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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
crystal is a domed "hesalite crystal", which is not glass but a high-impact
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.
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.
the dial is a tachymeter, which can be used to calculate the speed of a moving
vehicle or the production speed of a machine.
tachymeter is marked with increments from 500 to 60, and is very easy to use
in conjunction with the watch's chronograph functions.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
is a view of the clasp fully open.
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.
clasp's locking mechanism is unique and very secure. A flared stud protrudes
from the clasp's inner layer.
flared stud engages two spring-loaded rods within an aperture on the inside
face of the clasp.
the clasp's pieces fold and close upon them themselves, the flared stud engages
the the spring-loaded rods and locks securely into place.
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.
is the clasp arrangement in the open position.
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.
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.
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
12, 1961 - Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space. Gagarin does not wear
a watch in space. Photo by Life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
memorandum contains a "Suggested List of Manufacturers", which includes
to the top watch makers of the day:
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
a. Seconds to 1 minute
b. Minutes to 30 minutes
c. Hours to 12 hours or greater.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Speedmaster is put into inventory for issuance to astronauts, (Photo by NASA.)
special gauntlets are prepared future EVA's. And the rest, as they say, is history. Photo by NASA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Mitchell's actual Moon Watch is on permanent display at the Kennedy
is a close-up of Mitchell's Moon Watch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.