The Iconic Omega Watch: The Moonwatch Speedmaster

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The Iconic Omega Watch: The Moonwatch Speedmaster

The watch is much sought after for its beauty and its history. It was this watch that walked on the Moon, on Buzz Aldrin’s wrist. 

Before becoming the Moonwatch, the iconic Omega watch was called the Speedmaster. It was after walking on the Moon, on Buzz Aldrin’s wrist, that it  took the name of Moonwatch. But then, what is the history of one of the most exceptional watches?

Omega And NASA

Omega’s pioneering spirit quickly meets the demands of NASA. Used during the six lunar missions, the Speedmaster icon became legendary!

Omega’s Watch Performance

It’s simple, Omega watches were the only ones capable of meeting the technical requirements of space adventurers. It must be said that from its foundation in the 19th century, the Omega house was inhabited by the same pioneering spirit. And from the search for precision. 

In the 1950s, the performance of Omega watches was first imagined to meet the demand of racing drivers. Speed ​​and racing, whether sea or land, was then a fascination for the whole world. For Omega, too!

In 1957, the company produced a trio of watches dedicated to racing. The Omega Seamaster 300, the Omega Railmaster and the Omega Speedmaster. The latter was mainly intended for racing drivers. But with its allure and its dial, the Speedmaster quickly attracted attention.

It was the first chronograph wristwatch to be worked around a tachymeter scale. And this tachymeter scale is placed on the bezel, not on the dial – a way for the pilot to read it at a glance! 

At the same time, NASA was working to fulfill the promise made by JF Kennedy – that of going to the Moon. It was in 1961, and NASA would do everything to get there. 

In anticipation of the Gemini and Apollo alien flights, they were approaching the big names in watchmaking. Rolex, Longines, and Omega. The specifications are very precise. The tests are of unprecedented scale. Ten watches were selected. 

NASA in fact was looking to equip astronauts with a precise and reliable wristwatch in order to accurately measure their time out of the capsule. Quickly, four were eliminated and, for a year, the remaining six underwent the tests hot (70°C then 93°C), cold (-18° C for 4 hours), vacuum (the watch undergoes a pressure of 10-6 atmospheres before being heated to 70°C then cooled to -18°C). Humidity, corrosion, shocks, acceleration, decompression, vibration, acoustic noise.

The performance of the Omega Speedmaster withstood these lunar conditions. It was approved for all space missions, from 1965. Animated by the emblematic caliber 321. 

The Speedmaster and the Space Conquest

The Speedmaster flew for the first time into the galaxy in October 1962, on the wrist of Walter Schirra. It was chosen by the astronaut for the Sigma 7 mission of the Mercury program. From that moment, Omega made space its field of exploration.

Precision, readability and robustness. On July 20, 1969, at 2:56 GMT, it was during the Apollo 11 mission that Buzz Aldrin’s wrist, the timepiece, became the first watch to rub shoulders with the Moon. The watch then took the nickname of Moonwatch.

Then came the Apollo 13 mission – “Houston, we have a problem.” During the journey to the Moon, the oxygen tank explodes, seriously damaging the module, and causing a major breakdown on board. A failure that nearly cost the life of the team.

Here, the Speedmaster watch played a crucial role. When it was time to return to Earth, the astronauts had the idea of ​​replacing broken equipment with their Speedmaster. Thus, they were able to time the exact time of ignition of the capsule rockets – a handful of seconds – in order to be able to re-enter the atmosphere without wasting the energy which was, at this precise moment, at its most critical level.

With the electric instruments no longer operational, the Speedmaster did indeed save the lives of astronauts. This incident, avoiding the accident, resulted in Omega receiving a Snoopy Award, a reward given by the astronauts to employees and suppliers in recognition of work that has improved safety. 

The space conquest, this timepiece thus participated with the six moon landings of the Apollo mission. At the same time, the Speedmaster achieved icon status. 

Omega And The Speedmaster Over Time

For more than half a century, the Omega Speedmaster has been at the heart of many great moments in history, moments that tested physical endurance and human courage. 

This is what is celebrated in turn in exceptional editions of the Speedmaster. 

Exceptional Editions

In 2015, the new Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Silver Snoopy Award celebrated the anniversary of the rescue of the Apollo 13 mission. It is quite natural that the solid background wears a Snoopy medallion in 925 silver – Snoopy, the mascot of Nasa, and may be the guardian angel of the Apollo 13 mission.

The chronograph operates on an Omega 1861 caliber – a chronograph with manual winding offering 48 hours of power reserve – all attached to the wrist along a nylon strap. But the novelty then resided in this immaculate white.

Better yet, the Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award brings to mind when the eye is drawn to the inscription: “What could you do in 14 seconds?” Because, when it was necessary to return to Earth, the astronauts of the Apollo 13 mission needed 14 seconds. Or the time for the capsule rockets to ignite in order to be able to enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

2016 – The Speedmaster Gray Side of the Moon is a vibrant tribute to the pioneering role played by Omega in space exploration. By focusing on innovative materials, a revolutionary mechanical movement and a respected appearance of the original model, the company continued to gather new enthusiasts around the Speedmaster.

Combining design and revolutionary innovation, Omega combined space exploration, new technologies and materials for ever more elegance. The new Speedmaster Gray Side of the Moon is inspired by the moon dust trampled by astronauts on each mission and consists of an authentic piece of meteorite.

Its name evokes a space journey through meteor showers to the mysterious red planet Sedna and carries with it celestial inspirations. This newcomer to the Omega Speedmaster collection tells the story of the Apollo 8 mission, illustrating the sentence uttered by astronaut Jim Lovell “The moon is essentially gray”.

This futuristic model is not only an invitation to adventure, it is also of incomparable elegance. 

Ultraman’s Watch and James Bond

When the most iconic Omega watch takes on the colors of an icon of popular culture, it could only give rise to an eminently desirable piece.

The Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday distills a science-fi style imbued with Japanese references from the 70s. Yes, the hero Ultraman is to Japan what James Bond is to England. But here, the figure embodies with a quasi-kitsch detachment the spatial history of humanity!

Imagined by Tsuburaya Productions, Ultraman is actually one of the most famous examples of the genre ‘kaiju’ or ‘giant monster’. So, when this slightly crazy universe meets the technique, expertise and very iconic aesthetics of the Moonwatch Omega from 1967, the result is interesting.

First there is the crazy orange that tints the seconds hand; matches the costumes of the series anti-monster scientific patrol. Then come classic Speedmaster counters, here clearly teasing! The ‘Speedy Tuesday’ has indeed some surprises in store.

James Bond likes the Seamasters. Since 1995, the most elegant of British spies has always worn OMEGA Seamasters in each film.

It was costume designer Lindy Hemming who made her the favorite of agent 007 in GoldenEye. 

“I was convinced that Commander Bond, a hushed gentleman from the ranks of the British Navy, was made to wear the Seamaster with the blue dial. “

But that is the story of another icon of watchmaking. That of the Seamaster .