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Barrelhand joins Moon mission as the first watch company since the Apollo program

The unique Memory Disc inside the 3D printed Monolith EVA watch tool is part of IM-1's lunar payload

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Project Monolith is a ground-up mission-driven tool developed by California-based Barrelhand to meet the harsh demands of current astronauts and future space explorers. It is a professional-grade EVA tool watch, with a metal 3D printed chassis, compatible with current and next-generation xEMU spacesuits. Currently en route to the Moon on Intuitive Machines’ IM-1 mission, the Memory Disc inside the Monolith watch is set to make Barrelhand the first watch company since the Apollo era to participate in a lunar landing attempt.

The soft landing attempt on Earth’s satellite is part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. If successful, this mission will mark the first US Moon landing in over 50 years, paying tribute to watchmaking’s enduring role in the next chapter of space exploration.

As a result of Barrelhand’s focus on introducing “space-as-a-lifestyle” products, Monolith’s unique capabilities include resistance to elements such as the microgravity environments, the absence of atmospheric pressure, solar radiation and extreme temperature fluctuations (-120°C to +120°C). The watch tackles this through a variety of technical innovations like its 3D printed air-core insulated Scalmalloy chassis and an airlock crown which can be wound and set in a vacuum or even underwater.

“Integration of Memory Disc technology into a professional EVA certified timing instrument, is a great example of our commitment [to “space-as-a-lifestyle],” said Michael Sorkin, Co-founder, in charge of Strategy, at Barrelhand. “It ensures astronauts remain connected to Earth’s cultural heritage and their origins, addressing mission critical requirements and the inherent human need for connection. Moving forward, Barrelhand will continue collaborating with scientists, artists and technological pioneers to enhance every aspect of professional and personal life, aiming to broaden the impact of their innovations in space and on Earth.”

Barrelhand joins Moon mission as first watch company since the Apollo program with Memory Disc inside the 3D printed Monolith EVA watch tool
The first version of the Memory Disc design inside Monolith is integrated into the NanoFiche stack, set for the Moon on the IM-1 lunar mission within the Lunaprise payload

More than a watch

Drawing inspiration from watchmaking history, watches are known for crafting both functional instruments and cherished personal companions. Monolith embraces this dual nature as a rugged toolwatch while also exploring the spiritual and psychological dimensions of space travel.

“Since horology’s inception, timekeeping devices were developed as essential tools for navigation and exploration, charting longitudes, summiting Everest, and touching down on the moon. The next generation of timing instruments will need to meet the new demands of longer, more distant space missions,” said Karel Bachand, CEO of Barrelhand.

Integrated into the caseback of Monolith is a 19mm diameter plaque known as Memory Disc. Made from a revolutionary technology called NanoFiche, it holds more than 1000 pages worth of information, which are nano engraved for long-term and analog preservation. Unlike other storage methods, nickel-based NanoFiche is degradation-resistant and everlasting. Whether exposed to solar flares, magnetic fields or extreme temperatures – nickel’s non-oxidizing properties, absence of a half-life, and resilience to various elements make it capable of enduring for millions of years.

Barrelhand joins Moon mission as first watch company since the Apollo program with Memory Disc inside the 3D printed Monolith EVA watch tool

Watch this

Ever since the early days of space exploration, Astronauts have described a phenomenon known as the Overview Effect. The experience of leaving everything you’ve ever known and seeing your home as an outside observer can be both awe-inspiring and existential. The Memory Disc was crafted by a team of aerospace industry leaders, psychologists and museum curators from around the world to create a sense of connection to our home, planet Earth.

Recognizing home as fundamentally rooted in relationships, Barrelhand has thoughtfully curated a diverse array of cultural heirlooms, categorized into four distinct groups. These categories symbolize humanity’s relationship with (1) ourselves, (2) each other, (3) earth, and (4) space.

The selection covers well-known cultural treasures and lesser known gems, including the entire novella Le Petit Prince by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupérys, a variety of paintings and children’s artworks from around the world; 180 translations of the aspirational saying Per Aspera Ad Astra; and Barrelhand’s updated interpretation of the iconic Voyager Golden Record.

Barrelhand joins Moon mission as first watch company since the Apollo program with Memory Disc inside the 3D printed Monolith EVA watch tool
Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander in the company’s Lunar Production and Operations Center in Houston.

Riding on the IM-1 Mission to the Moon

The first version of the Memory Disc design is integrated into the NanoFiche stack, set for the Moon on the IM-1 lunar mission within the Lunaprise payload. It serves to permanently preserve our slice in human history with a selection of carefully curated content while also performing further hardware testing for Monolith. It serves to permanently preserve our slice in human history with a selection of curated content while also performing further hardware testing for Monolith. A carbon copy of this Memory Disc will also be integrated into every Monolith caseback, creating a lasting connection to home and its lunar counterpart for the wearer.

IM-1 represents a pioneering mission with the ambitious goal of establishing a thriving commercial lunar economy. It aims to deliver commercial payloads as well as NASA science and technology payloads, laying the foundation for a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon. This mission strives to achieve a significant milestone as the first U.S. vehicle to gently land on the lunar surface since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C moon lander named Odysseus (“Odie” for short) lifted off from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, February 15th. Odysseus has so far successfully detached from the Falcon 9 rocket and is currently on a direct trajectory to the Moon. The goal is for Odysseus to gracefully touch down on the lunar surface following approximately a seven-day journey.

Barrelhand joins Moon mission as first watch company since the Apollo program with Memory Disc inside the 3D printed Monolith EVA watch tool
While the watch is primarily being developed for professional EVA use by Astronauts, a civilian version is also being made available for USD 8,750 and can be pre-ordered via the official website starting today. The first pieces are expected to be delivered by the end of Q3 2024.

“Well, we are still early on – but we can’t wait. Barrelhand is defining the future with “space-as-a-lifestyle” – a new industry that flawlessly merges space technology with everyday multi-planetary existence. Our product roadmap transcends traditional toolmaking, embracing timeless design, psychological well-being and cultural preservation,” Michael Sorkin added.

Among other records, it is the very first consumer product made using the ultra-advanced aerospace alloy Scalmalloy. This aluminum-scandium alloy was developed and originally commercialized, specifically for 3D printing, by APWorks.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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