Michael Collins, born on October 31st, 1930 in Rome, was one of the three men that were on Apollo 11 in 1969. Together with Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins left Earth on July 16th, 1969, destination Moon. It became the most famous space mission of all time and remains so to this day.

Last week, on April 28th, 2021, Michael Collins passed away aged 90, in Naples, Florida. Having a father in the military, Michael Collins followed a well-trodden path at first. In 1952, he graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point and at some point became a test pilot in the Air Force. Then, in 1963, Collins was selected by NASA for their space program. It wasn’t until 1966 that he had his first space flight, on Gemini 10. In January 1969, it was announced that Collins,  Aldrin, and Armstrong would be the crew of the upcoming Apollo 11 mission. The rest, as they say, is history.

Picture taken by Michael Collins during the Apollo 11 mission

Speedmaster Professional 145.012 Michael Collins

Collins’ passing did not go unnoticed. I’ve seen many special posts on social media, by astronauts, space fans, but also by watch enthusiasts. Or better said, Moonwatch enthusiasts. Although a watch is something unimportant in the grand scheme of things, as someone who is a Moonwatch collector and has a special interest in everything space-related, I thought it would be nice to write a few words here on Michael Collins and his Speedmaster Professional 145.012-68.

Speedmaster Michael Collins

Michael Collins on the left, Deke Slayton in the background.

We published an in-depth story on how the Omega Speedmaster became the Moonwatch here. After the testing and qualification of the Speedmaster reference 105.003 to become the official chronograph for astronauts, Omega shipped a number of 105.003, 105.012, and 145.012 watches to NASA. All three references found their way to the Moon. Reference 105.003 received NASA’s internal reference number SEB 12100039-001, and the 105.012 and 145.012 were referred to as SEB 12100039-002.

Picture of Collins’ Speedmaster 145.012-68. (c) National Air and Space Museum

145.012 Worn on Apollo 11

It probably isn’t news to you that Michael Collins wore the Speedmaster Professional 145.012-68 during the Apollo 11 mission. The other two astronauts (those that walked on the Moon during that mission), wore the Speedmaster Professional 105.012. The pushers are the biggest difference between them because these are slightly improved for the 145.012.

Just like Neil Armstrong, Collins wore his Omega Speedmaster Professional 145.012-68 on his right wrist. Aldrin wore his Speedmaster on the left wrist. Collins was given the 145.012-68 with NASA serial number 73. Aldrin’s watch had 43 and Armstrong had 46. This is not an Omega serial number, but an internal serial number used by NASA. This serial number was engraved in the case band of the watch, and the reference number SEB 12100039-002 on the case back.

Speedmaster Michael Collins

Omega Speedmaster 145.012-68 worn by Michael Collins (c) National Air and Space Museum

As you know, the Speedmaster Professional 105.012 that Buzz wore, has been missing since 1970 when it was shipped to the Smithsonian. Many false claims have been made that someone found it. Many people think it is still somewhere to be discovered and others assume it is stolen. The location of Michael Collins’ 145.012-68, however, is no a secret. It is part of the collection at the National Air and Space Museum. It is there on display, for all to admire.

The Apollo XI crew (c) NASA

Michael Collins Post-NASA

In total (Gemini 10 and Apollo 11), Michael Collins was in space for 11 days, 2 hours, 4 minutes, 43 seconds. He performed two EVAs, with a total of 1 hour and 28 minutes. Collins stopped his active career at NASA in 1970, and worked as the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs for a while, followed by a position as the Director of the National Air and Space Museum. He also completed an autobiography in 1974, titled “Carrying the Fire”. It has been reprinted several times, and there was even a special edition of the book to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Michael Collins was also an avid painter, creating beautiful watercolors.

The Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch reference 145.012 from 1967

Speedmaster “Michael Collins”

I know that Michael Collins was not only wearing Speedmaster watches but had different watches too. Privately, Collins wore other watches, like the Rolex Turn-o-Graph and Day-Date. But Michael Collins also received the 18-karat gold Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI BA145.022-69 with number #19 during the famous Houston banquet on November 25, 1969.

However, during his Apollo XI mission, he wore his Speedmaster Professional 145.012-68. I am not sure whether this fact made the Speedmaster Professional 145.012 with caliber 321 more relevant to collectors. But in my opinion, it should, as this watch was worn during the mission that changed the world. It wasn’t until Apollo 14, that the Speedmaster 145.012 was actually worn on the moon. Nevertheless, I think it would be more fitting to nickname the Speedmaster Professional reference 145.012 the Speedmaster “Michael Collins” henceforth. I hope you agree and help us spread the word!