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Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronographs

Copyright © 2004 by Lee Bailham and Eric M. Jones.
All rights reserved. Last revised 8 April 2017
Omega Speedmaster

NASA supplied each of the Apollo astronauts with a standard issue Omega Speedmaster Professional manual-wind wristwatch (pictured above) together with Velcro strap. Unlike almost all other Apollo equipment, the watch was not manufactured for use specifically by NASA or in space but had been on sale in retail outlets in Houston and all of the United States from 1957-c1966 as the "Speedmaster" and as the "Speedmaster Professional" thereafter. Beginning in about 1962, NASA purchased examples of a number of commercially available watches for evaluation.

Aside from its primary and obvious function, the Omega Speedmaster Professional also incorporated a chronograph (stopwatch) via the large third hand on the watch dial. The three interior dials on the face provided respectively a) a second-hand, ancillary to the conventional time function b) a minute elapsed counter for the chronograph and c) an hour elapsed counter, again related to the chronograph function. The outside of the dial included a fixed bezel incremented to act as a Tachymeter (to measure miles per hour) in conjunction with the stopwatch function, hence the title "Speedmaster".

The timepiece was intended to be worn for intra and extra vehicular activties including the moonwalks on all the missions. Inside a pressurised environment the watch was worn conventionally but during EVA (extra vehicular activity) the astronauts wore the watch on the outside of their pressure suits, the long Velcro strap was designed to accommodate this change in 'wrist' dimension.

The Speedmaster had initially been worn on many of the pre-Apollo NASA manned space missions after satisfactorily passing exhaustive tests aimed at determining performance reliability in the conditions likely to be experienced during EVA. The first American to walk in space Edward H. White wore a Speedmaster during his Gemini 4 spacewalk and there are some unconfirmed reports that suggest the manufacturer only discovered its use by NASA after that event.

This model is still worn by many present day astronauts on Shuttle missions.

Full records are not available on the present whereabouts of all the Speedmasters worn on the moon but the list set out below is believed to be the best record available.

Of special note, it is understood that Buzz Aldrin's watch was lost in transit in or about 1971 whilst en route to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum whilst Buzz was attempting to loan the item for display. Its current whereabouts are not therefore known. It may well be the first watch worn on the moon. Buzz recounted in his autobiography that, during the EVA, Neil Armstrong left his own Speedmaster in the Lunar Module as a replacement for the in-cabin timer which had malfunctioned.

The following table combines information from Robert Pearlman's CollectSpace website with additional information provided by Ulrich Lotzmann.

Flown Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronographs currently on public display
Mission Crewman Last Known Location
044 Apollo 8 Bill Anders U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis
060 Apollo 8 Jim Lovell Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
027 Apollo 10 Tom Stafford National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC
046 Apollo 11 Neil Armstrong National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC
073 Apollo 11 Mike Collins National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC
057 Apollo 12 Dick Gordon The Omega Museum, Bienne, Switzerland
068 Apollo 13 Fred Haise Penn-Harris-Madison Planetarium, Mishawaka, Indiana
075 Apollo 14 Alan Shepard Kansas Cosmosphere, Hutchinson
077 Apollo 14 Ed Mitchell US Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville
045 Apollo 15 Al Worden on loan from Worden to the Smithsonian
047 Apollo 15 Jim Irwin Penn-Harris-Madison Planetarium, Mishawaka, Indiana
061 Apollo 17 Ron Evans Kansas Cosmosphere, Hutchinson

Ed Mitchell's Flown Speedmaster

Ed Mitchell's Flown Speedmaster

Displayed at the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville, Florida.
Photo by Ulli Lotzmann.

Earlier versions of this page included a table of detailed information concerning NASA-Flown Speedmasters. In early April 2017, we were reliably informed that table contains errors and were asked to remove it until such time as a replacement is provided by representatives of NASA, NASM, and Omega.

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