July 22, 2014
Swiss watchmaker Omega is commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing and its own involvement with a limited-edition timepiece.
In 1969, when NASA astronauts stepped foot on the moon, Buzz Aldrin wore an Omega Speedmaster Professional chronograph on the outside of his spacesuit. The Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary timepiece marks this occasion as well as the watchmaker's link to one of mankind’s most miraculous achievements.
"Omega 'owns the moon' with its historical association with the 1969 'unofficial' endorsement by Mr. Aldrin of the Speedmaster," said Sophie Terrisse, CEO of STC Associates, New York. "It is hard to create a better brand story, which conveys history, prestige and ultimate performance in a seamless and powerful way.
"The 'unofficial' character of the story makes it even more relevant, personal, unsolicited, thus significant and genuine," she said. "Perpetuating the story through the years is an elegant way to honor the day, the accomplishment, Mr. Aldrin and a time in history that made Omega the one, and only, Moonwatch.
Ms. Terrisse is not affiliated with Omega, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.
Omega was unable to comment directly before press deadline.
Send me to the moon
On the anniversary of the first moon landing, July 20, Omega shared its 45th anniversary edition of the Speedmaster with its followers. On social media, Omega notes that its watch landed on the moon on July 21, 1969 at 2:56 UTC as Mr. Aldrin walked on the surface.
Selecting the exact date of the anniversary to debut the timepiece is timely since many publications and brands will have content focused on the historic event.
Prior to the moon landing in 1969, the Speedmaster was worn by United States astronauts as they witnessed the dark side of the moon for the first time during the Apollo 8 mission, earning the watch the nickname Moonwatch.
Omega developed a dedicated section of its Web site for the limited-edition Speedmaster for consumers to learn more.
The Web site begins with a brief history of the Speedmaster being “literally on [the] hand” of Buzz Aldrin as mankind explored its first celestial body. Separated by a profile view of the watch’s crown, the section continues to link Omega’s history to the design of the 45th anniversary timepiece.
In the section, the consumer learns that colors selected for the watch recall the moon and Apollo 11’s lunar and command modules’ coloring. The case, brushed lightly with gold, is made of lightweight grade 2 titanium inspired by the ore deposits on the moon.
The following section details the laser-engraved dial produced with a special laser that creates design elements by removing surrounding material around the Omega emblem, sub-dial numerals and hour markers. The indexes, hours, minutes, seconds, sub-dial hands and central hand are made of 18-karat red gold.
Also, the Apollo 11 45th anniversary limited-edition Speedmaster includes a brown coated nylon fabric “NATO” strap used by military-grade timepieces since World War II.
To show the fine details of the watch and its movement in real time, Omega produced a 30-second video included on the Web site.
Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th Anniversary Limited-Edition
The Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 45th anniversary limited-edition timepiece is available in a reserve of 1,969 pieces to mark the year of the moon landing. Each numbered timepiece retails for $7,700.
From space to sea
Omega’s link to NASA astronauts and the space program fortifies the watchmaker’s codes in a way that keeps the brand relevant as exploration continues to captivate consumers.
For instance, Omega also highlighted its connection to the 1969 Apollo 8 lunar landing to educate watch enthusiasts about its latest Speedmaster Omega Co-Axial Chronograph. The watchmaker looked to honor its heritage of exploration and the pioneering spirit of the Apollo 8 astronauts by creating an interactive Web page highlighting the brand’s Speedmaster “Dark Side of the Moon” watch (see story).
Other Omega timepieces look outward from the brand’s own heritage to better the environment.
Omega lent its support to ocean sustainability through an ongoing partnership with the GoodPlanet Foundation.
Following the partnership’s beginning in 2011, the watchmaker produced a documentary film, “Planet Ocean,” the following year that examines the issues facing the world’s oceans. Currently, the partners are working together on two three-year projects in Indonesia that focus on restoring marine biodiversity and teaching local communities how they can make a difference (see story).
Omega's support of the space exploration is likely to continue as the watchmaker adapts its timepieces for adventure of that genre.
"The Dark Side of the Moon chronograph, as Omega puts it, 'honors history’s great achievements,'" Ms. Terrisse said. "It pays homage to the 1969 lunar landing and the moon’s mysterious 'dark side' with a modern twist in design.
"[Its] black zirconium oxide makes the timepiece dark in color, but light in weight, at just 91 grams," she said. "The watch wearer can see the time in varying lighting conditions, perhaps hinting that this is 'the' timepiece for space travel, no matter how deep and dark the galaxy is.
"Interestingly enough, one of Mr. Aldrin’s comments was how bright, clear and light the moon was on that day. May be the 'dark side' calls for future journeys to new planets. Mars is waiting."
Jen King, lead reporter on Luxury Daily, New York