Through The Decades: Omega Speedmaster Moon Watch (1957 – 2021)
Let us take you through the evolution of the OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch through the decades, from its first launch at 1957 to its latest version this 2021.
An icon that has withstood the test of time, let us celebrate the evolution of the OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch, from its first launch to its latest version, with an extensive timeline guide of the watch.
1957 – THE SPEEDMASTER IS BORN
In 1957, OMEGA went on a mission to create a robust chronograph that would be waterproof, easy to read, easy to use and exceedingly precise. From this, the OMEGA Speedmaster was launched and became particularly notable for being the first watch in the world to feature a tachymeter scale on its bezel. It was powered by the Calibre 321, a column-wheel movement that would become synonymous with reliability, accuracy and technical beauty.
1963 – THE NASA REQUEST
It was at the end of Project Mercury that NASA astronauts approached their Operations Director, Deke Slayton, and asked to be issued with a reliable watch for their manned missions into space. Slayton then issued a request for “high-quality chronographs” in 1964 and forwarded it to different watch manufacturers around the world. Only four responded – including OMEGA, who sent a delivery of 3rd generation Speedmaster chronographs (105.003).
1965 – THE NASA QUALIFICATION
With NASA’s request, each watch company was asked to send “three wrist-worn chronographs” and these were tested under the most intense examinations imaginable – including thermal, shock, vibration and vacuum tests. Only the OMEGA Speedmaster survived these tests and it was declared “Flight Qualified for all Manned Space Missions” on the 1st of March 1965. Just three weeks later, the Speedmaster officially went into space for the first time on the wrists of Virgil “Gus” Grissom and John Young during the Gemini 3 mission.
1965 – THE MOONWATCH DESIGN
It was the 4th generation of the Speedmaster that provided subtle but important changes to the chronograph’s design. This is the style still associate today as being the original “Moonwatch”. It was the first Speedmaster with an asymmetrical case with twisted lugs, to provide added protection for the crown and pushers. For the first time, the word “Professional” was also printed on the dial. These 105.012 and 145.012 models are the very watches worn by Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon.
1969 – THE FIRST MOON LANDING
The moment Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface for the first time in human history, the OMEGA Speedmaster became the first watch worn on the moon. It was an unprecedented achievement and took courage, innovation and unrivalled expertise to get there – a spirit perfectly reflected by the watches that the astronauts wore.
1970 – RESCUING APOLLO 13
The Apollo 13 mission should have been another successful moon landing for NASA and the OMEGA Speedmaster but it was instead was crippled by an on-board explosion. With the needing to conserve power, their electronic equipment could not be used. However, their OMEGA Speedmasters were literally on hand to save the day and were used to precisely time a series of engine burns that repositioned the craft and enabled its safe return to Earth.
1969-1972 – RETURNING TO THE MOON
The Speedmaster Moonwatch has been worn by the crews of all six lunar landings in history. After that first Giant Leap with Apollo 11 in 1969, it again accompanied the astronauts of Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17. Notable moments include the Apollo 16 mission in 1972, when Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke left a photograph of his family on the moon’s surface. That same year, Commander Eugene Cernan of Apollo 17 left the last human footprints – until the day that mankind finally returns.
1975 – APOLLO- SOYUZ
Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts wore Speedmaster chronographs during a historic meeting in space that signalled the beginning of the end of the Cold War. When their spacecraft docked with each other, the respective commanders shook hands through the hatch and signalled a new start for the two nations. From this moment on, the Speedmaster Moonwatch was adopted by most of the world’s major space agencies.
2020 – MASTER CHRONOMETER CERTIFICATION
After four years of development, the Moonwatch achieves Master Chronometer certification. Released in 2019, the Calibre 3861 comes with enhanced power reserve, chronometric performance and magnetic resistance. The watch also features OMEGA’s revolutionary Co-Axial escapement as well as the silicon Si14 balance spring, which allowed the calibre to pass the eight rigorous Master Chronometer tests.