If you told us the Speedmaster was not only one of the best looking chronograph models ever produced - but also the most important - we'd have a hard time coming up with a compelling dispute!
A massive part of its iconic appeal, the design language of the Speedmaster has remained largely unchanged since the model's introduction in 1957. Featuring a 41mm twisted lug steel case, the overall proportions are executed perfectly. This particular example dates to the late 1970s, and comes complete with inner and outer boxes, warranty papers, and even the original sales receipt from 1979!
In excellent condition throughout, this is a stellar example of a Speedmaster Professional dating to the decade of exploration and discovery that immediately followed man's first trip to the moon.
In horology there are certain indelible associations. Perhaps the most enduring and the most iconic is the association with NASA and the Omega Speedmaster. The Speedmaster has set benchmarks that, in our opinion, are hard to surpass: the first watch to be flight-qualified by NASA for manned space missions, the first watch to be worn by an American astronaut during a space walk, the first watch to be worn on the moon.
Despite this extraterrestrial heritage, in the beginning the Speedmaster was only intended for terrestrial pursuits. Omega released the Speedmaster in 1957, in the midst of a craze for racing chronographs. The name "Speedmaster" followed the naming trend set by the Seamaster and Railmaster models, and was also a subtle nod to the innovative brushed stainless steel tachymeter bezel. The first reference of Speedmaster, the CK 2915, contained the Lemania Caliber .321 movement, developed by famed movement-maker Albert Piguet in 1946. Over the next few years, the Speedmaster saw several changes in dial and hand configurations, but at its heart retained the design elements that would be carried down through the decades: the black dial with its triple-register layout, the domed hesalite crystal, and of course, the tachymeter bezel, signifying Omega's intention for the Speedmaster to be used in automotive sports.
Who knows--had NASA not pinpointed the Speedmaster for use in manned spaceflight, perhaps it would only be regarded among the great racing chronographs like the Heuer Autavia or the Tudor Monte Carlo?
The fact that the Speedmaster came to be used by NASA is somewhat serendipitous. Since the dawn of military aviation, pilots had used chronographs to time their flights. When NASA developed their space program, the first astronauts were, as one can imagine, pilots. The Speedmaster was already known to NASA for its personal use by the astronauts: Wally Schirra wore his own Speedmaster, a Reference CK2998, aboard the Mercury-Atlas 8 in 1962, and Ed White donned his Reference 105.003-64 for America's first EVA (extra-vehicular activity) on June 3, 1965.
In 1965, NASA sent formal bids to twelve different brands whose chronographs the astronauts preferred for use in their flights. Chronographs from Breitling (already by then well-established for use in aviation), Rolex, and even a pocket-watch by Hamilton were considered by NASA. Ultimately a Rolex, a Wittnauer and an Omega made the final cut, but the Speedmaster won out and was found to be the most durable and suitable for use in the Apollo missions. The Speedmaster was one of the few pieces of equipment used by the astronauts that was not made specifically for NASA, but given the watch’s outstanding quality, it became the first wristwatch to be flight-qualified for NASA in manned space missions.