July 20th, 2014, marks the 45th anniversary of the moon landing and the achievement of the Omega Speedmaster Professional in becoming the only watch to be flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions. Additionally, the Speedmaster Professional is the first watch to have been worn on the moon surface on July 21st, 1969 at 02:56 GMT. For this special occasion, we were invited by our friends from Omega to a very special dinner with Omega Ambassador and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin at the Kennedy Space Center a.k.a Cape Canaveral on 'Speedy Tuesday' earlier this week. On this wonderful evening, we were accompanied by our Omega Speedmaster Professional ref. 3570.50 powered by the manual wound calibre 1861.
Bound to the moon aboard the Apollo 11, astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first humans to land on the moon on July 20, 1969 at 20:18 UTC and to set foot on its surface six hours later on July 21st at 02:56 UTC. The third astronaut part of this mission and one that gets little credit was Michael Collins, who piloted the spacecraft alone in lunar orbit after being launched by the Saturn V rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida. Even though Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were both wearing their Omega Speedmaster Professional watches, only Buzz Aldrin wore the watch outside the lunar module and on the lunar surface.
This beautiful evening hosted by Omega at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, took place at the Apollo Saturn V Center. To kick-off the evening, we were greeted by the warm and welcoming remarks from Brice Le Troadec —Omega President of Retail USA— and industry veteran Jean-Claude Monachon —Omega Vice President Product & Customer Service. Thereafter, former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin made its appearance to share with us in his own words what the Apollo 11 mission meant to him and also to share the role that was played by the Omega Speedmaster Professional strapped to his spacesuit at the time.
This time, Buzz Aldrin was wearing the newly launched Omega Speedmaster Professional 45th Anniversary Limited Edition —reviewed here— instead of his usual Speedmaster X-33. Since many of you might wonder where is the Omega Speedmaster Professional worn by him on the moon, we regretfully inform you that said watch was lost while being shipped back to the U.S. Government upon returning from space. One thing we know for sure, is that if that 'Speedy' ever surfaces —very unlikely as the exact serial number of the watch worn by Buzz was not registered by the U.S. government—, more than one will be involved in a thorough investigation from the U.S. government for unlawful possession of stolen goods and U.S. property.
Following Buzz Aldrin's —age 84— moving words, we were treated to a very nice sit down dinner with one of the longest banquet tables we've ever seen, located right underneath the Apollo Saturn V rocket. Perhaps, one of the coolest settings we've been at for any watch collectors dinner.
Following the delightful dinner, we were surprised by Jean-Claude Monachon with some very special watches belonging to the Omega Museum. These fascinating and exceptional museum watches included the first Speedmaster from 1957 ref. CK 2915 on bracelet, the second generation Speedmaster from 1959 ref. CK 2998 on brown leather strap, the first Speedmaster Professional chosen by NASA in 1966 ref. ST 105.012 on NATO strap, first 18K yellow gold Speedmaster commemorating the moon landing in 1969 ref. BA 145.022 —limited edition of 1014 pieces from the same batch as the one presented to President Richard Nixon and his Vice-president but not accepted by them— and lastly the limited edition Speedmaster Professional 'Apollo XI 1969-1994' ref. ST 345.0062 —2,500 pieces ever made with special engraving on its case band.
As the night went by and we were transported back in time by Buzz Aldrin and the space paraphernalia on display at the Apollo Saturn V center, we could only think of what the dark side of the moon holds and raised our glasses to toast for this major milestone in humankind history but also in honor of the Omega Speedmaster Professional, one of the most iconic timepieces ever created. A very important watch that is celebrating this year with the Apollo 11 45th anniversary limited edition in titanium and Sedna gold. Thank you Omega for letting us be part of this superb watchlife experience.