Omega Moonwatch: Buzz Aldrin Celebrates Apollo 11's 50th Anniversary
Omega has closed out its celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with a third limited-series model, the first new Speedmaster Moonwatch to house its iconic Calibre 321 manual-winding movement.
The original Calibre 321 was the first movement ever used in the Omega Speedmaster in 1957. Most famously, following its adoption by Nasa, it was used in a variety of space-bound models including the Speedmaster worn by astronaut Ed White during the first American spacewalk and the Speedy first worn on the moon on 21 July, 1969.
To mark that august moment, the third and final installment in the extra-terrestrial triptych comes in a 42mm brushed and polished platinum case that features a sapphire case back through which the movement can be observed.
Other touches assured to attract collector interest: a black and white ceramic bezel with tachymeter scale; fourth-generation-style twisted lugs; a stepped onyx dial with 18K white-gold indexes and hands, and three subdials formed from genuine moon meteorite. The watch is presented on a black leather strap fitted with a platinum buckle.
The announcement of the latest - and last - anniversary piece came exactly 50 years after the first steps were taken on the moon – on July 21, at 2.56am UTC. Reflecting on the occasion half a century later, Buzz Aldrin recalled the historic moment NASA (and the world) could claim its first interplanetary conquest:
"Neil descended, and we heard mission control saying ‘getting an image, but upside down.' They could see he was on the ladder. I could see the top of his head from where I stood, then he said he was going to step off the LEM.
“Now, as for what happened next, he went out and carried with him a strap attached to his chest, and the other end went to a pulley inside and it paid out. The main purpose of the strap was to bring up the heavy rock boxes, and convey the camera down. I hooked the camera to the strap and sent it down. That part does not get much attention, but that is how we got the camera down to the moon.”
“I then got in position to come down. I came down the ladder, and jumped off, being careful not to lock the door behind me. When I got off and looked around, and it was easy to balance, I said, ‘magnificent desolation.’ I guess I said that because it was magnificent we had gotten there, and it looked pretty desolate. But it was magnificent desolation, and I think Neil remarked on the beauty too.”
“As for thinking about all those watching, we really did not think much about that. We were focused on mission control, and they were the people we had to think about most. Transmissions did not occupy us much beyond mission control. Neil decided where to put the camera, and I got out the two experiments and carried them. We were focused on the experiments, making sure they were level, pointed toward the sun. Funny story about the level, it was the sort with a cone and small ‘BB’ that has to settle in the center. It just kept going around and around in one-sixth gravity. I stepped away, did other work, and then came back – and found the BB centered and experiment level. On the moon, a leveling device does not give level right away!”
Buzz also recalled the mission's eventual splashdown, three days later, on 24 July, 1969:
“Coming down, we had to wait until we hit the water, and you are not quite sure what altitude you were at. The altimeter was not a good indication. On splashdown, we had to throw a switch to release the parachutes, only it was a bit bumpy, so we tipped over before we could release the parachutes, then the balloons tipped us right side up again. It was good to be back, eventually to see and talk with family.
“When we arrived on the carrier deck, we were placed in a containment trailer, and it had a window. When they played the national anthem, we wanted to stand. But the window was very low, and we realised that if we stood by the window, at full height, they would only see our lower half, so we decided better to kneel by the window. So, we were actually kneeling.
“All in all, it was a privilege to have been able to undertake the first manned mission to the lunar surface, an honor to have worked with so many good and dedicated people, and to have left our footprints there. Even now, sometimes, I marvel that we went to the moon. But now, I think, it is time for the next generation to buckle up and get on to Mars.”
Speedmaster Moonwatch 321 Platinum omega.com