Watch connoisseurs may well be aware of the Omega NASA watches, but they may not know that the project was kept as a closely guarded secret at Omega. To keep the watch designs under wraps, Omega codenamed any project having to do with any space and NASA related projects as “Alaska.” Alaska I came out in 1969, and 10 years later, the final watch of the project, Alaska IV was released.
As the space program grew, so did the Alaska project. When NASA started transitioning to reusable space crafts in the mid 70s, Omega also took a look at how they could re-develop and re-imagine their watches to meet the needs of this new approach. The project was named Alaska III. This new watch took the Speedmaster Professional chronograph and used the new caliber 861. The watchcase was mat-finished and the dial featured a radial layout for its chronograph counters. The second iteration was also mechanical, but it used an automatic chronograph with Omega’s caliber 1045. The final model, dubbed the “Speedsonic,” was the result of using electronic technology that used a tuning fork as a regulating organ.
Three prototype pieces were created and delivered to NASA in Houston on April 3, 1978. Phillips auctions is offering one of the three prototypes delivered to NASA for evaluation and testing—a true piece of not only NASA history but Omega history as well.