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Watch worn by US astronaut on Moon sells for $1.6 mn

NEW YORK: An exceptionally rare watch worn by an American astronaut on the Moon which bears remnants of lunar material has sold for more than $1.6 million, a US auction house said.

Dave Scott, the commander of the 1971 Apollo 15 mission, wore the Bulova Chronograph while conducting experiments on the Moon after his standard-issue Swiss Omega became damaged.

It is the only watch worn on the Moon in private hands and was bought by a Florida businessman in a frenetic, 12-minute bidding war with a rival in Britain, said Boston-based RR Auction.

It is also the only American-made watch worn on the Moon and its $1,625,000 price smashed the auction house’s pre-sale estimates of $750,000 to $1 million.

It was exposed to the lunar surface for more than four hours, and bears remnants of chalky, ash-type lunar material on its band and scratches on its face, the auction house said.

“It’s worth what it sold for,” Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction, told AFP. The watch “played a major role in the safety of the mission,” he added.

The dozen American men who have walked on the moon all wore NASA-issued Omega Speedmasters, which are considered US government property, and many are housed in institutions.

Omega won the contract to equip the Apollo program, bidding against five or six other companies, but Bulova was determined to get NASA to change their mind, testing their watch rigorously against the Speedmaster, Livingston said.

After he returned to the cabin following his second moonwalk, Scott saw that the crystal of his Omega had popped off, so for his third moonwalk, he strapped on his personal backup, the Bulova.

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