It’s in! One of the most hotly anticipated watches of 2019 was for sure the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary. A gold model was introduced back in March, but we had to wait until May before the stainless steel version (ref. 310.20.42.50.01.001) made its debut. Earlier today we had the chance to go hands-on with one for our signature What’s in the Box series.
Our Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 3126.96.36.199.01.001: What’s in the Box? was a fairly dull affair – but today we’re in for a treat as Omega went all-in to create something special for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Let’s dive in:
As always the watch is delivered to us in the shipping container. This holds the watch but also the hang tag and the red cards. Caliber 3861 is a Master Chronometer movement, and as such we have the International Warranty, the Pictograms, and the Master Chronometer cards. All of these feature both the reference number as well as the unique serial number. The Pictograms card also has the limited edition number on it.
WOW – this a huge box! The outer cardboard box lists it as being 4.8kg. That’s enormous. This cardboard box is usually thrown out and as far as I am concerned it is not part of the deal – it’s just for shipping.
Next up is a white protective box. This is where the party starts.
Inside we find a box not unlike that of the regular Speedy Pro – but obviously improved upon in order to make it even cooler. It’s done in a combo of white and brown, with brass hardware. A compartment on the side offers an additional storage space for the instruction manual, card sleeve et cetera. It is now filled up with a bit of foam, the card sleeve, a white cleaning cloth and a small booklet on how to change the strap.
In the Box
In the box we find a print of the surface of the moon, an anti-moisture sachet, and a piece of foam for protection. There are two plaques that serve as a reminder of why this watch was created. We get our first glimpse of the rather unusual cushion that’s supposed to hold the watch.
The lunar surface bit folds open tot he inside to reveal more goodies:
Alright, so the cushion for the watch is actually a little Lunar Module. That’s cute. Furthermore we find two patches velcro’d to the box, an additional strap, a strap changing tool, and a loupe.
The loupe has what I suppose is a Moonshine Gold finish to match the bezel of the watch, which is a nice touch.
Last but not least there’s two booklets – the standard-issue Operating Instructions plus a special Moonwatch 50th Anniversary booklet. The latter has the limited edition number printed on the back.
That concludes this episode of What’s in the Box. What are your thoughts on this LE, the packaging and the goodies?
This Omega Speedmaster Dark Side of the Moon Apollo 8 3188.8.131.52.01.001 was supplied by Ace Jewelers.
The limited edition Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 50th Anniversary reference 310.60.42.50.99.001 is inspired by the 1969 BA 145.022. But just how close is it? See for yourself in our latest Juxtapose!
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.
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 an 18K 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.
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.
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 stopsecond 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.
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 4 th 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.
It is now 50 years since mankind took its first daring steps onto the moon – a moment that changed history (and the limits of possibility) forever. On this golden anniversary, OMEGA is celebrating the occasion with a brand new Speedmaster that has a very special connection to the astronauts and the legacy of that Apollo 11 mission.
How OMEGA Reached the Moon
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the lunar surface at 02:56 UTC on the 21st of July 1969. Their moonwalk lasted just two and a half hours, but their achievements left a defining footprint on the history of space exploration.
Strapped onto the wrists of the astronauts, it was during this iconic moment that the OMEGA Speedmaster Professional became the first watch worn on the moon.
The Apollo 11 mission is certainly the most celebrated moment in OMEGA’s considerable space heritage. But the journey to reach that point began more than 10 years earlier, in 1957, when the very first OMEGA Speedmaster was launched.
Thanks to its robust, reliable and easy-to-read design, the Speedmaster became known as the “pilots’ choice” and was adopted by those in the U.S Air Force. Many of those aces became Mercury astronauts in NASA’s first manned space programme and, in 1962, one of those astronauts, Walter Schirra, took his own Speedmaster CK2998 on the Mercury Atlas 8 mission. Orbiting the Earth six times, his privately-owned model became the first OMEGA watch worn in space.
By 1964, NASA’s space programme was accelerating rapidly and it officially went in search of one watch that it could rely on for all of its manned-missions. Flight Crew Operations Director, Deke Slayton, issued a request for wrist-worn chronographs from different watch manufacturers around the world. Several brands, including OMEGA, submitted their timepieces for the punishing tests – such as thermal, shock, vibration and vacuum examinations amongst others. Only the OMEGA Speedmaster survived these tests and, as a result, it was declared “Flight Qualified for all Manned Space Missions” on the 1st of March 1965.
From that moment, OMEGA was the only supplier of watches for NASA’s Human Space Flight Program. It was trusted throughout the Mercury Missions, Gemini Program, and, of course, the Apollo Program – which had its sights set on the moon.
James Ragan, the NASA engineer who qualified the Speedmaster in 1965 has spoken about the importance of OMEGA by saying, “The watch was a backup. If the astronauts lost the capability of talking to the ground, or the capability of their digital timers on the lunar surface, then the only thing they had to rely on was the OMEGA watch they had on their wrist. It needed to be there for them if they had a problem.”
With the eyes of the world on Apollo 11 in 1969, every piece of technology and kit had to be just right. There was no room for error. That’s why it is such an honour for OMEGA to look back and know that its watches were implicitly trusted by everyone involved. 50 years later, we are still incredibly proud to have timed mankind’s greatest hour.
A Tribute to Heroes
The success of Apollo 11 was fervently celebrated around the world in 1969. On the 25th of November that year, a special “Astronaut Appreciation Dinner” was held in Houston, Texas, in tribute to the moon landing heroes.
The dinner was especially notable for a certain OMEGA Speedmaster that was presented to the astronauts in NASA’s space program. The watch, Speedmaster BA145.022, was crafted from 18K yellow gold and included a rare burgundy bezel, as well as an inscription on the caseback that read, “to mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time.”
This gold Speedmaster housed the calibre 861 and was OMEGA’s very first commemorative numbered edition, with only 1,014 models being produced from 1969 to 1973. The very first of these was created for US President, Richard Nixon, with number two allocated to the US Vice President Spiro Agnew. These watches, however, were later returned to OMEGA due to the US government’s strict gifting protocol.
Model numbers 3 – 28 were given to the NASA astronauts, including 19 of those who were present at the gala dinner in Houston. This also included three models that were awarded posthumously to the three crew members who died during Apollo 1 – Virgil Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.
Watches 29 to 32 were offered to Swiss watch industry leaders and politicians, without any engraved number.
The public were given the opportunity to purchase model numbers 33 – 1000. Although these models had a different caseback inscription, reading “OMEGA SPEEDMASTER”, “APOLLO XI 1969” and “Ω THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON”, they remained highly soughtafter due to their rarity and connection to space. They also came in an exclusive moon crater presentation box, which itself is a prized collector’s item today.
It may also be interesting to know that model numbers 1001 – 1008 were later presented to the astronauts of Apollo 14 and 17, while models 1009 – 1014 were reserved for other personalities. For true Speedmaster fans, the BA145.022 is one of the great highlights in the chronograph’s iconic history. Not only is it a beautiful watch to look at, with its blend of gold and burgundy, but it also pays the highest tribute to the NASA astronauts who delivered mankind to the moon.
Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
Marking the golden anniversary of the first moon landing, OMEGA has produced a new Limited Edition Speedmaster of 1,014 pieces, delivered with a five-year warranty.
Following the famous design of the Speedmaster BA145.022, this new chronograph has been crafted from an exclusive new 18K gold alloy and is powered by a brand new manual-winding Master Chronometer calibre 3861.
18K Moonshine™ Gold
The case, bracelet, dial, hour-markers and hour-minute hands have all been created in 18K Moonshine™ gold – a unique new alloy whose colour is inspired by the shining moonlight in a dark blue sky. In a paler hue than traditional 18K yellow gold, Moonshine™ gold offers high resistance to the fading of colour and lustre over time.
Case and Bracelet
The polished and brushed 42 mm case of this timepiece features the asymmetrical caseband of the 4th generation Speedmaster. Around the wrist, the brushed-polished bracelet bears the five–arched-links-per-row design and a grooved clasp with an applied vintage Ω.
Burgundy Ceramic [ZrO2] Bezel
Remaining true to the historical piece of 1969, OMEGA has included a burgundy bezel ring – this time in ceramic [ZrO2], according to a special patent pending process, with its tachymeter scale in Ceragold™. Following the first generation of the Speedmaster tachymeter scale, which graduated to 500 units per hour, this new model features a marker dot above 90 (also known as “Dot Over 90” or “DON”).
Onyx and Black
The vertically brushed dial is marked “Au750” for the use of solid gold and is enhanced by the facetted black onyx indexes set in the polished hour-markers, as well as the hour-minute hands filled with black varnish and the black varnished central chronograph seconds and subdial hands.
The Unique Caseback
The outer caseback ring features mechanically engraved markings: “1969-2019” and the Limited Edition number highlighted in burgundy, as well as uncoloured “Master Chronometer”. The inner decorative ring, also created in 18K Moonshine™ gold, has undergone two separate laser ablation processes, as well as two PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) colour treatments in blue and black. This has produced the following exquisite results:
– a matte-finish blue ocean that surrounds a partial world map of the American continents (in polished finish), with a glimpse over the rocket’s lift-off site Cape Canaveral (known as Cape Kennedy from 1963 – 1973)
– a matte-finish black background which accentuates polished markings including, “APOLLO 11 – 50th ANNIVERSARY” and “THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON”.
Finally, a domed lunar meteorite inlay representing the Moon has been delicately set into the cavity of the ring. Interesting, the Earth and the Moon on the inner ring have been produced in true proportion (3.67 : 1 in diameter).
This Speedmaster is driven by the OMEGA Master Chronometer Calibre 3861 – a manual-winding movement with Co-Axial escapement, silicon Si14 balance spring, Moonshine™ gold-plated main plate and bridges and burgundy markings.
For fans of OMEGA history, there are a number of vintage OMEGA logos to be found throughout the design – including on the dial, crown and bracelet clasp.
A unique watch in a unique presentation box! Inspired by the original packaging of the BA145.022 model in 1969, OMEGA has created a new crater box that will house each Limited Edition timepiece. The panels of the box are in grey ceramic with 3D printing of the lunar surface. Since every panel is structured differently, no crater box will be alike. Furthermore, the top panel of every box is printed with the image of the Sea of Tranquillity and the landing position of Apollo 11.
Sotheby’s, NEW YORK, 28 June 2019 – This 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.