In 1969, humankind landed on the Moon. The peak of the “space race,” it inspired the imaginations of countless people and brands. In the era, the drive to get there helped fuel the future-forward, Space Age aesthetic that combined streamline curves with mid-century modern design to create some pretty fantastic, and “far-out” concepts. From cars, to buildings and furniture, space influenced the surrounding world. It should come as no surprise that watches also got this treatment, and none so well-conceived as the Zodiac Astrographic.
Click here to view the new Zodiac Astrographic LE Collection
Not strangers to pushing the design envelope, in 1969 Zodiac mixed their expertise in innovative dials with a specialized hi-beat mechanical movement and surrounded it in non-traditional cases that foreshadowed the trends of the coming decade. The result was the Astrographic, a series of watches with floating hands, 12 o’clock dates, wild cases and a guarantee “...not to lose or gain more than a minute each month."
Now, 50 years later they are bringing back the original Astrographic design to celebrate its anniversary and that of the Moon landing, as well as today’s renewed interest in space travel, particularly with the goal of reaching Mars. An edition of two styles, each limited to 182 pieces worldwide, the Astrographic LE is available in steel with a metallic blue dial, and PVD gold with matching gold dial. Equally striking, both are closely based on versions of the original.
Featuring a 40 x 43mm case with fluid curves, the lugless UFO-design is emphasized by sunray brushing on the top surface and polished sides. At 10mm tall, which is thinner than expected, the watches wear very well on their accompanying bracelets. Capped off with sapphire crystals, the 100m cases stay true to the vision of the originals, while meeting modern standards. Of course, inside is the STP 3-13 Swiss-made automatic caliber, assuring accurate timekeeping.
While the cases exude a style indicative of the time period, the mystery dials are a truly unique element that sets the Astrographics apart. Rather than traditional hands, the Astrographic features shapes that seemingly float over the metallic surfaces below, pointing to a chapter ring that is pressed against the inside of the crystal. Immediately, the display creates a great sense of depth that adds to retro-futuristic feel of the design. Though seemingly magic, the hands are actually printed on sapphire disks that turn without creating distortion.
The hour and minute hands are indicated through split rectangles featuring lume stripes. Though a detail of the original, the red dot seconds hand gains special meaning, alluding to Mars as it orbits the dial. The date at 12 is another distinctive feature of the watch. Like the sun overhead, the date window anchors the other elements, which seem to want to float away.
As with the watch when it was first released in 1969, the reissue of the Astrographic LE is an exotic, but stylish timepiece. In silver, it has a cool look that is at once playful, futuristic and intriguing. It’s a watch that will start conversations and add a surprising accent to casual attire. The gold version is more daring, with a monochromatic appearance accented by black. This version looks great against dark colors and would work especially well with a black leather strap.