The Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph “Moonwatch” is one of the watch collectors´ ultimate grails. The story of this watch is quite unique. In 1964 NASA invited ten different watch manufacturers to produce what would become the standard issue NASA astronaut watch. The manufacturers who participated had to supply a chronograph watch which had to successfully pass 11 tests with no room for errors, in order to become the NASA watch supplier. The tests included exposing the watch to high and low temperatures, pressure chamber, relative humidity, pure oxygen atmosphere, acceleration, shock, decompression, high pressure, vibration and acoustic noise. Omega beat Rolex, Longines and Hamilton in the 1964-65 NASA Space Watch Qualification tests. The Speedmaster was in fact the only watch which did not fail a single test, earning it the exclusive right to be flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions.
The Omega Speedmaster ref. 105.003 seen below was indeed the first Omega in space, in 1962, when astronaut Walter Schirra successfully completed the Sigma 7 mission (Mercury Programme). He wore his private Omega Speedmaster on this mission.
The Omega ref. 105.003 lugs are distinctively different from the watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin wore in 1969 when they landed on the moon. For those of you who are new to watch collecting, the term lugs refer to the pointed ends at the top and bottom of the watch case where the bracelet or strap connects to the case. Schirra´s watch has straight lugs, the NASA certified Speedmaster Professional has curved lugs. Perhaps the NASA flight-qualified Speedmaster Professional ref. 105.012 (pictured below) came with curved lugs for a better fit for the astronaut´s special issue Velcro strap?
The modern version of the Moonwatch is very comparable to the watches of the 1960s and 70s. However, the most recognizable difference is the new bracelet.
If you want to own this iconic timepiece, Omega offers the Speedmaster Moonwatch reference 3126.96.36.199.01.005 for sale at a recommended retail price of € 4 700.
When you decide to invest in a new Omega Moonwatch you are in for a treat. Not only do you get to own a brilliant, NASA certified watch, Omega throws in a large collector’s box containing an Omega astronaut Velcro strap, a Nato strap and tools to change between the straps and bracelet at your convenience.
Keep in mind that this watch pays great respect to the original specifications of the 1969 Moonwatch. The watch is powered by the hand-wound (manual) Omega Caliber 1861 with up to 48 hours power reserve when fully wound. The glass will be at risk of getting scratches as the dial is protected by a hesalite crystal, plexiglass in a more common term. This is easily scratched but the same as you will find on any astronaut´s wrist. The case has a diameter of 42 mm and is water resistant to 5 bar or 50 meters. Omega also offer the seemingly identical Speedmaster Professional ref. 3188.8.131.52.01.006 which has an anti-reflective sapphire crystal protecting the dial and a sapphire case back displaying the beautiful movement. This watch retails for € 5 500, included the same collector´s box.