why do Astronauts wear 2 watches

Why Do Astronauts Wear Two Watches – Explanation 2023

If you have been wondering why do Astronauts wear 2 watches when they are flying around in space then we will be answering all your questions and more in this article.

Astronauts are known to wear some of the world’s latest technologies because of the kind of job they do.

From using advanced suits to flying in rockets fitted with state of the art technologies, astronauts have access to a long list of impressive tools, all designed to make their job easy.

One of such tools that particularly makes their job easy is the tool watches they wear.

And in case you aren’t aware, astronauts wear two watches during space exhibitions.

For starters, the first watch is specially designed to keep the crew on course with the onboard time.

Plus, the onboard time is measured in GMT.

Also, the watch might be calibrated to Mission Elapsed Time (MET).

On the flip side, the second watch gracing the crew’s wrist is worn to keep them updated about the local time at home.

Other tools used by astronauts include a monitor, which the team uses to track important factors like heart rate, blood oxygen and more.

For astronauts, time is of the essence especially considering all the delicate jobs they do out there.

With all of the various experiments they have going on, having a reliable watch on their wrists ensures they meet their commitments.

Now that you know why astronauts wear two watches, let’s give you an idea or two on how astronauts tell time.

Astronauts and time zone in space

Curious to learn why astronauts wear multiple watches?

The answer is simple: astronauts wear multiple watches to stay up to date with different time zones.

One of the time zones used by the crew during their space exhibition is the Mission Elapsed Time (MET).

When they arrive at the International Space station, they also use the standard GMT.

And like we mentioned earlier, one of the watches on their wrist is calibrated to keep track of local time back home.

Mission Elapsed Time: What is it?

Mission Elapsed Time is a special time used by NASA to stay up to date with all of the events outlined in the mission.

Most times, events are planned according to the Mission Elapsed Time.

While this timer is nicely fitted in the spacecraft, the crew also have a timer on their wrist to stay up to date.

Without mincing words, MET is one of the crucial time zones astronauts keep track of.

Plus, this time is activated the very moment the shuttle leaves for its mission.

The timer continues to count until the crew returns to earth.

This time zone is important to every space exhibition because it shows how long the crew have been on the mission.

It also keeps the crew updated on how long they have left.

This helps keep their mental health in check and reduces the many uncertainties they might encounter on their journey.

More importantly, the MET helps the astronaut stay on course and do things as at when due.

With MET, the crew will stay productive as they will be able to record all the events happening around them.

Greenwich Meridian Time and Space mission

The second time zone that astronauts keep track of is the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

This is the internationally recognised standard time zone set by NASA, especially because the space station is locked to this time zone.

For those new to space exhibition, it would interest you to know that the international space station works with the GMT standard.

And since most countries share this time zone, it’s no surprise to learn why it has become the global standard in terms of time zones.

And since daylight saving doesn’t apply to GMT, it’s easy to see why other time zones can be referenced against the GMT.

While astronauts on space exhibitions can be launched on their mission from worldwide and might all have different Mission Elapsed Time, they all use the GMT standard when they arrive at the international space station.

This time zone makes it easier for astronauts to communicate with each other since they all have one standard time zone.

Also, the GMT standard time zone is how mission control keeps in touch with the crew.

Local time and space mission

Like we mentioned earlier, astronauts also stay up to date with the local time back at home.

This helps them to determine the perfect time to speak with their loved ones back home.

For astronauts, being able to call their loved ones is super important for their mental health.

It also helps keep the crew connected to the Earth.

While many astronauts typically have one of their watches set to either MET or GMT, the second watch gracing their wrist is usually set to keep track of local time.

And since the space station orbits the earth every 45 minutes, they can lose touch with local time without a second watch on their wrist.

Frequently asked questions

What types of watches do astronauts wear on a mission?

Astronauts usually wear the Omega SpeedMaster Professional on their mission to space.

This watch was specially chosen because it is capable of withstanding all of the extreme conditions in space.

It also comes equipped with some incredible functions like a stopwatch and Tachymeter designed to make astronauts’ jobs easy.

What was the first timepiece to go on a space exhibition?

The first watch to ever make it to space was the Strella, issued to all Russian Pilots from 1950.

This watch was worn by Cosmonaut Alexi Leonov in 1965.

The watch made its first maiden trip to space when Alexi Leonov wore it with him as he stepped outside his spacecraft in June 1965.

What other watches have made it to space?

While American Astronauts are popular for wearing Omega Speedmaster watches, other watches like the Breitling worn to space by Scott Kelly are also famous.

Also, Russian astronauts are known to wear Fortis watches.


Being an astronaut comes with many responsibilities, and since precision is an integral part of their job, keeping track of time is super important.

While one of the watches they wear tracks Mission Elapsed Time or Greenwich Meridian Time, the other watch displays the local time to help them stay connected back home.