By Dan Brown
Editor’s Note: Please welcome guest blogger Dan Brown, who’s had a love affair going with the Omega Speedmaster for longer than he likes to admit.
As a lifelong watch and history enthusiast, all of the ingredients were in place for me to be naturally drawn to the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. I recall being a kid watching images of the Apollo Lunar Module landing at Tranquility Base on our old black and white television. I remember the wonderment I felt as Neil Armstrong made history stepping onto the surface of the moon.
Currently, when one mentions the Speedmaster name, things aren’t so black and white. There are myriad Speedmaster models now in Omega’s line-up – commemoratives, anniversary editions, varying movements, case materials, and dial configurations. There appears to be a Speedmaster to satisfy just about every taste imaginable.
My quest for a Moonwatch began a number of years ago with fits and starts, with my first Speedmaster being the Triple Date Reference 3523.80. Initially, this variant was rather appealing, but after a year or so of wrist time, I found the subdial configuration, hands and day/month windows provided too much information. After all, if you’re up in space tinkering with hugely important tasks and eventual immortality, do you really need to know the current day and date? Or the month, for that matter?
The second Speedmaster in my collection was one I thought might be enough to scratch my Moonwatch itch once and for all: the Speedmaster Automatic Reduced Reference 3510.50. It certainly looks the part, right?
However, as you might expect, it’s relatively diminutive case size of 38mm and automatic movement left me itchier than ever for the real thing. Plus, the case back did not carry the iconic words that simply had to be there:
“FLIGHT QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL SPACE MISSIONS,” and, “THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON.”
The Reduced, like the Triple Date (but in far quicker fashion), was destined for another home.
My third foray into the Speedmaster line-up was a 1970 Mark II Reference 145.014. The Mark II was indeed a step closer to the Grail, with its Lemania-based 861 movement and correct dial. But it proved to be too much tonneau-style, 70s funk to handle at the time. Omega’s attempt in 1969 to usher in a new and more modern decade with its Mark II variant (and subsequent Mark III through V models) eventually suffered the same fate as bell bottom jeans and lava lamps.
Which brings me to my beloved Moonwatch Reference 3570.50. For me, no other Speedmaster will do. It’s the proper, direct descendant of one of the most historically important chronographs ever produced. The 3570.50 was and is (with its new, albeit somewhat lengthy reference number: 3126.96.36.199.01.005) the true offspring of Omega’s first Moonwatches – the 105.012’s worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Apollo 11 mission, as well as crewmate Michael Collins’ 145.012.
Yes, I have always been a history buff and a NASA geek. It took some time – and a few brief affairs with different Speedmaster models – to finally obtain a true Moonwatch.
Looking at its simple and purposeful dial through the domed Hesalite crystal, it tells you only that which a purposeful chronograph should tell you – the current time, as well as elapsed time in seconds, minutes and hours. Turning the watch over, it is immensely satisfying to read the words engraved on its case back – words no other watch can lay claim to.
Hand-winding the 1861 movement makes you feel like an integral part of this watch. Wearing it brings about a true appreciation for this particular chronograph’s unique pedigree and very special place in history.