When Omega conceived the Speedmaster, it was envisioned for a completely different purpose. As the name suggests, it was built for speeding cars, not rocket ships. Upon release, the Speedmaster was an instant hit with professional drivers. Its rugged construction meant that it could withstand intense vibrations and shocks while keeping perfect time. And thanks to the tachymetric scale on its bezel, drivers could time their laps more easily than ever before.
It was the first watch with these features, and at the time, revolutionized the design, durability and functionality of wristwatches.
Ultimately, it was these two features that would make the Speedmaster so suitable for space exploration, and would lead to its place on the wrist of every astronaut in the Apollo program from 1965 onwards.
It was in 1964 that NASA began hunting for a chronograph to use on its manned space missions. They chose watches from a number of different brands and put them through the same series of tests that were used for every piece of hardware that was intended for space. Only one watch survived the extreme temperatures, vibrations, hard shocks, and unforgiving vacuums of the testing process – the Omega Speedmaster.
Today, six decades on, the Speedmaster is still qualified for all manned space missions and is a permanent piece of equipment on the International Space Station. In testament to the forward-thinking design of the original, the Moonwatch made now is essentially the same as the one released by Omega in the pre-space age.
Similar to the one George Clooney’s father used to wear. Brand ambassador and child of the sixties, Clooney was eight years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Armstrong first set foot on the moon. When his father heard that his son had begun a partnership with Omega, Clooney junior says, “He brought it down from the attic, after putting it away for 20 years, and he wound it and it started running again. It was a special moment. I grew up with that watch on his arm.”
For Clooney, this makes the Speedmaster a true classic, like a vintage wine. He explains it like this, “Some things are classic, and when they’re classic, you will always want them. You’d be really upset if they changed. We want modern technology – like our cell phones – but there is something about having certain classic things, that if they changed, it would break your heart.”
On the inside, the calibre is also unmodified and manufacturing the Moonwatch remains a complex exercise, as it has always been. It takes a staggering 14 months to prepare all the separate component parts prior to assembly, and 80 manual operations are needed to assemble the base plate alone.
If there is one thing that we can take from the 60th anniversary of the Omega Speedmaster, it is that with the right tools, achieving any challenge is possible. Omega is proud to have played a role in one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century – the moon landing – and looks forward to the many great accomplishments humans will make in the next 60 years and beyond.
A Look At The Omega Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer
True to OMEGA tradition, every new Speedmaster carries the spirit and design inspiration of the models that came before. In the new Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer, this is
immediately clear when you view the dial.
The distinctive minute-track style on this stainless steel watch first appeared on a 1968 Speedmaster model. Linked to the Speedmaster’s motor racing heritage, it returns again, this
time on a matt-black dial.
Other notable features on the dial include the orange markings and bevelled 18K white gold arrowhead indexes that are filled with white Super-LumiNova. For this model, the subdials have also been slightly expanded for improved readability and the 44.25 mm case is thinner than previous versions thanks to the work done on the sapphire crystal in particular.
The polished ceramic bezel features a brushed Liquidmetal® tachymeter scale as well as distinctive orange wording that matches the colour of the varnished hands and tip of the seconds hand.
Around the wrist, there is a black leather strap that contains a section of orange rubber through the middle. A milling tool has then been used to create micro perforations through the constructed strap that reveal the orange rubber inside. This perforated design provides the perfect sporty look and also
has the benefit of aerating the wearer’s skin.
The Speedmaster Racing Master Chronometer represents the next Speedmaster model with Master Chronometer certification. Driven by the calibre 9900, the watch and its movement
have reached the Swiss industry’s highest standard of precision, performance and magnetic resistance, as approved by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS).