It’s finally here! As the first model in what we hope will be a multi-pronged approach, we have official news of the Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.
It’s no secret that Omega releases a high number of variants based upon its legendary Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch each year. For Speedmaster fans, and we are most certainly loyal members of that group, the last several years have been fantastic. The ’57 reissue, the Speedy Tuesdays, the Apollo XIII Silver Snoopy are just some of the memorable pieces we’ve had the pleasure of seeing and enjoying. But – and this is a big but – if you’re a space fan, a history buff, or one who likes recalling one of humanity’s most significant accomplishments in history, there’s one space mission that stands taller than all the rest and that’s Apollo XI. It was on July 20, 1969 that man first walked on the moon – with Neil Armstrong touching down only to be followed by Buzz Aldrin 19 minutes later. And in doing so, they made the Omega Speedmaster “the Moonwatch”. And so, yes, it is a big deal to finally see the Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary.
If you’re at all a fan of the Speedy, then you’ll instantly recognize the new Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary as a close relative of the Speedmaster BA145.022. We’ve documented this watch in detail (head here for a look at all the Apollo 11 models), but as a brief summary, an Astronaut’s Appreciation dinner was held on November 25, 1969 in Houston. Omega chose to honor each of the astronauts within the space program with a special 18K gold Speedmaster: the reference BA145-022. Over the next 4 years (through 1973), Omega would go on to make 1,014 of these watches. Astronauts through Apollo 17 received them, two were offered to (and declined by) US President Nixon and his VP, Spiro T. Agnew, while some were reserved for politicians and industry leaders. Roughly 975 were made available for the public. With their gold dials, burgundy DON bezel, onyx applied hour markers, matching gold bracelet and inscribed case back, the BA145.022 was a notable watch. It was even delivered in a box with a distinctive cratered “lunar surface”. Of special note, watches given to astronauts were inscribed with the following “to mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time”, while publicly sold watches stated, “First Watch Worn on the Moon” and “Apollo XI 1969.”
For the fun of it, here’s a look at the serial numbers of the BA145.022 and the astronauts who received them and their missions (you will note that 3 astronauts, Ed White, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee were awarded their gold Speedmasters posthumously):
#3 Al Shepard (Mercury-Redstone 3, Apollo 14)
#4 Gus Grissom (Mercury-Redstone 4, Gemini 3, Apollo 1)
#5 John Glenn (Mercury–Atlas 6, STS-95)
#6 Scott Carpenter (Mercury–Atlas 7)
#7 Gordon Cooper (Mercury-Atlas 9, Gemini 5)
#8 Wally Schirra (Mercury-Atlas 8, Gemini 6A, Apollo 7)
#9 John Young (Gemini 3, Gemini 10, Apollo 10, Apollo 16, STS-1, STS-9)
#10 Ed White (Gemini 4, Apollo 1)
#11 James McDivitt (Gemini 4, Apollo 9)
#12 Pete Conrad (Gemini 5, Gemini 11, Apollo 12, Skylab 2)
#13 Thomas Stafford (Gemini 6A, Gemini 9A, Apollo 10, Apollo-Soyuz Test Project)
#14 Jim Lovell (Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8, Apollo 13)
#15 Frank Borman (Gemini 7, Apollo 8)
#16 David Scott (Gemini 8, Apollo 9, Apollo 15)
#17 Neil Armstrong (Gemini 8, Apollo 11)
#18 Gene Cernan (Gemini 9A, Apollo 10, Apollo 17)
#19 Michael Collins (Gemini 10, Apollo 11)
#20 Dick Gordon (Gemini 11, Apollo 12, Apollo 18)
#21 Buzz Aldrin (Gemini 12, Apollo 11)
#22 Donn Eisele (Apollo 7)
#23 Walter Cunningham (Apollo 7)
#24 Bill Anders (Apollo 8)
#25 Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9)
#26 Alan Bean (Apollo 12, Skylab 3)
#27 Deke Slayton (Apollo-Soyuz Test Project)
#28 Roger Chaffee (Apollo 1)
#1001 Stu Roosa (Apollo 14)
#1002 Ed Mitchell (Apollo 14)
#1003 Jim Irwin (Apollo 15)
#1004 Al Worden (Apollo 15)
#1005 Charlie Duke (Apollo 16)
#1006 Ken Mattingly (Apollo 16, STS-4, STS-51-C)
#1007 Ron Evans (Apollo 17)
#1008 Jack Schmitt (Apollo 17)
Ironically, the BA145.022 was a watch that showed up frequently on sale boards and eBay until about 5-6 years ago. After that point, vintage steel Speedmasters finally gained a level of appreciation that extended on to this early gold model. Now, figure on $60K as a starting price for this commemorative gold piece. And so, it makes sense that we once again get to celebrate the moon landing with a Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary model.
Now, upon first glance, you may condemn the Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary as an easy play: one that simply copies an earlier release. Without reading further, you could walk away shaking your head, as if to say, “Omega had 50 years to prep for this one and they released a watch that looks the same as one from 50 years before!” But I think you’d be wrong…here’s why.
The new Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition does follow a similar design path as its 50-year-old relative (above), but there are some highly significant updates here that just might pave the way for changes in the Speedmaster Professional as we currently know it. But before we come to those topics, let’s look into the new model a little more closely. First, the gold is a new alloy they’ve named “Moonshine” that is meant to recall the moon in a dark blue sky. Said to be paler than traditional yellow gold, it should hold up well with time and resist tarnishing. Moving on, Omega has chosen to give us a gold bracelet that is nearly a 1:1 replica of the 1969 version. This means we’ll get a simple, and slim, clasp that should feel great on the wrist. I’ve long been a critic of Omega’s thick, yet functional clasps, but it looks like I’ll finally get my wish for something more svelte on this watch. Of course, the bracelet will contain solid links, which should help reduce stretch over the long term. You’ll also notice from the case back shot that the end links are solid, but that the link attached will allow the bracelet to drape over the wrist. Once again, score a point for that vintage comfortable feel as the brand eschewed the normal end link that causes the first bracelet link to stick out horizontally. I can’t wait to try this on!
Have a look at the step dial and you’ll note “Au750” above the center hands (again, the dial above is the vintage model). Yes, the dial is solid gold and, yes, it does contain actual onyx indices. Some have found a little fault with the inscription, but with the black chrono hand likely to keep watch in the rest position, the notification will remain obscured. Regarding the main hands, the original model had all black. Here, the hour and minute hands are gold and are filled with black varnish. Also, for those of you who enjoy the older Omega logo, it’s on the dial, crown, and clasp. But there’s more from the front side of the Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary and that’s a burgundy bezel made of ceramic. Furthermore, it will be adorned with the “Dot Over Ninety” that collectors crave, and all of the numbers are in Ceragold. Now, there is one slight concern and that’s the use of a sapphire crystal instead of Hesalite. Normally this would be a deal-breaker for me, but I’ve not been at all disappointed with the crystal on the Tokyo 2020 “Rising Sun” that’s been in the family for the last few months.
For the first time, the Speedmaster Professional contains a Co-Axial escapement with silicon hairspring.
If you’re following along so far, you have to be curious about what’s inside the Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary. Here’s big news because this just might give us a clue about what to expect in future Speedmaster Professional variants. For the first time, the Speedmaster Professional contains a Co-Axial escapement with silicon hairspring. Called the caliber 3861, this is the application of the famous escapement with the 1861 that’s been in the Moonwatch since 1997. But there’s more: the 3861 is METAS Master Chronometer certified. Viewable via a sapphire display back, the mainplate and bridges are gold plated and all writing is in a burgundy hue similar to the bezel.
Regarding the case back on the Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary, I find the detail work here about as compelling as the front side of the watch. The sapphire display contains an inner ring made of Moonshine gold with both black and blue PVD highlights. The ring contains the famous line of “The First Watch on the Moon” and it recognizes Apollo 11’s 50th Anniversary. The moon is on the left side and it is made out of a thin domed layer of meteorite (cool!) that has been inset into the ring. The Earth is on the right side and features Florida – the home of Cape Canaveral – on its view. Omega even tells us that the moon and Earth are proportionately correct with the Earth’s diameter showing as 3.67 times that of the moon – sticklers aren’t they! Finally, the limited-edition number is inscribed on the case back along with “1969-2019”.
Rounding things out, the Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary will be made in an edition of 1,014 pieces just like the original (above) and will be packaged in a cratered box. This time, though, the box will feature ceramic outer panels made of ceramic with a 3D-printed lunar surface. The top of each will be in the form of the Sea of Tranquility, where the astronauts first landed. Now comes the tough moment when we talk about pricing. For sure, you weren’t expecting this watch to come inexpensively, and on that front, you’d be right! At 32,000 CHF, this watch clearly isn’t for everyone, but it’s also not a surprising figure for what promises to be a heavy slug of 18K. Compared to other gold watches – most of which aren’t limited or commemorating an event – I actually think it’s priced fairly. We’ll update you on availability as soon as we find out more.
What do I actually think of the new Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary? To put it bluntly, I need one.
So, now that we’ve outlined the particulars, what do I actually think of the new Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary? To put it bluntly, I need one. And if you can hear an echo, that’s the sound of at least two more of my Fratello teammates. We’re smitten and if you think that means the watch writing business has been that good to us, think again and check your local classifieds to find some kidneys for sale! I really like what Omega did here. Yes, they played it a bit safe with a design that is awfully close to the original BA145.022, but the new watch contains some thoughtful and significant updates. The fact that Omega chose this watch for the debut of a new movement is also noteworthy; let’s see where it ends up next. Speaking of next, we do expect more from Omega on the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary front, so those of you hoping for something a bit more affordable will likely not go home empty handed. To celebrate the moon landing, though, I’d be willing to go to the surface and back in order to take ownership of this Speedmaster.
Finally, as you’re reading this, know that some of our team are at the release of the new Gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary. We apologize for the lack of photos of the new watch, so watch this space for more hands-on shots and further information such as shipping dates. As always, check Omega’s official site for more information such as pricing in your market.
Michael was born in South Florida in the USA. As a full-time role, he works in the Automotive Industry. He's lived and worked in many locations and when he's not cruising at 30,000 feet, he calls Germany home. Michael became... read more