Fantastic Speedmasters And Where To Find Them
A complete guide to every Omega Speedmaster that made it to the Moon.
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of Omega Speedmaster Professional, the baddest watch ever made in Switzerland. The timepiece was tested by NASA to boldly go where no man has gone before. Yep, the Moonwatch as many of you call it was never designed by NASA or built by a top secret science institute in Nevada. Right from the start guys from NASA were looking for a chronograph durable enough to withstand the roughness of a spaceflight. The first Speedmaster to ever leave our planet was not even commissioned by NASA. Wally Schirra, as the story goes, took his own Speedmaster to the flight. Between 1963 and 1964 NASA was looking for options. Rolex, Hamilton, Longines-Wittnauer and Omega submitted numerous different models. The rest is history. The following list contains only the watches that were technically used on a mission and now can be viewed as a part of an ongoing exhibition. I believe that more than a hundred Speedys made it to the outer space and Russian cosmonauts use them on the orbit to this day. The point is not to count them all, but at least know, where you can always see a timepiece that has really been there.
What I know for sure is that the majority of the timepieces that were used on the NASA missions were displayed in The National Air and Space Museum in D.C. They have a great collection of Speedys and even a Heuer stopwatch used by the crew of Apollo 11. Everything from Gemini 3 to Apollo 1 is not easy to find. Some pieces were given to the families, some were kept by the crew. Gemini 5’s Cooper and Conrad Speedmasters are at The National Air and Space Museum in D.C. It doesn’t mean that these timepieces are displayed, but their last known location is NASM. Gemini 6’s Schirra and Staffor Speedmasters are at the same place. Same goes for Gemini 7’s Lovell and Borman watches. Gemini 12’s Lovell and Aldrin Speedmasters are at, you guessed it, NASM too. Apollo 7’s Schirra, Eisele and Cunningham Speedmasters are at NASM. These guys must be really passionate about Omega. Apollo 8’s Borman, Ander and Lovell Speedmasters were the first watches to leave the Earth’s orbit. They actually made it to the Moon and got back unharmed. Anders kept his Speedy, Lovell’s watch is is in The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and Borman’s Speedy is, as usual, in the NASM’s archive. Apollo 9’s crew donned their watches for 10 lovely days on the Earth’s orbit and later could only visit them at NASM. Apollo 10’s mission was to rehearse the Moon landing. Young’s and Cernan’s watches are at NASM but Stafford’s watch is in the Omega Museum in Bienne. Apollo 11’s watches are the most important Speedmasters on Earth. Collins and Armstrong Speedmasters are at NASM. The real Moonwatch was left by Armstrong in the LM. Aldrin’s watch was probably stolen in 1971.
Conrad’s Speedmaster from Apollo 12 is at NASM and Gordon’s watch is on display in Bienne. Bean’s Speedy is nowhere to be found. Apollo 13’s Haise, Swigert and Lovell Speedmasters can be found at different locations, but usually the three watches that saved the mission are at NASM. Apollo 14’s crew played golf on the Moon, I guess that was the boiling point for the investors and they decided to pull the plug after three more missions. Mitchell’s watch is at The Astronaut’s Hall of Fame. Shepard’s watch is at The Kansas Cosmosphere & Space Center. Roosa’s watch is at NASM. Apollo 15 used a Lunar Rover and took a Speedmaster for a ride. Scott’s and Irwin’s watches are at NASM. Worden was smart enough to keep one for himself. The watches worn on the Moon by the crew of Apollo 16 are at NASM. The legendary Soyuz-Apollo watches are at NASM. I can only imagine how good was that party. The last watches worn on the Moon’s surface with the crew of Apollo 17 are also at NASM. Skylab 2 was the first manned mission to the space station. Weitz, Conrad and Kerwin donned the Speedmasters that are now at NASM. Bean, Garriott and Lousma watches from Skylab 3 are at NASM too. All the Skylab 4 stuff is at NASM as usual.
It’s funny how a watch designed for space exploration never went to Space. Omega and NASA teamed up to create the ultimate watch, but somehow failed. The Alaska Project Speedmaster was abandoned although it had much more potential than the original Speedmaster used in space. These days you can get a collector’s edition of the watch they tried to put together. It’s a fantastic timepiece you won’t find anywhere but on Earth.