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The Omega Watch: From The First Man On The Moon To The Present

Posted on September 5th, 2013 No Comments

When people talk about the first wristwatch worn on the moon, they are referring to the Omega Speedmaster Professional chronograph. Ever since that milestone in human history, this Omega model has been referred to as the ‘Moon Watch’, but this self-winding chronograph was introduced many years earlier, in 1957. At the time, Omega could never have imagined that this particular model would be forever associated with such an extraordinary achievement. But the Omega Speedmaster earned the opportunity through an extremely rigorous vetting process. This process eliminated wristwatches from all of the other competing watch manufacturers who coveted the once-in-a-lifetime marketing opportunity.
The history of this watch and American space travel precedes that historic July day in 1969 by a few years. The first Omega Speedmaster to leave Earth’s atmosphere was worn on the wrist of Walter Schirra aboard the Sigma 7 in 1962. NASA requested that astronauts wear wristwatches for space travel as a matter of practicality in the event that onboard systems failed. Initially, the make and model of watch was up to the astronauts, but as the space program advanced, NASA decided that something as important as reliable timekeeping in space could not be left to chance. So NASA started a testing program that involved buying watches from several manufacturers and subjecting them to a regimen of different tests that simulated the changing conditions of space travel.
These watches were subjected to: extremes in temperature, exposure to a vacuum environment, up to 12 Gs of gravitational force, violent shaking, and other tests to ensure that the watches were anti-magnetic, shockproof, and waterproof. After extensive testing, the watch NASA chose was an Omega Speedmaster that had been bought over the counter at a Houston jewelry store. The Speedmaster became standard-issue for Apollo astronauts. During missions, most astronauts wore one Speedmaster set to Mission Elapsed Time and another set to Houston local time.
While there is no disputing that the Swiss-made Omega Speedmaster was the first watch worn on the surface of the moon, there has been a minor dispute over which astronaut was the first to walk on the moon while wearing one. During that historic Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were given a window of two hours and forty minutes to explore the moon’s surface with the Omega Speedmaster strapped to the outsides of their spacesuits. Adding to this watch’s already remarkable history, the Speedmaster worn by Aldrin ended up tracking this period of time, as the onboard timer on the Lunar Module failed shortly after landing and could not be restarted.
According to Aldrin, during the moon walk, Armstrong left his Speedmaster chronograph on the module as a backup. In fact, it was Aldrin’s Speedmaster that was the first wristwatch worn on the moon’s surface. This Omega was to be donated to the Smithsonian Institute to be included in a collection of Aldrin’s other equipment. However, super mario run hack download no survey it was stolen sometime in the years after the moonwalk and has never been recovered.
A year later, during the Apollo 13 mission, the NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster had a far more crucial role. After an explosion on the service module rendered several critically important systems inoperable, scrapped plans to land on the moon again, and endangered the astronauts, lives, Commander James Lovell’s Speedmaster became an essential life- and mission-saving tool.
The crew of Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Jim Haies had to power down all super mario run hack download no survey systems except for the radio receiver to conserve energy. All the timed engine burns programmed into the vessel’s computer to enable the astronauts to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere were now out of Check our website service. Using only his Speedmaster chronograph, Lovell and his crew were able to time the duration and intervals of engine thrusts, and the men and their vessel safely returned home.
In the years since, Omega Speedmaster chronographs have continued their remarkable service on the first space shuttle mission and subsequent missions. These watches have been selected by the former Soviet Union for their space program. The Omega Speedmaster watch remains the only NASA flight-qualified watch for space walks, and has been consistently retested by NASA to ensure performance. To this day, this model is still the only watch “Flight-Qualified by NASA for all Manned Space Missions,” and has served the American and Russian space programs with distinction since the early 1960s.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional chronograph is still in production today. The very same model preferred by NASA and the men and women who crew missions for space exploration can be purchased at fine jewelry stores around the world. Buying a Speedmaster allows the owner to wear an extraordinary piece of history with a record of performance that is, literally, out of this world.

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