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To the Moon and Back: The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

September 24, 2017

BY Paul Altieri

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Among luxury sports watches, popular choices include pilot watches, dive watches, nautical watches, and race-inspired chronograph watches. Today, however, we’re looking at a space watch — the Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” chronograph. While there are so many versions of the Omega Speedmaster that have no ties to space exploration, it’s the Moonwatch that’s undoubtedly the most famous Speedmaster of them all.

That comes as no surprise of course since the Speedmaster has the distinction of being the first watch to make it to the moon on Buzz Aldrin’s wrist. Since 1969, Omega has continuously celebrated this feat with a steady stream of new iterations of the legendary Moonwatch, including the Speedmaster ref. 3570.50. In fact, the Speedmaster ref. 3570.50 is one of the closest to original Moonwatch model. Let’s take a look at the awesome Omega collection they have introduced.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

Buzz Aldrin has made the Omega Speedmaster a watch that truly stands out. (Credit: Aaron Shapio)

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Which Speedmaster is the Original Moonwatch?

When Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon during the historic moon landing in 1969, he left his Omega Speedmaster ref. ST105.012 (issued by NASA) on the Apollo 11 Eagle Lunar Module as a back up for the malfunctioning onboard clock. On the other hand Buzz Aldrin had his Omega Speedmaster ref. ST105.012 strapped around his space suit when he stepped onto the moon.

As a result, the Speedmaster ref. ST105.012 is the original Moonwatch. It’s worth noting, however, that the later Speedmaster ref. 145.012 is also considered a Moonwatch since it too went to the moon during other missions.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

Here is the modern Speedmaster “Moonwatch”.

The Similarities Between the Speedmaster Ref. 3570.50 and the Original Moonwatch Models

The modern Omega Speedmaster “Moonwatch” ref. 3570.50 made its debut in 1996 as the replacement to the earlier Speedmaster ref. 3590.50. Omega produced the Speedmaster ref. 3570.50 for a little less than two decades until 2014. This full stainless steel Omega chronograph sports a 42mm dial, a black tachometer bezel, and a black dial along with the trio of subsidiary dials for the chronograph function.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

Here is a close-up of the Omega Speedmaster.

As a tribute piece, this particular Speedmaster model has several similarities to the original Moonwatch. First and foremost, just like the first Moonwatch from the 1960s, powering the Speedmaster ref. 3570.50 is a manual-winding mechanical movement. While Buzz Aldrin’s Moonwatch ran on the Cal. 321 with a frequency of 18,000 bph, the tribute Speedmaster houses the hand-wound Caliber 1861 chronograph movement operating at 21,600 bph.

Another important similarity between the initial Omega Moonwatch and the more modern Speedmaster ref. 3570.50 is the Hesalite crystal, a.k.a. Plexiglas, protecting the face of the watch. Forgoing contemporary sapphire crystal for Hesalite emphasizes Omega’s effort to stay as close to the true Moonwatch as possible.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

The Omega Speedmaster caseback reads “FLIGHT-QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS” followed by, “THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON.”

Additionally, identical to the vintage Moonwatch, the Omega Speedmaster ref. 3570.50 also features a solid caseback rather than a transparent one. Plus, underlining the watch’s historical lineage is the text proudly displayed on the steel shield: FLIGHT-QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS followed by, THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON.

A Lunar Legacy Worth Celebrating: Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch

While there are plenty of other Speedmaster Professional chronographs with automatic movements, sapphire crystal, and transparent casebacks, the Speedmaster Moonwatch ref. 3570.50 remains unapologetically faithful to the one that made it to the moon and back. And with a legacy like that, that’s a very good thing indeed.

What’s your opinion on this modern-day equivalent of the legendary Omega Moonwatch? Do you own any Speedmaster chronographs? Share your thoughts and/or pictures with us in the comment section below.

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