One Giant Leap: The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch, 50 Years On

In Partnership with Swiss Concept

As far as iconic quotes of the 20th century go, perhaps none are quite so universally recognisable as “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” and it was all thanks to our humble little nation in the antipodes that the human race could hear those words loud and (reasonably) clear.

When, on the 20th of July, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered the above sentence when taking his first steps on the surface of the moon, the whole world stopped to pay attention to one of the greatest human achievements one could possibly conceive. Strapped to Armstrong’s wrist for the majority of that trip was his Omega Speedmaster, a watch that proved it was capable of a challenge that no other watch had ever faced before: operating in the extreme conditions of space without missing a beat.

Shortly after, his colleague Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the surface to join him. Strapped to the outside of his bulky space suit was his Omega Speedmaster, now widely known as the “Moonwatch”, on a long strip of velcro that could fit around his heavily padded forearms. This became the first watch worn on the moon, and cemented a place for Omega in the history books as a company that produced watches that were more than just practical, but remarkable, too.

And those words may not have been heard by the world were it not for Australia: we did, after all, beam the first images of man’s landing on the monochromatic satellite’s surface around the globe for an enchanted global population to watch, transfixed with awe, all the way from Parkes in regional New South Wales. We did such a good job of it, in fact, that they made a movie of the whole affair starring Sam Neill.

Today, Australia’s link to the moon can be found at Swiss Concept, one of Australia’s premier destinations for all things Omega. With over two decades of experience in the best to come out of Switzerland at their Sydney location, serving thousands of happy customers looking to upgrade what’s on their wrist, or find their first excellent timepiece.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Close Up

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Close Up

Omega has long celebrated its cosmic heritage, citing the Speedmaster as the Moonwatch for decades. It’s earned them more than a subtle reputation as NASA’s watch of choice (the organisation tested the best watches on the market in the early ’60s when they were preparing for the first spacewalk and the Speedmaster came up trumps after a barrage of tests that would make the average horologist wince, including extreme heat and extreme cold for extended periods, g-forces in the 40s, as well as pressure and vibration tests). As such, the Speedmaster wasn’t just the first watch on the moon back in 1969, it was also the first watch to be worn during a US-led spacewalk, four years prior, when Ed White made the first American spacewalk as part of the successful Gemini 4 mission.

 

 

The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch has been used in every NASA space mission since 1969.

From Australia’s obvious and integral involvement with that first moon landing to the important work in space exploration being conducted today by some of our smartest minds, the role we continue to play is more than slightly significant and, much like Omega, our roots as a curious collection of people who look to the stars for inspiration can be traced back to a very long time ago; this curiosity proved we could be a world leader back in 1969.

Take the groundbreaking work of Australian PhD candidate Jules Ambroisine, who uses weather balloons to capture visual and audio footage from the stratosphere, with the goal of recording pure silence as part of his studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. His images and sound recordings use a method of capture never before used in the scientific community, and provide a new insight into the nature of space exploration.

And, every year, pilgrims still make their way to Parkes to get a photo in front of that now infamous dish.

Omega Speedmaster Professional

Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 Limited Edition Gold

Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition

Omega pays homage to the Moonwatch in two distinct models that are now available in Australia: the Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, and the Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.

Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional

When, in 1962, US President John F. Kennedy stated his intention to send a man to the moon, it was one of the most audacious statements one could imagine, especially considering the very concept of space travel was still in its nascent stages. It was, however, well received by an optimistic and hopeful American public.

The Speedmaster, which for many may logically belong more on a raceway than in a cockpit, became the timepiece of choice for the ‘Apollo’ missions during the next decade, which would change the course of history forever.

As the model very quickly became known as ‘The Moonwatch’, Omega furthered its development of the Speedmaster, whilst maintaining the DNA of the watch that brought them so much notoriety for its being worn on the moon. This model shares a great deal with the original pieces worn by Apollo astronauts during the ’60s, including a hand-wound movement almost identical to that worn during the first ever moon landing. The Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional is available for purchase at Swiss Concept, hit the link below to find out more.

Buy it here

Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition

Though every Speedmaster carries a little moon dust in its DNA (it is, after all, still the only watch certified by NASA to be worn during any extra-vehicular activity in space), Omega wasn’t going to let such a momentous anniversary go by without offering a truly special timepiece to commemorate the half-century since we landed on our moon.

Maintaining the black and stainless steel aesthetics of its early incarnations, this particular 42mm version also boasts Omega’s own alloy Ceragold along its handsome tachymeter scale, while the hands and bezel have been finished in “Moonshine Gold”, another unique alloy from the Omega facility which gives off a paler hue than yellow gold, emulating the moon’s own glow, and with a higher resistance to fading with time.

Two direct tributes to the Apollo 11 mission are found on the dial: a number “11” features in 18K Moonshine Gold at the 11 o’clock marker, and the 9 o’clock subdial shows Buzz Aldrin climbing down onto the lunar surface from The Eagle. The blackened decorative inner caseback also shows an astronaut’s laser-engraved footprint on the lunar surface, while Neil Armstrong’s legendary quote is written in Moonshine Gold-plated lettering. This stunning timepiece is due for delivery to Australia later in the year, contact Swiss Concept directly for more information.

Enquire here

In Australia, Swiss Concept is one of the foremost stores for all things Omega, and is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by offering these two stunning and important timepieces in their beautiful shopfront, located at 90 Pitt St, Sydney.

*All space images credit to NASA.