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Hands-On – Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th Anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’

| By Brice Goulard | 4 min read |
Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’

Much of the history of the Omega Speedmaster surrounds its part in the Moon landing and its status as official NASA watch for their astronauts. Thanks to this heritage, the Speedy became the perfect play field for the Biel-based brand to create multiple limited editions, as tribute to Apollo missions or even to Snoopy Awards. While many watch enthusiasts might not understand the point of all these special editions, Speedmaster collectors just love them, and they will be happy to know that a new one is about to land, the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th Anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’

This new Omega Speedmaster has been created to pay tribute to both the 45th Anniversary of the Apollo 17 Mission, and in particular to one of the Astronauts who was onboard, Eugene ‘Gene’ Cernan. As a reminder, Apollo 17 was the final mission of NASA’s Apollo program, and was launched on December 7, 1972, with a crew made up of Commander Eugene Cernan, Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt. Commander Gene Cernan is also famous for being the last man to re-enter the Lunar Module, with his Speedmaster reference ST105.003 on his wrist, and he is still as of 2017 the last man to have walked on its surface. He passed away on January 16th earlier this year. This is why this Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th Anniversary is also named ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’.

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Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’

For this limited edition ref. 311. (with 1972 pieces), Omega has decided to use as a base the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch (like most of the space-related limited editions), however the brand gives it a fresh and unprecedented style, with a combination of blue and gold accents. This watch is not the first Apollo 17 Limited Edition though, as one already existed for the 40th anniversary of this Mission, with a quite special style (to say the least… see here). This edition is on the other hand quite appealing and quite different from the rest, with unique features.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’

As said, the base is a familiar one to us, as the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th Anniversary is internally and case-wise a Moonwatch. It means that we have the iconic 42mm case, with lyre-lugs, external tachymeter bezel, asymmetrical case with crown and pushers well protected on the right side. It is classically manufactured in stainless steel, with brushed surfaces all over, excepting the bevel running on the side of the case, which is polished. Inside, there are no surprises either, as this Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th Anniversary is equipped with the calibre 1861, the iconic Lemania-based cam-operated chronograph movement that has equipped the Speedy for now close to 50 years (with previous 861 version). You don’t have to worry here, it is a perfectly reliable and crafted watch, made to last. One thing to note is the presence of a sapphire crystal over the dial, and not a Hesalite (Plexiglas crystal) like in the standard Moonwatch. This is a common feature of most recent limited editions.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’

What is new for this Apollo 17 45th Anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’ edition? First is the dial, which comes in a rather vivid dark blue tone, obtained from ceramic – Omega does use this material now over all the collection, and not only for bezels but also for cases and dials. This blue color is matched with gold accents all over, meaning applied gold indexes for the hours, gold hands, gold rings around the sub-dials, gold minute markers and gold Omega logo. If all this seems to imply an overload of gold accents, in the metal the dial remains subtle enough. Two other details are to be seen on the dial:

  • The Apollo 17 official emblem in the sub-counter at 9, printed in white – it depicts an image of Apollo, the Greek sun god, next to a portion of Moon.
  • The “05:34 GMT” mention printed in red, below the name of the watch at 12. This refers to the exact time Gene Cernan stepped back in the Lunar Module, thus marking the last time that a man walked on the surface of the Moon.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’

The second markers are also specific to this watch and use the “racing style”, meaning offset markers every 5 seconds. Also new is the bezel, in a matching blue color and, like the dial, it is made in blue ceramic, with Ceragold process to create the tachymeter scale (a proprietary and patented process to seamlessly integrated gold into ceramic). Finally, the back of this Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th Anniversary ‘Tribute to Gene Cernan’ reveals a commemorative engraving, with the emblem of the Apollo 17 mission (the greek god Apollo and the American eagle of contemporary design.

This Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th Anniversary ref. 311. is a limited edition of 1972 pieces, priced at 6,000 Euro / 6,500 USD.

The Gold version of the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th Anniversary

Omega Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th anniversary

Alongside the steel version, Omega have also created a gold version of the Speedmaster Apollo 17 45th Anniversary, and it’s only available on dark brown leather strap. The case is in full 18k yellow gold, and the dial only differs by the gold applied mission patch in the sub-dial at 9. For the rest, the dial and bezel are equal to the steel version, except for the gold second hand and gold sub-dial hands. At first, Omega launched this watch in a limited edition of 72 pieces only, however, due to a massive demand, they increased the production to 272 pieces. Price: 18,600 Euro.

5 responses

  1. Lots of people are annoyed when Omega issue an LE Speedmaster. But not me. Like the Goldberg Variations, I like playing with a theme and seeing what can be done.

    This one in particular is interesting. The blue and gold work well to make it more “formal” without being too much.

  2. Thank you for a look at what is an unusual Speedmaster. In addition to the variations you pointed out there is of course the tachymeter bezel which is highly unusual in that it is a radial tachymeter and has a radial flip for the graduations at 3 and 6.

  3. A very nice watch , BUT , a shame its not Hesalite as its not the proper NASA flight certified moonwatch .

  4. One question, I have a Speedmaster Moon watch that I bougt 25 years ago, when I got it, in Omega told me that the watch was not exactly a waterproof watch. Does anyone know if for example, this “Gene Cernan” edition or any other modern Speedmaster Moon Edition are already waterproof at least ables to swim in a pool ?

  5. Carlos, current Speedmaster Pros are rated at 50m, and should be fine for swimming…but the risk is that, being manual wind, the seals on the crown will wear more quickly than an auto version, so you probably want to look at some of the 100m auto models.

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