Omega Launches the Apollo 15 Speedmaster 40th Anniversary Limited Edition

On the July 26, 2011, at 09:34:00 am, it will be forty years since the Apollo 15 mission blasted into orbit from the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, in Florida. It was touch and go initially because the second stage of the Saturn V rocket ignited prematurely, nearly setting off as catastrophic event where the exhaust of the first stage engine was fed back into the propulsion system.

Also notable was the fact that Apollo 15 was the first of what were described as the “J Missions”, featuring extended stays on the moon for exploration and data collecting. It notched up another first with the moon (rather than world) premiere of the lunar roving vehicle, seen below in the company of lunar module pilot, James Irwin, saluting the US flag - although he could have been waving enthusiastically to his mum back on earth - at the Hadley-Apennine landing site. The mission lasted twelve long days.

The circular mission patch showed a stylised rendering of red, white and blue birds flying over the Hadley-Rille section of the lunar surface, which is adjacent to the Appenines Mountains. Encircled by a blue border, the mission and crew member’s names are printed on a white background against an inner red circle. Fashion designer Emilio Pucci designed the patch, but Commander David Scott and crew chose the colour scheme. 

A new limited edition Omega Speedmaster commemorates this milestone in the US space program of the seventies by incorporating the colour scheme of the Apollo 15 mission patch into its dial design. The minute index is in blue, white and red, replicating the outer circles of the patch. This colour scheme continues with a blue ring around the small seconds subdial, and white and red rings around the 12-hour and 30-minute counters, adding an edge to the otherwise conservative Speedmaster livery.

The case-back identifies its limited edition status and features a nicely executed image of an astronaut hooning about in the lunar rover, echoing many a boy’s fantasy in those days to go dune buggying on the lunar surface. The lunar rover subject on the medallion was chosen to mark the rover's first outing on the moon

The case design is archetypal Moonwatch, with all the customary features that mark the iconology of the Speedmaster design. The case is generously sized at 42mm, but what makes this, and all others of the moonwatch (Speedmaster Professional) ilk, special is the calibre 1861 movement. This classic hand-wind chronograph traces its DNA back to the incredible aviator chronographs produced by Omega in the early 1930s, with its more direct descendants being the calibre 321, designed by Albert Piguet in 1946, and calibre 861, an upgrade introduced in 1968. It is pure horological history on the wrist, and any serious collector of chronographs has at least one.

There have been numerous comments on watch fora about Omega having introduced too many limited edition Speedmasters, but most of that commentary is informed by investment and perhaps exclusivity considerations rather than satisfying a market of collectors who, like in many areas of collecting, want to build limited edition collections and wait eagerly for the next in the series. The Moonwatch limited editions are also created to appeal to the growing number of nostalgists who have developed a renewed interest in memorabilia from America’s pioneering space adventures.

So, is the price tag of around $7000.00 worth the trouble? For lunatics who claim that the US moon missions never took place and harrangue elderly astronauts for being part of the "conspiracy", of course not!  But, I would say yes, particularly for those who like to collect the series, and most certainly for those who wish to have a legend purring away on their wrists.