Speedy Tuesday – Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI 35th Anniversary
It is Speedy Tuesday! This week we have one of the most sought-after Apollo XI limited edition models to show you, the Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI 35th Anniversary watch also known as ‘Speedmaster Panda’. This 2004 Speedmaster Professional commemorates the Moon landing of 1969, with a limited production of 3500 pieces only.
Omega Speedmaster ‘Panda’ 3569.31
This Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI edition was the first commemorative model for the Moon landing that looked a bit different from the regular Speedmaster Professional 3570.50. The silver white dial with applied Omega logo and markers and silver coloured hands make give it a totally different appearance than its ‘standard’ brother.
As you can see on the photos, the date of the Moon landing is printed on the dial in red, just below ‘Professional’. Although silver hands on a silvery white dial might not give the best contrast, it doesn’t bother (me) either. The hands are lumed and are highly polished which gives enough contrast to the background. The crystal is of course Hesalite (plexi) and the crystal on the back is made of sapphire, more about that one below.
The black sub dials on the silver white dial give a wonderful contrast and are the reason why this Speedmaster is being referred to as the Omega Speedmaster Panda. The dial also reminds me a bit of the Paul Newman dials on the Rolex Daytona but it would be silly calling this a Paul Newman, of course.
There is also another watch that is being referred to as ‘Panda’, which is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph (reference 26170ST.OO.D101CR.02). Although it has a 12, 9, 6 lay-out instead of the tri-compax lay-out that the Speedmaster Professional has, the sub dials are black and the dial is silver white as well. They should have called it the ‘sleeping panda’ perhaps due to the lay-out of the sub dials.
Omega Speedmaster Panda Case Back
One of the cool features of this Omega Speedmaster Pro ref. 3569.31 is its case back. As we’ve seen it on the Speedmaster Pro ‘Snoopy Award’, it has a sapphire crystal with an emblem (sticker?) on the inside. The case back – see below – shows the Eagle on the surface of the Moon with the Earth in the far distance. This Apollo 11 mission patch is something we’ve seen on the Speedmaster Professional Missions model as well as on the later 40th anniversary edition where it was applied in silver.
Just like any other Omega Speedmaster Professional from 2004, this ‘Panda’ has the hand-wound caliber 1861 movement inside. Originally it came on the 1998/849 bracelet but the owner of this particular watch decided to put it on an alligator strap.
Both the dial and the case back make this Omega Speedmaster Panda a very sought-after Apollo 11 model. The cheapest model we’ve found on Chrono24 is 4400 Euro / 5600 USD from an Italian seller. It might even be the most sought-after Apollo 11 model as we speak, although the latest 45th Anniversary model is probably a good runner-up.
This Omega Speedmaster Panda 35th Anniversary model was actually based on a Speedmaster Professional that was introduced in the year before (2003). This Speedmaster Pro is also known as the Speedmaster Mitsukoshi and had a similar ‘panda’ dial. However, without the red printing of course. Only 300 of these were made for the Japanese market, where Mitsukoshi is a chain of department stores selling Omega watches.
Just like many other limited or special edition Omegas, the Omega Speedmaster Panda came with a black leather box. This box has red printing on the front and an Apollo 11 mission patch on the inside. There also was a Certificate of Authenticity describing the space program (with focus on the Apollo 11 mission), the number of the watch and a signature of Omega CEO Stephen Urquhart.