Omega’s tryst with space history was guaranteed on March 1, 1965, when NASA Flight Crew Operations Director Deke Slayton informed the Swiss watchmaker that the Speedmaster was selected to be the watch that would go to the moon. The year before Slayton had embarked on an official search for a watch that could be worn by astronauts on all future manned Apollo missions. Several manufacturers submitted their watches for the punishing tests, but only the Speedmaster survived each one of them, conducted to ensure that the watch worked unhindered in the extreme environment of space.
Four years later on July 16, 1969 when Apollo 11 successfully took off on its pioneering moon mission, all the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, had the latest Speedmaster Chronograph strapped on their spacesuit wrist. Four days later when the lunar module Eagle finally landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong just before his first famous moon walk decided to leave his watch on the craft as a backup for a malfunctioning electronic timer. Buzz Aldrin the second man on the moon though had his Speedmaster strapped on his right wrist as he descended on the lunar surface.
He described the view as `magnificent desolation’ and even enjoyed some two-footed kangaroo hops in the low-gravity environment. In total, the first moonwalk lasted two hours and 36 minutes. It was during this historic occasion which was televised live across nearly three dozen countries, that Omega Speedmaster became the first watch worn on the moon and the world’s most famous chronograph.
The Speedmaster returned to the moon five times over the next three years on the wrists of 12 astronauts who were part of the five Apollo missions that followed. But none gained the fame of Buzz Aldrin’s watch, which unfortunately was stolen in transit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., where it was to go on public display. Instead, you can see the watches worn by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and the other moon astronauts at the famous museum.
In November 1969, four months after the Apollo 11 landing, a unique Omega Speedmaster was launched to celebrate the mission’s success. This was the brand’s first numbered edition Speedmaster and only 1,014 pieces were produced between 1969 and 1973. Numbers 3, 28, 1001 and 1008 were gifted to NASA’s serving astronauts and the watch has become a highly sought-after timepiece in Omega’s famous collection. This year, Omega is revisiting that golden design, with a limited edition of 1,014 pieces. It carries many of the same historical touches as the original, but also introduces some pioneering features of its own. Its case, bracelet and dial are in Omega’s proprietary 18K Moonshine gold, an alloy with a paler hue than traditional gold, that offers high resistance to fading over time. The bezel is in burgundy colour ceramic with ceragold scaling and a tachymeter graduated to 500 units per hour. The caseback and movement features burgundy touches saying `Apollo 11 – 50th Anniversary – 1969-2019 The First Watch Worn On The Moon Master Chronometer watch number: in limited edition form’. The watch is powered by Caliber 3861, certified Master Chronometer.