It will be hard to miss it, as this will certainly be one of the most coveted timepieces of the year – and one that many here were expecting. What remained unknown until today was the look of the Apollo 11 50th anniversary of the Speedmaster Moonwatch. We knew it had to be special. And indeed, it is special… Much, much more than what we could have expected. Not only it is a reissue of the 1969 reference BA145.022, but the new Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition comes with major mechanical improvements.
Inspired by the BA145.022
There’s no need to tell you… You’ve certainly immediately spotted the resemblance between the 50th-anniversary edition and another, vintage model – to be precise, the full gold Speedmaster reference BA145.022. This watch, highly desirable and rare, was made to celebrate the Moon landing back in 1969. This watch, made in 1,014 pieces (including two offered to President Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew and some to astronauts), was produced from 1969 to 1973 – among the 1,014 pieces, around 975 were made available to the public.
Vintage reference BA145.022 (left) and modern reference 310.60.42.50.99.001 (right)
The reference BA145.022 was characterized by its full 18k yellow gold case and bracelet, its burgundy tachymeter bezel with Dot Over 90, onyx applied hour markers and blackened hands and a specific commemorative caseback. It was powered by the newly introduced calibre 861 and recently became one of the most sought-after models in the Speedmaster collection. One next to another, the resemblance between the inspiration and the modern watch is immediate.
The Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
Design-wise, the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition is clearly a re-edition of the old model. No denial that Omega played on the safe side when it comes to design elements. Case, dial, bezel and bracelet all look identical, even though more precisely adjusted and manufactured. Old and new are like twins… Are they, really?
The case of the Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary is, like its predecessor, made of solid 18k gold. However, Omega introduces here a new alloy, named Moonshine and explained by Omega as “inspired by the shining moon-light in a dark blue sky. In a paler hue than traditional 18K yellow gold, MoonshineTM gold offers high resistance to the fading of colour and lustre over time.” The idea was also to mimick older gold alloys that were less bright than modern alloys – again to stay faithful to the vintage model.
The dial is also faithful in terms of looks. It is here made of solid Moonshine gold and brushed like the original. Hour marker are solid gold and features a black onyx insert. The hands feature some black luminous paint (hours and minutes) or are blackened (chronograph hands). The dial is also faithful to the original with an applied gold Ω logo and the old font for the Speedmaster name.
The bezel of the Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary retains the burgundy colour of the BA145.022, however, as a concession to modernity, is now made of ceramic with Ceragold technique for the tachymeter scale (gold is filled into the ceramic to create the text). As the original model, the tachymeter scale is graduated to 500 units per hour, this new model features a marker dot above 90 (also known as “Dot Over 90” or “DON”).
The Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary is worn on a vintage looking solid Moonshine gold bracelet with folding clasp. The case is the same as most other Moonwatches, meaning 42mm diamter and 14mm height. It is topped by a domed sapphire crystal and is water resistant to 50m.
Special caseback, new mechanics
As being a limited edition and a commemorative object, you’d expect this Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary to feature a specific caseback… And you’ll be served. The outer caseback ring features mechanically engraved markings “1969-2019” and the Limited Edition number highlighted in burgundy, as well as an uncoloured “Master Chronometer” (more on that in a few lines).
The inner decorative ring, also created in 18k Moonshine gold, has undergone two separate laser ablation processes, as well as two PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) colour treatments in blue and black. This ring features a matte-finish blue ocean that surrounds a partial world map of the American continents (in polished finish), with a glimpse over the rocket’s lift-off site Cape Canaveral (known as Cape Kennedy from 1963 – 1973). Facing it, a domed lunar meteorite inlay representing the Moon has been delicately set into the cavity of the ring.
What this caseback frames is even more interesting. From 1969 to 2019, the Moonwatch has been equipped with one single movement (and its light evolution), the hand-wound calibre 861 and calibre 1861 – both engine being as legendary as the watch itself. This movement was the only one not to feature the co-axial escapement… until now.
The Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary introduces a new generation of hand-wound chronograph movement, the calibre Omega 3861. Based on the same architecture as the 1861 (a cam-operated chronograph), it now features a co-axial escapement and a silicon Si14 balance spring. This means that Omega now has a Master Chronometer movement inside a hand-wound Moonwatch – meaning COSC certified precision and ani-magnetic properties.
The movement of the Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary features Moonshine gold-plated main plate and bridges and burgundy markings. It is nicely finished with bevelled angles and Geneva stripes.
Box, Price, availability
The watch being a commemorative item, it had to be delivered in an equally special presentation box – Omega has here opted for a box inspired by the original packaging of the BA145.022 model in 1969, with a crater box on which the panels are in grey ceramic with 3D printing of the lunar surface. Since every panel is structured differently, no crater box will be alike.
The Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary reference 310.60.42.50.99.001 will be produced in 1,014 pieces, with deliveries expected in June 2019. Price is set at CHF 32,000 before taxes. More details at www.omegawatches.com.