Bertrand Piccard is the son of the famous Rolex explorer Jacques Piccard who set the all-time depth-record of 7 miles down in a U.S. Navy Submersible, 50 years ago, with a Rolex DEEP-SEA special prototype attached to the outside.
Bertrand Piccard is pictured above on the left side, and his career achievements as an explorer are second to none. Among other incredible achievements, he was the first person to successfully fly around the entire planet in a balloon.
His latest project is named Solar Impulse which is very ambitiously attempting to fly a prototype solar-powered airplane around the planet!!! The Solar Impulse airplane uses only solar power and today he flew it successfully in the Swiss Countryside on its maiden voyage.
The photo below shows the Solar Impulse above the skies of Switzerland. The Solar Impulse is powered by 12,000 solar cells and he successfully flew it for 87 minutes and took it all the way up to 4,000 feet.
The Omega watch company of Switzerland is a sponsor of the project and even developed a really cool chronograph model to commemorate the Solar Impulse. We will examine the watch model later in the story.
Bertrand Piccard said "The first mission was the most risky phase of the entire project." It took 7 years of research and development to build the revolutionary solar powered prototype airplane.
The Solar Impulse airplane is known as The HB-SIA and it set another record for being the larges and lightest airplane to ever fly. It is so large, in fact, that its wingspan is equal to a jumbo jet!!! It is actually has a wingspan of 208 feet which is more than 10 feet wider than a Boing 787!!!
The irony is that a typical jumbo jet, like an Airbus 380 weights 560 Tons, The Solar Impulse HB-SIA conversely only weighs 2 Tons, which is as much as a small car!!!
The HB-SIA achieved lift-off at less than 30 Miles Per Hour based upon its four, 10 Horsepower electric motors.
In the illustration below we see the Solar Impulse HB-SIA compared to an Airbus 380.
The long term-plan is to fly the Solar Impulse around the entire globe without stopping and the ambitions timeframe calls for achieving this in 2012!!!
Omega Speedmaster GMT HB-SIA
Hotel Bravo Solar Impulse Alpha
[44.25 MM Titanium Case with Carbon Dial]
Omega is a sponsor of the Solar Impulse project and they developed this special Solar Impulse HB-SIA chronograph to commemorate this amazing project. It kind of looks like a modernized Omega Moonwatch and I like the orange detail which also gives it a retro look.
The watch case and bracelet are titanium and the dial is made from carbon fiber. The watch features an exclusive Omega Calibre 3606 whose revolutionary Co-axial Escapement and free sprung balance deliver long-term stable reliability and accuracy and it is a COSC Certified Chronometer.
On the back of the watch we see the Solar Impulse HB-SIA designation with a graphic of the airplane and notice each case is individually numbered. It also has the Swiss Chronometer designation on the back.
Very cool looking watch and an amazingly cool and innovative project. Omega has participated as one of the main partners in the project because they believe the planet is in urgent need to develop safe, sustainable energy sources.
Solar Impulse Flea-Hop Test Video
This video is from the first time they tested the Solar Impulse on what is known as a Flee-Hop where they just fly it a few feet above the ground to make certain it is air-worthy.
Interview with Bertrand Piccard
In this next video we hear from Bertrand Piccard and we see his father, Jacques Piccard hugging him after he successfully completed his record-setting balloon flight around the globe.
One On One Interview With Bertrand Piccard
One of my favorite features on Jake's Rolex World is I always attempt to bring the people I tell stories about, to life, and that is exactly what we achieve with this great video interview. Bertrand Piccard is not only an amazing explorer and scientist, but an equally amazing human being!!! Enjoy!!!
As legend has it, Omega developed the Omega PloProf with COMEX and Jacques Cousteau. Essentially, the Omega PloProf Seamaster Professional was developed to compete with the Rolex SEA-DWELLER. Omega formally launched the PloProf in 1970 after 4 years of research and development.
My pal Ariel Adams is the publisher of A Blog To Read and earlier this year, at BaselWorld he had the opportunity to interview Stephen Urquhart, who is the CEO of Omega Watches. I really enjoyed the interview and I was extremely impressed with Stephen Urquhart depth of knowledge, and he certainly is a brilliant conversationalist.
Ever wonder how that mechanical masterpiece on your wrist actually works? Me too!!!
Many people don't know this, but the United States used to be a world leader in making watches up until World War II, when many of the watch manufacturers converted their facilities to manufacturing military components. After World War II, the United States of America went into manufacturing other things, but the Swiss kept going with making watches and watchmaking grew considerably in Japan.
This movie, from the Hamilton Watch Company, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania shows how a mechanical watch works. The primary difference between what you see in this video and a Rolex Perpetual is that Rolex has an automatic winding rotor that winds the watch, otherwise they work very similarly. Enjoy!!!
Last week we looked at a video about how a watch works from the Hamilton Watch Company that was shot in 1949. This fascinating video appeared two years earlier in 1947. As I mentioned last week, the United States used to be a big watch producer up until World War II.
"You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension–a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man.
"It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge.
"You're about to enter into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone!!!"
Rolex Serling was an amazingly talented and articulate man, among many other amazing achievements, he is perhaps best known for creating The Twilight Zone. In my opinion, man better epitomizes late 1950s style than Rod Serling, and we see him in the photo below sporting his classic Hamilton Ventura.
This first set of interviews with Mike Wallace is just amazing!!! To see two TV pioneers talking is just incredible!!!
I believe Rod Serling wore a yellow gold Rolex GMT Master on a Jubilee bracelet in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but I have not found a close-up photo to confirm this. In this next set of videos, you can see it on his wrist.
I am not exactly certain who the man in this photo is. I think he is Adolph Rickenbacker whose company was the first to market electric guitars. Adolph Rickenbacker was born in Basel, Switzerland and moved to the U.S. in 1891, at age 4. The reason this vintage image caught my eye, is jusdging form the clothing style, it looks like it was taken in the mid to late 1960, and I could not help but notice he is wearing his watch on the outside of his sweater cuff.
I notice this image in the recent Mazda Anthem commercial as seen below.
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Welcome To Jake's Time Machine
My name is Jake Ehrlich. I am the editor and publisher of Jake's Rolex World, Jake's Panerai World and Jake's Patek Philippe World, which are all leading watch related blogs.
Over the years, I have contemplated creating more watch blogs, for different brands like Cartier, Omega, and Hamilton, but I was concerned I would not have enough interesting content for each brand, so I created Jake's Time Machine Blog to be a place where I explore all watch brand history, as well as exploring the history of timekeeping itself.