Omega Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz 35th Anniversary — The Watch Worn By Astronauts
I remember it was back in 2015 when Omega introduced the new Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award. You know, the white-dial one with Snoopy sleeping in the 9 o’clock sub-dial. A big introduction event took place in Houston, and brand ambassador George Clooney was there. But also in attendance were NASA astronauts Gene Cernan (Apollo 17), Jim Lovell (Apollo 13), and Tom Stafford (Apollo 10 and Apollo-Soyuz).
Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz 35th Anniversary
Tom Stafford was wearing the Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz 35th Anniversary that day. During later encounters with other NASA Apollo astronauts, I noticed that some of them were wearing this watch too. When I asked why, they told me that they loved this model because of the use of meteorite for the dial.
As a side note, I’ve heard quite a few times from astronauts that they developed a special relationship with the watch they were wearing in space. This is because it served as a connection to their homes. Their watch would show them the time on Earth and make them think of what their families were doing at that moment. It was a very romantic explanation indeed.
Limited to 1,975 pieces
The Omega Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz 35th Anniversary edition debuted in 2010. It was limited to 1,975 pieces and had a retail price of €6,150. That feels like an incredible bargain 13 years later, but keep in mind that the regular Speedmaster Professional at the time had a sticker price of €2,700. This Apollo-Soyuz anniversary model with its meteorite dial didn’t sell that well for the first few years. I even remember going to a boutique where they showed me a bunch of them, unsold, and it must have been 2013 or 2014.
It was very different from today. Now we all can agree that this watch is one of the most coveted modern Omega Speedmaster Professional variations. Aside from the Albino and Snoopy models, the Apollo-Soyuz 35th Anniversary edition is one that speaks to one’s imagination for the same reason it does to NASA astronauts like Tom Stafford.
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
On top, it is Tom Stafford’s mission that this watch pays tribute to. The Apollo-Soyuz mission — officially called the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) — took place from July 15th to July 24th, 1975. It involved two superpowers at the time connecting their spacecraft 222 kilometers away from Earth. After docking, General Stafford and Colonel Leonov shook hands and remained friends until Leonov passed away in 2019.
The first steel Speedmaster that Omega produced as a limited or special model was the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz edition with the blue and red logo on the dial. With a production run of only 500 pieces, this vintage Speedmaster is an incredibly sought-after model for Speedmaster collectors.
However, this 2010 Omega Speedmaster Apollo-Soyuz reference 3126.96.36.199.99.001 is nothing short of collectible too. I wish I had snagged one when they were tough sellers in the early 2010s. At that time, though, nobody could foresee the enormous price increase that these rare watches would experience. As with some other limited editions that came out later, I always thought I’d pick one up when it was more convenient for me or when the price dropped. Well, that never happened…
What I like so much about meteorite, in general, is that it always has a unique pattern to it. Not a single meteorite watch dial is the same as another. Recently, one of our readers showed up at the Fratello office and showed us his Day-Date with a meteorite dial. It was stunning in combination with the white gold case and bracelet.
On the meteorite dial of this Speedmaster ref. 3188.8.131.52.99.001, you will find the applied Omega logo and the “Speedmaster” wording in red. The tip of the chronograph seconds hand is also in (matching) red. The meteorite used for the three sub-dials has a lighter shade than the main dial, creating a reverse panda look. Encircling the sub-dials are high-polished steel frames, which match the hands. Additionally, the polished hour markers are applied to the dial.
The Apollo-Soyuz 35th Anniversary edition has much in common with the then-standard Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 3570.50 or 3572.50 (sapphire version). It features the same 42mm stainless steel case with a sapphire crystal and the Lemania-based 1861 movement inside. The case back has a special engraving that shows the docking of the Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft.
Astronauts and cosmonauts
It also includes the names of the three NASA astronauts (Stafford, Brand, and Slayton) and two cosmonauts (Leonov and Kubasov). Last but not least, the unique number of the limited-edition watch has been engraved on the perimeter of the steel case back. Just like the standard steel Moonwatch, this special model used the ref. 1998 bracelet.
Each of these 1,975 watches came in a special anthracite-colored box that matched the meteorite dial.
The Apollo-Soyuz 35th Anniversary wasn’t the last Speedmaster that would use meteorite. In 2016, the Grey Side of the Moon got a meteorite dial and a Sedna Gold bezel. Then, in 2019, Omega reintroduced the famous column-wheel chronograph caliber 321, and the first watch to use it was the Speedmaster Professional in platinum with an onyx dial and meteorite sub-dials. Also in 2019 was the release of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary model in Moonshine Gold, which has a little piece of lunar meteorite in the case back, acting as an image of our Moon.
We currently have several discontinued Speedmaster limited and special editions in our shop, including this one. You can find them here. Check them out if you’d like, and let us know what you think of meteorite dials in the comments.