It's the mid 1960s. A huddle of NASA lab technicians closeted their lab coats and made their way to a Houston watch shop with a singular directive. Find us a chronograph to go to the moon.
Feverishly, the team worked, subjecting the wristwatches to a barrage of tests. They blasted the watches with intense heat. They brutalized them with sickening cold. They assaulted all the watches with everything NASA could conjure, searching for the one that would function best under the incredible duress of spaceflight. When the dust and gamma rays had settled (gamma rays can settle, right?) only one chronograph met the agency's specifications. It was the Omega Speedmaster.
Omega has always been a top-notch manufacture. Always reaching for excellence, whether is was in their chronometer-certified Constellations, or their MoD-issued W.W.W. service pieces, Omega tirelessly worked to produce watches of the highest caliber. The story of the moon watch reflects that excellence. A consumer chronograph, manufactured to the highest level of quality possible, was subjected to a litany of tests and finally chosen by a federal agency to be the timekeeper for men going on the first mission to the lunar surface. No modifications were done, no improvements were made. The watches that the crew of Apollo 11 wore could have been purchased by any person in the United States at the time for $82.50. Incredible.
Since the moon landing, countless Omegas have made their way into space in a variety of capacities. From spacewalks to rendezvous on the International Space Station, the Omega Speedmaster has been on the wrist of every American astronaut since the completion of the rigorous testing performed by NASA in 1965.
This example dates to late 1969, just after the Moon landing. Omega celebrated the amazing accomplishment by creating a special caseback for the Speedmaster, featuring the text “Flight Qualified By NASA For All Manned Space Missions” and “The First Watch Worn On The Moon”. This caseback was only used for a short period before Omega transitioned to caseback that is nearly identical to the one still in production, so collectors get pretty excited when they see it nowadays.
Whether you are looking for the next addition to a growing collection or your very first foray into vintage timepieces, you just can't go wrong with a Speedy!