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***As featured on HODINKEE's Bring A Loupe***
Brand: Wittnauer Genève
Model: 242T Three-Register Professional Chronograph ref. 8024 (Black "Decimal" Dial); Swiss Made circa 1960s
Case: Solid stainless steel case with screw-down back and pump pushers is approximately 38mm excluding the original signed "W" winding crown
Strap: 20mm handmade tan leather side-stitch strap with polished stainless steel tang buckle
Movement: Wittnauer cal. 13W (Valjoux cal. 72) manual-winding chronograph movement (17 jewels) with 12-hour recording capability; 18,000 BPH; Swiss Made
Features: Stunning original black dial with incredible yellow Tritium lume plots and white decimal track (divides elapsed time into tenths and/or hundredths for use in scientific, laboratory, medical, and time-study applications); original luminous hands; original steel register hands; legendary Valjoux 72 movement with 12-hour chronograph recording capability; sharp oversized stainless steel case with screw-down back and fantastic proportions; domed acrylic crystal (appears to be original to the watch)
Condition: Fantastic original condition overall with only minor honest wear consistent with age and use; solid stainless steel case appears to be completely unpolished with razor-sharp bevels; nice screw-down caseback exhibits minimal wear and a few scratches; gorgeous original black dial with crisp white printing throughout and beautiful yellow Tritium lume plots; original Tritium hands; clean original domed acrylic crystal
Other: This is a very rare opportunity to acquire a collector-grade example of the elusive Wittnauer 242T Chronograph, which is widely considered to be the "Holy Grail" of all Wittnauer wristwatches. Originally designed by Wittnauer to be extremely legible for use in scientific, laboratory, medical, and time-study applications, it was able to divide elapsed time into tenths and/or hundredths at a quick glance. Despite being incredibly useful in the field, decimal tracks are seldom seen on other wristwatches. Given the overall design aesthetic and capabilities of the 242T, it comes as no surprise that this reference is believed to have been submitted by Wittnauer to NASA for consideration in the Apollo Moon Landing program. This NASA connection has undoubtedly elevated the watch to become a "must-have" in collector circles today, but the obvious appeal of the 242T stands on its own.
According to our friends at Analog/Shift, the tests that NASA subjected these watches to were grueling and comprehensive, meant to simulate conditions that they would endure in space, as well as the uses to which the astronauts would put them. Since the astronauts would need to time a variety of tasks, the chronographs were left running for several hours. To simulate the cold vacuum of space, as well as the inferno of re-entry, they were decompressed for 90 minutes and exposed to temperatures from 0 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, to recreate the tumultuous launch conditions, the watches were exposed to intense vibration for 30 minutes, and then had to withstand shocks of 40 G's.
There's no proof from either Wittnauer or NASA that the chronograph submitted by Wittnauer was this watch, the Reference 242T. However, advertisements following the Qualification Test Procedures did proclaim the 242T as Wittnauer's entry into the contest. Whether this is true or not, the 242T certainly met the requirements that NASA set forth: it had to be a wrist-worn chronograph that was both water-resistant to 50 meters and legible under both low and high light conditions. Therefore, it’s perhaps not a coincidence that the 242T shares aesthetic DNA with the other watches that were put to the test; however, the 242T had enough unique elements to make it stand out among its contemporaries.