Omega Speedmaster: 39 years ago it became the Moonwatch

39 years ago, on July 21st 1969, 2:56 AM (GMT), Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon. For us watch freaks, it is nice to know that not Neil Armstrong was the first to set a foot on the moon wearing an Omega Speedmaster Professional but Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin was the first astronaut to wear the Omega Speedmaster Professional on the surface of the moon. The technical debrief in 1969 states that the Neil Armstrong’s watch was left behind in the capsule since the mission timer was out (source: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/a11/a11.evaprep.html). I assume it is also widely known that Buzz Aldrin’s watch got stolen afterwards, unfortunately.

Late Chuck Maddox did a study on which type of Omega Speedmaster Professional was worn on the moon. And additionally, if it was really the only watch worn on the moon, as Omega claims it to be on their Omega Speedmaster Professional case backs. The full article written by Chuck Maddox can be found at http://www.chronomaddox.com/moonmovement.html.

The Apollo 11 NASA astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins will be probably know best, but Omega’s answer is the closest we can come I guess. Former Omega employee John Diethelm (known for his swift replies with respect to vintage information inquiries) stated several times in his e-mails to Omega collectors/customers that the Speedmaster Professional watches with reference numbers st105.003 (Aldrin), st105.012 (Armstrong) and st145.012 (Collins) with calibre 321 movement was the first watch worn on the moon. I copied the content of such an e-mail from Chuck’s article on the first Moonwatch:

‘ * mvt N xxxxxxxxxx * manual winding chronograph movement of Calibre 321 – 17 jewels * case reference: ST 145.012 – stainless steel * manufactured and delivered to our Agents in Danemark on October 25, 1968.
It is confirmed that the OMEGA Speedmaster chronographs that went to the " Moon " were of identical reference as your above watch.

Omega Speedmaster: 39 years ago it became the MoonwatchPart of a double paged 1969 Omega Speedmaster advertizement

I consider this one quite funny, since my own Speedmaster Pro pre-Moon ST145.012 was according to the same Mr Diethelm made in 1967 and delivered to Norway on October 22, 1968. Only a few days in between, and both to scandanavian countries. Were they the last to receive caliber 321 Speedmaster chronographs? As per november 1968, only calibre 861 Speedies left the Omega factory in Bienne.

As for being the only watch worn on the moon, as Omega claims, this is proven to be wrong. David Scott wore a Waltham Chronograph on the surface of the moon during the third EVA of the Apollo 15 mission (source: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a15/a15.eva2prep.html). The crystal of David’s Speedmaster Professional chronograph popped-off, and he started using his Waltham chronograph as a back-up wrist watch.

Omega Speedmaster: 39 years ago it became the MoonwatchDavid Scott’s training space suit on display in the Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC.

On the earlier Omega Speedmaster case backs, the inscription was ‘The first watch worn on the moon’ which seems to be more spot-on than the current ‘The first and only watch worn on the moon’.

Omega Speedmaster: 39 years ago it became the MoonwatchPhoto by Chuck Maddox, “First watch worn on the moon” caseback. Made between approx. 1969 and 1973.

Anyhow, if you want to get closest to the real thing, I suggest you start looking for that caliber 321 Speedmaster Professional ref. ST145.012 and buy yourself a NASA Velcro strap from gasgasbones.com. These Speedmaster Professional pre-Moon models, as they are being called, are becoming more and more expensive. Thanks to the Omegamania auction held by Antiquorum in 2007. Prices are going up, also for the later 1970s models with calibre 861 movements.

Omega Speedmaster: 39 years ago it became the MoonwatchPhoto of my own Speedmaster Professional pre-Moon on a Velcro strap

To wrap things up: I have been wearing my Speedmaster all day to commemorate the moonlanding in 1969. Wearing the watch also reminds me of Chuck Maddox, one of the guys that really got me into the obsession for Omega Speedmasters. I consider myself to be a lucky guy to have known this legendary chronograph collector.

Interesting links:
http://www.chronomaddox.com/
http://www.buzzaldrin.com/
http://www.speedmaster-mission.net/
http://www.old-omegas.com

Interesting book on the subject:

Click here for more titles.

Omega Speedmaster: 39 years ago it became the Moonwatch

About Robert-Jan Broer

Robert-Jan Broer, born in 1977, watch collector and author on watches for over a decade. Founder of Fratellowatches in 2004.

21 Comments

  1. Alon Reply

    A day to late, but Happy Moonlanding Anniversary ;) (Day to late). Great post. Never knew the fact about the Waltham watches.

  2. John Hannover Reply

    There were 321 watches made well into 1968 – my own w
    Reference( case):145.012-67 SP
    Caliber: 321
    Serial (movement):26.076.848

    from the movement number would indicate 1968 – but I have NEVER seen a case reference 145.012-68

    They are all – from 1967 and forward 145.012 – 67

    QESTION;

    Do you know of a ref 321 with reference ending with 68 (where they were produced till October) – and:

    Why are there some called 145.012- SP 67 and probably some without the SP??

    Hope you may know

    br from Denmark and John H

  3. David James Reply

    Very informative article. Also thank you for all of the NASA links too. I’ve never seen the transcript and commentary before. Interesting mp3′s.

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    I need the bracelet for that watch.

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