If you’ve seen First Man, like me you may have noticed the period correct Speedmaster that adorns the wrist of Gosling throughout. TVG covered the ‘Moonwatch’ after the passing of Neil Armstrong in 2012 but I was keen to investigate the origins of the partnership and how the Omega Speedmaster came to grace the wrists of the first men to step foot on the moon.
Omega’s first trip to outer space actually came courtesy of astronaut Walter Schirra during the Mercury Programme of 1962. The Speedmaster was a personal choice of Schirra’s and at the time, Omega had no partnership with NASA. However, the success of Schirra’s timepiece (Original ref. CK 2998) would not only form strong evidence for the Speedmaster to become the first official moon watch but also form the design framework for Speedmasters to come.
Two years after Schirra’s brush with the heavens, NASA opened applications for companies to submit potential ‘Moonwatch’ patents. Hearing of Schirra’s success and knowing the value of a brand name next to NASA, Omega was quick to submit their Speedmaster technology as a tribute. A year later, Omega was declared ‘flight-qualified for all manned space missions’. In the same year, Edward White donned his Speedmaster (also a CK 2998) on the Gemini 4 mission – the first American spacewalk.
July 21, 1969. The day the world watched and Neil Armstrong’s Speedmaster ticked. The Speedmaster became the first watch on the moon and was instantly dubbed the ‘Moonwatch’, etching itself in technological history.
The Omega Speedmaster was one among four different watches that NASA tested in 1964. NASA’s mission with those four watches? Destroy them. Three out of four times, NASA was successful. But the Speedmaster was the only timepiece remaining. This ingenuity and strength are synonymous with Omega and why it continues to be worn on Earth and in space.