Why the Omega Speedmaster Still Impresses….

There is an endless debate among watch lovers that comes from our cultural obsession to call a ‘best of’ anything or to label something as being the ‘ultimate’ expression of whatever. We like the best example of the and this ultimate example of that. We like eco-friendly, as well as perhaps the ultimate expression of socially-responsible consumer consumption you can wear your finger, wood wedding rings because they are beautiful. Speaking of which brings us to perhaps the most defensible, socially-responsible choice among luxury watches-The Omega Speedmaster Professional. One could argue that any watch which had been the first watch worn on the Moon and that is still flight qualified by NASA is not any mere rich man or woman’s bauble. (Worth noting: the Speedmaster is still the only watch qualified for EVA, or extra-vehicular activity-space walking.) It’s an icon of performance, the perfect example of function over form. It may be the greatest watch.

An Incomparable History

Every watch collector knows the Speedmaster bested stiff competition (including Rolex) in a series of grueling NASA tests in the mid-1960s to become the typical issue astronaut chronograph watch. (A chronograph is a watch with a stopwatch function.) Less well known today is NASA caught a great deal of Congressional flack for making this sort of “unpatriotic” choice. American watch companies weren’t pleased to view a Swiss watch on the wrist of Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin because he walked around on the surface in the Moon in 1969. His Speedmaster stayed in the Lunar Module as being a backup timing device to the craft’s electronic computer clocks, though neil Armstrong was the first man to Moon walk. That had been a wise precaution as Apollo 13 astronauts found out a few years later. These folks were forced to use a Speedmaster to time their re-entry to Earth after an epic electronics failure. What of the Congressional pressure on NASA? The Speedmaster prevailed in a second round of testing in 1972, too.

The Speedmaster Professional Today

Happily, you can still buy a nearly identical-to-the-original Moon watch Speedmaster, reference 3570.50, aka “The Moon Watch.” The Moon Watch is still manual wind but still has a hesalite (high-tech plastic) crystal. The hesalite crystal makes sense for any hard-use watch. Although it might scratch rather easily (the scratches are often polished out), it is shatter proof-unlike the sapphire crystals found on other high-end watches. This is a great example of the Speedmaster being a “function over form” watch. NASA didn’t pick it because it was pretty. It’s just a nice coincidence that it is also very handsome. Collectors love the fact you could buy a watch today that looks basically identical to normally the one sold in 1969. It’s an immediate retro watch. It is also perhaps one of the best “bang for the buck” high-end watches available. Pre-owned examples are readily available and can be had for very, very attractive prices. Add all of it up, and it’s easy to see why for a lot of aficionados, the Speedmaster remains to be the ultimate watch. If you don’t believe us, just ask NASA.

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