On January 16th of this year, Gene Cernan passed away. He was the Last Man on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Before that, he flew on the Gemini 9A and Apollo 10 missions. This year, Omega introduced the 3rd Speedmaster Apollo XVII limited edition. In two flavors. In stainless steel (1972 pieces) and in gold (72 pieces). We have a closer look at the gold model.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo XVII Reference 311.

In all honesty, the rendered images that I came across before the official launch did not make me very excited about this watch. But as always, you need to see a watch in the flesh before you can judge it (best). The Omega Speedmaster Apollo XVII 45th anniversary edition is such a watch. 1972 pieces are made in stainless steel, only 72 pieces in gold. The blue on the rendered images had a hard tone, like IKEA blue, but in the flesh it is much darker and the gold gives an awesome contrast.

Update: Omega told us that they will increase the number of editions to 272 due to the high demand. 

Omega Speedmaster Apollo XVII 311.

It was a pleasant surprise to see that these two watches, tributes to Gene Cernan, were way better than the preview images I’ve seen. Especially the gold model is a watch that is simply stunning in the flesh. This Omega Speedmaster Professional, reference  311., comes on a beautiful brown leather strap and a gold folding clasp.

The case is based on the regular Speedmaster Pro 42mm model, but of course with a different caseback. The Apollo XVII mission patch is a large medallion, surrounded by engravings regarding the limited edition number and 45th anniversary. Just below the Apollo XVII medallion is the text “A tribute to Gene Cernan”.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo XVII 311.

The dial of the watch (as well as the bezel) is made of blue ceramic. The combination of blue ceramic and gold looks stunning. In the sub dial at 9 o’clock you’ll find the gold medallion of Apollo XVII and all sub dials have this double rim. The Omega logo and the numerals are all printed in gold. The chronograph seconds hand has a red tip as well as the ‘5:34 GMT’ writing on the dial.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo XVII 311.

5:34 GMT on the dial

Since Omega didn’t talk much about this piece yet during BaselWorld, some questions arose regarding the 5:34 GMT inscription on the dial. What does it mean? Well, I couldn’t figure it out myself, but a guy by the name of TLIGuy on OmegaForums had the following explanation:

Cernan makes this speech as he leaves the surface of the Moon at a Mission Elapsed Time of 168 hours and 1 minute after launch. The launch was at 5:33. So, if we add the mission elapsed time to the time of launch (168:01, which is 7 days +1 minute, you arrive at 05:34 GMT on December 14th).

That was the exact time when Gene Cernan held his speech on the surface of the Moon:

“Bob, this is Gene, and I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record. That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus- Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. “Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.””

Mind you that this is not the official explanation of 5:34 GMT on the dial, but it would be very coincidental if it weren’t. Let’s wait and see.

Previous Apollo XVII model presented by Gene Cernan. Photo (c) Larry

Caliber 1861

As (almost) always, the movement inside this Speedmaster Apollo XVII 45th anniversary is also a hand-wound caliber 1861 by Lemania. A movement with a solid track record and used since 1997. Between 1968 and 1997 Omega used the previous Lemania based movement, caliber 861. Before that, the caliber 321 (Lemania 2310 based). Some people had hoped – and still do – for a return of the caliber 321, but this movement (rights) seem to be at Breguet right now.

Apollo 17 Limited Edition

As written above, this Omega Speedmaster XVII 45th Anniversary limited edition is the 3rd commemorative edition for this particular mission. The first was in 2002, where the watch only had a different engraving in the caseback. If I am not mistaken, that watch came with a copy of the book ‘Last Man on the Moon’ by Gene Cernan. In 2012, there was the 40th anniversary edition of the Omega Speedmaster Apollo XVII, with the silver medal as dial. Although that watch wasn’t received that well, it is quite nice on the wrist and due to the fact that it wasn’t ‘liked’ that much, this could be a sleeper watch.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo XVII 311.

This 3rd Apollo XVII watch is – in my opinion – the nicest of the trio. The beautiful dark blue ceramic dial in combination with the 18kt gold is simply awesome. The brown leather strap also matches nicely with the warm color of the gold case.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XVII reference 311. is limited to 72 pieces only and has a retail price of 18.600 Euro (including taxes). We get back to you shortly with the all stainless steel model (also blue ceramic dial and bezel).

More information via Omega on-line.

P.s. If you haven’t done so, watch The Last Man on the Moon documentary from 2014. It’s on Netflix.