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Evolution of Omega's Moon Watch

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The Speedmaster 105.003 was the model that passed NASA's 11 demanding tests.

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The Speedmaster got its first big internal upgrade with the 145.022 model in 1968.

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A 1957 Speedmaster.

THE first watch to be worn on the moon was an Omega Speedmaster, but it wasn't on the wrist of the first man to land on the moon.

While all three astronauts on Apollo 11 wore an Omega Speedmaster, the space ship commander Neil Armstrong left his in the space ship when he became the first man to set foot on the moon on April 20, 1969.

But the Omega Speedmaster was still on the wrist of Buzz Aldrin, the next astronaut to step out of Apollo 11 after it touched down.

In any case, since then, the Omega Speedmaster Professional timepiece has been the standard issue for NASA's Apollo astronauts.

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The "moon watch", as the Speedmaster has come to be known, wasn't made for space travel when it was first rolled out in 1957, long before the watch reached the moon. The Speedmaster was first made for auto racing teams and engineers on the track and, therefore, the very first watch to feature a tachymeter scale on the bezel. Along with Speedmaster's chronograph function, this provides racers an easy measure of elapsed times and their speed.

The early Speedmasters are identified by a distinctive "broad arrow" hands, a steel-coloured bezel with base 1000 tachymeter scale and a symetrical case with straight lugs. Each model was powered by the now-famous Calibre 321.

The steel-colour bezel was replaced by a black aluminium bezel when Omega launched the Speedmaster CK 2998 in 1959. Gone were also the "broad arrow" hands, now substituted by the "alpha" hands with a straight or lollipop central chronograph hand. Eventually the "base 1000" also disappeared from the tachymeter scale; the reading instead began at 500.

The Speedmaster CK 2998 is the model responsible for Omega's very first venture beyond Earth. Astronaut Walter Schirra chose this Speedmaster as his personal watch on the Sigma 7 mission of the Mercury programme in October 1962.

When the Apollo programme office went in search in the 1960s of one watch it could trust during its upcoming manned missions, the Speedmaster ST 105.003 was the model they found to have passed all of the 11 demanding tests - and won the unanimous approval of the engineers and astronauts.

IMPORTANT MILESTONE IN THE MOONWATCH EVOLUTION

This model, unveiled in 1964, introduced the "baton" hands that are a standard feature in later Speedmaster models. It was nicknamed the "Ed White" model, a nod to the astronaut who wore it when he became the first American to walk in space in 1965.

The Speedmaster ST 105.012, rolled out in 1964, marks an important milestone in the Moonwatch evolution. It introduced twisted lugs and a new asymmetrical case, designed to provide added protection for the crown and pushers. The word "Professional" was also printed on the dial for the first time.

The Speedmaster ST 145.012 made its debut in 1967, with minor tweaks: new pushers with slightly taller caps. It was the ST 145.012 and ST 105.012 which were worn during the Apollo flights, including those famous astronauts who first walked on the moon.

The Speedmaster got its first significant internal upgrade with the ST 145.022, launched in 1968. The model was given a new movement, Calibre 861, which offered greater consistency and precision and paved the way for future variations. The new moonwatch also featured a painted Omega logo, instead of an applied one and, from 1970, was the first Speedmaster to include the famous words: "FLIGHT-QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS", as well as "THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON".

The Speedmasters of today are almost identical with the models that NASA astronauts wore into space in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1997, they were upgraded with Luminova detailing for better visibility. A new Calibre 1861, built with more rhodium-plating for greater stability, replaced the previous movement.