Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch: From NASA to Modern Day

by Barbara Wilson

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is not just a watch; it’s a symbol of human achievement and exploration. From its early beginnings to its pivotal role in space history, the Moonwatch has captured the imagination of watch enthusiasts and space aficionados alike. In this comprehensive article, we take a journey through time, tracing the remarkable history of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch from its inception to the present day.


I. The History of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch: From 1957 to Present

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is a legendary timepiece with a storied history that spans over six decades. From its inception in 1957 to its continued prominence in the present day, the Moonwatch holds a special place in horological and space exploration history. Let’s delve into its journey through time.


1. Introduction in 1957: The Speedmaster was introduced by Omega in 1957 as part of the Professional collection. Originally designed for motorsport and precision timing, the Speedmaster’s robustness and accuracy caught the attention of various industries, including aviation and space exploration.


2. NASA Approval and Space Exploration: In 1965, the Speedmaster Professional underwent a series of rigorous tests to meet NASA’s requirements for spaceflight. After successfully passing the tests, the Speedmaster was designated as the official watch for all manned space missions. On July 21, 1969, Buzz Aldrin famously wore his Speedmaster on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission, solidifying its status as the “Moonwatch.”


3. Evolving Designs and Calibers: Over the years, the Speedmaster Professional has seen various design iterations and technological advancements. Different dial variations, bezel styles, and movement calibers have been introduced to cater to changing tastes and preferences while maintaining the iconic Speedmaster aesthetic.

4. Modern Upgrades: Omega has continually updated the Speedmaster Professional to meet modern standards of performance and durability. Upgrades include the transition to Omega’s Co-Axial escapement and the implementation of Master Chronometer certification, ensuring precision and magnetic resistance.

5. Limited Editions and Commemorative Models: Throughout its history, Omega has released numerous limited edition Speedmaster models to celebrate significant events, anniversaries, and collaborations. These limited editions often pay homage to historic missions, iconic astronauts, and milestones in space exploration.

6. Iconic Features: The Moonwatch is characterized by its distinctive features, including the black dial with white hour markers, tachymeter bezel, chronograph subdials, and manual-wind movement. These features have become synonymous with the Speedmaster Professional’s timeless design.

7. Space Missions and Legacy: The Moonwatch’s legacy extends beyond the Apollo 11 mission. It has been worn on subsequent lunar missions, including Apollo 12, Apollo 14, Apollo 15, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17. Its connection to space exploration continues to make it a symbol of human achievement and exploration beyond Earth.

8. Collector’s Appeal: The Speedmaster Professional’s historical significance, iconic design, and association with space exploration have made it highly collectible. Vintage models, limited editions, and special variants are sought after by both watch enthusiasts and space aficionados.

9. Enduring Icon: Today, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch remains one of the most recognizable and respected timepieces in the watch industry. Its combination of history, design, and functionality has solidified its place as a true horological icon.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch’s journey from its origins in the 1950s to its current status as a horological legend is a testament to its enduring appeal and connection to human exploration and achievement. Its role in space history and its ability to adapt to the modern era while preserving its iconic design make it a timeless symbol of both style and substance.

II. The Design of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch: A Timeless Classic

The design of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is a testament to its status as a timeless classic. Its iconic features, distinctive aesthetic, and historical significance have made it one of the most recognizable and enduring watches in horological history. Let’s delve into the design elements that define the Moonwatch’s timeless appeal.

1. Black Dial with Contrasting Markers: The Moonwatch’s black dial serves as a backdrop for its luminous white hour markers and hands. This high-contrast color scheme ensures optimal legibility in various lighting conditions and contributes to the watch’s functional and utilitarian design.

2. Three Subdials: The chronograph functionality of the Moonwatch is displayed through three subdials: the small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, and the 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock. These subdials not only enhance the watch’s functionality but also add a sense of symmetry to the dial.

3. Tachymeter Bezel: The tachymeter bezel is a hallmark of the Speedmaster’s design. This feature allows wearers to measure speed over a known distance, making the Moonwatch a tool for various timing applications beyond its association with space travel.

4. Manual-Wind Movement: The Moonwatch is powered by a manual-wind movement, the Omega Caliber 1861. This movement pays homage to the original Caliber 321 used in the early Speedmaster models. Its presence aligns with the watch’s historical authenticity and its roots as a timepiece for precision timing.

5. Hesalite Crystal: The Moonwatch’s front crystal is made of hesalite, a type of acrylic material. This choice of crystal adds to the watch’s vintage charm and reflects the materials used in the early space missions. Hesalite also offers a certain warmth and authenticity that is cherished by enthusiasts.

6. “Professional” and “Omega” Logos: The “Professional” label on the dial emphasizes the watch’s purpose as a tool for professionals in various fields, including aviation and space exploration. The Omega logo, placed prominently below the 12 o’clock position, signifies the brand’s commitment to quality and precision.

7. Stainless Steel Case: The Moonwatch’s stainless steel case exudes a sense of durability and functionality. The watch’s robust construction aligns with its role as a tool watch that can withstand the challenges of space missions and various activities.

8. Versatile Aesthetics: Despite its history and functionality, the Moonwatch’s design is remarkably versatile. It seamlessly transitions from casual to formal occasions, making it a suitable companion for a wide range of activities and events.

9. Enduring Appeal: The Moonwatch’s design remains virtually unchanged since its introduction, and this continuity contributes to its enduring appeal. Its classic design elements have stood the test of time and continue to resonate with watch enthusiasts of all ages.

In conclusion, the design of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is a fusion of functional aesthetics and historical significance. Its timeless black-and-white color scheme, functional subdials, tachymeter bezel, and other distinctive features have collectively created a watch that remains as relevant and captivating today as it was during its initial introduction. The Moonwatch’s ability to seamlessly blend form and function makes it a true classic in the world of horology.

III. The Top 10 Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Models of All Time

Selecting the top 10 Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch models of all time is a subjective task due to the numerous variants, limited editions, and historical significance. However, here’s a list that includes some of the most notable and iconic Moonwatch models that have captured the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts alike:

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Ref. 311.

The modern iteration of the classic Moonwatch design, featuring the manual-wind Caliber 1861 movement and the iconic Hesalite crystal.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition:

Released in 2019, this limited edition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and features a polished Moonshine gold bezel and unique detailing.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Apollo 11 40th Anniversary Limited Edition:

Launched in 2009, this edition commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, featuring a unique dial design and mission-specific engravings.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Alaska Project:

Inspired by the prototype developed for NASA’s “Alaska Project,” this limited edition showcases a bold white dial and red chronograph hands, paying homage to its historical significance.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch “First Omega in Space”:

Inspired by Wally Schirra’s 1962 Mercury-Atlas 8 mission, this model features a smaller case size and vintage design elements.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Apollo-Soyuz 35th Anniversary Limited Edition:

Released in 2010, this edition commemorates the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, featuring a case back engraving of the mission’s insignia.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Caliber 321:

Released in 2019, this limited edition features the return of the Caliber 321 movement, celebrated for its historical significance and superb craftsmanship.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch “Silver Snoopy Award”:

Celebrating the Silver Snoopy Award received from NASA, this edition features a whimsical Snoopy-themed dial and a case back with a comic strip engraving.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 40th Anniversary Limited Edition:

Released in 1997, this edition celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Speedmaster’s introduction and features a unique red bezel and case back engravings.

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Apollo 15 45th Anniversary Limited Edition:

This edition pays tribute to the Apollo 15 mission, featuring a black dial with a laser-ablated Earth image and a case back engraving of the Lunar Rover.

These models represent a mix of historical significance, design innovation, limited edition appeal, and the enduring popularity of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. Collectors and enthusiasts often have personal preferences when it comes to specific models, so it’s important to consider factors such as historical context, design elements, and rarity when determining the most appealing Moonwatch for your collection.

IV. The Legacy of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch: A Testament to Space Exploration

The legacy of the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is an extraordinary testament to its role in space exploration, human achievement, and the enduring connection between horology and history. Its journey from a tool watch designed for precision timing to becoming the first watch worn on the moon has solidified its place as a cultural and horological icon. Let’s explore the enduring legacy of the Moonwatch:

1. Lunar Connection: The most defining moment in the Moonwatch’s legacy is its association with the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore the Speedmaster Professional on the lunar surface, making it the first watch to be worn on the moon. This historic achievement immortalized the Moonwatch as an integral part of human exploration beyond Earth.

2. Symbol of Human Achievement: The Moonwatch embodies the spirit of human endeavor, exploration, and pushing the boundaries of possibility. It serves as a symbol of human achievement, determination, and collaboration, inspiring generations to pursue bold dreams and aspirations.

3. Enduring Reliability: The Moonwatch’s role in space missions demonstrated its exceptional reliability and durability in the most challenging environments. This legacy of reliability continues to be a hallmark of Omega’s commitment to quality and precision.

4. Space Exploration Heritage: Beyond Apollo 11, the Moonwatch has been a part of subsequent lunar missions, including Apollo 12, Apollo 14, Apollo 15, Apollo 16, and Apollo 17. Its presence on these missions solidifies its status as a watch that accompanied astronauts on their historic journeys.

5. Contributions to Science: The Moonwatch’s precision and timing capabilities contributed to scientific research during space missions. It was used to time various activities, experiments, and maneuvers, making it an essential tool in the exploration of space.

6. Iconic Design and Recognition: The Moonwatch’s design is instantly recognizable, and it has become an enduring symbol of Omega’s commitment to both form and function. Its iconic elements, such as the tachymeter bezel and three subdials, have been etched into popular culture and horological history.

7. Cultural Impact: The Moonwatch’s legacy extends beyond the realm of horology. It has influenced fashion, art, literature, and film, becoming a cultural touchstone that resonates with people around the world.

8. Evolving Timekeeping Technology: As technology evolved, so did the Moonwatch. Omega’s incorporation of Co-Axial movements and Master Chronometer certification reflects the brand’s dedication to improving accuracy and performance while maintaining the watch’s historical DNA.

9. Collector’s Dream: The Moonwatch’s historical significance and limited editions have made it highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. Vintage models, special editions, and unique variations contribute to its collectibility and appeal.

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch’s legacy is intertwined with the triumphs and aspirations of human space exploration. Its presence on the moon symbolizes the indomitable human spirit and the ability to overcome challenges through innovation and determination. As a watch that witnessed history and continues to inspire awe and wonder, the Moonwatch’s legacy will undoubtedly continue to shine brightly for generations to come.

V. Top 10 Most Iconic Moments in Space Exploration with the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch

The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch has been an integral part of numerous iconic moments in space exploration history. Its accuracy, durability, and reliability made it the watch of choice for astronauts during critical missions. Here are ten of the most iconic moments when the Moonwatch played a pivotal role:

Apollo 11 Moon Landing (1969):

Buzz Aldrin wore the Speedmaster Professional as he stepped onto the lunar surface during the historic Apollo 11 mission, becoming the first watch on the moon.

Apollo 13 Crisis (1970):

During the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, the onboard chronometers malfunctioned. The astronauts used their Speedmaster watches to time engine burns, contributing to their safe return to Earth.

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975):

The Speedmaster was worn during the first international human spaceflight mission, symbolizing cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Apollo 15 Lunar Rover (1971):

The Moonwatch accompanied astronauts on the Apollo 15 mission, including the use of the lunar rover for exploration and the famous “Falcon” landing module.

Space Shuttle Missions (1981-2011):

While the Space Shuttle era saw digital timekeeping devices, the Speedmaster remained a symbol of tradition and history, serving as a reminder of the watch’s spacefaring legacy.

Mir Space Station (1994-1995):

Russian cosmonauts continued the tradition of wearing the Speedmaster during missions aboard the Mir space station, highlighting the watch’s universal recognition.

Hubble Space Telescope Repairs (1993, 1997, 1999):

Astronauts used the Speedmaster to time crucial repairs and maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope during multiple servicing missions.

International Space Station (2000s-Present):

The Moonwatch’s legacy continues on the International Space Station, where it is part of the tools used by astronauts for various tasks.

James Webb Space Telescope Deployment (Upcoming):

As the James Webb Space Telescope prepares for launch, the Speedmaster is expected to be part of the historic moment when it deploys into space.

Various Spacewalks and EVAs:

Throughout numerous spacewalks and extravehicular activities (EVAs), the Speedmaster’s accuracy and legibility have been relied upon by astronauts for timing critical maneuvers and tasks.

These moments showcase the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch’s enduring role in space exploration, from the first steps on the moon to ongoing missions beyond Earth. Its presence in these historic events has solidified its status as an iconic timekeeping instrument that has witnessed and contributed to humanity’s journeys into the cosmos.

VI. The Ultimate Guide to Maintaining and Repairing Your Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch: Tips and Tricks from Experts

Maintaining and repairing your Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is essential to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. While routine maintenance and repair are best entrusted to professional watchmakers, there are several steps you can take to care for your Moonwatch and keep it in excellent condition. Here’s a comprehensive guide with tips and tricks from experts:

1. Regular Care:

Wearing your Moonwatch regularly can help keep the movement lubricated and functioning properly.

Avoid exposing the watch to extreme temperatures, magnetic fields, and sudden shocks.

2. Cleaning:

Use a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth to gently wipe the case, crystal, and bracelet to remove dust and smudges.

For a deeper clean, use a mild soap and lukewarm water to clean the case, bracelet, and crystal. Avoid submerging the watch in water, especially if it has a leather strap.

3. Servicing and Maintenance:

Follow Omega’s recommended servicing schedule, typically every 4-5 years, or as advised by a certified watchmaker.

Send your watch to an authorized Omega Service Center or a reputable watchmaker experienced with Speedmaster watches.

Regular servicing includes cleaning, lubrication, adjustments, and replacement of worn parts.

4. Water Resistance:

The Moonwatch is not designed for extensive water exposure. Check the water resistance rating and avoid exposing the watch to water if it’s not specified for diving.

Ensure that the crown and pushers are properly screwed down to maintain water resistance.

5. Hesalite Crystal Care:

The Hesalite crystal is more prone to scratches than sapphire crystals. Use a soft cloth and gentle polishing techniques to remove minor scratches.

Deep scratches or cracks in the Hesalite crystal may require professional repair or replacement.

6. Leather Strap Care:

Leather straps require special care to prevent moisture damage. Avoid prolonged exposure to water and moisture.

Leather conditioner can be used to maintain the strap’s suppleness and prevent cracking.

7. Co-Axial Movements:

If you have a Moonwatch with a Co-Axial movement, it requires less frequent lubrication compared to traditional movements. However, regular servicing is still essential.

8. Avoid DIY Repairs:

While there are various tutorials and resources available online, it’s recommended to avoid attempting DIY repairs on your Moonwatch. Opening the case back or attempting repairs without proper tools and expertise can damage the watch.

9. Replacement Parts:

If replacement parts are needed, ensure that genuine Omega parts are used to maintain the watch’s authenticity and performance.

10. Storage:

When not wearing your Moonwatch, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and magnetic fields. Use a watch box or pouch to protect it from dust and scratches.

Remember that proper maintenance and repair are crucial to the longevity and performance of your Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. Consult with certified watchmakers or Omega Service Centers for expert advice, and consider your watch’s warranty and service history when seeking maintenance or repair services. By following these tips and caring for your Moonwatch diligently, you can enjoy its beauty and functionality for years to come.


The Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is more than just a timekeeping device; it’s a symbol of humanity’s triumphs, dreams, and unquenchable thirst for exploration. From its humble beginnings to its celebrated role in the annals of space history, the Moonwatch remains a beacon of inspiration for those who dare to reach for the stars. As it continues to captivate the hearts of watch enthusiasts and space enthusiasts alike, the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch stands as a testament to the remarkable journey of human ingenuity and aspiration.


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