Tags: Anthony Marquié, Apollo 11, Apollo 13, Buzz Aldrin, Grégoire Rossier, Moonwatch, Omega, Speedmaster
In a way, the Speedmaster model by Omega belongs to the history of the humanity as it was the first watch worn on the moon. This life-changing event took place on July 21, 1969 when Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the earth’s satellite.
It is said that Omega’s management only discovered on that day that the Speedmaster had been made part of the astronauts’ equipment. Indeed, NASA selected the Speedmaster after a series of tests made on timepieces randomly purchased in a watch shop in Houston.
Since then, this model has enjoyed a special status that continues to set it apart even today. It originally belonged to a collection of three technical models designed as instruments for particular needs: the Railmaster with its antimagnetic double case, the Seamaster for use in water, and the Speedmaster to measure short periods of time and even the speed of vehicles thanks to its chronograph function and the tachymeter scale located on the bezel to save space on the dial.
The Speedmaster is an important product for Omega, who launches several new versions of it every year. While the design’s main codes remain unchanged, the brand regularly integrates new materials and technical features. In 2011, for instance, Omega introduced a new chronograph movement called 9300, whose production was simultaneously conceived in an industrial way. It contained, for instance a silicium hairspring, a system to protect the chronograph from inadvertent harm, a second time zone indicator, and a simplified way to change the hour hand without having to move the minute hand.
At Baselworld 2015, the brand extended a new line featuring the ceramic cases first introduced in 2013. It also launched a limited edition called the Snoopy Award Speedmaster. Since 1968, the little cartoon beagle has been the watchdog of NASA’s missions. In 1970, the agency offered Omega a Snoopy award to acknowledge the major role the watch had played until then.
Many details found on this timepiece have to do with famous missions and anecdotes. One of them is the 14-second scale on the dial, which refers in particular to the Apollo 13 mission during which a technical breakdown on board obliged the astronauts to manually reposition the module to enter the atmosphere. In order to succeed, they had to ignite the propellers for precisely 14 seconds; the onboard Speedmaster served as the timekeeper.
The Omega Speedmaster is becoming more and more attractive to lovers and collectors of vintage timepieces. As the secondary-market prices of other timepieces skyrocket – certain Rolex Daytona models, for instance – the Omega Speedmaster becomes more and more interesting. While their prices are going up as well, they are doing so in a much more reasonable way.
Recently, the second-hand watch gallery Vintage Watch Boutique and Sacha Davidoff SA based in Geneva organized an event exclusively dedicated to the Speedmaster, the Ultimate Speedmaster exhibition. Conceived as a tribute to this model, a large collection of rare Speedmasters were on display. Specialists Grégoire Rossier and Anthony Marquié, authors of the recent book Moonwatch Only, the Omega Speedmaster, were also on hand to talk to us about why this model has become a legend.
To order the book