I am of that generation who can recall where they were when Marilyn Monroe died: Sat with my boyfriend overlooking Tarn Hows listening to the car radio. Likewise, where they were when Kennedy was shot: Walking down the corridor in Hall. We were the generation who followed the space race; Telstar; Gagarin and Shepherd; the first legendary announcement of “The Eagle has landed” and Armstrong’s “small step” on 21 July, 1969 at 02.56 GMT.
The very first OMEGA to be worn in space was a Speedmaster, on the wrist of Wally Schirra, on Mercury Atlas 8 in October 1962. That is now commemorated by this special edition from OMEGA. That was OMEGA’s first venture into space. In 1965 they received the accolade of being “flight qualified by NASA for all manned space missions”.
First OMEGA in space 1962
OMEGA was there on every Gemini and Apollo mission. It has also been the choice of cosmonauts.
Fitting, that 50 years on comes this new edition which honours that space link and tradition, its presentation more poignant because of Armstrong’s death on 25 August this year.
The Speedmaster chronograph made its first appearance in 1957 and has a proven record of high precision, total reliability having been tested in the most challenging of situations, locations and environments.
Highlighted within its stainless steel case the varnished black dial presents its information in a simple, unfussy style which is practical and clear just as it forebears have done for 55 years. White transferred elements stand out. Super-LumiNova on the indexes adds to the readability. The hours are denoted by simple batons.
At twelve o’clock the watch’s credentials are displayed. The OMEGA symbol is applied and rhodium plated. Beneath it the OMEGA name and under that the legend “Speedmaster” in a flowing, cursive style.
The rhodium-plated sweeping, elegant “Alpha” hands coated in Super-LumiNova indicate hours and minutes. The sweeping seconds hand is simpler, long and slender but similarly coated.
The “Alpha” shape is used for the hand of the small seconds, set at 9 o’clock which differentiates it from the very similar chronograph dials; at 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock. There baton hands are used on the 30 chrono-counter at 3 o’clock and the 12 hour chrono-counter at 6 o’clock. Otherwise, visually, there is a unity of size of sub-dial and in the simple Arabic form of the numbers.
All can be viewed through a sapphire crystal glass which is both scratch resistant and anti-reflective.
The case is of stainless steel, a neat 39.70 mm, 14.00 mm in depth with both polished and brushed surfaces but the stainless steel does not dominate because its impact is diminished by the forceful presence of the black aluminium bezel with a tachymetric scale with its slender steel outline.
The traditionally placed crown is polished and knurled and carries the OMEGA logo. The simple chronograph pushers are also placed, as is usual, on each side of the crown.
The solid case back is embossed and carries a depiction of the original Seahorse, synonymous with the brand family and beneath it the OMEGA symbol against a honeycomb patterned motif. The statement “THE FIRST OMEGA IN SPACE” and the date of that first mission when OMEGA accompanied Schirra , “OCTOBER 3, 1962”.
Importantly the reverse also carries the edition number.
The movement is the renowned and trusted manual winding calibre 1861, its reliability proven by longevity of service in the OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch.
It has 18 jewels and a glucydur balance wheel. It also offers a power reserve of 45 hours.
The strap is of brown calf leather, appealingly retro in style, as befits this tribute to the past, highlighted with beige stitching, quite bold, with a polished stainless steel ardillon buckle.
- Model: Speedmaster “First Omega in Space” Numbered Edition Chronograph
- Reference: 318.104.22.168.01.001
- Case: Steel; Diameter 39.70mm; Height 14.00 mm; Water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid case back
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidairy seconds; Chronograph.
- Movement: OMEGA Calibre 1861; manual wind; 18 jewels: frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); power reserve 45 hours.
- Strap: Brown leather with beige stitching and polished ardillon buckle.