This year we celebrate the 50th commemoration of the Moon arrival, and with that, also the 50th commemoration of the Speedmaster Professional as the Moonwatch. Time to recap once more how the Speedmaster turned into the Moonwatch.
Exactly 50 years ago, on July 16, the Saturn V rocket was on its way to the Moon (and back) as a feature of the Apollo XI mission. On board were fearless astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. On their wrists, yet probably the least of their concern, the Omega Speedmaster Professional.
On July twentieth 1969, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module put astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on the outside of the Moon. Michael Collins stays in the Command Module. On July 21st, at 2:56 UTC, Armstrong set foot on the Moon and spoke his famous words (with or without the ‘a’). Not a lot later, Buzz Aldrin followed him. On his wrist, the Omega Speedmaster Professional – from that moment on, the ‘Moonwatch’. Until a couple of years back, it wasn’t known which definite Speedmaster references were utilized on the Moon.
Omega has a functioning gallery and documents group, and over the most recent few years, they have done an enormous amount of examination on the Moonwatch topic. Let’s start by saying that the story of buying a couple of watches at a retailer in Houston (Corrigan’s) is only that: a story. It’s a story that we would have thought to be neglected meanwhile since former NASA engineer James Ragan clarified a few times what the arrangement was. There was a proper delicate process for selecting the chronograph for astronauts. So for once and for all, the Houston jeweler story is nonsense.
But let’s venture back a little, as the story begins somewhat prior on. A couple of years before the Omega Speedmaster turned into the Moonwatch, astronauts Walter Schirra and Gordon Cooper bought a couple of Speedmasters for use during flights. This was in 1962 as of now, and both Schirra and Cooper bought a couple of Speedmaster reference CK2998 watches. The CK2998 is the second reference of Speedmaster watches, not counting some of the sub-references (CK2915-1 to CK2915-3). Where the CK2915-3 can be considered a transitional model with its dark bezel and alpha-formed hands, the CK2998 was the new reference with all these features.
Speedmaster in Space – Sigma 7
On board of the Sigma 7, during the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission (October 1962), astronaut Walter Schirra was wearing his Speedmaster CK2998. Schirra was the only astronaut to fly every one of the three of NASA’s early monitored rocket (Mercury, Gemini and Apollo). In 2012, Omega commemorated the main Speedmaster CK2998 being utilized in space with a “First Omega in Space” model. Today, comparative models are available in Omega’s Sedna gold and as a modern reinterpretation of the CK2998 with a 2016 and 2018 Speedmaster CK2998 restricted edition.
Below, a picture of Schirra wearing his CK2998 observe just after the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission. He is conversing with the President onboard US Navy transport USS Kearsarge (picture by means of one of our perusers, picture by NASA).
Below, another picture from the NASA chronicles where you can see Schirra wearing his Speedmaster. This image was taken during the getting ready exercise for Gemini 6, in 1965, showing Schirra actually wearing his Sigma 7 Speedmaster.
And to wrap things up, the real Speedmaster that was worn by Schirra and presented above. This watch was available during one of our Speedy Tuesday occasions, where Omega brought it in from their exhibition hall. On the off chance that you need to know more about Wally Schirra and his memories of the space program (and watches), you may be keen on the meeting we distributed a while ago here .
A Watch For Gemini and Apollo Missions
As can be seen in on Purist Pro, there was a requirement for officially tried and confirmed watches. All gear utilized on the Mercury program was being assessed, and NASA recruited a group for the procurement of hardware for Gemini and Apollo missions. This incorporated a watch suitable for preparing and flights, of course. One of the persons that were recruited for this job at the time was NASA engineer James “Jim” Ragan. Ragan was responsible for the selection procedure and testing of the chronographs, yet additionally had a fundamental role in selecting the cameras for astronauts. Furthermore, let’s not forget that it was Ragan who contacted Paul Fischer for a pen with a compressed ballpoint. Known today as the Fisher space pen.
NASA’s Operation Director Deke Slayton wrote an inside memo to the procurement division on September 21st 1964, making his necessities clear for such a watch with chronograph functionality. So, Jim Ragan made a solicitation for proposal which expressed that at any rate six watch brands should provide chronographs for NASA’s purposes.
Below, a picture of Jim Ragan (wearing his X-33 Skywalker) taken during our Speedy Tuesday occasion in Hong Kong where he discussed the selection process of the Moonwatch.
Omega, Rolex, Longines and Hamilton
On official documentation can be seen that the conveyance of those chronographs should occur before October 24th 1964. That was only a month since the interior memo by Deke Slayton. Recall that it was a time without email, so going to and fro with letters was at that point consuming a lot of time. Certainly, Ragan conveyed his solicitation for proposal to 10 distinctive watch brands. Only four brands responded to NASA’s demand, which were: Rolex, Longines-Wittnauer, Hamilton and Omega. Ragan actually needed to chuckle when he told this, yet Hamilton sent a pocket watch rather than the chronograph wristwatch he requested. Unbelievable.
The famous Valjoux 72 type movement powered both the Rolex and the Longines-Wittnauer. Omega’s Speedmaster, as you know, was powered by the type 321 movement. Omega’s upgraded version of the Lemania C27 CHRO 12 movement. For a long time, it wasn’t known which careful Rolex and Longines-Wittnauer were tried, however these records have been disclosed during one of our Speedy Tuesday occasions recently. Longines-Wittnauer presented their reference 235T, and Rolex sent their reference 6238 chronograph.
The Wittnauer 235T Rolex 6238 – photo courtesy of Phillips
Since eventually, only a couple of brands responded, Ragan requested all from them to provide three watches. Omega provided NASA with their Speedmaster reference 105.003, Rolex sent their 6238 and Longines-Wittnauer a 235T.
Omega Speedmaster 105.003
The Omega Speedmaster 105.003 is considered to be the third generation of Speedmasters. This can be contested, as there was a 105.002 reference between the CK2998 and the 105.003. However, that was more of a transitional model, as Omega chose to change their reference number framework. The 105.003 had another plan with respect to the hands, which were now white baton ones rather than the Alpha hands. The white baton hands were more legible.
This reference is the model that was attempted and tried by NASA and got at last qualified. Or ‘Flight Qualified for all Manned Space Missions’, as you see engraved for the situation backs on later references.
11 Types of Tests
NASA planned a couple of tests for these watches, that weren’t intended to keep the watches in one section. These tests were intended to test the watches to destruction. In a generally short period (of months), the following tests were performed on the watches:
1. High temperature
48 hours at a temperature of 160°F (71°C) followed by 30 minutes at 200°F (93°C). This under a tension of 5.5 psia (0.35 atm) and relative stickiness not surpassing 15%.
2. Low temperature
Four hours at a temperature of 0°F (- 18°C).
Chamber pressure limit of 1.47 x 10-5 psia (10-6 atm) with temperature raised to 160°F (71°C). The temperature will at that point be lowered to 0°F (- 18°C) shortly and brought again to 160°F up quickly. Fifteen more such cycles will be completed.
4. Relative humidity
A total season of 240 hours at temperatures differing somewhere in the range of 68°F and 160°F (20°C and 71°C) in an overall mugginess of in any event 95%. The steam utilized should have a pH esteem somewhere in the range of 6.5 and 7.5.
5. Oxygen atmosphere
The test thing will be put in an atmosphere of 100% oxygen at a pressing factor of 5.5 psia (0.35 atm) for 48 hours. Performance outside of specification, tolerance, visible consuming, creation of toxic gases, obnoxious odors, or deterioration of seals or oils will constitute inability to finish this assessment. The surrounding temperature will be kept up at 160°F (71°C).
Six shocks of 40 Gs, every 11 milliseconds in duration, in six diverse directions.
The hardware will be accelerated directly from 1 G to 7.25 Gs inside 333 seconds, along a hub parallel to the longitudinal rocket axis.
Ninety minutes in a vacuum of 1.47 x 10-5 (10-6 atm) at a temperature of 160°F (71°C) and 30 minutes at 200°F (93°C).
9. High pressure
The hardware to be exposed to a pressing factor of 23.5 psia (1.6 atm) for a base period of one hour.
Three cycles of 30 minutes (parallel, horizontal, vertical), the recurrence of shifting from 5 to 2,000 cps and back to 5 cps quickly. Normal acceleration per motivation should be at any rate 8.8 Gs.
11. Acoustic noise
130 db over a recurrence scope of 40 to 10,000 Hz, duration 30 minutes.
On March 1st 1965, the tests were completed. On June 1st 1965, the Omega Speedmaster 105.003 got the official qualification (not certification! A common misconception, however NASA does not affirm looks) for use during monitored space missions. The other two brands failed (and stopped working during the test). The information that Petros Protopapas (Omega’s Head of Brand Heritage) showed during a Speedmaster occasion in Tokyo demonstrates that the Rolex 6238 failed the dampness test by completely stopping the movement and again it failed during the high-temperature test. The Longines-Wittnauer 235T failed the high-temperature test too, as the gem twisted and disengaged.
At the finish of March 1965, during the Gemini III missions, the new Speedmaster 105.003 was brought into space on the wrists of astronauts Virgil Grissom and John Young. Also in 1965, Edward White wore his 105.003 when performing the first American spacewalk during the Gemini IV mission.
So, the 105.003 is the Moonwatch? We are not totally there yet. You should know that the Speedmaster 105.003 was in production for a long time, from 1964 till 1969. Meanwhile, Omega also introduced fresher references, 105.012 and 145.012. NASA ordered their Speedmasters in four distinct groups, the last one in September 1968. The reason for this is that Omega introduced the more up to date type 861 movement for their Speedmaster chronographs. This would mean the rigorous tests should have been performed once more (which they did in 1978 for the Space Shuttle program).
The 105.012 and 145.012 had lyre carries and crown watches as opposed to the straight-hauls Speedmaster 105.003. Also, the 105.012 and 145.012 had ‘Professional’ composed on the dial. It is a common misunderstanding that ‘Professional’ was printed after the qualification on March 1st 1965. This isn’t the case. Already in 1964 Omega introduced the 105.012 with the ‘Professional’ word composed on the dial.
For a long time, it was a secret which references were actually utilized during the Apollo 11 mission. Or whether a type 861 Speedmaster at any point was on the moon. Meanwhile, a lot has changed, and Omega accomplished incredible work together with NASA. For a couple of years, it is known that Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin wore a Speedmaster reference 105.012 – the principal Speedmaster on the outside of the moon.
Legend has it that Neil Armstrong left his Speedmaster (also a 105.012) on board of the lunar module as the (Bulova) board clock malfunctioned. Aldrin’s watch later vanished (in 1970), when it was shipped off to the Smithsonian museum.
Michael Collins, who stayed in the Command Module of the Apollo 11, was wearing a Speedmaster reference 145.012. So it didn’t make an excursion to the outside of the Moon that first time. During the third mission where astronauts set foot on the Moon, Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard was wearing the Omega Speedmaster 145.012. The 145.012 was in production from 1967 to 1969 and had another plan for its pushers. The pushers of the 145.012 were in a bad way into the case and had marginally bigger covers. It is the last reference to have the column-wheel chronograph type 321 movement.
Now, you would probably prefer to know the specific case numbers from the Speedmaster watches of Aldrin, Armstrong and Collins. From Aldrin, it is accepted to be the Speedmaster 105.012-65. Armstrong’s watch was unquestionably a 105.012-65, and Collins was wearing the 145.012-68 (indeed, a – 68!!).
The Third Moonwatch Reference
Very important: as mentioned prior, the Speedmaster 105.003 was also given to Apollo astronauts, as NASA had it in stock from the original procurement. On some of the six missions that had effective arrivals on the Moon, the 105.003 was also utilized by the astronauts. Below, the 105.003 as worn by Gene Cernan during his Apollo 17 mission in 1972: the Last Man on the Moon.
Moonwatch 50th Anniversary
Omega is known to celebrate things and often properly! This year, Omega celebrates the 50th commemoration of their Moonwatch on a few locations everywhere on the globe. Our local occasion in Amsterdam was hung on July second, and we did a report here . Be that as it may, what better approach to celebrate the Moonwatch with two exceptional watches. A re-edition of the Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI 1969 BA145.022 and another Speedmaster Professional in stainless steel and touches of (Moonshine) gold, in light of the 105.012 case. We portrayed both watches in detail on Fratello, click here for the Moonshine gold Speedmaster Professional (1014 pieces) and here for the stainless steel Apollo XI 50th commemoration edition (6969 pieces) .
Of course, on the off chance that you need something close to the Moonwatch, you need to go vintage. It is going from the 105.003 till the 105.12 and 145.012 references. These watches, in good condition, are becoming more challenging to discover and ensure that you will do your homework. On the off chance that you need a modern watch, that is close to the Moonwatch ; you should peruse this article here .
Stick around this week, as we will have something cool coming up this end of the week for the Moon arrival anniversary.
Also make a point to visit the for more Moonwatch stories.
*This article was first distributed in 2016, however we refreshed content and pictures for publication in 2019.