The most famous space watch is undoubtedly the Omega Speedmaster. So famous, in fact, it is one of the few iconic timepieces that enjoys instant recognition far beyond watch enthusiasts.
What is not as well known, however, are the extreme tests that NASA went through with the original 321 Speedmaster. At the start of its Gemini program in 1961, NASA realized that its astronauts needed a watch that could withstand the extreme temperatures and g-forces encountered during spaceflight. So, in October 1964, the watch makers were contacted and invited to submit watches that they believed would work for space missions. Only four brands had the courage to answer the call: Hamilton, Rolex, Longines and Omega.
NASA immediately rejected Hamilton’s entry, as the company had presented in a somewhat baffling manner not a wristwatch but a pocket watch. The space agency then subjected the other Rolex, Longines and Omega inscriptions to 11 tests designed to simulate conditions in space and on the moon itself.
These durability tests included 48 hours at 70 ° C then 30 minutes at 93 ° C, then 4 hours at –18 ° C; fifteen 45-minute cycles alternating between 71 ° C and –18 ° C; acceleration from standstill to 7.25 g in five minutes, then 16 g for 30 seconds, along three axes; vibration from 5 to 2000 Hz along three axes, with an acceleration of at least 8.8 g; and decompression for 90 minutes in an almost vacuum at 10-6 atmospheres.
Both the Rolex and the Longines failed high temperature tests, but the Omega continued to operate for all 11 tests, and it duly obtained certification from NASA. It is therefore fitting that it should be on our list below of the select group of five watches related to space adventures.
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional
At the very least, Jeff Bezos’ 11-minute ride to the edge of space in July demonstrated the power of statement that a particular wristwatch can still wear. Perhaps with an eye on posterity and his quest for a contract to transport NASA astronauts to the moon, Bezos strapped on the space age’s most famous watch, Omega’s Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional, the legendary shows from the Apollo, Armstrong, Aldrin, et al. lunar missions.