In an exciting time where new ideas and creative talents are emerging at an incredible pace, we think it’s important to shine a light on a few of those that have made an extra special impact. Lifestyle Asia’s ‘Brand of the Month’ is a series of outstanding brands that have caught our eye for their creativity, philosophy, and impact. Whether new or established, local or international, these brands have come up with stand-out creative designs and have made positive new contributions to the world of fashion and lifestyle. In simple: these are the brands you should know about right now.
Read on to find out all about this July’s Brand of the Month: Omega, the makers of the first watch that went to the moon 50 years ago.
How many brands can say they’ve tested their timepieces in outer space? On the 21st of July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped off the Eagle to become the first humans to stand on another world. And they did so with an Omega Speedmaster wrapped around their spacesuits. The lunar landing is considered one of humanity’s greatest achievements, and it was an event that also immortalised Omega as the first ever watch on the moon. This July, the brand celebrates the 50th anniversary of their crucial involvement with one of Man’s most iconic scientific advancements. And to commemorate the historical moment, Omega has crafted 6,969 pieces of Limited Edition Moonwatches inspired by Apollo 11.
Here, we take a closer look at the amazing story behind the Omega Speedmaster Moon Watch.
[Hero and Feature image: Omega.]
Since its first introduction in 1957, the Omega Speedmaster Chronograph has been defined by its immaculately precise timing. Originally built and advertised for engineers, doctors, and athletes, chronographs made a very small sales percentage for watch brands. At the time of its creation, the stopwatch-style of keeping seconds made them unappealing as a casual men’s accessory. It was, however, exactly the quality that made the Speedmaster so perfect for marking some of the world’s greatest achievements – including the first successful round trip to the Moon.
When President John F. Kennedy made his famous “We Choose to go to the Moon” speech in 1962, the first watch — an Omega — made its debut into space. Astronaut Walter Schirra wore his personal Speedmaster on the Sigma 7 mission of the Mercury Program. Inspired by Schirra’s exploration, Omega adjusted the design of the Speedmaster’s case to accommodate larger pushers for easier stops and starts, as well as more readable white hand markers. These distinctive features still exist today.
Two and a half years after Schirra’s mission, NASA decided to have their astronauts wear wristwatches as part of their equipment for Project Gemini and for the subsequent Apollo mission. They sent out requests for wrist chronographs that could withstand the elements of space and commissioned NASA hardware expert James H. Ragan to test potential watches and purchase the winning models. In addition to Omega, other entrants to the watches’ space race were Longines-Wittnauer, Hamilton, and Rolex. Fun fact: Hamilton — rather than sending a chronograph wristwatch as requested — sent NASA a pocket watch. All models were tested under zero gravity, extreme pressure variations, bone-jarring vibrations, and temperatures ranging from -18 to +93 degrees celsius.
Omega submitted their Speedmaster for NASA’s performance testing. These tests on the chronographs were designed to destroy the watches, whether through high pressure or high humidity. Only one watch survived to the end: the Omega Speedmaster.
The watch was officially designated as “flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions” on 1st of March 1965. NASA bought an initial group of Speedmaster watches from Omega, but unlike almost all other Apollo equipment, this watch was also available in retail stores around the US.
Having proved their precision and robustness in extra-terrestrial conditions, the Speedmaster Chronograph has been the only piece of equipment used in all of NASA’s space exploration. Gaining worldwide recognition with the nickname “Moonwatch”, the Speedmaster celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with a Limited Edition model in honour of Apollo 11.
But how do you celebrate the golden anniversary of the watch that made it to the moon? Simple: you remake it with gold. But not just any gold – the Limited Edition Moonwatch features 18K Moonshine Gold, a new patent-pending alloy that is a paler shade of traditional yellow gold and has more resistance against fading. There’s one in pure Moonshine Gold and another that features Moonshine Gold in laser-engraving.
This Limited Edition Moonwatch has 6,969 available pieces — a number in tribute to the year of the lunar landing. The 11 o’clock index in Moonshine Gold pays tribute to Apollo 11’s iconic mission number. At the 9 o’clock subdial, a blackened and laser-engraved illustration shows Buzz Aldrin climbing down to the lunar surface.
On the other side, the caseback features Neil Armstrong’s laser-engraved footprint on the moon’s surface, with his legendary quote written in 18K Moonshine Gold-plated lettering.
In allegiance to the Speedmaster’s role in NASA’s space missions, this Limited Edition model also comes with an additional Velcro strap in blackened cork with golden marks. This is a salute to the Apollo’s “boost protective cover” — a fibreglass structure covered with thick cork ablator that protected the crew from intense heat during launch.
Currently celebrating the Moonwatch’s golden milestone on several locations around the world, Omega is undoubtedly the brand making the biggest cultural impact this July. After all, unlike any other watch brand, this is one that has withstood the tests of both time and space.
For more information, please visit www.omegawatches.com.