Omega marks first Moon landing with Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary watch
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Omega is issuing a new version of the gold Speedmaster watches that were presented by the company to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins in 1969. The Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition is based closely on the original Speedmaster BA145.022, but includes a number of updates reflecting half a century of progress.
One of the perks of being the first man on the Moon – aside from securing a place in history that will last as long as anyone pays attention to history – is that you get a free watch. On November 25, 1969, an Astronaut Appreciation Dinner was held in Houston, Texas to honor the crew of Apollo 11, which had landed on the Moon on July 20 of that year. As part of the celebrations, Omega presented the space heroes each with a specially made, limited edition Speedmaster, which was appropriate because the Speedmaster was the watch worn by the astronauts on their historic mission. However, the presentation watches were a bit special.
For one thing, this new Speedmasters were made out of 18K yellow gold and had an anodized aluminum burgundy bezel and black onyx indices. In addition, the ones given to the astronauts were inscribed on the back with the words "to mark man's conquest of space with time, through time, on time."
In addition to the three given to the Apollo 11 crew, Omega made a total of 1,014 units of the limited, numbered edition, which were manufactured between 1969 and 1973. Of these, the first two were given to US President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew (these had to be given back for legal reasons), and 19 to NASA astronauts at the banquet – including three posthumously to the three men who died in the Apollo 1 tragedy.
The rest went to later Apollo crews, Swiss watch industry leaders, politicians, and personalities, as well as almost 967 being sold to the public. However, the lattermost were inscribed with "OMEGA SPEEDMASTER", "APOLLO XI 1969" and "Ω THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON."
The new Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition looks very similar to the 1969 version, though the lettering is in Omega Ceragold instead of white, and the seconds on the yellow dial are divided into thirds of a second instead of fifths to reflect the watch's actual frequency. Meanwhile, the indices are also black onyx and the hands are skeletonized and filled with black varnish, while the bezel ring with its tachymeter is made out of ceramic zirconium oxide for greater endurance.
The Speedmaster Apollo 11 is powered by new hand-wound 3861 caliber, with its free-sprung balance with silicon balance spring, gold-plated finish, and bridges marked by straight Geneva waves. It has a 50-hour power reserve, boasts a co-axial escapement, and has a 12-hour chronograph. It's also a certified Master Chronometer and, in a major upgrade from the original, is resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss.
The workings are sealed inside a 42-mm case water resistant to 5 ATM (50 m,167 ft). Like the original, it's made out of 18K gold, but instead of yellow gold, it's made out of a new alloy called Moonshine gold, which Omega says is a paler hue and is more resistant to fading over time. It has sapphire crystals front and back that are scratch resistant and anti-reflective.
Where the 1969 version had a full back, the 2019 one has a crystal to reveal the mechanism, but still has room for inscriptions reading, "Apollo 11 – 50th Anniversary – 1969-2019," "The First Watch Worn On The Moon," "Master Chronometer," and the limited edition number. In addition, the ring features a partial world map of the American continents, and a domed lunar meteorite representing the Moon inlayed into the cavity of the ring. It's all secured by a Moonshine gold, five-arched-links-per-row bracelet.
The Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition goes on sale in July for CHF32,000 (US$32,000) in a limited edition of 1,014.