The 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing is taking place this Saturday, July 20th, and Sotheby's is holding an auction entitled "Omega Speedmaster: To the Moon and Back" to honor the occasion. The auction takes place tomorrow, Friday the 19th, and Sotheby's has put together a selection of Speedmasters that highlights some of the more unusual and interesting iterations of the watch, since its inception in 1957.
Comprised of 50 lots, the selection includes some of the references that have propelled the Speedmaster beyond simply a watch that was worn on the Moon, to becoming a large part of horological lore. The Speedmaster's initial design blueprints have spawned an entire design language that's defined the sports chronograph category of watches in the latter half of the century. It's hard to imagine the Speedmaster as anything other than the Moonwatch, but even if it hadnít famously been adopted by NASA in the early days of space flight, it surely would have still been an icon.*
Lot 10, Broad Arrow reference 2915.
The watches are previewed online here, and can also be seen in person at Sotheby's in New York City. The live auction takes place at 2 PM on Friday July 19th. *The lots run the gamut, with a strong showing of earlier Speedmaster, like Lot 10, a reference 2915-1; the very first Speedmaster. Released in 1957, this reference, with a base 1000 bezel in steel, is the archetypal sports watch in many ways. It was developed for timing automobile racing, featured a radium-lumed dial, and highly legible Broad Arrow hands, and was powered by the legendary caliber 321. The watch introduced the design element of a fixed bezel mounted on the exterior of the watch for the best usability.*
Thereís even a "vide poche" (a tray for the contents of your pocket) tray from 1980 depicting an astronaut wearing a Speedmaster in space, as well as a couple of ashtrays, if watch ephemera is your thing.
Lot 17 features a Prototype Alaska III, an improved Speedmaster designed specifically for spacefaring applications, but NASA would turn it down, instead favoring the tried and true standard production Speedmaster. Speedmaster lore states that Omega would send prototypes to NASA unsolicited, in hopes of securing the contract with an updated model. The prototypes crossed engineersí desks at NASA without being picked up, but my guess is that when the Alaska III crosses the block, it will certainly be picked up by an eager collector.*


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