Most notably for many fans of OMEGA, the most important period of the company’s history was marked with its iconic watch, the Speedmaster.
Released in 1957, the Speedmaster was the first watch equipped with a tachymeter scale on the bezel. It was this feature which provided the inspiration for the name of the watch. The hand-wound timepiece featured a tri-compax layout and “Broad Arrow” hands.
James H. Ragan, an employee of NASA, was responsible for the testing and preparation of flight hardware for the Apollo program. NASA purchased a number of Speedmaster chronographs, the model 6049, from OMEGA. These were subject to extensive testing by NASA and the initial models were used for the Gemini program.
Ragan noticed that during use the crew would sometimes bend or break the chronograph push pieces as the case band accorded little protection to them. He asked OMEGA if they would consider redesigning the case to address the problem and they obliged, releasing the model 6126. This model contained the same movement as the 6049 and was used for Apollo missions.
NASA chose the Speedmaster as its official chronograph in 1965, declaring it ‘flight qualified’ for manned space missions.
When Apollo 11 made history in 1969 with the first moon landing, the Speedmaster Professional, often referred to as the “Moonwatch”, was worn by the astronauts. This “first” conferred legendary status upon the Speedmaster.
Over the years, OMEGA has released many versions of the Speedmaster, including reproductions of the historic models. Some Speedmaster models have been delivered in noble metals and equipped with self-winding movements, but they retain many of the design codes of the legendary chronograph.
An eye-catching model released in 2013, is the Speedmaster “Dark Side of the Moon” featuring a large ceramic case, measuring 44.25mm in diameter, and paired with a matching ceramic dial. Whilst this watch references the past it also contains many modern aspects to its specification including the OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 9300 featuring a silicon balance spring. Convenience is accorded with a self-winding movement and the use of ceramic grants the watch a note of modernity.