As the U.S. celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing by the Apollo 11 crew, Omega has added their own spin to the celebrations by re-introudcing the caliber 321 movement. This movement is expected to be the driver of the Speedmaster Moonwatch 321 Platinum.
The Swiss luxury watchmaker is making the announcement to coincide with the anniversary of the first moonwalk approximately 50 years ago. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made history by being the first astronauts to grace the surface of the moon. During the mission, Aldrin wore the Speedmaster Professional, which gained it the nickname, the “Moonwatch” since the landing.
The original caliber 321 was highly recognized for its detailed and ornamental design, it was the first movement used to support the 1957 incarnation of the Omega Speedmaster. With its association with the US space program, the 321 caliber has already made its mark as one of the most prominent movements made from Omega’s design centers. It was featured in the Speedmaster ST 105.003 and the Speedmaster ST 105.012, which was the model Aldrin worn on the moon mission.
In 1968, Omega switched from the 321 chronograph movement to the caliber 861. This updated design was complemented by the high-grade rhodium-plated finish of the caliber 1861 and caliber 1863. Users can expect to see the caliber 321 movement on the caseback of the Speedmaster Moonwatch 321 Platinum. The chronograph is reinforced by a 42mm brushed and refurbished case produced from a gold-based platinum alloy. The case design is marked by its inspiration from the fourth generation Speedmaster case. Users can also observe a platinum buckle adorning the black leather strap on the watch. Other features to take note of include the black ceramic bezel with a white enamel Speedmaster tachymeter scale.
The Speedmaster is among the most famous watches associated with NASA, but many observers have noted some historical inaccuracies with this relationship. NASA and Omega began their venture in 1965, with Virgil “Gus” Grissom and John Young being among the first astronauts to wear the Speedmaster during the Gemini 3 mission. In another three months, Edward H. White was making history as part of the country’s first spacewalk wearing the Speedmaster on the Gemini IV mission.
Many stories have circulated about astronauts wearing their own personal Speedmaster watches on earlier missions before the Gemini ones. According to Thomas Stafford, many astronauts purchased second generation Speedmaster models as their first watches for their spaceflight programs. These initial private chronographs were seen on earlier Mercury program flights. The very first Speedmaster to be part of a space mission was on the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission. The partnership between NASA and Omega grew as more Speedmaster watches were put to testing to ensure full readiness for future missions. All of the tests eventually culminated in the Apollo 11 missions putting Omega at the forefront of mankind’s first step on the moon.
The history of Omega’s Moonwatches is a decorated one. With many celebrating the 50th anniversary of the historic landings, Omega’s moonwatches are set to mark their own imprint on the celebrations. Both NASA and Omega fans can expect to obtain the anniversary editions as part of their collection.