If you look at the number of watch anniversaries being celebrated this year, 1969 year was a monumental year for the watch industry. But amidst the fanfare that accompanied the 50th anniversary of the Moon Watch and the golden jubilee of the Heuer Monaco, here’s Zodiac quietly marking the 50th birthday of the Zodiac Astrographic with two commemorative editions.

The Astrographic riffed on the space race too in the 1960s

The Zodiac Astrographic is a timepiece that riffed on the space-age aesthetic when it was released in 1969 by highlighting a “mystery dial” as its distinguishing feature. Mystery dials have long had a place in the watch industry; in fact, brands like Longines and Cartier saw value in these avant-garde displays decades before the Astrographic hit the market.

For Zodiac, the design choice provided an opportunity to test the limits of the brand’s artistic sensibilities, while potentially attracting a new audience that saw value in unconventional time displays. When the first models were released, Zodiac marketed them under taglines such as “the most exciting watch you can wear” and “everything ordinary about watches becomes extraordinary in the Astrographic”.

The red dot indicating the flight of the seconds hand references Mars

For 2019, Zodiac has approached the watch’s anniversary with care. The brand has aligned its release along the same lines as the first one. Where the 1969 watches were partially released in celebration of the moon landing, the new model is meant to “celebrate the future of space exploration” with a red seconds dot that references America’s long-held goal of reaching Mars.

Zodiac’s new Astrographic keeps many of the primary features seen in the vintage models, yet has clearly been updated for a contemporary audience. The two limited-edition watches that are now available feature an improved curved watch face and floating disks in lieu of the traditional dial-hands. Stacked transparent disks are moved by outer gear trains and printed with rectangles to resemble hands, the indicators producing an ethereal “floating” appearance on the dial — thus earning the “mystery dial” designation.

The self-winding movement has a 44 hour power reserve

The two different colorways, steel with a blue dial and gold-PVD with a matching dial, are sized at 40 by 43 mm with an integrated bracelet and a mix of brushing and polishing on the oblong case design. Inside the watch is the automatic STP 3-13 movement that is made by Fossil, Zodiac’s parent company. This caliber features a date in the unique position of 12 o’clock and offers up a 44-hour power reserve. Limited to 182 pieces in each colorway, the new Zodiac Astrographic is priced at $1,295 and is available now via Zodiac online and at specific retailers.