This month, on July 16, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. It was in 1969 that man took the first daring steps onto the lunar surface, marking history forever. While the space walk — with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin exploring and the moon’s surface – lasted less than three hours, it was a defining moment in history. There, with the crew of that incredible feat, was the Omega Speedmaster – the first watch to be worn on the moon. Now the brand unveils a significant new timepiece to honor that 1969 event. Before we showcase that watch, however, we give you a little background on Omega’s involvement in the American space program.
Omega’s relationship with the space program began years earlier, though. The Omega Speedmaster chronograph had made its entrance on the market in 1957, and because of its easy readability and bold design, it fast became the watch of choice for pilots, including some in the U.S. Air Force who went on to join the first NASA manned space program. In 1964, with the space program growing, NASA Flight Crew Operations Director Deke Slayton put a call out to watch brands to find a chronograph that could undergo punishing environments. Several brands submitted watches but only the Omega Speedmaster survived test after test. In 1965, it was deemed to be “Flight Qualified for all Manned Space Missions.”
It was the start of an incredible relationship wherein Omega supplied watches for the Human Space Flight Program in Gemini and later the Apollo program. Following the successful mission of Apollo 11, a special Astronaut Appreciation Dinner was held in the fall of 1969. Omega presented a special 18-karat yellow gold version of the Speedmaster (BA145.022) to the astronauts in the program. The watch was powered by the brand’s caliber 861 and had a burgundy bezel and a caseback engraving. Just 1,014 were made between 1969 and 1973. While models 1 and 2 were gifted to President Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew (both were later returned to the brand because of US gift protocols), numbers 3 though 28 went to the NASA astronauts.
Now, to honor the 50th anniversary of that Apollo 11 mission, Omega is issuing two anniversary watches, including one that watch collectors everywhere will be on the hunt for. A highly similar replica of that original 1969 astronaut piece, the new Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition master chronograph is crafted in gold like the original, but in a new alloy referred to as 18-karat Moonshine™ gold that has a lighter moonlight like sheen. The burgundy bezel is made of ceramic instead of aluminium and the scaling is done with Omega Ceragold™. It is powered by the updated Caliber 3861 manual wind Master Chronometer movement. It features faceted black onyx indexes for the hour markers.
The caseback is engraved with “1969-2019” and has two separate laser processes applied to it to color an outer ring in black (with the words “The First Watch Worn On The Moon”) and a small blue and gold plate that deices the blue oceans around a map of America. The sapphire caseback allows for viewing of the movement. Like the original, it s being made in a numbered edition of 1,014 pieces and is expected to be one of the most sought-after watches on the market. It retails for $34,600.
For those alive during the Apollo 11 moon landing, they most likely remember exactly where they were when man stepped foot on the moon. As such, the anniversary watch is bound to stir memories for them, capture hearts of avid watch collectors, and elevate in value.