1967 was, in terms of spaceflight at least, eventful. In six short years, ever since President Kennedy boldly announced that “we choose to go to the Moon,” both the United States and the Soviet Union had succeeded—one after the other—in putting a man into space. As the years went on, each successive spaceflight became longer and longer as the Space Race approached its eventual conclusion.
Although 1967 began with the tragic loss of Ed White, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee aboard Apollo 1, it also saw more launches than any year before.
The most significant of these was Saturn V, upon whose gargantuan back man would finally reach the Moon.
Like many rockets constructed under the aegis of NASA, the rocket—in technical parlance a “liquid-fueled, three-stage, super heavy-lift launch vehicle”—was designed by Wernher von Braun. Von Braun had first conceived of Saturn V in 1961, and it took six years—and $6.4 billion—to build. These numbers were reflected in the rocket itself, which is, to date, the largest rocket ever sent into space.
In sheer size and scope, Saturn V dwarfed any that had been constructed before… or since. 363 feet tall and 33 feet wide, it weighed a massive 6.5 million pounds. Much of that weight rested in the RP-1 fuel that propelled it into orbit.
Following its launch in October of 1967, Saturn V took over 24 astronauts into space, and was the vehicle that carried Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the Moon.
On the wrists of these astronauts, and on every astronaut since Ed White’s space walk in 1965, was this watch: the Omega Speedmaster Professional.
Comparing the Speedmaster to Saturn V is like comparing a single grain of sand to the vastness of the Sahara, and yet the Speedmaster packs mechanical might in a deceptively small package. Far from being a mere accessory, the astronauts relied on the Speedmaster to make essential—even life-saving—calculations. Accordingly, it had to be as reliable and as durable as the rocket itself, and was subjected to rigorous testing.
This particular Speedmaster is a Reference 145.012-67, the same reference that Buzz Aldrin wore on the Moon. The asymmetry of the twisted lug case, crafted by Huguenin Freres, is more than mere aesthetics. When approached by astronauts with complaints that the crown of straight-lug Speedmasters, like the one worn by Ed White, became engaged during use, Omega changed the design of the case entirely, protecting the crown with crown guards and making the side of the case surrounding the crown larger than the other.
With a serial dating this 145.012-67 to 1968, it’s a fine example of a “pre-Moon” Speedy. A sharp Dot over 90 bezel, and a flat-foot crown, are details that speak to its collectibility. On a 1506/16 folded link bracelet, it also comes complete with an extract dating its sale to September of 1968.
As a relic of a pivotal time in American history, the Speedmaster is every bit as significant as the Saturn V… though infinetely more wearable.