Complex Made Simple

Video: Omega Speedmaster – 60 years of excellence

* Omega Speedmaster is the first watch to be worn on the moon

* Used by legendary explorers Ralph Plaisted and Wong How Man

* It takes 14 months to prepare components for assembly

* 80 manual operations needed to assemble base plate alone


Few watches have the power to inspire like the Omega Speedmaster. As the first watch to be worn on the moon, it has become an enduring symbol of the ingenuity and skill that took mankind into space.

On the 60th anniversary of the Speedmaster’s release, Omega, with space-enthusiast and brand ambassador George Clooney, looks back at the heady days of the Apollo space programme and reflects on why the Speedmaster was able to go where it did.

Upon release, the timepiece was an instant hit with professional drivers. Its rugged construction meant it could withstand intense vibrations and shocks, while keeping perfect time. And thanks to the tachymetric scale on its bezel, drivers could time their laps more easily than ever before.

The Speedmaster was the first timepiece with these features and, at the time, revolutionised the design, durability and functionality of wristwatches.


Out of this world

Ultimately, these two features make the Speedmaster perfect for space exploration, winning it space on the wrist of every astronaut in the Apollo programme from 1965 onwards – because this is the only watch that passed stringent NASA tests, exhibiting an unparalleled ability to survive extreme temperatures, vibrations, hard shocks and vacuum.


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Today, six decades on, the Speedmaster is still qualified for all manned space missions and is a permanent piece of equipment on the International Space Station.

Inside the timepiece, the calibre remains unmodified and manufacturing the Speedmaster Moonwatch remains a complex exercise, as it has always been. It takes a staggering 14 months to prepare all of the separate component parts for assembly, while 80 manual operations are needed to assemble the base plate alone.


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Watch out for excellence

It’s not just in space that the Speedmaster’s design rules: proof of its excellence can be found closer to home, as the watch a tried and tested navigational tool for terrestrial explorers.

In 1968, legendary American explorer Ralph Plaisted used his Speedmaster and sextant to determine the exact location of the geographical North Pole for the first time. Likewise in 1985, Hong Kong-born explorer Wong How Man used his Speedmaster to help discover and map the elusive source of the mighty Yangtze River.


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Omega is proud to have played a role in the moon landing, one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century, and looks forward to the great accomplishments humans will make in the next 60 years and beyond.