The Speedmaster has the best ambassador in the world – The Moon. Since 1962 the Speedmaster has played a role in space exploration and in 1965 it became the official watch to wear during EVA. But the Speedmaster can also be seen on the wrists of many other ambassadors.
Brands using ambassadors isn’t exactly something from the last few years, although it sometimes does appear that way. The use of ambassadors to promote a watch or watch brand often results in very strong reactions from the crowd. Those who are not so deeply interested in watches don’t care much and often gives them a way to make an association with a brand. In case of Omega, think of Cindy Crawford and the Constellation or perhaps more recently, George Clooney and the Speedmaster. For us watch enthusiasts, those ambassadors barely make sense. George Clooney often tells about his interest in the Moon program and that he watched the Moon landing in 1969. But so did my dad. For us watch enthusiasts, we rather are inspired by those who actually used the watch in space or those with fame who bought it on their own.
In this article, we take a look at some of the best Speedmaster ambassadors, both endorsed by Omega and those who are not.
Although Buzz Aldrin is linked to Omega being an ambassador, for a long time he wasn’t officially. The 89-year old Aldrin landed on the Moon 50 years ago and was the first to wear a Speedmaster while walking on the Moon. It is the best story a watch can have, but of course, it wasn’t coincidental. The Speedmaster was chosen to be the official chronograph for Apollo astronauts a few years earlier, after a tender and severe testing procedures. We wrote about it here, and if you haven’t done so, we suggest you do as it is the full story on how the Speedmaster became the Moonwatch, verified by Omega. This year he is fully in the spotlights (again), for the 50th anniversary of the Moonlanding. And what better way to do that with the 50th anniversary Speedmaster in gold, that we covered extensively here, with a 4000-word article and comparison to the original 1969 gold Speedmaster Apollo XI edition.
Last week, golfer Rory McIlroy won the Players Championship 2019. Although he has his ‘own’ Omega watch, the Aqua Terra golf edition, he showed up at the press conference wearing a Speedmaster. Not just any, but one from his year of birth (1989). When I was in Shanghai last year for the introduction of the new Constellation, I have met Rory McIlroy and briefly spoke to him. He showed me his Speedmaster Professional from 1989 on this reference 1171/1 bracelet. His Speedmaster has a display back and is powered by the caliber 863 movement which is filed, angled and polished by hand. I am not sure whether McIlroy was a fan of watches before he got his ambassadorship, but I am pretty sure he is one now and even contributed to #SpeedyTuesday on his Instagram feed a while ago.
Above, an official Omega image of McIlroy wearing a modern Speedmaster.
Rory McIlroy, just like Buzz Aldrin, is an official Omega ambassador. Though his love for the Speedmaster is sincere and I bet that Omega might rather saw him wearing his Seamaster Aqua Terra, the watch his name is officially linked with. Let’s have a look at some of the non-official Speedmaster ambassadors, those who are famous and wear the watch just because they like it.
We reported about Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) a couple of times here on Fratello. He is a watch enthusiast in general but seems to have a weak spot for the Omega Speedmaster. He is, unlike McIlroy, not an official ambassador, but just likes the watch. We’ve seen him with a regular Speedmaster Professional on a black leather strap as well as on a NATO strap. However, we also have an image of him where he wears the 1997 gold Speedmaster’57 “Replica” (not the smartest name that was chosen for a genuine watch) that was just limited to 150 pieces at the time. It was the first to have the new caliber 1861 movement.
The King of The Netherlands (since April 30th 2013) has been featured on Fratello before as well, when we found out he was wearing (and actually using) an Omega Speedmaster Professional. There’s little known about his taste in watches, but we’ve been told that this is not the only Omega in his collection. Whether he inspires others to wear a Speedmaster I don’t know, but it is interesting to see that someone who can buy any watch out there, still wears his Speedmaster. The picture below isn’t very clear, but it is the one that triggered me to do some research and eventually found a better image of HRH Willem-Alexander and his Speedmaster (here).
Famous and not endorsed is car journalist Richard Hammond. Famous for presenting Top Gear (2002 – 2015), The Grand Tour and one of the initiators of online car community platform DriveTribe. Hammond, just like his car friends Clarkson and May, often sport interesting watches (vintage and modern ones) during their appearances. Those include an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, 300M and even a Seamaster Albatross. But Hammond can also be spotted sometimes wearing an Omega Speedmaster.
Ed O’Neill is famous for his role as Al Bundy in Married with Children and since a few years as Jay Pritchett in Modern Family. In Modern Family, he can be often spotted with nice watches from different makes, but in the 6th season, he also rocked a Speedmaster on a leather strap. We wrote about it here. O’Neill isn’t endorsed by Omega and has a wide selection of watches, the Omega Speedmaster is just one of them.
While it is nice to see our beloved Speedmaster on the wrists of celebrities like Mark Knopfler, Ed O’Neill, Tom Hanks, Richard Hammond and lots of others, they don’t like to endorse these watches officially or speak about it in public. It probably makes them uncomfortable, and they often have a management that might see a buck or two in this. Official ambassadors like Aldrin, Clooney and McIlroy can (or have to) say a few words about their watches of course, but the fact whether it is sincere or just business to them is not always entirely clear.
Real fans therefor like real ambassadors, and perhaps those are the best ambassadors.
Yes, I am talking about you. A Speedmaster enthusiast, a follower of Speedy Tuesday, or just someone who uses his own Instagram account to show a picture of his (or her) Speedmaster and use the Speedy Tuesday hashtag for example. I think this is the best ambassadorship a watch brand can hope for. Someone who bought a Speedmaster and is willing to share his or her experience on social media, or on this or other websites to be featured with a story or interview. For me personally, it is also the only type of Speedmaster ambassador I find truly inspiring. It is also what makes the Speedmaster community so interesting and our Speedy Tuesday GTGs so much fun, talk with other collectors and enthusiasts and find out what drives them. Although I think that official ambassadors have a legit role in creating awareness and exposure for the Speedmaster initially, if your first encounter with that watch was on the wrist of your father, for example, that image will be everlasting and has a higher impact than anything else.
What I always find interesting is that whenever I run into someone (that I don’t know) with a Speedmaster on his or her wrist, most of the time there’s an interesting story to it. Nobody just bought it because it was only a nice watch. There is always another reason behind the purchase. So if you run into someone who is wearing a Speedmaster, simply ask about it.
If you want to share your Speedmaster story with us, simply fill out the contact form here and we get back to you.
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in... read more