Forstner's Long History
Connection to the Space Program
Before NASA selected the Omega Speedmaster Professional as the standard-issue watch for manned space missions, astronauts used their own timepieces, and their own watch bands.
In these early days of the space program, certain astronauts personally purchased the Omega Speedmaster Professional, and paired it with the Komfit band. The benefits of the "Komfit" design, including the ability to easily resize the band without tools, and remove it easily in case of emergency, made it a natural choice. The band even fit over space suits of that (Mercury) period.
And the pairing became ubiquitous throughout NASA.
The Komfit band almost immediately became the watch band of choice for astronauts, as shown in the NASA image archive, which is packed with photos of astronauts wearing the Komfit band. These photos are beautifully cataloged in the MoonwatchUniverse tumblr page.
In the Mercury years, the Komfit band fit over the space suit -- accordingly, it was often worn in this manner, both during training on Earth and in space.
Entering the Mercury-Atlas 8 Capsule for Pre-Launch Checks
The Komfit Gets Re-Branded
In about 1963, Forstner was purchased by Jacoby-Bender, which continued the "Komfit" style, but re-branded it the "JB-Champion."
In 1964, NASA started the well-documented process of selecting one "highly durable and accurate chronograph to be used by Gemini and Apollo flight crews," per a requisition memorandum from Donald Slayton, former NASA Director of Flight Crew Operations. The full text of that requisition memo can be found here.
However, by that time, NASA was already using the Komfit (and later JB Champion) bracelet. It even purchased a dozen JB Champion "Komfit" style bands for in the chronograph requisition memo:
The JB Champion version of the "Komfit" band was subsequently flown on numerous missions during the Gemini and Apollo periods. During the Gemini program, it was flown at least on the Gemini III and Gemini X missions.
Preparing to Enter Gemini III Capsule with Komfit Worn Outside of Suit
During the Apollo program, the JB Champion "Komfit" style band was flown on Apollo 10, Apollo 12, Apollo 14, and Apollo 17.
In Flight During Apollo 17 (Komfit clearly shown on left wrist)
And, on Apollo 17, the band was worn on the moon.
Post-EVA Photograph during Apollo 17 - Notice Komfit Band on Left Wrist
After the Apollo program, this band continued to be worn periodically on Space Shuttle missions. However, the band eventually was lost to time after Jacoby Bender shut its doors. In 2019, Forstner, and its Komfit band, were re-launched. We were thrilled to reissue this unique and historically-significant band, and have much more to come.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for updates!