The Legendary Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch
The Omega Speedmaster Professional was the first watch on the Moon and, therefore, enjoys iconic status as the Moonwatch. NASA still uses the world-famous chronograph for their manned space missions to this day.
This page contains information about:
- From the Racetrack to the Moon
- Prices: Speedmaster Professional
- Speedmaster Professional Prices
- Overview of the Moonwatch Models
- Prices for Limited Editions
- Speedy Tuesday Prices
- Speedmaster Professional 321
- Prices for a Ceramic Moonwatch
- Prices for Vintage Speedmasters
- MoonSwatch: Entry-Level Moonwatch
- About the Speedmaster Professional
From the Racetrack to the Moon
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It's a quote known the world over. Neil Armstrong spoke these famous words on July 20, 1969, as he became the first person to ever set foot on the Moon. He was soon joined by Buzz Aldrin, who stepped onto the lunar surface with an Omega Speedmaster Professional on his wrist. Originally designed for motorsports, this chronograph was transformed into the legendary Moonwatch.
Omega still offers a version of the Speedmaster Professional that is nearly identical to the original Moonwatch from 1969. Its case size, crystal, and even the manual caliber all remain largely unchanged. However, there are also models with automatic movements and moon phase displays available. The Speedmaster Automatic Holy Grail ref. 376.0822 is a coveted and very rare example of a vintage Speedmaster.
The Swiss manufacturer releases special-edition versions of the Speedmaster every year. They often have limited production runs of only a few thousand pieces and are perfect for watch collectors and fans. Some of these models also make good investments, such as the Omega Snoopy models. Prices for these rare and sought-after timepieces have skyrocketed in the last few years. For example, the Silver Snoopy Award, a tribute to the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, had a list price of "only" 6,100 USD upon release in 2015. In spring 2022, the same watch was demanding some 50,000 USD.
In 2019, Omega announced a remake of the legendary caliber 321. You can find this movement in the platinum Moonwatch from the same year, as well as the 2020 stainless steel model with a 39.7-mm case. News of this caliber delighted many Moonwatch fans, seeing as astronaut Ed White had a Speedmaster powered by this movement on his wrist as he became the first American to perform a spacewalk in 1965.
Reasons to Buy an Omega Speedmaster Professional
- Famous chronograph with a cult following
- Limited editions coveted by collectors
- Official NASA chronograph
- Rare vintage watches with substantial price appreciation
- Also available with modern Co-Axial calibers and ceramic cases
Prices at a Glance: Speedmaster Professional
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Features|
|Calibre 321, 3126.96.36.199.99.001||69,000 USD||Platinum case, subdials made of moon rock|
|Silver Snoopy Award, 3188.8.131.52.04.003||50,000 USD||Limited to 1,970 pieces|
|Silver Snoopy Award, 3578.51||24,0000 USD||Limited to 5,441 pieces|
|Holy Grail, 376.0822||20,000 USD||Vintage, automatic caliber 1045|
|Speedy Tuesday 2 "Ultraman," 3184.108.40.206.01.001||15,000 USD||Limited to 2,012 pieces|
|Speedy Tuesday, 3220.127.116.11.01.001||13,000 USD||Limited to 2,012 pieces|
|Dark Side of the Moon, 318.104.22.168.01.003||9,000 USD||Ceramic case, two subdials, display case back|
|Apollo 11 40th Anniversary, 322.214.171.124.01.002||8,900 USD||Limited to 7,969 pieces|
|Speedmaster Professional Moonphase, 3876.50.31||6,400 USD||Moon phase display|
|Moonwatch Professional, 310.30.42.50.01.001||5,900 USD||Co-Axial caliber 3861|
|Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch, 3126.96.36.199.01.005||5,700 USD||Classic Moonwatch with Hesalite crystal|
How much does a Speedmaster Professional cost?
Prices for watches in the Omega Speedmaster Professional collection start at around 5,300 USD. This amount will get you a classic model such as the ref. 3570.50.00. More exclusive collector's items can easily cost 10,000 USD or more. The platinum edition with the caliber 321, on the other hand, changes hands for close to 70,000 USD.
Generally speaking, all Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch models hold their value very well. Not only that, but many special and limited editions have even increased in value by a significant amount in recent years. Entry-level models have also proven to be a stable investment; if you do part ways with one of these more affordable watches down the road, you will most likely only record a small loss.
Overview of the Moonwatch Models
The "Speedy" combines a legendary moment in time and functional technology like no other watch. If you decide on a Speedmaster Professional, you'll be purchasing a piece of watchmaking history. With decades to look back on, the market is full of a wide variety of Moonwatches.
Die-hard Speedmaster fans prefer the classic Moonwatch with Hesalite crystal and a manual caliber. Hesalite is what Omega calls plexiglass, the material that was used for the original Speedmasters from the 1960s. Inside the case, you'll find the caliber 1861. This movement builds upon the previous calibers 861 and 321, which Omega developed based on the Lemania 2310.
In terms of the movements, it's important to note the difference between the 1861 and 1863. While they are identical in terms of functionality, the 1863 is more ornately decorated. Therefore, Omega equips models powered by this movement with a transparent case back, so you can admire its beauty in action.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional with the reference number 3188.8.131.52.01.006 features one of these display case backs in addition to the sapphire crystal protecting its dial. This material is much more scratch-resistant than Hesalite, though it is also significantly more expensive to replace. Plan to spend about 6,200 USD on an example in mint condition. Two years ago, prices came in at around 4,600 USD.
"New Moon:" An Updated Moonwatch
In January 2021, Omega announced that they would be discontinuing the classic Omega Speedmaster Professional ref. 3184.108.40.206.01.005. The new Moonwatch with the reference number 310.30.42.50.01.001 took its place. This model has Hesalite crystal, though Omega also offers another version with sapphire crystal on the front and back (ref. 310.30.42.50.01.002).
The new Co-Axial caliber 3861 is a thoroughly updated version of the time-tested caliber 861. One notable detail is that the latest Moonwatch comes with certification from the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS). This means that, in addition to its extraordinary precision, the movement is resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss thanks to its silicon hairspring. Omega has also improved its power reserve from 48 to 50 hours. However, the balance frequency remains the same at 21,600 vibrations per hour (vph).
Like its predecessor, the "New Moon" has a 42-mm stainless steel case. Omega outfits it with a so-called "dot over 90" (or "DON") tachymeter bezel. As its name implies, a small dot sits atop the "90" on the tachymeter scale. While it may seem like a minor detail, Moonwatch fans count it among their favorite features, as it pays tribute to Speedmaster models produced prior to 1970.
Below the crystal, you'll find a "step dial" with sunken subdials, which lends the watch a more dynamic look. Omega also used a step dial for the ref. 145.002 from 1968, among others. The manufacturer transitioned to a "flat dial" on later models.
Omega redesigned the bracelet for the new Moonwatch, offering a slightly different version for each reference. The Hesalite model's bracelet has a fully brushed finish, while the sapphire crystal edition's bracelet combines polished and brushed surfaces. Both have polished sides and taper gradually from 20 mm at the lugs to 15 mm at the clasp. The ref. 310.30.42.50.01.001 is available on a textile strap in addition to a stainless steel bracelet, while the ref. 310.30.42.50.01.002 comes with the option of a leather strap.
You can find the "New Moon" with Hesalite crystal on a stainless steel bracelet for around 5,900 USD on the Chrono24 marketplace. If you opt instead for the textile strap, you'll save around 300 USD. The model with a sapphire crystal is slightly more expensive: expect to pay around 6,200 USD for this timepiece on a leather strap, and 6,700 USD on a link bracelet.
If you're looking for a gold Moonwatch, check out the new refs. 310.60.42.50.01.001 and 310.60.42.50.02.001. While these new models have the same dimensions and features as the New Moon models, they are crafted from different gold alloys. The former reference has an 18-karat Sedna gold case and bracelet. Sedna gold is Omega's name for their proprietary rose gold alloy. This model has a list price of 37,900 USD. The second reference is made of Canopus gold, Omega's white gold alloy. Prices for this model paired with a Canopus gold bracelet on Chrono24 are around the 45,000 USD mark. You can save a significant amount by choosing to mount the case on a leather strap instead; prices for this configuration are around 27,500 USD.
Prices for Limited Snoopy Editions
Omega regularly releases limited editions of the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. These are often good investments, since their prices have tended to rise over the years thanks to their limited numbers.
Examples include the two limited-edition Snoopy Award models, which pay tribute to the Apollo 13 mission in 1970. The beloved Peanuts character happens to be NASA's official mascot. The first Snoopy watch debuted in 2003 and bears the reference number 3578.51.00. Omega produced 5,441 copies of this timepiece. It features a black dial with a colorful image of the white beagle in a spacesuit at 9 o'clock. The same Snoopy motif also appears on the case back.
You can purchase this first edition of the Silver Snoopy Award for around 24,000 USD on Chrono24.
The Second Edition of the Silver Snoopy Award
The next Snoopy Award model (ref. 3220.127.116.11.04.003) appeared in 2015 in honor of the Apollo 13 mission's 45th anniversary. It has a white dial, with Snoopy again making an appearance at 9 o'clock. This time, the famous dog is coated with luminous material and glows in the dark. He is accompanied by the text, "Failure is not an option!" Another special detail appears on the first fourteen minutes of the minute track. Here, there are square markers and the inscription "What could you do in 14 seconds?" This is a reference to the 14-second burn performed by the Apollo 13 crew to adjust their course in April 1970.
Snoopy dominates the case back, where he floats freely in space in a spacesuit. The image is made using silver powder and blue enamel. Since the powder is applied by hand, each watch is truly one of a kind. Only 1,970 copies exist of this Speedmaster Silver Snoopy Award, making it much more difficult to find.
Prices for mint-condition timepieces have nearly doubled since 2018. These watches now demand around 50,000 USD. Considering Omega had originally listed this Snoopy for 6,100 USD, the model has exceptional potential going forward.
Snoopy 50th Anniversary Edition
The latest Snoopy Silver Award edition was released in 2020 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission. This watch features the familiar white dial, but Omega opted for a bolder overall design with dark blue subdials and a matching ceramic bezel. Snoopy is still right at home at 9 o'clock, and he again makes an appearance on the back of the case. Arguably, the most interesting details of this timepieces are found on the case back. The foreground is a close-up view of the lunar surface, with a small depiction of earth behind it. The earth detail is actually connected to the small seconds hand, meaning it makes a full rotation every 60 seconds. Not only that, but when the chronograph is started, Snoopy, at the helm of a command and service module (CSM) flies across the case back.
The Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary Edition is mounted on a blue textile strap and costs around 32,000 USD.
Purchasing the Speedy Tuesday
The two Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Speedy Tuesday models are also highly coveted. Omega introduced the first edition of this timepiece in honor of #speedytuesday in 2017. Before that, Speedmaster fans around the world had already been tagging posts of their Omega chronographs and stories with this hashtag. In 2018, the Swiss manufacturer released the second edition of the Speedy Tuesday under the nickname "Ultraman." Both watches were limited to runs of 2,012 pieces. The idea behind the "Speedy Tuesday" campaign came from the Dutch online watch magazine Fratello Watches. Omega teamed up with members of the Fratello team to develop both timepieces.
The first Speedy from 2017 features a reverse panda dial and comes on a brown leather strap. It didn't take long for prices to surge: While this timepiece had an official list price of 6,500 USD, by mid-2017, prices had reached 8,500 USD. The trend has continued, with prices reaching around 12,500 USD at the beginning of 2022.
Speedy Tuesday 2 "Ultraman"
The Speedy Tuesday 2 Ultraman shares several details with the Moonwatch ref. 145.012-67 from 1968. This watch appeared in the Japanese TV show "Return of Ultraman" in the early 1970s and stands out with its orange chronograph seconds hand. The show's director specifically chose this model because the members of the "Monster Attack Team" wore suits in the exact same color.
The 2018 edition incorporates even more orange into its design. The most obvious are the orange chronograph seconds hand, the hour markers, and the word "Tachymètre" on the black aluminum bezel. However, this watch offers plenty of other colorful surprises, including the first three minutes on the minute counter. This is a reference to the amount of time Ultraman had in superhero mode.
Eagle-eyed fans will notice Ultraman's silhouette on the dial at 9 o'clock. While it's normally very faint, it comes to life under UV light. Luckily, every watch comes with a light for viewing this special feature. Omega packages the final watch in a matching plastic box, complete with a black and orange NATO strap and black leather strap.
You can pick up one of these unusual Speedmasters for roughly 15,000 USD new. These Omega watches have also seen a significant increase in value; in April 2021, this reference "only" cost around 9,500 USD.
Features of the Speedmaster Speedy Tuesday
- Coveted collector's items
- Limited runs of 2,012 pieces each
- Likely to appreciate in value
- Ultraman with orange accents
- Multiple band options for each model
Speedmaster Apollo 11: Solid Gold
In 2019, Omega celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing with the release of a special-edition Speedmaster in 18-karat gold. The 50th Anniversary Limited Edition ref. 310.60.42.50.99.001 pays tribute to the ref. BA145.002, which Omega produced between 1969 and 1973. NASA gifted this model to the Apollo 11 astronauts upon completion of their mission. Like the vintage model, the remake is limited to a run of 1,014 pieces and a desirable collector's item.
Omega crafts the new Speedmaster's case and bracelet out of what they call "Moonshine gold." The dial is also gold and features faceted onyx hour indices. The watch has a burgundy bezel, though it is made of ceramic instead of the original aluminum. The Omega Master Chronometer Co-Axial caliber 3861 powers the watch. As a Master Chronometer, its movement can withstand up to 15,000 gauss of magnetism.
If you're interested in this reference, be sure to have around 35,000 USD on hand for a new watch. This Speedmaster has an official list price of 36,500 USD.
Other Moonshine Gold Speedmasters
Omega added two more Speedmaster models made of Moonshine gold to the collection in spring 2022. These watches have the same inner workings as the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary, but are not limited editions. Omega outfitted the ref. 310.60.42.50.99.002 with a golden dial, black subdials, and black ceramic bezel inlay. This model comes on a three-piece link bracelet crafted from Moonshine gold and has an official retail price of 41,300 USD. You can also pair the Moonshine gold case with a black rubber strap, which Omega lists for 29,900 USD.
The second new addition is the ref. 310.60.42.50.10.001. This Speedmaster reference features a dark green PVD dial and matching ceramic bezel. The MSRP is 39,400 USD if you want the watch on a matching Moonshine gold bracelet, and 28,000 USD if you prefer a green leather strap.
Speedmaster Professional Caliber 321
In 2019 and 2020, Omega announced two new Moonwatches with the remade caliber 321. Another thing both models share is a polished ceramic bezel with a "dot over 90" (or "DON") tachymeter scale. This term refers to all Speedmasters with a dot above the "90" rather than next to it. Collectors value such small details, which is why models with this feature generally demand higher prices than those with a conventional scale.
The ref. 318.104.22.168.99.001 combines a platinum case with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal on the front and back. Its "step dial" features sunken subdials made of genuine moon rock, and Omega crafts the dial itself out of precious onyx.
Due to its rarity, this exclusive platinum timepiece demands around 69,000 USD in mint condition. Its official list price is "only" 61,700 USD.
If you're not looking to spend over 60,000 USD on a watch but would like the caliber 321, you should take a closer look at the ref. 322.214.171.124.01.001. This stainless steel edition from 2020 is much more affordable. At 39.7 mm in diameter, it is also quite a bit smaller than the platinum version. The size matches that of the third-generation Speedmaster worn by astronaut Ed White during his history-making spacewalk in 1965, which is why you will also see this Speedmaster referred to as the "Ed White."
Like the platinum Speedmaster, the Ed White features a step dial with sunken subdials. Omega lists this timepiece for 14,100 USD. Never-worn examples cost roughly 21,500 USD on Chrono24.
Features of the Speedmaster Caliber 321
- Available in stainless steel or platinum
- Legendary Omega caliber 321
- Platinum model with onyx and moon rock
- "Dot over 90" tachymeter bezel
Prices for a Ceramic Moonwatch
Omega also offers Speedmaster models made of ceramic. These watches are available in gray, white, black, or blue. The first ceramic edition was the Dark Side of the Moon ref. 3126.96.36.199.01.003. This black watch honors astronauts of the Apollo 8 mission, who were the first people to ever view the far side of the Moon with their own eyes in December 1968.
All ceramic Speedmasters get their power from the modern Co-Axial caliber 9300. While other Moonwatches have three subdials thanks to the caliber 1861, ceramic models feature only two subdials at 3 and 9 o'clock. As a result, the subdial at 3 o'clock does double duty as the chronograph's hour and minute counters. You can purchase this timepiece for about 9,000 USD in mint condition, which is several thousand dollars less than the official list price of 12,000 USD.
White Side of the Moon
Without light, there is no darkness; without darkness, no light. Perhaps Omega's designers were thinking the same thing when they created the Speedmaster White Side of the Moon. This model is the opposite of the Dark Side of the Moon and represents our celestial partner shining in the night sky. Omega offers two different versions of this watch, the ref. 3188.8.131.52.55.001 and ref. 3184.108.40.206.04.002. While both are solid white and measure 44.25 mm in diameter, the former stands out with its mother-of-pearl dial and diamond-studded bezel. The two editions also share a pair of red accents: the "Speedmaster" inscription and the tip of the chronograph seconds hand.
The version with diamond studding and the mother-of-pearl dial costs around 19,500 USD new, which means you can save about 30% on Chrono24, compared to the manufacturer's list price of 25,800 USD. If you opt for the less opulent version, you can expect prices around 9,600 USD for a new example.
Grey and Blue Sides of the Moon
Combine black and white, and you get gray – another color with strong connections to the Moon. As American astronaut, Jim Lovell, once put it, "The Moon is essentially gray." Thus, Omega named their gray Speedmaster the Grey Side of the Moon. You can find this stainless steel chronograph under the reference number 3220.127.116.11.99.001. Other than its color, the Grey Side of the Moon is identical to its black and white counterparts. Mint-condition timepieces change hands for about 9,500 USD new. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is 12,000 USD.
If blue is one of your favorite colors, and you're in the market for a ceramic watch with a moon phase display, you should take a look at the ref. 304.93.44.52.03.001. Known as the Blue Side of the Moon, this men's watch measures 44.25 mm in diameter. Inside the case, you'll find the Co-Axial caliber 9904 with a moon phase display at 6 o'clock. This is also made of ceramic and displays the Moon from both the front and back. Omega crafts the dial out of blue ceramic and outfits it with applied hour indices in 18-karat white gold. Finally, the blue bezel features a tachymeter scale in an alloy known as Liquidmetal.
New watches demand around 10,000 USD. Omega's official list price is 13,100 USD.
Features of the Ceramic Speedmaster
- Available in black, white, gray, and blue
- Ceramic: more scratch-resistant than stainless steel
- Omega Co-Axial caliber 9300
- Blue Side of the Moon with a moon phase display
Speedmaster Professional Moonphase
Omega also offers other Speedmaster Professional watches with a moon phase. Inside their cases, you'll find the in-house caliber 9904, an antimagnetic Co-Axial Master Chronometer movement. Unlike the ceramic edition, these versions have their moon phase display at 12 o'clock.
Omega has ceased production of select models, so the pre-owned market is your best bet to find these timepieces. The ref. 3876.50.31 with a standard 42-mm case costs around 6,400 USD. The larger, 44.25-mm ref. 318.104.22.168.01.001 changes hands for roughly 13,400 USD on Chrono24.
The Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Moonphase is available in ceramic, gold, and platinum. One example is the Sedna gold ref. 304.63.44.52.01.001 on a brown leather strap. This variant uses the Omega caliber 9905 with a moon phase display at 6 o'clock. This model sells for approximately 23,000 USD on Chrono24. Compared to the list price of 32,800 USD, you can save a significant amount by buying on the secondary market.
Prices for Vintage Speedmasters
If you're on the hunt for an original Speedmaster Professional from the time of the Apollo missions, then you should keep an eye out for the reference numbers 105.012 and 145.012. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore a ref. 105.012 as he took his first steps on the Moon on July 20, 1969, while his colleague Michael Collins had a ref. 145.012 back in the command module. Finding a 105.012 from the mid-1960s is rare. Its value largely depends on its condition and whether the original box and papers are still available.
Prices for both models sit well above that of a new Speedmaster Professional. The ref. 145.012 demands a solid 11,500 USD, and you'll need about 16,000 USD to purchase the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch ref. 105.012.
The transition from reference number 145.012 to 145.022 marks the change from the caliber 321 to the 861. According to Omega, the caliber 861 is more robust. You can buy a pre-owned Speedmaster Professional ref. 145.022 on the pre-owned market for around 7,300 USD, making it significantly more affordable than its predecessors. If you find functionality more important than a watch's status as a collector's item, the ref. 145.022 is a good choice for you. It also has potential to increase in value. Omega produced watches with the caliber 861 until 1997.
The MoonSwatch: An Entry-Level Moonwatch from Swatch
In March 2022, Swatch unveiled the MoonSwatch collection. The watch giant partnered with its subsidiary Omega to produce this reinterpretation of one of the world's most famous watches. The MoonSwatch has the same shape and dimensions as its inspiration, and shares other details such as the "dot over 90," hands, and general dial design.
The MoonSwatch's case is made of Swatch's proprietary Bioceramic. This ceramic blend is made of two-thirds ceramic, and one-third synthetic material derived from castor oil. The result is a very lightweight case that can be made in various colors. There are a total of eleven color varieties available. The Mission to the Sun model dazzles in a brilliant yellow, while the Mission to Neptune comes in a cool, dark blue. The Mission to Mars has a fiery red case and Gemini hands, which fans will recognize from the Speedmaster "Alaska Project."
If you like pastel tones, then be sure to have a look at the Mission to Uranus and Mission to Venus, in light blue and powder pink, respectively. Fans of earth tones such as beige, brown, and gray will enjoy the Mission to Saturn, Mission to Jupiter, and Mission to Mercury models. The Mission on Earth and Mission to Pluto models, on the other hand, are much more colorful. The former has a green case, blue bezel, blue dial, and white subdials, while the Pluto model has a light gray case, cream dial, burgundy bezel and matching burgundy subdials.
With its gray case and black dial, the Mission to the Moon is the most comparable model to the original Moonwatch.
All MoonSwatch models are powered by a quartz chronograph caliber from ETA. You can recognize this movement by the placement of the subdials at 2, 6, and 10 o'clock.
The official list price for a MoonSwatch is 260 USD. Interestingly, the collection is not limited and will be a staple in the Swatch lineup. At the time of writing in April 2022, however, demand was extremely high, and waiting lists at Swatch stores were incredibly long. If you want to skip the queues, you'll have to turn to the secondary market and be ready to pay a significant premium. Depending on the model, listings on Chrono24 for the MoonSwatch come in between 450 USD and 1,000 USD.
The History of the Speedmaster Professional
The remarkable story of the Omega Speedmaster Professional truly began in 1964. In the fall of that year, NASA started looking for a watch to join their astronauts on manned space missions. While NASA decided to produce the rest of the astronauts' equipment in house, they opted to use commercial watches. They put models from various manufacturers through vigorous tests, subjecting them to temperatures as high as 93°C (200°F) and as low as -18ºC (0°F). Furthermore, the watches endured conditions with 95% humidity, violent shocks, vibrations, high pressure, and vacuum pressure.
The Omega Speedmaster was the only watch to pass all of the tests and at the beginning of March 1965, NASA decided to use it. The astronauts of the Gemini 3 mission wore the watch during their flight on March 23, 1965. Around two months later, Edward White wore a Speedmaster Professional during his spacewalk. The watch functioned perfectly even in the unusual conditions of space.
Omega added "Professional" to the Speedmaster's title after receiving NASA certification in 1965, four years before the Moon landing. However, the watch had actually made its space premiere well before the tests even began. Back in 1962, astronaut Walter Schirra took his own Speedmaster along on the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, which orbited the Earth six times.
A Consistent Design for Over 60 Years
The 1962 version of the Speedmaster was a chronograph with three subdials. It featured an hour counter at 3, a minute counter at 6, and a small seconds at 9 o'clock. Not much has changed since then. The stainless steel case, black dial with white accents, and tachymetric bezel all remain key to the Speedmaster's design. Furthermore, you'll still find push-pieces on either side of the crown for operating the stopwatch function. While most Speedmasters come on a leather strap or stainless steel bracelet, the astronauts wore theirs over their spacesuits on a long textile strap.
Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969. However, because the clock on board had failed, he left his Speedmaster behind as a replacement and took his historic step on the Moon's surface without a watch. About fifteen minutes later, fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin took his first steps on the Moon with his Speedmaster on his wrist. Aldrin sent his watch to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. in 1971, but the package never arrived and it has been missing ever since. The Speedmasters belonging to the other Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Mike Collins, are on display at the museum.
"Houston, we've had a problem."
The Apollo 13 mission was plagued by bad luck. However, it provided the Speedmaster with its first real opportunity to shine – even if only for 14 seconds. After an oxygen tank exploded, the astronauts had to cancel their planned Moon landing. Commander Jim Lovell reported the incident with the now-famous phrase, "Houston, we've had a problem." From that point on, the mission's new goal was to return everyone to Earth safely. To do so, the astronauts had to right their course and burn their rockets for exactly 14 seconds. Astronaut Jack Swigert used his Speedmaster to time the 14 seconds, and the maneuver worked. If it had failed, Apollo 13 would have missed Earth by about 37,000 miles (60,000 km) and disappeared into the vastness of space.
For its part in saving the Apollo 13 astronauts, NASA granted the Speedmaster Professional the Silver Snoopy Award – the highest honor given by NASA for achievements related to flight safety or mission success. The 1995 Hollywood adaptation of the story elevated the Speedmaster Professional's reputation even further. By the time shooting finished, the lead actor, Tom Hanks, had become a dedicated Speedy wearer. Omega has since released two limited-edition models featuring Snoopy on the dial and case back in honor of the watch's role in the Apollo 13 mission.
The end of the Apollo flights in 1972 didn't mean the end of the Speedmaster Professional as an astronaut's watch, however, as it was also used in the space shuttle program.
Caliber 1861: Similar to the Original
Little has changed about the Speedmaster since the days of the Apollo missions. Omega outfits modern models with the manual calibers 1861 and 1863. These movements have 48-hour power reserves and vibrate at 21,600 vibrations per hour (vph). Earlier timepieces have a balance frequency of 18,000 vph. The change occurred in 1968 when the caliber 321 gave way to the 861. The 861 lives on as the 1861, which debuted in 1997. Each of these calibers can trace its roots back to the Lemania 2310. You can find this movement in the earliest Speedmaster watches produced between 1957 and 1965.