NASA supplied each of the Apollo astronauts with a standard issue Omega Speedmaster Professional manual-wind wristwatch (pictured above) together with Velcro strap. Unlike almost all other Apollo equipment, the watch was not manufactured for use specifically by NASA or in space but had been on sale in retail outlets in Houston and all of the United States from 1957-c1966 as the "Speedmaster" and as the "Speedmaster Professional" thereafter. Beginning in about 1962, NASA purchased examples of a number of commercially available watches for evaluation.
Aside from its primary and obvious function, the Omega Speedmaster Professional also incorporated a chronograph (stopwatch) via the large third hand on the watch dial. The three interior dials on the face provided respectively a) a second-hand, ancillary to the conventional time function b) a minute elapsed counter for the chronograph and c) an hour elapsed counter, again related to the chronograph function. The outside of the dial included a fixed bezel incremented to act as a Tachymeter (to measure miles per hour) in conjunction with the stopwatch function, hence the title "Speedmaster".
The timepiece was intended to be worn for intra and extra vehicular activties including the moonwalks on all the missions. Inside a pressurised environment the watch was worn conventionally but during EVA (extra vehicular activity) the astronauts wore the watch on the outside of their pressure suits, the long Velcro strap was designed to accommodate this change in 'wrist' dimension.
The Speedmaster had initially been worn on many of the pre-Apollo NASA manned space missions after satisfactorily passing exhaustive tests aimed at determining performance reliability in the conditions likely to be experienced during EVA. The first American to walk in space Edward H. White wore a Speedmaster during his Gemini 4 spacewalk and there are some unconfirmed reports that suggest the manufacturer only discovered its use by NASA after that event.
This model is still worn by many present day astronauts on Shuttle missions.
Full records are not available on the present whereabouts of all the Speedmasters worn on the moon but the list set out below is believed to be the best record available.
Of special note, it is understood that Buzz Aldrin's watch was lost in transit in or about 1971 whilst en route to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum whilst Buzz was attempting to loan the item for display. Its current whereabouts are not therefore known. It may well be the first watch worn on the moon. Buzz recounted in his autobiography that, during the EVA, Neil Armstrong left his own Speedmaster in the Lunar Module as a replacement for the in-cabin timer which had malfunctioned.
The following table combines information from Robert Pearlman's CollectSpace
with additional information provided by Ulrich Lotzmann.
|Flown Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronographs currently on public display|
|Mission||Crewman||Last Known Location
|044||Apollo 8||Bill Anders||U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis|
|060||Apollo 8||Jim Lovell||Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago|
|027||Apollo 10||Tom Stafford||National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC|
|046||Apollo 11||Neil Armstrong||National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC|
|073||Apollo 11||Mike Collins||National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC|
|057||Apollo 12||Dick Gordon||The Omega Museum, Bienne, Switzerland|
|068||Apollo 13||Fred Haise||Penn-Harris-Madison Planetarium, Mishawaka, Indiana|
|075||Apollo 14||Alan Shepard||Kansas Cosmosphere, Hutchinson|
|077||Apollo 14||Ed Mitchell||US Astronaut Hall of Fame, Titusville|
|045||Apollo 15||Al Worden||on loan from Worden to the Smithsonian|
|047||Apollo 15||Jim Irwin||Penn-Harris-Madison Planetarium, Mishawaka, Indiana|
|061||Apollo 17||Ron Evans||Kansas Cosmosphere, Hutchinson|
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