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 (3188.8.131.52.04.003), 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 (3184.108.40.206.01.005), 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.