The Omega Speedmaster is one of Omega’s most iconic watches to date. It has a rich history with roots tied to space travel. Not many people may be aware but the speedmaster models that we have come to admire in this day and age weren’t originally thought of as a watch for space travel. When it was first released in 1957, it was portrayed as a sports and racing chronograph watch as Omega were the official timekeeper of the Olympic games.
Things changed however, when NASA decided that it wanted to use the Omega Speedmaster for its manned missions into space, while also being included in the Apollo program. So how exactly did Omega’s Speedmaster go from being a watch used to time sporting events, to being the watch Astronauts used for space travel? It all starts with a story about a man named Walter Schirra. Being an aviator and military pilot himself, he was about to embark on the Mercury-Atlas 8 Mission. As a way to possibly mark the momentous occasion, he went watch hunting (as any of us would without a doubt). Omega had established a position for itself and with the release of the eye-catching Speedmaster Chronograph, it would be safe to say that it more than caught Schirra’s attention. This would be the turning point in Speedmaster’s history as from this point forward, it would go onto do numerous space travel missions.
The “Professional” name was added to the Speedmaster during the 1964-1965 period. The Speedmaster would further cement its legacy as NASA’s go to watch for space missions due to the events that occurred on Apollo 13. During the Apollo 13 mission, there was an explosion and rupture on one of the oxygen tanks, causing major internal failure on the spacecraft. Not only the source of Oxygen was diminishing really quickly for the crew, the navigational and directional equipment was malfunctioning as well. To get the Astronauts safely back to earth, they needed to be able to fire the engines at the right time, so that they could enter the Earth’s atmosphere at precisely the right angle. With the computer and certain technological systems failing, the Omega Speedmaster would come to the rescue.
The crew had to time the firing of the engines correctly and precise activation of the burners was required, which lasted a total of 4 minutes and 24 seconds. Following this they had to make further two small mid-course corrections. To perform one of the smaller mid-course corrections before entering the earths atmosphere, the Speedmaster was used which lasted a total of 14 seconds. The dire consequences of firing the burners at the wrong time and the wrong angle would’ve been the difference between death or permanent orbit around the sun for the crew. A Silver Snoopy award which is an accolade given to people for making a major difference on Space missions, was given to the creators of the Speedmaster watch, Omega.
The design of the watch is just as iconic as the watch itself. With the dial relatively unchanged over the course of its lifespan so far, it’s still strikingly beautiful. In the current Speedmaster Moonwatch professional, it carries the standard tachymeter. There is a 30-minute counter on the 3 o’clock position, 12-hour counter on the 6 o’clock and a constant seconds counter on the 9 o’clock position. The dial has the disctintive black and white contrast that is symbolic of the Omega Speedmaster models. The dial itself is black while the indexes, hour, minute, second hands and the hour markers are coloured in white. The three counters are also done in white colour. This is vitally important for easy readability and would’ve definitely come in handy during the space missions.
The heart of the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional is run by the mechanical Calibre 1863. The calibre 1863 uses more high-grade components, comes with a rhodium plated finish and an open case-back to be able to admire the movement in action. The calibre 1863 is a hand wound chronograph movement which means that there is no rotor in action. With the removal of the rotor, it makes way for the beautiful open work dial to be viewed at full capacity and truly appreciated. Omega have gone the extra length to make sure the movement looks aesthetically pleasing.
The bridges have a clean brushed finish in one direction, while the edges are also rounded off nicely. For a watch that is priced under $10, 000 AUD, the intricate working of the movement is incredibly well done by Omega and is worth every penny. The calibre 1863 movement offers up to 48 hours’ power reserve while also having 50 metres water resistance.
How does the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional wear?
With a 42mm casing, the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional wears nicely on a 7-inch wrist without the lugs protruding out. When worn with a steel bracelet the watch feels very solid on the wrist. The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional sits at approximately 14mm in height, which means that while it does stand quite tall it doesn’t get in the way of everyday wear. This is certainly a watch that looks good regardless of the strap it’s matched with.
Omega does offer their own Nato straps for this watch, citing that astronauts used these Nato straps for their space missions due to much less chance of the watch decoupling from the bracelet. What this means for wearability in the modern day is that it is almost suited to any occasion. You can wear this watch to outdoor occasions with the fun vibrant summer colours of the Nato straps or even to less formal occasions and everyday wear when worn with the black leather strap. The steel bracelet option offers a use-case for those formal occasions where a suit is required or if you would rather prefer to have the watch feeling slightly heavier on the wrist. The leather bracelet can work really well with a suit as well due to the further black and white contrast the leather band adds.
If you want to get your hands on a watch deep in space history, there isn’t many out there that can rival the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional specification
- Reference : 3188.8.131.52.01.006, Steel on Steel
- Case diameter : 42mm
- Case material : Steel case
- Dial Colour: Black
- Bezel : Black, with a tachymetric scale
- Crystal : Domed, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment inside
- Water resistance : 50 meters/ 167 feet
- Movement : Omega 1863 , manual-winding chronograph movement
- Power reserve : Approximately 48 hours
- Bracelet : Comes in steel bracelet and Nato strap
Australian Retail Pricing : $8,000 for stainless steel bracelet
World wide Warranty : 5 years
Availability : Available now
Local Omega Boutiques :
- Omega Brisbane – 1/188 Edward Street
- Omega Melbourne – 179 Collins Street Melbourne, Crown Melbourne and Chadstone Shopping Centre
- Omega Sydney – 20 Martin Place and Westfield Bondi Junction