OMEGA Speedmaster Professional (3570.50.00)
"Flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions", the OMEGA Speedmaster Professional has the most impressive history of any watch in the world. After exhaustive testing, NASA issued the Speedmaster Professional to its Gemini and Apollo flight crews because of the Speedmaster Professional's reliability in all atmospheric conditions and for its manual-winding c.1861 movement which functions in the weightlessness of space. The Speedmaster Professional features a chronograph that can measure accurately down to 1/5th of a second. A tachometric bezel surrounds the shock-resistant hesalite crystal and permits the accurate measurement of speed. The 3570.50.00 also features a steel caseback engraved with the famous words that proclaim this wrist chronograph's unique pedigree: "FLIGHT-QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS; THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON".
OMEGA watches are not sold on the Internet and are limited to Shop sales only.
This is it, the one and only "Moon Watch", the wrist chronograph worn by the Gemini and Apollo astronauts. There is no other watch quite like this one. The Speedmaster Professional has been in production for several decades now and there have been numerous changes over the years. We sell only the current model of the Speedmaster Professional, OMEGA part no. 3570.50.00. The Speedmaster Professional is also an idiosyncratic watch that is not suitable for all users.
The Speedmaster Professional is a large and heavy watch, slightly larger in size than a Rolex Submariner. Not everybody will like a watch this large. Whatever. We believe this size is perfect for a men's watch. It is large enough that it has presence. It has weight, but not bulk. About the same time quartz watches were all the rage, watch designers were trying to make men's watches delightfully slim and light. Time and experience, however, have shown these watches to be wanting in terms of masculine appeal and strength. Besides, if you are going to pay this much for a watch, it should be big. It makes you feel as if you are getting your money's worth. Leave the dainty watches for the ladies. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Photo by NASA.
The Speedmaster Professional is a mechanical watch and has two main functions: (1) time; and (2) chronograph. Thus this wrist chronograph has more hands and a more complex dial than a standard analog wristwatch. However, the black dial is very uncluttered and legible for a wrist chronograph. There is no cheeseball slide rule or anything else to take away from the Speedmaster Professional's functional elegance. Time-hours are designated with luminous bold hash marks, time-minutes and chronograph-seconds are designated with long hash marks. Chronograph-subseconds are designated with fine hash marks.
There are three registers. The left register indicates time seconds for the Speedmaster Professional's time function. The bottom register indicates chronograph-hours for the watch's chronograph function. The right register indicates chronograph-minutes for the watch's chronograph function. So long as the watch's movement is wound, the watch's time-hour, time-minute, and time-second hands will continue to operate in their normal fashion. In the photo above, the watch is designating a time of 4:39:41. Note that all three chronograph hands are at "zero" and are not moving. The chronograph hands do not move unless they are initiated by the user.
To initiate the chronograph function, simply depress the watch's top chronograph pusher (at the two o'clock position) and the chronograph-second hand will begin to move. Once the chronograph-second hand makes one full revolution, the chronograph-minute hand on the right register will indicate one minute elapsed. The chronograph-hour hand will move slowly to indicate whether the chronograph-minute hand is on its first or second revolution within the chronograph-hour. Depress the upper chronograph pusher once again to stop the chronograph function. The chronograph function can be started once again without resetting. Depress the lower chronograph pusher (at the four o'clock position) to reset all of the chronograph hands to "zero" and hold them stationary while the watch's time hands continue to tell the proper time of day. It sounds complicated in description but the use of the chronograph is actually very easy and intuitive.
Luminous inserts are fitted to all hour hash marks, as well as the time-hour, time-minute, and chronograph-second hands. The hour hash marks glow green, but the hands glow yellow. This dial is very easy to read in low-light conditions.
The crystal is a domed "hesalite crystal", which is not glass but a high-impact acrylic.
Most fine watches like this Rolex GMT-Master II feature a flat sapphire crystal to prevent the crystal from getting scratched, as sapphire crystal is very hard and largely scratchproof.
However, the Speedmaster Professional was designed for more than good looks (other models of the Speedmaster are fitted with sapphire crystals for good looks). Sapphire crystal is not safe at high pressure levels and shatters into numerous pieces when it breaks. These pieces pose an inhalation and eye hazard in a Microgravity or high-speed environment. To prevent such accidents from taking place, the Speedmaster Professional is fitted with an acrylic crystal that is both stronger than sapphire crystal and does not shatter if broken. Hesalite crystal scratches more easily than sapphire crystal but can easily be polished out. Sapphire is so hard that it is exceedingly difficult to polish out any scratches that inevitably will form with use. Plastic crystals are also stronger than sapphire crystals and resist impacts better. Photo by NASA.
Surrounding the dial is a tachymeter, which can be used to calculate the speed of a moving vehicle or the production speed of a machine.
The tachymeter is marked with increments from 500 to 60, and is very easy to use in conjunction with the watch's chronograph functions.
To calculate the speed of a vehicle over a known distance, depress the top chronograph pusher when entering the fixed distance, such a mile or kilometer marker on the side of a road. The chronograph second hand will begin to move. Depress the top chronograph pusher again when when you reach the end of the fixed distance, such as the next mile or kilometer marker.
If the time elapsed is, say, 51.4 seconds, the chronograph second hand will point to "70" on the tachymeter, which indicates a speed of 70 miles per hour. Alternatively, if the time elapsed to cover one mile is 45 seconds during the same mile, then the chronograph's second hand will point to "80" on the tachymeter and indicate a speed of 80 miles per hour. The tachymeter works on the same principle whether the distance traveled is in miles or kilometers or feet or inches or whatever.
The Tachymeter will also calculate production speeds. To calculate the production speed of a machine, start the chronograph and count off a fixed number of units made. For example, start the chronograph and begin counting units produced. Stop the chronograph when, say, 10 units are produced. Let's say the time elapsed to produce the 10 units is 42 seconds. The chronograph second hand will point to "85" on the tachymeter. Then, the machine's hourly output is 10 x 85, or 850 units per hour.
The tachymeter is a very useful tool, yet the Speedmaster Professional's tachymetric bezel is very unobtrusive and does not make the watch's dial appear overly busy or confusing.
The Speedmaster Professional's case is machined from solid stainless steel. The four horns are fluted along their top surfaces for an elegant appearance and to minimize weight. Current Speedmaster Professionals feature a dual-tone finish with some sections mirror polished and other sections with a brushed finish.
The crown is located at the three o'clock position. The crown is recessed enough that it is not susceptible to damage, yet it protrudes enough that winding the crown is not difficult. The two chronograph pushers are located at the one and four o'clock positions. Thus the watch is more suited for wear on the left wrist and for use by right-handed users.
Note that the Speedmaster Professional features a manual-winding mechanical movement. The user must wind the crown in a clockwise direction at least every 48 hours or the watch will wind down and eventually stop. While most people prefer the self-winding wristwatch, or "automatic", the professional will value reliability over convenience and thus prefer the manual. Automatics are necessarily more complex and inherently weaker than manuals and are thus more susceptible to damage from activities such as golf or tennis that generate large amounts of torque on the rotor. These high-torque activities can cause the rotor to spin rapidly, which can be harmful to the watch. Automatics are also more prone to damage from sudden decelerations such as dropping the watch or impacting it against another object. The OMEGA c.1861 movement is renowned for its strength and longevity, and is as strong as any other mechanical movement in use today. It is a simple matter to wind the watch as a matter of course before putting it on one's wrist. Furthermore, many lovers of fine watches derive a great deal of pleasure from winding their watches and feeling the precision of the mechanical parts housed within the case.
The caseback on Speedmasters has changed over the years. All Speedmaster Professionals since 1971 feature a caseback engraved with the famous words "FLIGHT-CERTIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS; THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON" and a deep-relief engraved Hippocampus. Like the rest of the components on the Speedmaster Professional, the caseback features a dual-tone finish. The periphery of the caseback is mirror polished and the "flat" features a brushed finish. Sorry, but if you are looking for a display-back version of the Speedmaster, you came to the wrong place. OMEGA does in fact make a Speedmaster Professional with a display back that lets you view the movement. However, we opine that a professional-grade, "working" watch such as the Speedmaster Professional should be fitted only with a steel caseback both for maximum strength and for functional aesthetics.
All current Speedmasters feature a deep-relief Hippocampus with "SPEEDMASTER" and the OMEGA logo above and below the Hippocampus. The Hippocampus (hippocampus brevirostris) is a mythical monster with the head and fore quarters of a horse joined to the tail of a dolphin or other fish. The Hippocampus was often depicted in the Ancient World as attached to the chariot of Neptune. The deep-relief engraving is not abrasive to the wrist, but helps to keep the watch stationary on the wrist when the bracelet is properly adjusted.
OMEGA offers the Speedmaster Professional with both leather straps and steel bracelets, but it is our considered opinion that this watch needs and deserves a proper steel bracelet. A watch as fine as the Speedmaster Professional will last you your lifetime (as well as the lifetime of your son), so the watch should be fitted with a bracelet that will last as long as the watch. Leather straps are very comfortable and and can be made from exotic and beautiful materials such as crocodile skin, but they are not suitable for daily use as they rot and crumble with even mild use and must be replaced often. Steel bracelets are very robust and will last as long as the watch. Furthermore, it is considerably cheaper to buy the watch with the steel bracelet and buy a replacement leather strap than to buy the watch with the leather strap and then purchase the steel bracelet separately. Steel bracelets on fine watches like OMEGA or Rolex command shockingly high prices.
Every single part on the Speedmaster Professional's bracelet is machined from solid steel. No stamped component is used. Thus the bracelet will not "stretch" over time like the Rolex Jubilee bracelet. Once sized to your wrist, the watch will fit you perfectly for your life or the watch's life, whichever ends first.
The Speedmaster Professional has been in production long enough that the bracelets have changed over the years. Current Speedmaster Professionals feature a bracelet that might be described as a hybrid between the Jubilee and Oyster bracelets featured on current Rolex watches. The bracelet links are oval in cross section and very comfortable to the wrist. There is no sharp edge anywhere on the bracelet or clasp. Again, no stamped component is used. The links are solid steel and very easy to clean. If you have ever tried to clean a Rolex Jubilee bracelet, you will appreciate the solid links on the Speedmaster Professional's bracelet.
The links are symmetrical and thus the inside and outside faces of the links are identical in shape. The rounded edges are very comfortable to the wrist, even when the bracelet is fitted to be slightly tight so that the watch will not move on the wrist. Compare this to the squared edges on current Rolex Jubilee bracelets or the concave inner surfaces on current Rolex Oyster bracelets. While Rolex's are superb watches, their bracelets are not in the same league as current OMEGA bracelets. The Speedmaster Professional's bracelet is adjustable for length by driving out the fastening pins connecting the links, thus the clasp is kept thin and sleek. All genuine OMEGA bracelets are marked with direction indicators that show the proper direction in which the pins should be driven to remove a link.
Like the rest of the watch, the current Speedmaster Professional's bracelet features a dual-tone effect, with polished accents on an otherwise brushed finish. Polished pieces flank the center links in the bracelet, and the sides of the outer links are mirror polished as well. The effect is very handsome and not pimp or gaudy in the slightest. The polished/brushed finish on the bracelet compliments the similar dual-tone finishes on other portions of the watch. The contrast between the polished and brushed finish is slight, and the overall effect is very pleasing to the eye.
The clasp on the current Speedmaster Professional is a work of art. Those accustomed to spring-locking clasps made from stamped steel components will appreciate the superiority of the locking clasp featured on the Speedmaster Professional.
Here is a view of the clasp with one end of the bracelet disconnected. If you are accustomed to the stamped components on Rolex clasps, this will be another world to you.
Here is a view of the clasp fully open.
The clasp folds upon itself in the traditional manner, but the thicker machined pieces fold side by side instead of the usual arrangement one sees where thin stamped pieces fold on top of one another.
The clasp's locking mechanism is unique and very secure. A flared stud protrudes from the clasp's inner layer.
The flared stud engages two spring-loaded rods within an aperture on the inside face of the clasp.
When the clasp's pieces fold and close upon them themselves, the flared stud engages the the spring-loaded rods and locks securely into place.
The clasp's cover features two buttons that must be depressed simultaneously for the clasp to open. Pushing only one button will not unlock the clasp.
Here is the clasp arrangement in the open position.
Once the clasp is closed fully and locked into place, the clasp is very secure and will be very difficult to open inadvertently. Contrast this with other designs where the clasp is basically a large claw that snaps into place and pops open easily when it snags on clothing.
The Speedmaster Professional is a very fine watch that you will be proud to wear and give to your children. The only mechanical watch ever to pass NASA's tests and be certified for use during launches and extra-vehicular activity (EVA). The first and last watch worn on the Moon. The Speedmaster Professional holds a unique place in watch history. Nothing else even comes close.
The OMEGA Speedmaster Professional has a long and storied history in space flight. The Speedmaster Professional was the first watch worn into the vacuum and temperature extremes of space; it was the first and last watch worn on the Moon; it was the watch worn by both astronauts and cosmonauts in the Apollo-Soyuz mission. And it is still worn today by various Space Shuttle and ISS flight crews.
April 12, 1961 - Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space. Gagarin does not wear a watch in space. Photo by Life.
May 5, 1961 - Freedom 7, the first piloted Mercury spacecraft, carrying Alan Shepard, is launched from Cape Canaveral by Mercury Redstone launch vehicle, to an altitude of 115 nautical miles and a range of 302 miles. It was the first American space flight involving a human being. Shepard demonstrated that individuals could control a vehicle during weightlessness and high G stresses, and significant scientific biomedical data were acquired. Shepard reached a speed of 5,100 miles per hour and his flight lasted only 14.8 minutes. Thus, Shepard declined to wear a wristwatch for this short mission. Photo by NASA.
May 25, 1961 - President Kennedy is greatly encouraged by the first American in space and, in a Special Joint Session of Congress, makes the public announcement: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish." The space race between the Soviet Union and the United States officially begins.
May 24, 1962 - Scott Carpenter becomes the first American to wear a wristwatch aboard a spacecraft when he wears a Breitling Cosmonaute while piloting his Mercury VII spacecraft for three orbits around the Earth. Photo by NASA.
October 3, 1962 - Wally Schirra wears an OMEGA Speedmaster on his Mercury VIII, flight which completes six orbits around the Earth. This is the first spaceflight for the Speedmaster. NASA thereafter decides that future Gemini and Apollo missions will require the astronauts to wear a highly accurate, legible, resistant, and reliable wrist chronograph. For the purpose of comparison tests and possible future issuance to its flight crews, NASA sends a purchaser incognito to Corrigan's, a large Houston retailer of fine watches. The purchaser buys wrist chronographs from a dozen different brands and returns them to NASA for testing. The watch manufacturers are not informed of the project. Photo by NASA.
September 21, 1964: Deke Slayton, fellow Mercury astronaut and director of flight crew operations for NASA, drafts a memorandum to the Procurement and Contracts Division of NASA, stating the need for a standard flight crew wrist chronograph for all NASA astronauts:
A requirement exists for a highly durable and accurate chronograph to be used by Gemini and Apollo flight crews as an essential adjunct, or as a backup for spacecraft timing devices and for accomplishing time critical operations and experimental tests. In order to select a chronograph which best meets our overall requirements, it is necessary to accomplish a comparative evaluation of the better quality "off the shelf" chronographs under realistic operational conditions. The evaluation will take place during such flight crew training programs as the Gemini Mission Simulators, during spacecraft and other flight equipment testing in the altitude chambers, egress and recovery exercises, planetarium reviews, and during the first two manned Gemini flights. The evaluation will be of the basic "off the shelf" items; however, an analysis will also be made of any additional features and/or modifications that may be required.
It is highly desirable that we commence with this evaluation at an early date so that a standard flight crew chronograph can be obtained prior to the longer duration Gemini flights and the Apollo flights. The evaluation items should be available during the preflight training for the first two manned Gemini flight crews, which are now in progress. On this basis, quotations from various chronograph manufacturers meeting the specifications as listed in analogue 1, Statement of Specifications, should be reviewed by this organization by October 21, 1964. Immediately subsequent to this date, it is our intent to purchase locally at least one of each brand that meets, or very nearly meets, these specifications. Off the shelf chronographs which very nearly meet the specifications may be considered if they, in other regards, surpass the overall specifications. The manufacturer in this case may choose to reply to the request for quotations, however, NASA-MSC will make the determination as to whether or not the chronograph will be subsequently evaluated. It is estimated that a total of twelve chronographs are required for evaluation purposes.
/s/ Donald E. Slayton
The memorandum contains a "Suggested List of Manufacturers", which includes to the top watch makers of the day:
Slayton's memorandum also contains a "Statement of Specifications", consisting of the following:
STATEMENT OF SPECIFICATIONS
1. Accuracy - Must not gain or lose more than 5 seconds over a 24 hour period. Desirable to have an accuracy equal to or better than 2 seconds per 24 hours.
2. Pressure Integrity - The chronometer [sic] must be immune to large variances in pressure to include a range from 50 feet of water positive pressure to a negative pressure of 10 millimeters of mercury.
3. Readability - All disks, bands, and figures must be readable in various lighting conditions. The chronograph must be readable under both "red" and "white" lighting conditions to or beyond a 5 foot candle illumination intensity. Either a black face with white figures and numerals or black on white is satisfactory. The chronograph should not cause glare at the high illumination levels. A stainless steel case with a satin finish is preferred.
4. The chronograph must have stop-start elapsed dials with
5. The chronograph must be shockproof, waterproof, and antimagnetic. In addition, the face cover must be shatterproof.
6. The chronograph may be powered electrically, manually or the self-winding type; however, it must be capable of being manually wound and re-set.
7. Reliability - the Manufacturer must guarantee the watch to operate properly under normal conditions for at least one year time period. Performance data and specifications should be supplied by the manufacturer. Manufacturer guarantee and/or warranty should also be included.
The same memorandum outlines the testing criteria for this official wrist chronograph. To be "flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions", a wrist chronograph must pass all of the following tests numerous times without failure of any kind:
1. High Temperature - 48 hours at a temperature of 160° F (71° C) followed by 30 minutes at 200° F (93° C). For the high temperature tests, atmospheric pressure shall be 5.5 psi (0.35 atm) and the relative humidity shall not exceed 15%.
2. Low Temperature - Four hours at a temperature of 0° F (-18° C).
3. Temperature Pressure Chamber - pressure maximum of 1.47 x 10exp-5 psi (10exp-6 atm) with temperature raised to 160° F (71° C). The temperature shall then be lowered to 0° F (-18° C) in 45 minutes and raised again to 160° F in 45 minutes. Fifteen more such cycles shall be completed.
4. Relative Humidity - A total time of 240 hours at temperatures varying between 68° F and 160° F (20° C and 71° C, respectively) in a relative humidity of at least 95%. The steam used shall have a pH value between 6.5 and 7.5.
5. Pure Oxygen Atmosphere - The test item shall be placed in an atmosphere of 100% oxygen at a pressure of 5.5 psi (0.35atm) for 48 hours. Performance outside of specification tolerance, visible burning, creation of toxic gases, obnoxious odors, or deterioration of seals or lubricants shall constitute a failure. The ambient temperature shall be maintained at 160° F (71° C).
6. Shock - Six shocks of 40g's each, in six different directions, with each shock lasting 11 milliseconds.
7. Acceleration - The test item shall be accelerated linearly from 1g to 7.25g within 333 seconds, along an axis parallel to the longitudinal spacecraft axis.
8. Decompression - 90 minutes in a vacuum of 1.47 x 10E-5 psi (10 E-6 atm) at a temperature of 160° F (71° C), and 30 minutes at a 200° F (93° C).
9. High Pressure - The test item shall be subjected to a pressure of 23.5 psi (1.6 atm) for a minimum period of one hour.
10. Vibration - Three cycles of 30 minutes (lateral, horizontal, vertical, the frequency varying from 5 to 2000 cps and back to 5 cps in 15 minutes. Average acceleration per impulse must be at least 8.8g.
11. Acoustic Noise - 130dB over a frequency range from 40 to 10000 HZ, duration 30 minutes.
NASA performs the tests several times on the various wrist chronographs it previously obtained. Only the OMEGA Speedmaster passes NASA's rigorous testing. All of the other watches fail NASA's tests.
March 1, 1965 - NASA, in a memorandum drafted on this date, outlines the results of its tests on the various wrist chronographs:
Environmental tests and test results for the chronographs are outlined in the attachment to this memorandum. The following major discrepancies were found during environmental testing:
a) Rolex - It stopped running on two occasions during the Relative Humidity Test and subsequently failed during High Temperature Test No. 1 when the sweep second hand warped and was binding against the other hands on the dial. No further tests were run with the Rolex chronographs.
b) Longines Wittnauer - The crystal warped and disengaged during the High Temperature Test. The same discrepancy occurred on a second Longines Wittnauer during Decompression Test No. 8. No further tests were run with Longines Wittnauer chronographs.
c) Omega - It gained 21 minutes during the Decompression Test and lost 15 minutes during the Acceleration Test. The luminescence on the dial was destroyed during testing. At the conclusion of all testing the Omega chronograph operated satisfactorily.
The results of operational evaluations by the astronauts show a unanimous preference for the Omega chronograph over the other two brands because of better accuracy, reliability, readability and ease of operation.
Because of the Speedmaster's overwhelmingly superior performance and the unanimous preference for the OMEGA by the flight crews, NASA type classifies the Speedmaster for issuance to its flight crews. Photo by NASA.
The Speedmaster is put into inventory for issuance to astronauts, (Photo by NASA.)
and special gauntlets are prepared future EVA's. And the rest, as they say, is history. Photo by NASA.
June 4, 1965 - NASA's environmental testing and official issuance of the Speedmaster are put to the test for the first time when Edward White becomes the first American to perform an EVA during his historic Gemini IV mission. To the left forearm of White's EVA suit is strapped a Speedmaster with a special extended Velcro strap. Though Alexei Leonov had performed the first spacewalk three months earlier during his Voskhod 2 mission, Leonov did not wear a watch on the outside of his EVA suit. Thus, the Speedmaster becomes the first watch to be worn into the vacuum and temperature extremes of space. Before this event, it was highly uncertain whether a watch could withstand space conditions without malfunctioning or being destroyed. The Speedmaster proved that the right watch could. Photo by NASA.
White also becomes the first man to propel himself in space when he uses a specially designed compressed gas "space gun" that emits compressed air. White uses his Speedmaster to track the amount of time he is outside his Gemini IV spacecraft and to time the "burn" of his space gun. White's EVA lasts a total of 23 minutes. White initially uses the space gun held in his right hand. After the first three minutes, the fuel in the space gun depletes and and White maneuvers by twisting his body and pulling on the eight-meter tether. When White is informed that he must return the spacecraft, he later describes the experience as "the saddest moment in my life". Photo by NASA.
The above photograph of Edward White made the Speedmaster instantly recognizable. OMEGA did not even know NASA was issuing Speedmasters until the publication of the mission photographs. Upon seeing the photos, OMEGA did a little digging and discovered that NASA had officially flight-qualified the Speedmaster for all manned space missions. OMEGA then changed the name of the Speedmaster to "Speedmaster Professional". The name remains unchanged to this day. Also of historical note is the American Flag on White's left shoulder. Gemini IV was the first NASA mission in which the Astronauts' suits displayed the American Flag. This practice also remains unchanged to this day. Photo by NASA.
This is the actual Speedmaster worn by Edward White during his historic EVA. It is still operational today. The watch was engraved "NASA 41987" with an electric pencil, which indicates this watch is government property. Note the absence of the word "Professional" on the dial and the absence of flutes on the horns, features which exist on current Speedmaster Professionals.
Though Edward White's Speedmaster was government property, it was presented to Edward White's wife after Edward White was killed in the Apollo I fire. This watch is now in possession of Edward White's son.
August 21, 1965 - Gemini V astronauts Gordon Cooper (foreground) and Pete Conrad leave the suiting trailer at Pad 16 during the Gemini V countdown at Cape Kennedy, Florida. Cooper wears a Speedmaster on each forearm, both with extended Velcro straps. Conrad wears a Speedmaster on his left forearm, also with an extended Velcro strap. Though not visible in this photograph, Conrad wears another two watches on his right forearm. Gemini V doubles the previous spaceflight record to eight days, thanks to new fuel cells that generate enough electricity to power the longer missions that will be required to reach the Moon. Mercury veteran Cooper becomes the first man to travel into space twice. Onboard medical tests during the Gemini V mission continue to show the feasibility of longer flights in space without detrimental effect on the human body. Photo by NASA.
November 12, 1966 - Buzz Aldrin, pilot of the Gemini XII spacecraft, performs an EVA during the second day of the four-day mission in space with Jim Lovell. Aldrin is attached to a nine-meter tether. Aldrin first works in the hatch and nose area of the spacecraft, and then moves along a handrail he had installed to the adapter section where he uses foot restraints and tethers to position himself in front of a work panel where he then performs 17 relatively simple manual tasks. Aldrin then moves to the target vehicle adapter area and carries out another series of tasks, including the use of a torque wrench while tethered. Aldrin then attaches a 30-meter tether stowed in the GATV adapter to the Gemini adapter bar. About a dozen two-minute rest periods are scheduled during the EVA to prevent Aldrin from becoming overtaxed as had happened to previous spacewalkers like Eugene Cernan. All of Aldrin's scheduled tasks are accomplished and total EVA time is two hours and six minutes. During the EVA, Aldrin wears two Speedmaster Professionals, one on each forearm and both with extended Velcro straps. Gemini XII is the last Gemini mission. Thereafter, NASA will begin the Apollo series of missions. Photo by NASA.
December 21, 1968 - Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders (all wearing Speedmaster Professionals) launch the Apollo VIII mission atop a Saturn V booster from the Kennedy Space Center for a historic mission to orbit the Moon. Apollo VIII makes one and a half Earth orbits and then ignites its third-stage rockets to propel the spacecraft toward a lunar trajectory.
As the spacecraft travels outward the crew focuses a portable television camera on the Earth and for the first time in history, humanity sees its home from afar, "a tiny, lovely, and fragile blue marble" hanging in the blackness of space. Photo by NASA. When the Apollo VIII modules arrive at the Moon on Christmas Eve this image of Earth is even more strongly reinforced when the crew sends images of the Earth back while reading the first part of the Bible:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
The crew then sends Christmas greetings to all of humanity. The next day they fire the boosters for a return flight and "splash down" in the Pacific Ocean on December 27, 1968.
NASA continued to use the Speedmaster Professional for its Apollo training missions to the Moon. These Apollo X astronauts leave the Manned Spacecraft Operations Building for the launch pad. Strapped to their space suits are Speedmaster Professionals. Apollo X was a continuation of the separation and docking procedures practiced during the Apollo IX mission, but with with several additional separations and reconnections between the Lunar and Command Modules while orbiting the Moon. The Apollo X LM reached an altitude of only nine miles above the Moon's surface. The temptation for the LM astronauts to land on the Moon must have been almost irresistible. Photo by NASA.
This is the actual Speedmaster Professional worn by mission commander Thomas Stafford during the Apollo X mission in May, 1969. This watch is now a part of the "Apollo to the Moon" exhibit of historical artifacts on public display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Note how this watch differs from Edward White's Speedmaster. The dial on Stafford's watch is designated "Professional" and case features guards flanking the crown and pushers, as on current Speedmaster models. This watch features a Velcro strap not of the type used on the NASA missions. The standard black Velcro strap used by NASA flight crews is a full 640 mm in length to permit wearing over the bulky EVA suits. Somebody at the Smithsonian must have replaced the strap with another type.
June, 1969 - Final preparations are underway for the historic Apollo XI mission. Everything is catalogued and recorded for this historic mission, including the astronauts' suits and gear. Both Armstrong and Aldrin will wear their Speedmaster Professionals during the historic mission. Photos by NASA.
The Apollo XI crew leave the suiting room and walk to the van that will transport them to their Saturn V launch vehicle. This is the first Moon mission, and hopes are high all around. Photo by NASA.
July 20, 1969 - "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed". Man sets foot upon the Moon. Buzz Aldrin, LM pilot, descends the steps of the LM's ladder as he prepares to walk on the Moon. Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo XI mission and the first man to set foot on the Moon, takes this photograph with a handheld Hasselblad 70mm lunar surface camera with Carl Zeiss lens. Six hours after Eagle touched down on the Moon's surface, Armstrong takes his famous "one giant leap for mankind" and sets foot on the Moon's surface. Aldrin then joins Armstrong, and the two spend two and a half hours drilling core samples, taking photographs, and collecting almost 21 kilograms of lunar rocks. When they leave, the two moonwalkers leave behind scientific instruments, an American Flag, and a plaque bearing the inscription: "Here Men From Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon. July 1969 A.D.". Photo by NASA.
This is perhaps the most famous of all moonwalk photos. The photo depicts Buzz Aldrin and was taken by Neil Armstrong. Look closely at Aldrin's right wrist. To his gauntlet is strapped a Speedmaster Professional. While Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon, he did not wear his Speedmaster Professional on the Moon's surface. The mission timer in the LM malfunctioned during the descent to the Moon's surface, and Armstrong left his Speedmaster in the LM to serve as a makeshift replacement for the broken mission timer. Thus, Buzz Aldrin has the distinction of being the first man to wear a watch on the Moon, and the OMEGA Speedmaster Professional has the distinction of being the first watch worn on the Moon. Regrettably, Aldrin's historic timepiece was later lost when Aldrin mailed his Speedmaster Professional to the Smithsonian and it turned up missing. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Photo by NASA.
The Speedmasters worn by Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, however, were not lost or stolen. These historic timepieces are on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Inspired by the success of the Apollo XI mission, NASA trains for the Apollo XII mission. While training indoors at the Cape, Apollo XII LM pilot Alan Bean holds a sample bag containing soil. Bean's Moon Watch with ivory-colored Velcro strap is clearly visible. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Photo by NASA.
November 14, 1969 - Pete Conrad suits up prior to the launch of the Apollo XII mission, which he will command. To his left forearm is strapped a Speedmaster Professional. Photo by NASA.
Bean also wore his Moon Watch on his left forearm. Both Conrad and Bean will wear their Speedmaster Professionals on the Moon. Note that Bean's Moon Watch is fitted with a black Velcro strap instead of the ivory-colored strap Bean used during training. Photo by NASA.
Alan Bean holds a special environmental sample container filled with lunar soil collected during the EVA in which mission commander Pete Conrad and Bean participated. Conrad, who took this picture with his 70mm Hasselblad camera, is reflected in Bean's helmet visor. Look closely at Bean's left forearm. This may well be the clearest photo of a Speedmaster Professional during an EVA. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Note the Carl Zeiss markings around the lens on the supersize image. Photo by NASA.
April 11, 1970 - Jim Lovell, commander of the Apollo XIII mission, suits up prior to the launch. To his right wrist is strapped a Speedmaster Professional. As incredible as it sounds, the Speedmaster Professional was instrumental in getting the Apollo XIII crew back to earth safely. Photo by NASA.
Command Module pilot Jack Swigert awaits his turn to enter the Saturn V rocket that will launch him and his Apollo XIII crewmates Jim Lovell and Fred Haise into outer space. To Swigert's left forearm is strapped his Speedmaster Professional. Swigert has no idea how important this will watch will be in the next few days. Photo by NASA.
The Apollo XIII crew are strapped in and ready to be launched. Their mission will later go horribly wrong when an explosion in the service module ruptures and damages several of the power, electrical, and life support systems. The crew are forced to switch down all power circuits with the exception of the radio. All navigation computers and timers must be shut down to conserve power for life support. Photo by NASA.
A group of eight astronauts and flight controllers monitor the console activity in the Mission Operations Control Room of the Mission Control Center during the Apollo XIII lunar landing mission. Seated, left to right, are Guidance Officer Raymond Teague, and astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard. Standing, left to right, are scientist-astronaut Anthony England, astronauts Joe Engle, Eugene Cernan, and Ronald Evans, and flight controller M.P. Frank. People throughout the world watch and wait and hope as NASA personnel on the ground and the Apollo XIII crew, well on their way to the Moon and with no way of returning until they go around it, work together to find a way to get the crew back home. While NASA engineers quickly determine that sufficient air, water, and electricity do not exist in the Command Module to sustain the three astronauts until they can return to Earth, they find that the LM can be used as a "lifeboat" to provide austere life support for a return trip. Photo by NASA.
April 17, 1970: The Speedmaster Professional contributes actively to rescuing the Apollo XIII mission. With all navigation computers and timers shut down, the Apollo XIII crew are forced to use their Speedmaster Professionals to time the fraction-of-a-second rocket firing for re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere - a time window of 14 seconds with a 10% margin of error. Any slight deviation will send the vessel into the infinity of space and the crew to certain death. Jim Lovell and Fred Haise pilot the spacecraft manually, while Jack Swigert times the duration of the correct burn required with his Speedmaster Professional. With only the ticking of their OMEGA watches breaking the dramatic silence, the crew successfully pull away from lunar orbit and return to Earth - saved by their Speedmaster Professionals. Photo by NASA.
The performance of the Speedmaster Professional earned OMEGA the coveted "Snoopy Award", the astronauts' highest award given to individuals or companies that make a substantial contribution toward the success of manned space flight. This informal honor is neither a paid sponsorship nor an award that is handed out to all. The Snoopy Award is no small honor and is reserved only for highly deserving recipients. OMEGA treated this accolade accordingly and today the actual Snoopy Award presented to OMEGA by the Apollo XIII crew is on permanent exhibit in the OMEGA Museum in Bienne, Switzerland.
January 31, 1971 - The Speedmaster Professional had proven itself again, and NASA continues to issue the Speedmaster Professional to crews after the aborted Apollo XIII mission. Here, Alan Shepard, commander of the Apollo XIV mission, suits up prior to launch. To his left forearm is strapped a Speedmaster Professional. The first American in space will venture into space once again and walk on the Moon. Photo by NASA.
Ed Mitchell adjusts one of his two backup watches. While the watch on his left forearm is a Moon Watch, Mitchell's two backup watches appear to be something other than Speedmaster Pro's. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Photo by NASA.
This is the actual watch worn by Shepard during the Apollo XIV mission and on the Moon. The dial is marked with the current "Professional" designation, but the caseback predates the current caseback which features the deep-relief engraved hippocampus and the legendary words, "FLIGHT-QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS; THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON". Shepard wore this watch outside his EVA suit and the watch was exposed to numerous decompressions during training and in space, the vacuum of space, extreme cold temperatures in the shade, and extreme heat in the sunlight. However, the watch still operates perfectly today.
Ed Mitchell's actual Moon Watch is on permanent display at the Kennedy Space Center.
Here is a close-up of Mitchell's Moon Watch.
Commander John Young rakes some Moon soil during the Apollo XVI mission. Note the lunar soil kicked up by Young's taking a step with his right foot. Most of the particles have moved out the same distance from his boot. In the wider view, note the rougher texture of the surface where John and Charlie have walked. Young's Moon Watch is set on Houston time and reads 1:20 or 1:21. A transcript time of 169:27:30 corresponds to 1:21:30 on April 23, 1972. Transcript times are known to have absolute uncertainties of a minute or more, so the agreement is quite satisfactory. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Photo by NASA.
November, 1972 - Apollo XVII LM Challenger pilot and scientist Jack Schmitt shares a moment of relaxation with fellow astronaut Alan Shepard during prelaunch suiting operations. Schmitt is slated to explore the Moon's Taurus-Littrow region with mission commander Eugene Cernan during NASA's sixth and last manned lunar landing mission. The third crewman, Ronald Evans, will pilot the command module America alone in lunar orbit during his crewmates' surface EVA. Like both of his Apollo XVII crewmates, Schmitt wears the Speedmaster Professional with an extended Velcro strap. Photo by NASA.
December 13, 1972 - Eugene Cernan, Apollo XVII commander, salutes the deployed American Flag on the lunar surface during EVA on man's last lunar landing. Challenger is at left background and the Lunar Roving Vehicle, also in the background, is partially obscured by Cernan's figure. Cernan wears two Speedmaster Professionals, one on his left forearm and one on his right wrist and both with extended Velcro straps. The photo was taken by scientist-astronaut Jack Schmitt with a handheld Hasselblad camera. Photo by NASA.
December 13, 1972 - Eugene Cernan approaches the parked Lunar Roving Vehicle on the lunar surface during the the mission's third EVA. South Massif can be seen in the background. To Cernan's left forearm is strapped a Speedmaster Professional. Cernan and Schmidt collect a record of 108.86 kilograms of rocks during three moonwalks. The crew roam for 33.80 kilometers through the Taurus-Littrow valley in their Rover, and even discovered some orange-colored soil. Photo by NASA.
The Apollo XVII crew leave behind a plaque attached to Challenger which reads: "Here Man Completed His First Exploration Of The Moon. December 1972 A.D.". Eugene Cernan's Moon Watch is clearly visible in this photo. Photo by NASA.
December 17, 1972 - Ronald Evans performs an EVA during the Apollo XVII spacecraft's transearth coast. During his EVA, Evans retrieves film cassettes from the Lunar Sounder, Mapping Camera, and Panoramic Camera. The cylindrical object at Evans' left side is the Mapping Camera cassette. The total time for the transearth EVA is one hour, seven minutes, 18 seconds, starting at ground elapsed time of 257:25 (2:28 p.m.) and ending at ground elapsed timed of 258:42 (3:35 p.m.) on Sunday, December 17, 1972. Evans wears a Speedmaster Professional strapped to his left forearm, and uses the watch to measure the amount of time he walks in space. Photo by NASA.
This is the actual Speedmaster Professional worn by Ronald Evans during the Apollo XVII mission. Though the dial has yellowed considerably from age and from exposure to the heat and intensity of unfiltered sunlight in space, the watch still operates perfectly.
Apollo XVII was the last Moon mission. Man would never set foot on the Moon again. The Moon missions were officially over, and an era had ended. Photo by NASA.
This is Eugene Cernan today. He chats with OMEGA Chairman Nicolas Hayek about his experiences on the Moon while wearing his Speedmaster Professional. Behind the two men is Cernan's moon suit and one of his Speedmaster Professionals.
July 17, 1975 - Astronaut Tom Stafford and cosmonaut Alexei Leonov shake hands after opening the docking module between the Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft. The Apollo-Soyuz mission is a historic mission - the first ever to be managed jointly by two nations--the Soviet Union and the United States--during the height of the Cold War. The idea for this mission was born as early as 1970 and was officially set in motion in 1972 by President Nixon and Premier Kossygin signing an agreement concerning the Apollo-Soyuz program. This mission is widely considered to have laid the foundation for future cooperation between nations in the field of space exploration, exemplified today by the ISS. Photo by NASA.
The hands of cosmonaut Valerly Kubasov are seen as the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project engineer adds his signature to the Soviet side of the official joint certificate marking an historical moment during Rendezvous Day. The left hand of astronaut Deke Slayton, NASA's docking module pilot, is seen at the top of the photograph. On the wrists of both crews during this historic mission are OMEGA wrist chronographs. The Speedmaster Professional is worn by Americans Stafford, Slayton, and Brand, and the Soviet Kubasov. Alexei Leonov wears an OMEGA Flightmaster, a wrist chronograph similar to the Speedmaster Mark II but with additional GMT functions. The cosmonauts have used OMEGA Speedmasters ever since and still do today. Photo by NASA.
The Space Shuttle Discovery soars skyward from Launch Pad 39B on STS-64 at 6:22:35 p.m. EDT, September 9, 1994. On board are a crew of six: commander Richard Richards; pilot Blaine Hammond; and mission specialists Mark Lee, Carl Meade, Susan Helms, and J.M. Linenger. Payloads for the flight include the Lidar InSpace Technology Experiment, the Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy 201, and the Robot Operated Processing System. Mission specialists Lee and Meade also perform an EVA. OMEGA Speedmaster Professional wrist chronographs are on board. Photo by NASA.
While three other watches are currently "flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions", the astronauts' affection for the Speedmaster Professional endures. Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, STS-73 mission specialist, works on an IBM ThinkPad within the science module of the Earth-orbiting Space Shuttle Columbia. Lopez-Alegria is one of seven crew members in the midst of a 16-day multifaceted mission aboard Columbia. For the next week and a half, the crew would continue working in shifts around the clock on a diverse assortment of United States Microgravity Laboratory experiments located in the science module. Fields of study included fluid physics, materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, and commercial space processing technologies. Lopez-Alegria wears two Speedmaster Professionals, one with what appears to be an OMEGA black kevlar strap and the other with a rubber strap. Photo by NASA.
Backdropped against Earth's horizon, the ISS is seen following its undocking with Atlantis. The Speedmaster X-33 is as popular aboard the ISS as it is on the Space Shuttle. Photo by NASA.
Lu and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, Expedition Seven mission commander, ride in a bus to the launch pad prior to their launch to the ISS. To Lu's left forearm is strapped the Speedmaster Professional with a special extended Velcro strap. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Photo by NASA.
Malenchenko and Lu's Soyuz spacecraft lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 10:54 p.m. (CDT) on April 26, 2003. Onboard are cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and astronaut Edward Lu. Malenchenko represents Rosaviakosmos while Lu represented NASA. Photo by NASA.
Kalery, Duque, and Foale board their bus at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on October 18, 2003. The bus will take the crew to the launch pad for their liftoff in a Soyuz TMA-3 launch vehicle to the ISS. Kalery wears a Speedmaster X-33 with black Velcro strap around his right forearm. Foale wears two different Speedmasters: (1) a Speedmaster Professional with extended Velcro strap around his right forearm, and (2) a Speedmaster X-33 with black kevlar strap around his left wrist. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Photo by NASA.
Foale looks out the window and reflects during the short bus ride to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Foale wears a Speedmaster Professional with extended Velcro strap on his right forearm and a Speedmaster X-33 with black kevlar strap on his left wrist. Foale, Kalery, and Duque were successfully launched that day and safely docked with the ISS on October 20, 2003. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Photo by NASA.
Kalery, attired in his Russian Orlan spacesuit, conducts an EVA in the ISS's Pirs Docking Compartment. To his left forearm is strapped a Speedmaster Professional with extended nylon strap in the Russian colors. With Moon Watches being worn by both the Expedition Seven and Expedition Eight flight crews, the decades-old design of the Moon Watch would appear to be far from dead. For a supersize version of this photo, click here. Photo by NASA.
Previously unseen details of a mysterious, complex structure within the Carina Nebula (NGC 3372) are revealed by this image of the "Keyhole Nebula," obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope. Carina Nebula, located adjacent to the famous explosive variable star Eta Carinae, is approximately 8000 light-years from Earth. It is uncertain whether mankind will ever explore this very distant area of the Universe. However, one thing is certain: if man ever does explore the Carina Nebula, OMEGA will be there.
"Oh God, thy sea is so vast and my boat so small."