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Moon watch: 50 years after Apollo 11
JUST four months after Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 21, 1969, Omega rolled out its first numbered edition Speedmaster in 18-carat yellow gold with a rare burgundy bezel to celebrate the mission's success in putting the first man on the moon. Only 1,014 pieces of the Speedmaster BA 145.022 chronograph watch were produced.
Numbers 1 and 2 of the timepiece were gifted to President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew and 3-28 and 1001-1008 to NASA's serving staff. Nixon and Agnew declined the gift.
Fifty years on, Omega has released a similar limited edition of the 1969 Speedmaster chronograph in gold, also in 1,014 pieces. This is the Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition in Moonshine Gold, launched in March. There's also a stainless steel model, the Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary, which was introduced in May and comes in a limited edition of 6,966 pieces.
Many of the original touches are retained in the re-issues, but the new anniversary gold version also bears its own pioneering features. Instead of the 18K yellow gold of the first model, the new watch is made of 18K Moonshine Gold - a unique alloy with a paler hue than the traditional yellow gold.
A burgundy ceramic bezel rimming the 42 millimetres wide case has replaced the burgundy aluminium. The covered case-back with the engraving marking the moon landing is gone; in its place is now a crystal case-back carrying the inscription "1969-2019" and the limited edition number highlighted in burgundy.
The old Calibre 861 is also retired. A modern and more advance movement with a stop-second function, the ultra-high performance Master Chronometer, now powers the new chronograph.
The steel model features two "1" markings in gold at 11 o'clock, forming the Apollo mission's number. On the 9 o'clock sub-dial is the famous image of Buzz Aldrin climbing down the ladder onto the lunar surface. The case-back has an engraving of a footprint representing mankind's first step on the moon.
There's also Neil Armstrong's legendary quote: "THAT'S ONE SMALL STEP FOR A MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND."
There's still one more commemorative watch to come. Omega had announced earlier in January the return of its iconic Calibre 321, the first movement used in an Omega Speedmaster chronograph - and in a number of space-bound models, including the first watch worn on the moon.
The eagerly-awaited release came housed in a fourth generation Speedmaster timepiece, encased in 95 per cent platinum with some gold. The Speedmaster Moonwatch 321 Platinum, the first "moon" watch fitted with the reconstructed movement, was unveiled on the very day - July 21 - that Apollo 11 landed on the moon.
The revived Calibre 321 follows closely the original specifications: hand-wound column wheel chronograph movement with a frequency of 18,000 beats per hour and has 45 hours' power reserve. It can be admired through the sapphire-crystal case-back of the new watch.
Flip the chronograph over and there's the step dial made from polished black onyx, set against 18-carat white gold indexes and hands. The three sub-dials of the chronograph are made of moon meteorite.
Framing the dial is the 42 millimetres wide platinum case with twisted lugs. A black ceramic bezel with the Speedmaster's famous tachymeter scale in white enamel rims the case, strapped in black leather with a platinum buckle.
The Speedmaster Moonwatch 321 Platinum is priced at S$82,500. A cheaper stainless steel version is expected to be introduced later in the year.
Other novelties Omega offers for 2019 include:
* Constellation Globemaster: Introduced in 2015 as the world's first Master Chronometer, the watch, identified by its classic fluted bezel, sets a new standard of watchmaking in which precision and performance are tested like never before. Also familiar is the pie-pan style dial, which comes in diamond-polished black in the latest Globemaster. What's new about this dress watch, which features annual calendar functions, is its combination of black and a 41-millimetre wide stainless steel case which makes it stand out in a year defined by colourful timepieces. The new Globemaster is powered by the highly anti-magnetic Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8922. The movement and watch are officially certified by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS).
* Seamaster 300 - Malachite: Malachite green is an organic compound used as a dye for materials like leather and paper as well as to decorate temples, palaces and churches. In the new Seamaster 300, the wide range of green tones offered by the South African malachite stone - the most captivating malachite - are applied to adorn the dial, framed in a 41mm wide 18K yellow gold case. This is matched with a green leather strap. The watch, with its Omega Master Chronometer Calibre 8913 movement, is certified by METAS.