Take a poll amongst wristwatch collectors, and we'd bet the consensus would be that there might be nothing more important or iconic in a watch collection than an Omega Speedmaster.
Sure, chronographs such as the Rolex Daytona or the Heuer Carrera are classics - icons even, but neither can match the stature of the Speedy with regards to importance in history. In fact,arguably no watch can.
This particular example, a Reference, 3590.50, dates from circa 1988/89 but in spirit and aesthetics has all the elements of a classic Apollo-era watch. The case proportions are unchanged from the original Professional models from the mid 1960s, and the movement can trace its heritage all the way back to 1968. The black matte dial uses Tritium luminescent material, abandoned in favor of Luminova in subsequent models, but offers a tremendous opportunity to develop a patina that's as mouth-watering as any model from 30 years earlier.
These pieces hail from the last era of Neo-Vintage models and offers a fantastic value proposition to the budding Speedmaster enthusiast.
The only palpable difference between this watch and a 1960s Cal 861 is the rhodium plating used to protect the movement. Otherwise, this is the real McCoy. The tritium used in these last examples always age to the most beautiful golden cream color, and look even more beautiful under the soft light provided by a real Hesalite crystal.
This particular example is in outstanding condition throughout, retaining a crisp factory finished case, beautifully patinated dial, and a fully linked stainless steel bracelet with matching signed clasp.
The Speedmaster Story
After touching the lander down on the lunar surface, Buzz Aldrin transmitted to Houston control these words, nary more than a whisper, the first communication between human beings not concurrently on the same planet.
When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon for the first time, his Omega Speedmaster was in the module serving as a backup for its electric timer that had malfunctioned. It was Aldrin who, following Armstrong to become the second human to walk on the moon, introduced the Speedmaster to the lunar surface.
Today, Omega has become synonymous with the Apollo missions, the moon landing and space exploration in general. The provenance of the brand, driven by the incredible reliability and functionality of the watches that they produced throughout the space era is second to none. But at the heart of the moon missions, at the core of their objective, was the intrinsic human desire to explore, to crest the horizon and, undaunted, step forth into the unknown.
NASA approved the Speedmaster for its space missions because it was the best, most accurate timepiece they could find, and testing revealed that it needed no modification in order to remain functional under the duress of space flight. NASA was concerned with accuracy, durability and usability; they didn't care about Omega's history, they needed a tool that could accompany humans on a mission to the moon and help them get back safely. They exposed the Speedmaster to high and low temperatures, blasted it with vibrations, challenged it with g-force extremes and submitted it to high and low pressure. Through it all, the Speedmaster ticked on, proving that it could go where no watch had ever gone before.
Today the Omega Speedmaster is often regarded by collectors and enthusiasts to be the single most important wristwatch ever made, if for no other reason than that it accompanied us on mankind’s greatest feat – touching down on and exploring a heavenly body.
While most of the Omega Speedmasters in circulation haven’t left Earth’s atmosphere, we can all take a certain amount of pride in knowing that they could – and would continue to perform just as they would down here on the ground. When you stop and think about all that entails, that’s really saying something.