To the Moon and Back

Selected by astronauts and certified by NASA, the Omega Speedmaster has credentials that no other watch can boast

by Jam Pascual

Selected by astronauts and certified by NASA, the Omega Speedmaster has credentials that no other watch can boast

The Omega Speedmaster Chronograph was revealed to the world in 1957, originally as a sports and racing watch. It was the chronograph of the Olympic Games, measuring spans of time down to the smallest units of measurements—going as small as one fifth of a second. Though its origins did not speak yet of its future and legacy, the top tier quality of its mechanism would carry it beyond its intended world.

The Omega Speedmaster began gaining notoriety in 1962 when Walter “Wally” Schirra and Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, two of the first American astronauts, wore the timepiece on a Project Mercury trip. What followed was a series of experiments, conducted from October 1964 to March 1965, with NASA testing the powers of various watch brands to see what kind of machine could best fit the conditions of space exploration. NASA needed something robust, something extremely precise, and it was the Omega Speedmaster that came out on top. It is, until today, the only watch to be flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions.

Half a century since its introduction to the market, the Speedmaster remained the go-to timekeeper for over a hundred space missions, from Buzz Aldrin’s lunar landing in 1969, to the linking and docking of the Russian Soyuz shuttle and the American Apollo spacecraft in 1975, a rare moment of mutual recognition between the two superpowers during the Cold War. As time went on, the Speedmaster was constantly subjected to newer, more extreme tests, until it qualified as the Space Shuttle program’s official chronograph.

For the fabled Moonwatch’s precision and exactitude to carry over from one celestial body to the next, it is more than deserving of its moniker. Today, the Speedmaster represents the spirit of adventure—and if we’re really reaching, as humankind is wont to do, the inextricable relationship between time and space. The astronomical timekeeper of Omega (G/F, Greenblet 5, Ayala Center, Makati; 728-1048) may not have been initially meant for space exploration, but when an invention transcends the intentions of its creator, it is a thing to celebrate. It’s not every day that the watch gets to see more of the universe than the watchmaker.