The 40th Anniversary Omega Speedmaster Missions Collection
written by A.Morgan - 21st Feb 2012
The legendary Omega Speedmaster is one of those few watches that can actually boast true heritage, having been the only watch to have ever been certified for extra vehicular activity (EVA) in space by NASA. Such was the Speedmaster’s success with NASA that the Speedmaster Mk1 was used by them for twenty-two missions, from Gemini V in 1965 through to Skylab III in 1974. The Speedmaster continues to serve NASA in its most recent X-33 form.
To celebrate the Speedmaster’s lengthy service history, as well as its 40th anniversary, Omega released just forty of a special edition box set in 1997 containing all twenty-two mission-patch Speedmasters. For every one of the NASA’s missions where the Speedmaster was worn, the dial was emblazoned at nine o’clock with the mission patch, and so too are the watches in this collection. The set also includes a replica of the very first Speedmaster, commonly known as the ‘broadarrow’ due to its distinctively shaped hands.
When Omega sent the 1957 Broadarrow to NASA for assessment, several recommendations were made by NASA regarding the hands and bezel, which they wanted changed for legibility reasons. This is why you see the differences between the original and those used in the NASA missions. The Speedmaster was also put through extreme condition testing such as temperature testing from 93°C down to -18°C, humidity testing at 95%, shock testing at 40g, high pressure testing at 1.6atm, vacuum testing at 0.000001atm, vibration testing at 2000cps and noise testing at 130dB. Of all the watches tested by NASA, the Speedmaster was the only one to survive unscathed.
The first official mission of the Speedmaster with NASA was Gemini V in 1965, however it had already been used as a personal preference by Walter Schirra in 1962 on board the one-man spacecraft Sigma 7 for the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, where he flew six orbits around the Earth.
Completing the Missions box set is a Burgeon loupe with which to view the intricacies of the collection, plus an encased Cal. 861, the Omega-tweaked Lemania movement used in post-1965 Speedmasters. The box itself is wrapped in the same materials used in the space suit, a man-made polymer that protects astronauts from the harsh space environment.
Space exploration may be on hold during this financial slump, but the memory of the golden years of space exploration remains very much alive. The full set can be purchased here.