NEW: Omega Speedmaster First in Space The Met Edition 311.32.40.30.01.002

Omega and The Metropolitan Museum of Art collaborated on a special edition of the First Omega in Space to coincide with the Apollo’s Muse exhibition that’s being held in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The watch, based on the Speedmaster First Omega in Space ref. 311.32.40.30.01.001, comes with a NATO-strap engraved with The Met, a special box with The Met branding, and a case back engraved with -you’ve guessed it- The Met. It is otherwise identical to the model on which it is based.

The Omega Speedmaster First Omega in Space The Met Edition is available through the museum store. More details via WatchBase, and the full Apollo’s Muse collection can be seen here.

Press Release: Sotheby’s to Offer The Best Surviving NASA Videotape Recordings Of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Sotheby’s, NEW YORK, 28 June 2019This July, Sotheby’s will offer the earliest, sharpest, and most accurate surviving video images of man’s first steps on the moon: three original NASA videotape recordings of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Unrestored, un-enhanced, and un-remastered, the significance of the videotapes was recognised during NASA’s fruitless search at the time of the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing for its original SSTV recordings.

The tapes will headline our auction dedicated to Space Exploration on 20 July in New York – the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing – when they are estimated to sell for $1/2 million. At a combined run time of 2 hours and 24 minutes, they capture everything from Neil Armstrong’s declaration: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” marking the historic moment the first human set foot on another world, to the “long distance phone call” with the President of the United States, and the planting of the American flag.

The Space Exploration auction will open for public exhibition on 13 July alongside, Omega Speedmaster: To the Moon and Back – an auction dedicated to the official watch of NASA.

The present videotapes are the only surviving first-generation recordings of the historic moon walk, and are sharper and more distinct than the few tapes that have survived from the contemporary network television broadcasts – all of which endured some loss of video and audio quality with each successive transmission from microwave tower to microwave tower.

Viewed only three times since June 1976 (perhaps the only times since they were first recorded late in the evening on 20 July 1969 at NASA’s Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas), the three reels of 2-inch Quadruplex videotape transport viewers to the big screen monitor at Mission Control, which displayed clearer images with better contrast than those that the more than half-billion-person television audience witnessed that momentous July day on their home sets. Home viewers watched video that had been transmitted over a 1,600-mile relay of microwave transmission towers to the major television networks in New York City, with each transfer causing a bit of deterioration to the picture quality. In contrast, Mission Control saw the same video that is on these 2-inch Quadruplex videotapes: moving pictures sent directly to Houston from closed circuit TV transmissions from the 3 lunar surface beamed to 64-meter-diameter radio telescopes at the Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek Observatories in New South Wales and Canberra, Australia, respectively, and NASA’s own similar sized antenna in Goldstone, California.

Cassandra Hatton, Vice President & Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department, commented: “The successful lunar landing of Apollo 11 captured the world’s attention 50 years ago, uniting us in a collective belief in the unlimited potential of mankind. From neighbors gathered around a television set to the cosmonauts in Star City and the astronauts and engineers in Houston, this was a unique event in history that people from all walks remember with excitement and positivity. And what we universally recall about that event is best documented on these tapes – a glorious moment that united the people of earth in peace, as witnesses to mankind’s greatest achievement.”

This direct transmission originated from a Westinghouse TV camera that NASA had commissioned specifically to transmit images back to Earth from the lunar surface. Since the camera had to be deployed before Armstrong and Aldrin exited the Lunar Module (LM) if it was truly going to capture their first steps on the surface of the moon, the camera was stowed in a shock-proof and insulated mount on the LM’s Modularized Equipment Stowage Assembly (MESA). Armstrong released the MESA when he first peered out of the LM, so that the camera would be in position to capture his slow descent down the ladder and onto the lunar surface. The two astronauts later removed the camera from the LM and mounted it on a tripod to capture a wider view of the LM and their activities and experiments.

The Westinghouse lunar-surface camera shot ten frames per second, using only one-tenth of the bandwidth of the 30-frames-per-second format then standard for television broadcasts (known as NTSC). The transmissions to Earth began when Buzz Aldrin engaged the Westinghouse camera circuit breaker. While the crew was prepared to deploy an erectable S-Band antenna to facilitate transmission, that proved unnecessary: since they landed in alignment with the receivers at Honeysuckle Creek and Goldstone, they were able to transmit the video directly back to Earth using an adjustable high-gain antenna on the Lunar Module.

The high-resolution TV images received at the Parkes Observatory were recorded onto a total of fortyfive large diameter reels of narrow-band slow scan (SSTV) videotape. The images were simultaneously transmitted from Australia to NASA Mission Control in Houston, where they were converted to NTSC for network broadcast, and recorded using Ampex VR-660B video recorders onto 2-inch wide reel-to-reel Quadruplex videotape, including the present videotapes on offer.

The videotapes will be offered from the collection of Gary George, the man responsible for salvaging and safeguarding them for the past 43 years. As an engineering student at Lamar University, George was awarded a cooperative work internship at the NASA Johnson Space Center in June of 1973. During his internship, he would occasionally attend government surplus auctions, and in June 1976, at an auction at Houston’s Ellington Air Force Base, he purchased, for a bid of $217.77, a single lot consisting of some 1,150 reels of magnetic tape whose “Owning Agency Or Reporting Office” was NASA. Among the reels were about sixty-five boxes of 2-inch, reel-to-reel videotapes of the type used by television stations. A new reel of Ampex tape cost about $260 at that time, and since the tapes could be re-recorded, George purchased the lot with the intention of selling the used—but still usable—tapes to local TV stations.

After selling some of the tapes and donating others to Lamar University and a local church, George’s father noticed that in addition to the manufacturer’s labelling, three of the boxes had smaller typewritten labels identifying them as “APOLLO 11 EVA | July 20, 1969 REEL 1 [–3]” and “VR2000 525 Hi Band 15 ips.” Thinking that these particular tapes may be worth hanging on to, George saved the three boxes, giving them little thought until early 2008 when he learned that NASA was attempting to locate its original slow scan videotapes of the Apollo 11 EVA (Extravehicular Activity) in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.

At this point the tapes were now vintage, compelling George to seek the assistance of the DC Video studio, which owned equipment capable of playing the videotapes. In October 2008, George’s videotapes were played at DC Video, very possibly for the first time since they had been recorded.

Miraculously, the tapes were in faultless condition, displaying a picture quality superior to any other existing contemporary videotapes. In December 2008, his tapes were played for a second time since he bought them in 1976 and were digitized directly to 10-bit uncompressed files, retaining their original 525 SD4/3 specifications and downloaded onto a one terabyte hard drive (which is included as a part of the sale of these three reels of videotape). This was the last time these reel-to-reel videotapes were played until Sotheby’s specialists viewed them in order to confirm their quality for this auction.

As for NASA, the agency abandoned its search after concluding that the forty-five reels of SSTV highresolution recordings of the Apollo 11 EVA had been erased and recorded over and any duplicate 2- inch Quadruplex videotape recorded by NASA, similar to those purchased by George, had either met the same fate or—perhaps worse—been irretrievably damaged due to poor storage protocol. NASA marked the ruby anniversary of Apollo 11 in 2009, by contracting with Lowry Digital to restore and enhance the footage of the EVA that had been saved by CBS Television – the version known to most viewers today.

From Neil Armstrong’s first step to Buzz Aldrin’s bounding down the LM ladder shortly after him; from Aldrin’s exuberant bouncing around on the surface of the moon to demonstrate the effects of lunar gravity to the remarkable “long distance phone call” with the President of the United States; from the astronauts’ solar wind experiment to their deploying the American flag on the surface of the moon; from the collection of soil and rock samples to the photographing of the “magnificent desolation” of the lunar landscape—this is the Apollo 11 moon walk as seen that historic evening of July 20, 1969, by the staff of Mission Control.

The full catalogue is available via this link.

Press Release: Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition

PRESS INFORMATION 2019

SPEEDMASTER APOLLO 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition

There were many world-changing moments that defined the first lunar landing in 1969. From famous words to dusty footprints, it was a mission that remains unforgettable in so many ways. On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, OMEGA is proud to unveil a new Speedmaster Limited Edition that pays tribute to those iconic hours.

Now, you can wear the first watch worn on the moon – and also relive its journey.

STILL A PIONEER

The Speedmaster made watchmaking history on the 21st of July 1969. Today its pioneering spirit still remains through the use of a new material known as 18K Moonshine™ gold. This exclusive patent-pending alloy is a paler hue than traditional yellow gold and offers high resistance to fading over time. As you explore the surface of the watch, you’ll find 18K Moonshine™ gold throughout the design.

ENGINEERING AT ITS BEST

Innovation was key to the Apollo 11 success. OMEGA has followed that theme with a 42 mm case in stainless steel and a polished bezel made from 18K Moonshine™ gold. The bezel ring itself is polished black ceramic [ZrO2] with a radiant OMEGA Ceragold™ tachymeter scale.

Two distinct zones make up the dial, including a varnished central grey zone and an outer black minute track. 18K Moonshine™ gold is used for the bevelled indexes, vintage OMEGA logo and all of the hands – except for the central chronograph seconds hand, which is “PVD-coated” in Moonshine™ Gold.

ICONIC TRIBUTES

Buzz Aldrin was wearing an OMEGA Speedmaster when he climbed down from the Eagle to reach the lunar surface at 03:15:16 UTC. At that second, his timepiece became the first watch worn on the moon. On the 9 o’clock subdial of this new Limited Edition, OMEGA has laser-engraved the image of Buzz on a Moonshine™ Gold plate.

Distinct from all other indexes, the 11 o’clock hour marker is formed by an 18K Moonshine™ Gold number 11, in tribute to the Apollo mission.

Going where no human had gone before. Featured on the caseback is an image of an astronaut’s footprint, which has been laser-engraved onto a black-coated plate with a moon-surface texture.

«THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR A MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND». Neil Armstrong’s legendary words have echoed through time. Now, they are written on the caseback of this watch in 18K Moonshine™ Gold-plated lettering.

THE CASEBACK

Only 6,969 pieces are available in this Limited Edition collection. Proud owners will find their unique number engraved in black on the caseback, along with APOLLO 11, 50th ANNIVERSARY and LIMITED EDITION. Also engraved, yet blending in with the steel, are NAIAD LOCK, Cal. 3861 and CO-AXIAL MASTER CHRONOMETER.

MOONWATCH MOVEMENT

The brand new OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 3861 takes the next evolutionary step for the famous Moonwatch movement. It took 4 years of trial-and-error to create the calibre’s most recent incarnation. OMEGA was determined to produce a movement of the highest standard, yet perfectly match the dimensions of the 1861.

That goal has been achieved. Now crafted with Co-Axial technology, a stop-second function and OMEGA’s superior anti-magnetic innovation, the Speedmaster Moonwatch is resistant to magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss and has been able to reach the Master Chronometer standard, which assures the industry’s highest certified level of precision, chronometric performance and magnetic resistance.

ASTRONAUT KIT

The watch is presented on a polished-brushed metallic bracelet with a vintage Ω on the clasp: a design inspired by the bracelet of the 4th generation Speedmaster (ST 105.012-65).

For the customer’s own mission, however, this new Limited Edition comes with another special option.

Inside the NASA-style presentation box, you’ll find an additional Velcro® strap with black-coated cork. This innovative design is a salute to the Apollo-era “boost protective cover” – a fiberglass structure covered with cork which fitted over the Command Module like a glove, keeping the crew of the Saturn V rocket safe from the intense heat produced at launch.

The box also includes two mission patches (50th anniversary / Apollo 11), two engraved plates (landing site coordinates / landing site and time) as well as a strap-changing tool. Best of all, it houses the ultimate Lunar Model display stand.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 310.20.42.50.01.001 is available for pre-order at Ace Jewelers.

More information is available on WatchBase.

Press Release: Omega Caliber 3861 – Rocket Engine

PRESS INFORMATION 2019

Introducing the Master Chronometer Calibre 3861: the driving force behind OMEGA’s Apollo 11 tributes and a movement with its own lunar legacy

An OMEGA was the first watch worn on the Moon; and to mark the 50th anniversary of that golden moment the brand has released a collection of commemorative timepieces powered by the Master Chronometer Calibre 3861, a descendent of the movement that went to the Moon.

OMEGA’s legendary Calibre 321 was the direct descendent of the 27 CHRO C12 that was first designed and produced in 1941. Renamed calibre 321 in 1949, the robust and elegant chronograph movement has been a favourite ever since and is still highly sought-after by watch collectors around the world, as it was the 321 that powered the Speedmaster watches qualified by NASA for use on all manned space missions; and a modified version of the calibre drove the Speedmaster chronographs worn by Apollo 11’s astronauts.

In-line with OMEGA’s continuing commitment to innovation and technical advancements, the Calibre 321 evolved to become the Calibre 861, which was used between 1968 and 1997. This was followed by the calibre 1861, which retained the same frequency as the 861, but was made with rhodium-plating.

It took 4 years of trial-and-error to produce the calibre’s most recent incarnation. OMEGA was determined to produce a movement that could be Master Chronometer certified, yet perfectly match the dimensions of the 1861. That meant finding a way to fit all of the new state-of-the-art componentry into a space more suited to an older movement. A challenge certainly, as the 3861 has 240 components compared to the 1861’s 234, but OMEGA’s engineers were up to the task, improving power reserve, chronometric performance and magnetic resistance. Daily deviations were improved from -1+11 to 0+5 seconds, and a stop second function was added, allowing the wearer to stop the seconds hand with a pull of the crown and reset the time with absolute precision.

Thanks to 21st century machining, it was also possible for OMEGA’s engineers to subtly reshape the teeth of the wheels, which allowed for tighter contacts and smoother running. As a tribute to the 1861, the new movement’s frequency remained the same (21,600 v/h). However, the jewel tally was increased from 18 to 26, as eight extra jewels were needed for the upgrade. Half of them to ensure the smooth running of OMEGA’s revolutionary Co-Axial escapement, which had replaced the more traditional Swiss Anchor – and four more for general technical improvements. Another significant change was the complete removal of the frequency regulator. As a moving part, the tiny lever added to the risk of accidental frequency shifts, so the decision was made to do without it. On the new 3861, this was replaced by four adjustable screws on the balance wheel. Thanks to the inclusion of OMEGA’s Co-Axial escapement and silicon Si14 balance spring, the 3861 offers extraordinary levels of magnetic resistance up to 15,000 gauss, and is able to pass the industry’s toughest tests and achieve Master Chronometer certification.

Aesthetically, the latest movement is closer to the 1861’s more beautiful cousin, the 1863, which featured gold engravings and Geneva waves. To match the case materials of the Apollo 11 tributes, two versions of the 3861 were produced: one with rhodium-plated bridges and main plate; and another in gold with a Moonshine™ goldplated finish. The use of Moonshine™ gold-plated main plate and bridges marks another first for the pioneering brand. The innovative patent-pending material was introduced in 2019 to coincide with the lunar landing’s 50th anniversary.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 310.20.42.50.01.001 is available for pre-order at Ace Jewelers.

More information is available on WatchBase.

A few more details: the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 310.20.42.50.01.001

Yesterday Omega finally released the much-anticipated Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 310.20.42.50.01.001, a limited edition Speedmaster created in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

As we’ve come to expect from Omega, the watch is chockfull of details that refer to its raison d’être, new technical wizardry, and hints to the deep history of the Speedmaster in general. Now that the dust has settled a bit, let’s go over a couple;

DON

First seen (again) on the Ultraman, back for the Moonshine 310.60.42.50.99.001, and now on the 310.20.42.50.01.001: the Dot Over Ninety (DON) tachymeter inlay. The DON bezels were found, in various guises, on Speedies produced up to approx. 1970, which explains the historical significance. On this latest Speedmaster it is done in black ceramic.

Buzz Aldrin & the Lunar Module

At 9:00 we find an image of Buzz Aldrin stepping out of the lunar module, based on a photograph taken by astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, commander, with a 70mm lunar surface camera during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA).

APOLLO 11 ONBOARD PHOTO: ASTRONAUT ALDRIN, EDWIN-E., JR. EGRESSES LUNAR MODULE.

The engraving, done by laser on a plate of Moonshine gold, is particularly finely done – as shown in this close-up by Omega;

Eleven

Another reference to Apollo 11 is found at 11:00, where the stick markers sees itself replaced by an Arabic eleven. I must shamefully admit that I only noticed this today!

More interesting bits are found on the back.

The Footstep – of A Man?

The case back does not offer a view of the new rhodium-plated caliber 3861. Rather it shows an image of an astronaut’s bootprint in the lunar soil, photographed with a 70mm lunar surface camera during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the moon. It is done on a brass base.

Then of course there’s the A man versus Man debate. I’ll stick to a Wikipedia quote here;

Armstrong intended to say “That’s one small step for a man”, but the word “a” is not audible in the transmission, and thus was not initially reported by most observers of the live broadcast. When later asked about his quote, Armstrong said he believed he said “for a man”, and subsequent printed versions of the quote included the “a” in square brackets. One explanation for the absence may be that his accent caused him to slur the words “for a” together; another is the intermittent nature of the audio and video links to Earth, partly because of storms near Parkes Observatory. More recent digital analysis of the tape claims to reveal the “a” may have been spoken but obscured by static.

NAIAD

Last-but-not-least: the NAIAD-locked case back. Omega introduced this tech on the Deep Black version of the Planet Ocean back in 2016. It basically ensures that the engravings on the case back are always properly aligned. It is similar, if not the same, to what used to be known as a bayonet case back. This is the first Speedmaster Professional to be fitted with such a back.

The Omega Speedmaster 310.20.42.50.01.001 is a tribute to the Apollo 11 mission, but it also very much feels like an exercise in seeing what can be improved on the template that the classic Speedmaster Pro offers – in terms of both tech as well as finish. I suppose in time we’ll see our beloved Moonwatch updated with things such as a ceramic bezel insert, the METAS-certified 3861, and a nice NAIAD-locked case back – plus the price tag to match.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 50th Anniversary 310.20.42.50.01.001 is available for pre-order at Ace Jewelers.

More information is available on WatchBase.