NEWS

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 Limited Edition Marks 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing


Omega, maker of the first watch worn on the moon, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in a big way this year, releasing a modern version of one of the most legendary and collectible Omega Speedmasters out there, the Ref. BA145.022, a gold-cased, commemorative limited edition that was awarded to NASA astronauts and other luminaries. But the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary limited Edition — which had its coming-out party last week at a star-studded event at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida — is much more than a simple re-creation; it also brings to the Omega portfolio a new proprietary case material and a new manual-winding movement.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary LE - reclining
The Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition

The original Ref. BA145.022 was presented at an “Astronauts Appreciation Dinner” in Houston on November 25, 1969, which celebrated the success of Apollo 11 the previous summer. The very first commemorative limited-edition timepiece issued by Omega, it had a case of 18k yellow gold, a rare burgundy-colored bezel made of anodized aluminum, and, on the first 32 of the 1,014 numbered pieces that were issued to astronauts, watch industry leaders and politicians, the inscription, “To mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time.” (The model numbered “1” was famously intended for the U.S. President at the time, Richard Nixon, but had to be returned due to government protocol involving gifts; more details can be found here.)

Omega Speedmaster BE145-022 - reclining
The Omega Speedmaster Ref. BE145-022 (above) was inscribed for president Richard M. Nixon (below).

Omega Speedmaster BA145-022 - caseback

A few of the NASA veterans at that 1969 dinner may have also been present at the launch of the 50th anniversary edition, which took place during a gala dinner served underneath the Saturn V rocket and also attended by Omega’s most well-known celebrity ambassador, actor George Clooney, and his wife Amal Clooney. Clooney was joined on stage by Lieutenant General Thomas Stafford, veteran of four NASA space missions and commander of the Apollo 10 mission; Apollo 16 lunar module pilot and Apollo 11 CAPCOM Charlie Duke; and Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann. Duke is among the four living humans who have set foot on the lunar surface. Also in attendance was former NASA engineer James H. Ragan, the man who designated the Omega Speedmaster “flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions” way back in 1965, over competitors from other watch brands like Longines and Rolex.

Omega_Moonwatch_Event_stage_1000
L-r: Astronauts Jean-Francois Clervoy, Terry Virts, and Nicole Stott; Thomas Stafford; George Clooney; Charles Duke; James H. Ragan; Raynald Aeschlimann

Like its 1969 predecessor, the new watch is also limited to 1,014 numbered pieces, all of them available to consumers (only numbers 33 through 1,000 of the original reference were offered for sale to the public). For its 42-mm case, Omega has debuted a new alloy called Moonshine gold. Paler in hue than the 18k yellow gold used for the vintage model, Moonshine gold is also notable for its high resistance to fading of color and luster over time, according to Omega. This alloy, composed of gold, silver, and palladium is also used for the bracelet, with its five arched links per row and combination of brushed and polished finishes, as well as the dial and its indices and hands.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th LE - angle
The burgundy-colored bezel, with Ceragold tachymeter scale, is made of ceramic.

The caseband of the Anniversary model retains the distinctive asymmetrical design of its ancestor, while the burgundy bezel of the modern watch is made of high-tech ceramic rather than aluminum. The bezel’s tachymeter scale — an element that hearkens back to the Speedmaster’s pre-Moonwatch days as an auto-racing-inspired chronograph — is executed in another Omega-exclusive material, a ceramic-gold mixture called Ceragold. The dial, with its vertically brushed finish, is marked “Au750” to call attention to its being made of solid gold. Faceted black onyx indexes mark the hours and the skeletonized hour and minute hands are filled with black varnish. The central chronograph subdial hand is also black varnished, as are the hands for the subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary LE - dial CU
The gold dial features black varnish on the hands and black onyx hour markers.

The other notable difference, and technical upgrade, from the 1969 watch is the use of a new, Master Chronometer-certified movement, the Omega Caliber 3861. Like the original model’s Caliber 861, the movement is manual-wound and equipped with a chronograph function. The new caliber, however, includes a host of contemporary Omega elements like a co-axial escapement and a silicon balance spring, in addition to being enhanced for this special edition with a gold-plated mainplate and bridges. Unlike its predecessor, this movement is not hidden by a solid engraved caseback but on display through a sapphire window — though the caseback is nevertheless still quite special. Its periphery features an engraved “1969-2019” and the watch’s limited edition number highlighted in burgundy; an inner ring with blue and black PVD color treatments that features on one side a partial map of the American continents focused on the Apollo 11 lift-off site at Cape Canaveral, on the other a meteorite inlay representing the moon; and polished anniversary text reading “Apollo 11 – 50th Anniversary” and “The First Watch Worn on the Moon.”

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary LE - caseback
The manual-winding Master Chronometer caliber 3861 is visible through the caseback.

Even the packaging of the 2019 Limited Edition is evocative of the original’s special “moon crater” box. The modern watch’s box features a new crater-inspired design with gray ceramic side panels 3D-printed with lunar surface imagery and a top panel printed with a rendering of the moon’s Sea of Tranquility. THE

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary LE - Watchbox
Each watch comes in a special “moon crater” box.

The release of the 50th Anniversary timepiece was the centerpiece of a truly star-filled anniversary event. And while it was Clooney who drew the lion’s share of media attention, the actor himself was determined to shine the spotlight on his fellow guests. “It’s a great pleasure to be here — and an honor,” Clooney said. “I have enormous respect for the people who made the Apollo missions such a success.” Aeschlimann added, “It’s a huge achievement to land on another world. I can’t think of a better reason to raise a glass in tribute.”

7 Responses to “Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 Limited Edition Marks 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing”

Show all responses
  1. Mike Wakefield

    This watch is stunning and would sit well in any watch collection. Please would you let me know the retail price of this watch and if you or your authorized distributors are taking deposits?

    I am very keen to acquire one of these watches as I was born on 14 July 1969, just before the moon landing and also celebrate my 50TH birthday. I also own one of the 2007 50th Anniversary Editions (905 of 1957), so this watch will make an excellent addition to my collection..

    Thank you and kind regards.

    Reply
  2. Alfred will

    I have had a moonwatch for well over 20 years.
    It is the prize of my collection which has other high end omegas, breitlings, tags, tudors,Cartiers, rolex and Rado.

    Reply
  3. Debra A Rentfrow

    Stumbled upon this website looking for something to commerate the anniversary of the moon landing and my birthday. Beautiful watch, but out of my price range. Anyone owning one will be lucky to have such an exquisite timepiece.

    Reply
  4. Jorge Robles

    It is a shame that there is no deep technical description of the movement from any of the outlets that cover the news about this Anniversary Watch. Everyone say the same two things, just that, that it has a co-axial escapement and a silicon balance spring. But they do not say that according to pictures showing the movement, that movement maintains the same basic general design as the old 1861, this movement has 26 jewels instead of 18 on the old 1861, that the attachment point of the hairspring to the balance cock appears to be movable, other co-axial movements have it fixed to a single piece balance cock. They do not say neither if the hairspring is flat, or has a Breguet overcoil, the level of antimagnetism on this watch (although being Master Co-Axial would mean over 15k gauss), which other parts of the escapement, if any, are also made of silicon Also they do not mention (if they ever bother to ask) water resistance level of the case, and relative hardness of the case in the Vickers scale for this new alloy, with different push buttons for the chronograph, and things like that. I do not know other people, but I am one who likes to know those things because they are part of the micro-mechanics and attractiveness of this watch. And they are only a few. That is the reason I do not subscribe anymore to magazines, they lack all these things…..
    At least the pictures are good quality and show the level of craftsmanship deployed here, and this watch is a feast to the eyes. It is a shame that my late friend Chuck is not with us, he would have filled all those gaps and holes…..

    Reply
  5. David Perry

    When I first saw your photo, my first reaction was “too fancy”. But your article explained each featured as truly commemorative to, first, an historic watch (the Astronauts Appreciation Dinner model) and the historic moon landing. Even the box is truly special. Perhaps Omega could be persuaded to put the new movement in a stainless 50th anniversary model, or at least a strap version. CHF 32,000. Whew.

    Reply
  6. You gotta hand it to Omega: they know how to milk every last drop out of the cow….am curious to see what they have in store for July on the 50th anniversary though….

    Reply
  7. J. Brooks Gordon

    My goodness, that Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Omega Speedmaster is astronomically gorgeous! I incidentally write this on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 9 splashdown (March 13, 2019) — Apollo 9 should have a commemorative watch too.

    Reply
Leave a Reply