Theresa O’Connor

Seiko should reissue the A829 Rotocall

Coming it at №s 5 and 6 on the all-time list of watches used in space exploration, the two Seiko A829 Sports 100 "Rotocall" models (the circular-bezel A829-6019 and the octagonal A829-6029) are the most iconic timepiece of the first ten years of the Shuttle program.

There was a 6019 on Sally Ride's wrist onboard Challenger when she became the first lesbian (and first American woman) in space during STS-7 in 1983. Kathryn Sullivan had a 6019 on one wrist and a 6029 on the other during STS-41-G, the mission during which she became the first woman to go on EVA.

In total, the two A829 models flew on over 160 missions from the early 80s to the early 00s. Only the various Omega Speedmaster models and the G-Shock DW-5600 have been to space more.

But besides the impeccable provenance of these watches as a NASA workhorse of the 80s and 90s, the "rotocall" design itself is unique and innovative. Rotating the bezel to switch functions is pretty intuitive, and also quite a bit easier than cycling through functions by pressing a small "mode" button a bunch of times. The functional bezel adds a tactile, mechanical enjoyment and a great æsthetic to an otherwise fairly run-of-the-mill digital watch. They're fun. Also, for my fellow ADHDers out there (and just like a dive bezel) the rotocall's bezel doubles as a fidget toy.

These days many watch brands, including Seiko, have been digging into their back catalogues to resurrect or reissue iconic designs, or fresh new takes on those iconic designs, with modern movements and production quality. The incredible popularity of the CasiOak suggests there's demand for interesting/weird octagonal watches, and Seiko themselves have some octagonal watches in their current JDM lineup (such as the Prospex SBEB003 and SBEB039). And Artemis I launches in just a few days. I think the market is ripe for Seiko to issue a modern reinterpretation of the rotocall.

For more on the rotocall, see Fratello Watches: #TBT Seiko Astronaut Watch A829-6029 Aka Rotocall