The 50th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing: Chrono24 Looks Back at the Omega Speedmaster
As Buzz Aldrin descended the ladder of the lunar module Eagle and stepped onto the dusty lunar surface on July 20, 1969, he became the second person to ever set foot on the Moon. His colleague, Neil Armstrong, had already claimed the title of the first man on the Moon only 19 minutes earlier. However, Aldrin had his own first: With the legendary Omega Speedmaster Professional – today often referred to as the “Moonwatch” – on his wrist, he was wearing the first watch on the Moon.
However, the journey to get to the Moon was long and hard for both the astronauts and their timepieces. The Apollo 11 mission was the peak of a mountainous NASA project, which consisted of three consecutive programs: Mercury, Gemini, and finally, Apollo. Each program benefited from the experience collected by those that came before. In 1962, astronaut Willy Schirra wore his personal Omega CK2998, an early version of the Omega Speedmaster, while participating in the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission. The watch passed the tests posed by weightlessness and the extreme conditions experienced during lift-off and re-entry with flying colors. Despite the watch’s fantastic performance, it was never made part of NASA’s official equipment. Instead, NASA performed their due diligence and began looking for a robust watch with a stopwatch function for their Gemini and Apollo missions in 1964.
NASA put watches from Omega, Rolex, and Longines-Wittnauer through 11 rigorous tests, such as extreme temperatures, pressure, and vibrations. In the end, the Omega Speedmaster emerged victorious. This model has been part of NASA’s official equipment for manned space flight since June 1965.
Omega has since released numerous versions of the beloved “Moonwatch,” including many anniversary editions as well as subtle redesigns. Chrono24 has selected five such timepieces that best represent the Speedmaster’s evolution over the last decades:
Omega Speedmaster Professional (105.012), 1964:
The Legend. It was the first watch worn on the Moon, houses the robust manual caliber 321, and uses plexiglass that’s shatterproof under low pressure. Chrono24‘s estimated price: approx. $13,500 (depending on its condition).
Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo-Soyuz (ST 145.0022), 1976:
This special edition was created in honor of the mission that saw an American Apollo capsule dock with a Soviet Soyuz capsule. It bears the red and blue mission logo on its dial and an engraving of a Saturn rocket above the earth on the case back. Chrono24‘s estimated price: approx. $44,500 (depending on its condition).
Omega Speedmaster Professional Japan Racing (ST 145.0022), 2004:
This limited edition was produced for the Japanese market. Its orange stop seconds hand and the dial’s other orange elements make it easier to determine how much time has elapsed and are a nod to the Speedmaster’s origins in motorsport. Chrono24‘s estimated price: approx. $12,500 (depending on its condition).
Omega Speedmaster Apollo 13 Silver Snoopy Award (322.214.171.124.04.003), 2015:
Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, was the mascot and good luck charm of the Apollo missions. This model pays tribute to the Apollo 13 mission and its near-catastrophic failure. The Speedmaster played an integral role while timing the controlled fuel burn used to get the damaged capsule back on track. What’s more, this watch features the quote that best summarizes the crew and mission control’s unshakeable spirit: “Failure is not an option!” Chrono24‘s estimated price: approx. $22,500 (depending on its condition).
Omega Speedmaster Professional (3126.96.36.199.01.005), today:
This is the closest Omega has ever come to recreating the original Moonwatch. It comes with plexiglass and a manual movement, albeit the more advanced caliber 1861. This watch exudes the pioneering spirit of the 1960s. Chrono24‘s estimated price: approx. $3,300 (depending on its condition).
Many Omega Speedmasters have become sound investments over this collection’s long history, including the original Moonwatch worn by Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface in 1969. Back in 1964, this model sold for the equivalent of around $1,100 today. Now, the reference 105.012 sells for up to $13,500 depending on its condition. Prices for especially well-maintained models can go well above and beyond that price point. Chrono24, the leading online marketplace for luxury watches, is home to numerous listings of this and other Speedmasters.
How was it that Buzz Aldrin was the first person on the Moon with an Omega Speedmaster on his wrist when Neil Armstrong exited the “Eagle” before him? After all, Armstrong was also equipped with a Speedmaster. As it turns out, the onboard clock of the lunar module Eagle failed during the landing procedure on July 20, 1969. Armstrong, therefore, decided to leave his Speedmaster in the lunar module as a backup so that they could safely return to the command module and, ultimately, Earth. As they say, the rest is history.
The original Speedmaster BA145.022
The success of Apollo 11 was fervently celebrated around the world in 1969. On the 25th of November that year, a special “Astronaut Appreciation Dinner” was held in Houston, Texas, in tribute to the moon landing heroes.
The dinner was especially notable for a certain OMEGA Speedmaster that was presented to the astronauts in NASA’s space program. The watch, Speedmaster BA145.022, was crafted from 18K yellow gold and included a rare burgundy bezel, as well as an inscription on the caseback that read, “to mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time.”
Watches 29 to 32 were offered to Swiss watch industry leaders and politicians, without any engraved number.
The public were given the opportunity to purchase model numbers 33 – 1000. Although these models had a different caseback inscription, reading “OMEGA SPEEDMASTER”, “APOLLO XI 1969” and “Ω THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON”, they remained highly sought- after due to their rarity and connection to space. They also came in an exclusive moon crater presentation box, which itself is a prized collector’s item today.
It may also be interesting to know that model numbers 1001 – 1008 were later presented to the astronauts of Apollo 14 and 17, while models 1009 – 1014 were reserved for other personalities.
For true Speedmaster fans, the BA145.022 is one of the great highlights in the chronograph’s iconic history. Not only is it a beautiful watch to look at, with its blend of gold and burgundy, but it also pays the highest tribute to the NASA astronauts who delivered mankind to the moon.
Seamaster Diver 300M
OMEGA’s recent makeover of the iconic Seamaster Diver 300M collection has integrated many of the brand’s modern materials and technologies. In 2019, the evolution will continue with a bold new model built from black ceramic and titanium. This edgy combination delivers good looks as well as strength, and will certainly add an exciting new choice within the range.
Sized at 43.5 mm, the watch is distinguished by its polished/brushed black ceramic case and grade 5 titanium caseback. The bezel is also formed with a grade 5 titanium base and includes a black ceramic ring with a diving scale in white enamel.
On the brushed black ceramic dial, OMEGA has laser-engraved the Diver 300M’s famous waves. Unlike the core collection, however, these waves are raised from the surface in a “positive relief” to create a unique effect. Also on the dial are PVD titanium hands and indexes, which are all filled with white Super-LumiNova.
Turning the watch over reveals the wave- edged titanium caseback, which is designed with OMEGA’s NAIAD LOCK system to keep all wording in perfect position. Through the caseback’s sapphire crystal, you’ll find the OMEGA Master Chronometer Calibre 8806, tested and certified by METAS at the industry’s highest standard of precision, performance and magnetic resistance.
Finally, this new model is available on an integrated black rubber strap with a buckle in black ceramic.
SPEEDMASTER APOLLO 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
There were many world-changing moments that defined the first lunar landing in 1969. From famous words to dusty footprints, it was a mission that remains unforgettable in so many ways. On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, OMEGA is proud to unveil a new Speedmaster Limited Edition that pays tribute to those iconic hours.
Now, you can wear the first watch worn on the moon and also relive its journey.
STILL A PIONEER
The Speedmaster made watchmaking history on the 21st of July 1969. Today its pioneering spirit still remains through the use of a new material known as 18K Moonshine™ gold. This exclusive patentpending alloy is a paler hue than traditional yellow gold and offers high resistance to fading over time. As you explore the surface of the watch, you’ll find 18K Moonshine™ gold throughout the design.
ENGINEERING AT ITS BEST
Innovation was key to the Apollo 11 success. OMEGA has followed that theme with a 42 mm case in stainless steel and a polished bezel made from 18K Moonshine™ gold. The bezel ring itself is polished black ceramic [ZrO2 ] with a radiant OMEGA Ceragold™ tachymeter scale. Two distinct zones make up the dial, including a varnished central grey zone and an outer black minute track. 18K Moonshine™ gold is used for the bevelled indexes, vintage OMEGA logo and all of the hands – except for the central chronograph seconds hand, which is “PVD-coated” in Moonshine™ Gold.
Buzz Aldrin was wearing an OMEGA Speedmaster when he climbed down from the Eagle to reach the lunar surface at 03:15:16 UTC. At that second, his timepiece became the first watch worn on the moon. On the 9 o’clock subdial of this new Limited Edition, OMEGA has laser-engraved the image of Buzz on a Moonshine™ Gold plate. Distinct from all other indexes, the 11 o’clock hour marker is formed by an 18K Moonshine™ Gold number 11, in tribute to the Apollo mission. Going where no human had gone before. Featured on the caseback is an image of an astronaut’s footprint, which has been laser-engraved onto a black-coated plate with a moon-surface texture. «THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR A MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND». Neil Armstrong’s legendary words have echoed through time. Now, they are written on the caseback of this watch in 18K Moonshine™ Gold-plated lettering.
Only 6,969 pieces are available in this Limited Edition collection. Proud owners will find their unique number engraved in black on the caseback, along with APOLLO 11, 50th ANNIVERSARY and LIMITED EDITION. Also engraved, yet blending in with the steel, are NAIAD LOCK, Cal. 3861 and CO-AXIAL MASTER CHRONOMETER.
The brand new OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 3861 takes the next evolutionary step for the famous Moonwatch movement. It took 4 years of trial-and-error to create the calibre’s most recent incarnation. OMEGA was determined to produce a movement of the highest standard, yet perfectly match the dimensions of the 1861. That goal has been achieved. Now crafted with Co-Axial technology, a stop-second function and OMEGA’s superior anti-magnetic innovation, the Speedmaster Moonwatch is resistant to magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss and has been able to reach the Master Chronometer standard, which assures the industry’s highest certified level of precision, chronometric performance and magnetic resistance.
The watch is presented on a polished-brushed metallic bracelet with a vintage Ω on the clasp: a design inspired by the bracelet of the 4th generation Speedmaster (ST 105.012-65). For the customer’s own mission, however, this new Limited Edition comes with another special option. Inside the NASA-style presentation box, you’ll find an additional Velcro® strap with black-coated cork. This innovative design is a salute to the Apollo-era “boost protective cover” – a fiberglass structure covered with cork which fitted over the Command Module like a glove, keeping the crew of the Saturn V rocket safe from the intense heat produced at launch. The box also includes two mission patches (50th anniversary / Apollo 11), two engraved plates (landing site coordinates / landing site and time) as well as a strap-changing tool. Best of all, it houses the ultimate Lunar Model display stand.
Since 1993, the Seamaster Diver 300M has enjoyed a legendary following.
This 42 mm model is a Limited Edition of 2,500 pieces and features a brushed case made from grade 2 titanium, with a crown, bezel ring and helium escape valve in 18K Sedna™ gold. In contrast, OMEGA has used tantalum to create the base of the bezel for a distinctive blue-grey tone.
The titanium dial features positive sun-brushed waves. The skeleton hands and raised indexes are 18K Sedna™ gold and are filled with white Super-LumiNova.
The watch is presented on a grade 2 titanium bracelet with tantalum and 18K Sedna™ gold links. An image of the OMEGA Seahorse can be found on the transparent case back, through which you can see the OMEGA Master Chronometer Calibre 8806 inside.
Self-winding movement with a Co-Axial escapement. Certified Master Chronometer, approved by METAS, resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss. Free sprung-balance with silicon balance spring, automatic winding in both directions. Special luxury finish with rhodium-plated rotor and bridges with Geneva waves in arabesque.
OMEGA’s recent makeover of the iconic Seamaster Diver 300M collection has integrated many of the brand’s modern materials and technologies. In 2019, the evolution will continue with a bold new model built from black ceramic and titanium. This edgy combination delivers good looks as well as strength, and will certainly add an exciting new choice within the range. Sized at 43.5 mm, the watch is distinguished by its polished/brushed black ceramic case and grade 5 titanium caseback. The bezel is also formed with a grade 5 titanium base and includes a black ceramic ring with a diving scale in white enamel. On the brushed black ceramic dial, OMEGA has laser-engraved the Diver 300M’s famous waves. Unlike the core collection, however, these waves are raised from the surface in a “positive relief” to create a unique effect. Also on the dial are PVD titanium hands and indexes, which are all filled with white Super-LumiNova.Turning the watch over reveals the waveedged titanium caseback, which is designed with OMEGA’s NAIAD LOCK system to keep all wording in perfect position. Through the caseback’s sapphire crystal, you’ll find the OMEGA Master Chronometer Calibre 8806, tested and certified by METAS at the industry’s highest standard of precision, performance and magnetic resistance. Finally, this new model is available on an integrated black rubber strap with a buckle in black ceramic.