is home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, and one of two launch centres for satellites in India.

Functions and Calibre

Its functions are hours, minutes, seconds, and date at 6 o’clock. In addition, dual time can be tracked using the inner bezel. It is powered by mechanical self-winding manufacture calibre La-Joux Perret G100, which has a power reserve of 68 hours.

Case, Strap and Buckle

It features a Black Cerasteel™ unibody case. It has a case width of 40 mm and a case thickness of 12 mm. Its lug-to-lug dimension is 44 mm. It features two crowns: 2 o’clock push and pull crown for internal bezel for dual time feature, and 4 o’clock push and pull crown for time and date settings. Its domed sapphire crystal features two layers of anti-reflective coating. It has a closed screw-down caseback, featuring artwork of India’s first satellite – Aryabhatta. Its water resistance has been tested and passed for 1 ATM (vacuum) to 10 ATM (high-pressure). It comes with a genuine leather strap, 316L steel tang buckle featuring a signed BWC logo.

Concluding Thoughts

I have personal experience with BWC timepieces, having reviewed and written about them for a horological platform in SE Asia a few years ago. Few of my colleagues at The Cornea Impression own BWC timepieces. Having gone from strength to strength, BWC’s imagination and creativity in telling Indian stories is amazing. Testing an Apogee prototype in space is another chapter for them to cement their unique place in both the Indian and global horological landscape. With the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) determined to push ahead with its manned space program, we at The Cornea Impression hope that one day, soon, Indian astronauts will grace a BWC timepiece during their journey to space and back.

Name: Apogee Karman Line

Price: Indian Rupees (INR) 240,000 (Approximately United States Dollar $ 2850)

Website: https://www.bangalorewatchco.in/collections/apogee/products/karman-line

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