Pushing the Boundaries of Mankind: The Omega Mission Series


by Nils Rau

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May 15. 2019 - by Nils Rau

May 2019 was the time that left the inhabitants of the CHRONEXT office shook. Unable to focus, hours were spent admiring some of the most exciting watches known to man with a history that stretches all the way to the moon - I’m sure you know what we’re talking about by now: No watch is as closely linked with the legendary moon missions as the Omega Speedmaster, so it’s obviously not surprising that Omega has released a special edition for the "Omega Missions Series" set consisting of 23 impressive watches. We were lucky enough to get a hold of 11 of the watches associated with the Apollo missions which beautifully portray the stories of the missions through their unique logos. Each of these watches is limited to 200 pieces each, so the excitement surrounding them needs no further justification.


Inseparable: Moon and Moonwatch

The first model of the Omega Speedmaster was launched in 1957 and was originally part of the Seamaster series. It was not until NASA made the Speedmaster the official timepiece for the famous Apollo missions that the Speedmaster got its own series.

The Speedmaster has been a legend ever since the first moon landing. The watch was on Buzz Aldrin's wrist on July 21, 1969, when he - together with Neil Armstrong - entered the lunar surface for the first time in human history. While the classic Moonwatch has only been very carefully modified to this day, Omega has launched some special editions over the decades.

The Omega Missions Series

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster, Omega came up with something very special in 1997: An extensive set of 23 Speedmaster models - all Special Editions.

The 23 watches are in a case made of the same material that is used to make space suits. The case also includes a separate Lemania caliber 1861 and a watchmaker's magnifying glass from Omega. A total of 50 of the Missions Series cases were sold. Of the 22 Mission watches, Omega produced 200 each, so that 150 pieces of each model were available separately.

22 of the 23 watches are dedicated to NASA's famous space missions (Skylab, Gemini and Apollo). It is the classic Moonwatch reference 3570.50 with the logo of the corresponding NASA mission on the totaliser at 9 o'clock. The concept itself is extremely charming because each NASA mission had its own logo dedicated to it, often with a reference to the specific mission goal.

The 23rd watch is the "Omega Speedmaster Professional Missions 1957 Replica", a re-edition of the original Speedmaster CK2915.

Discover more about the most exciting Apollo missions (belonging to the respective "Omega Missions" reference): 

Speedmaster Apollo 7 (Ref. 3597.11.00)

The Apollo 7 mission (1968) was NASA's first manned Apollo space flight. To understand the importance of the Apollo missions, one must know that the flights before the moon landing were used for preparation and planning. The Apollo 7 mission further tested the spacecraft's airworthiness as well as the suitability of all other facilities such as missile assembly, launch preparation and flight control.

The Apollo 7 mission logo shows the CSM command capsule orbiting the Earth. The names of the astronauts (Walter Schirra, Donn Eisele, Walter Cunningham) were also applied.

Speedmaster Apollo 8 (3597.12.00)

Only two months after Apollo 7, the first flight to the moon took place with the Apollo 8 mission: For the first time in human history, humans left the Earth's gravitational field to fly ten times through the moon's orbit. On this mission, the astronauts took countless photographs from the perspective of their cockpit. Among other things, the famous photo of the Earth's rise above the lunar surface was taken. The moon's orbit was not only a milestone for NASA, but also for the world's population: more than a billion people followed the mission on television at the time. The NASA logo illustrates the flight route in the form of a red figure-eight loop around the Earth and the Moon.

Speedmaster Apollo 9 (3597.13.00)

With Apollo 9, a test flight of the lunar module was tested under realistic conditions in the Earth’s orbit. In addition, the rendezvous and docking manoeuvres of the space shuttles were finally tested. The mission took place in March 1969, only four months before the final moon landing. NASA's preparations were already so successful that voices were raised in favour of a lunar landing of the Apollo 11 mission.

The mission logo captures the importance of the entire Apollo programme by focusing on the Lunar Module, the CSM command capsule and the Saturn launch vehicle in Earth orbit.

Speedmaster Apollo 10 (3597.14.00)

Apollo 10 was used to test the lunar module under real conditions for the first time in lunar orbit. It was the last dress rehearsal before the Apollo 11 moon landing. NASA astronauts performed all the manoeuvres required to land Apollo 11 after reaching lunar orbit. The astronauts were only 14 kilometres above the lunar surface.

Apollo 10 - like the previous missions - was a complete success. The mission showed that NASA was ready for the moon landing. The logo shows the lunar module and the command capsule in close proximity to the moon.

Speedmaster Apollo 11 (3597.15.00)

On 16 July 1969, eight years after the beginning of the mission, the Apollo 11 mission started. After about three days, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins reached the lunar surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent about two and a half hours on the foreign planet. On Buzz Aldrin's wrist was the Omega Speedmaster. Neil Armstrong left his watch in the Lunar Module because the watch had failed.

After the Lunar Module (called "eagle") arrived on the moon, Armstrong radioed "the eagle has landed" to Earth. These famous words served as a model for the legendary Apollo 11 logo, which shows an eagle landing on the moon.

Speedmaster Apollo 12 (3597.16.00)

Apollo 12 was actually intended as a second attempt if the Apollo 11 mission failed. NASA had already announced this after Apollo 9. The aim of the mission was now to bring back parts of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft left on the moon in 1967. In total, the astronauts spent more than eight hours on the lunar surface - resulting in a successful Apollo 12.

The mission badge shows a sailing ship traversing space. It is an allusion to the three astronauts who all came from the US Navy.

Speedmaster Apollo 13 (3597.02.00)

After the Apollo 11 mission, Apollo 13 is probably the second best known lunar mission. The reason was an explosion of an oxygen tank on the way to the moon. As a result of this event, the crew was forced to return to Earth. The re-entry into the earth's atmosphere took place a timing accurate to the second, which was coordinated with the chronograph of the Moonwatch. The astronauts returned safely to Earth.

The logo of Apollo 13 shows three stylised horses on their way to the moon. It also contains the saying "ex luna, scientia": knowledge comes from the moon. The logo shows that if the mission had been successful, the moon would have been further explored.

Speedmaster Apollo 14 (3597.17.00)

The Apollo 14 mission was launched in January 1971 with the aim of further exploring the Moon. The astronauts had numerous measuring and research instruments on board and brought a total of 42.9 kg of lunar rock with them. In preparation, the crew had completed a so-called "field training" in Nördlingen in southern Germany in the summer of 1970 in order to become more familiar with working with moon-like rocks.

The Apollo 14 logo shows the official pin of the space corps flying from Earth to the Moon. This is made of silver and is awarded to astronauts when they are accepted into the Corps.

Speedmaster Apollo 15 (3597.18.00)

Even before the Apollo 15 crew was announced, the Apollo programme was streamlined for financial reasons and two missions were cancelled. For this reason, Apollo 15 was restructured and scientifically expanded. The astronauts were better geologically trained and the equipment was much more modern. The mission took place in July 1971.

The Apollo 15 mission logo was designed by the Italian designer Emilio Pucci. The blue-white-red object is supposed to remind of aeronautics - Pucci himself was a combat pilot in the Italian Air Force.

Speedmaster Apollo 16 (3597.19.00)

Apollo 16 was the penultimate mission of the Apollo 11 programme and was carried out in April 1972. NASA continued to pursue mainly scientific purposes with the moon landing. For the first time, the astronauts also took astronomical pictures with a spectrograph camera. The astronauts brought almost 96 kg of lunar rock to Earth.

The idea for the Apollo 16 logo came from the astronauts themselves. It is supposed to represent patriotism, teamwork and the moon. This explains the imitation of the US-American flag.

Speedmaster Apollo 17 (3597.20.00)

The last Apollo mission took place in December 1972. The mission was extensive and included three outboard missions. The astronauts spent more than three days on the moon. Once again, moon rock samples (this time from the highlands of the moon) were taken and innumerable measurements were accomplished.

The logo of the Apollo 17 mission shows the Greek sun god Apollo, who is the namesake of the Apollo missions. In the background there is a stylised eagle next to the US-American flag. The direction of the eagle's and Apollo's gaze is supposed to symbolise the further intention to continue exploring space.

Nils Rau

by Nils Rau

Nils is a guest author for the CHRONEXT Journal. He currently dedicates most of his free time to wristwatches – be that talking with friends, browsing through blogs and online magazines, or keeping an eye on the timepiece stock exchange. When he is not contributing to the CHRONEXT Journal, he works as a junior lawyer in Northern Germany. His articles focus on brands, trends, as well as the philosophical questions within the world of fine watches.

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