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Omega Speedmaster: From the car into space

Omega Speedmaster
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E there are watches that fascinate because they are so clearly designed. Nothing distracts from the time display, no perpetual calendar with moon phases, no second time zone, not even a date window. They are tools for timekeeping, cast in stainless steel, black, high-contrast sheet, white numerals and hour markers, like the Omega Speedmaster Professional. The stop function is its only complication, even an automatic rotor is in vain, it is wound by hand. The rotor is useless in space.

Especially today, the Omega Speedmaster Professional is also considered a classic watch beauty. A large diameter corresponds to a relatively flat profile, which alternately reflects finely lapped and highly polished surfaces in the light. The conical fully threaded screw base makes the massive housing appear slimmer, the flat plastic glass is embedded in a tachymeter scale. After all, Omega's most famous watch is called the Speedmaster, which is somewhat bulky in German: speed master. So it is easy to be able to read the current speed immediately on the stop hand.

Omega Speedmaster offers a lot of watch for the money

Actually, it was exactly like its almost simultaneous competitors Heuer Carrera and Rolex Cosmograph was designed as a watch for rally sport, which became very popular in the 1950s. Ambitious sports drivers liked to take them on their wrist at the time, as the early ad motif from the cockpit of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL shows. Later it overtook the Breitling Navitimer and the Rolex Cosmograph in the NASA tests.

Even the name created for a space mission could not help the Rolex to win points. The Omega orbit closes a decade later, when the Speedmaster on the Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17 in the Lunar Rover, strapped to the astronauts' arms with a 48 cm long Velcro strap, rumbled over the crater surface of the Earth's satellite. The Omega couldn't master much speed, the LRV (Lunar Roving Vehicle), as it was scientifically correct, ran at a maximum of 15 km /h.

An Omega Speedmaster Professional now costs 3,300 euros. That's not much compared to other watches that have a far more trivial myth. The differences between the Speedmaster that Edwin Aldrin wore on the moon in 1969 are - compared to the current version on the front page of this extra - minor. The hand-wound movementCaliber 861 with an increased number of strokes of 21,600 vibrations per hour is the same. The 40 mm case, in which the crown and pushers are so beautifully embedded and protected, is also. Even the tried and tested but antiquated plastic crystal survived, although many critics called for a scratch-resistant sapphire one years ago.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional stayed true to itself, which is rare in a world of cartoonish retro designs. The often required authenticity, here it arises incidentally, through stoic adherence to the original. The Speedmaster Professional from 2015 has only two deviations from the one from 1969. The steel belt with push-button safety lock is now much more solid, i.e. it is 27 grams heavier. The chrono no longer rattles like a rattlesnake, and the clasp also withstands a violent bump.

Progress is always welcome in the interests of functionality. The second big change is also plausible because it comes from history. The original moon clock from 1969 only bears the Speedmaster typography with seahorses on the massive fully threaded screw back. The marine animal marks the waterproof Omega sports models, which also include the Memomatic wrist alarm clock and the Speedmaster 125 chronometer-chronograph.

Bottom with hero inscription

From 1974, your merits about manned space travel flowed into the floor engraving, which is still valid today: 'The first watch on the moon. Flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions.' This hero inscription is now draped in a circle around the seahorse logo. But the Omega Speedmaster also had an eventful life in the twelve years before the moon landing. During the series production, changes continued to flow in until 1969 that strengthened its character. It was rarely influenced by fashion. As early as 1962, Omega designers found the original, now celebrated Broad Arrow hands too bulky. This facelift not only came with finely polished Dauphine hands, but also a high-contrast aluminum bezel for the tachymeter scale. It was precisely this model and three other competing brands that NASA materials testers bought anonymously at Corrigan Watches in Houston.

Before the extensive test program with the Speedmaster qualification was completed in 1965, the watch went into space with Walter Schirra in 1962 catapulted. Two years later, in 1964, the white hands followed and the embossing on the bottom became more distinctive. For the first time, the name Speedmaster appears on the screw cap, analogous to the dial print. In 1967 the Speedmaster was further improved in detail. The now slightly asymmetrical 40 mm case finally helps the beautiful watch to its proper size.

The addition 'Professional' is now on the dial. It is also the last year that the 321 column wheel, a 20 year old designwith a Breguet hairspring in which the Speedmaster is on duty. The new caliber 861 with a simplified link mechanism for the chronograph functions can do everything better than aesthetics. It's more robust and precise. However, collectors speculate on a 321 Speedmaster. You can recognize them by the raised, polished Omega symbol under the twelve o'clock index.


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