"Houston, our mission timer is now reading 9023447 and static."
Less than twenty minutes after the Eagle landed on the surface of the moon, Buzz Aldrin transmitted this message to Capcom. Up until that moment, the Lunar Landing had been fraught with technical issues. Four minutes into the landing sequence, the screen on the Apollo Guidance Computer--on which the astronauts relied for navigation and control of both the Command Module and the Lunar Module--had issued a program alarm.
Now, another crucial component--the mission timer--froze just when the astronauts needed it most. But the Lunar Module had touched down, and Aldrin and Armstrong had to act fast if they were to complete the mission. With fuel running low and with tensions running high, the astronauts complied with Tranquility base's requests to reset the timer to zero.
At some point in the three hours it took the astronauts to prepare for their EVA, Armstrong left his watch in the Lunar Module to replace the malfunctioning event timer. But Aldrin's remained strapped to the exterior of his space suit as he followed Armstrong down the ladder onto the powdery surface upon which--until that moment--no human foot had trod. Thus, the Omega Speedmaster was carried into history as the first wristwatch worn on the moon.
The computer in the spacecraft represented the pinnacle of technological achievement at the time, designed by experts at MIT. Fortunately, the AGS never failed completely, and the astronauts of course completed their historic mission safely. But how ironic is it that when faced with technical issues, Armstrong would choose to rely on a humble mechanical wristwatch?
In this age of technological advances, we take these small things for granted. Today, your average programmable toaster oven has more memory than the Apollo Guidance Computer. We can watch videos of the Lunar Landing on computing devices we can carry in our pockets.
But during the space race, the Omega Speedmaster became absolutely essential for astronauts. It's still a piece of an astronaut's kit, having been used as recently as 2014. If that doesn't illustrate how relevant mechanical wristwatches still are, then what on Earth does?
This Speedmaster is among the last of the breed to utilize the Calibre .321 column wheel chronograph movement by Lemania, a Reference 145.012 circa 1967. It's the same reference worn by Buzz Aldrin as he walked on the Sea of Tranquility. With its characteristic applied-logo dial and "Dot Over 90" bezel, this example possesses a nicely patinated dial, sharp case, Hesalite crystal, and of course a Pre-Moon style caseback featuring the Omega Hippocampus.
Wherever life's journey takes you--whether to the stars or in more terrestrial pursuits--you can take comfort in the fact that when you have a Speedmaster on your wrist, you carry a piece of horological history with you, as useful on Earth as it was on the Moon.
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