If you’ve ever dreamed of space travel, then getting the chance to meet Scott Kelly is a slice of heaven. Kelly — a former military fighter pilot, engineer and retired astronaut — was in Toronto in December to promote his most recent endeavor, a memoir called Endurance, and to help cut the ribbon on Breitling’s first Canadian boutique.
Kelly is a legend in space circles: a veteran of four space flights, Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on three expeditions and was a member of the yearlong mission to the ISS. In October 2015, he set the record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space, the single longest space mission by an American astronaut. Endurance is a record of how he pushed himself not only to become an astronaut, but also to explore the effects of long term space travel on the human body, using himself as a test subject (his identical twin brother Mark, also an astronaut, stayed on the ground for comparison purposes.)
And even in an environment as high tech as the ISS, Kelly still relied on three, old-fashioned wristwatches to help him track his 8,168 hours and 42 minutes circling the globe planet. And two of those were Breitlings: An Emergency (the very first wristwatch with a built-in personal locator beacon (to issue alerts and to guide search and rescue missions) and a classic Navitimer Annual Calendar 1461 (a gift from his brother).
Of course, Breitling is one of the best-known brands when it comes to technical watches, and has played a crucial role in the development of the wrist chronograph. The company is also leading the way when it comes to opening up boutiques where customers can build personal relationships with consumers by offering novel experiences, such as meeting your aeronautic heroes in person.
Of course, if you want to get an in-depth look at what it’s like to spend so much time floating through the stars, you should read Endurance (Kelly writes with much candor, so it’s a fascinating account). But we thought, with all the space time Kelly has logged, who better to talk to about purchasing a precision technical watch?
Q: What was your first watch?
A: My first Breitling was an Aerospace.
Q: As a pilot, what did you look for in a watch?
A: In a watch, I look for accurate and precise time. A stopwatch feature is also very important.
Q: How many watches did you take into space with you?
A: The last time I was in space, I took three watches for myself.
Q: When you are in space, what are the most important features of a watch for you?
A: When I am in space, the most important features for a watch are accurate and precise time, a stopwatch feature and a loud alarm. Bright backlighting is very advantageous too.