Bulova’s Accutron Astronaut

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The skin of the A-12 was made of titanium and it was the very first aircraft ever to be made entirely of the metal. Prior to this titanium had only been used for certain parts and the supplier to Lockheed did not have access to sufficient quantities for Project OXCART. The CIA therefore set up a number of overseas shell corporations to source the material clandestinely from what was at the time by far the biggest producer of titanium: the Soviet Union. (To paraphrase something Anthony Bourdain once wrote about Russia, one thing you get a lot of in espionage is irony). The plates making up the skin of the aircraft had to have slight gaps left in between them to allow for thermal expansion at top speed, and the result was that the A-12 would drip jet fuel onto the runway before takeoff. It was the intense heat generated by its faster-than-a-speeding-bullet characteristics that caused the CIA to turn to the Accutron Astronaut as a pilot’s watch… More at Hodinkee.

Love the Accutron and this is a very interesting addition to the history.

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