NY Christie's Omega Speedmaster 50 from a spacewalk to today

Here in New York City you can find whatever you want at every time, every where. That’s right, everyone knows, but could you imagine to find some amazing and undoubtely unique timepieces that went on space (yes, literally, they made a spacewalk with NASA’s astronauts) too? Well, if you think it’s impossible, you are wrong my fellows ! In honor of the anniversary of the famous Gemini IV spacewalk by astronaut Edward White in 1965, Christie’s brings in New York OMEGA SPEEDMASTER 50: From a Spacewalk to Today, a thematic auction dedicated to the iconic Omega Speedmaster.

Top lot is a  historical Speedmaster used by astronaut Ron Evans during the Apollo 17 mission, the auction will also feature a Speedmaster that flew for a full year aboard the Russian space station Mir and the gold chronograph that Omega gifted Evans after his historic mission. There is a totale of 50 lots in honor of the 50th anniversary of Ed White’s famous space walk and of Omega’s contribution to space exploration. Originally designed for use by race car drivers, Omega didn’t know that the watch would be destined to be used by astronauts and cosmonauts during some of mankind’s greatest achievements. Last week, we were invited from our friends at Omega’s boutique on 5th av. to a private event for collectors to preview highlights of the auction. We talked with Eric Wind (VP of Christies Watch Department), Petros Protopapas (Omega Museum Manager), and we had the privilege to meet Mr. James Ragan, former NASA engineer,  responsible for the flight hardware testing and the man behind the moon watch.

‘The Ron Evans Apollo 17 Flown Watch’. Ref: 145022-69. Made in: 1970. Sold for: $245,000

We were lucky enough to hear from Mr. Ragan the legendary story on how the Omega Speedmaster became the first to be space-certified !  “NASA asked watch brands to create a watch that could handle the rigors of space exploration. Many brands contented, but Omega won the bid. In order for any piece of hardware to be certified for use in space, it was subjected to a rigorous evaluation process and tested to destruction. This would include heating the watch to 160 F – 200 F for 48 hours and then subsequently reducing the temperature to 0 F for four hours. The temperature cycling was also done in a vacuum, extreme humidity and low pressure. In addition, the watches were exposed to severe shock tests of 40g shocks from different angles. There were also vibration and acoustic tests and at the end of the process only one watch was left standing, the Omega Speedmaster that maintained a +/- of 5 seconds per day.” As Stephen Urquhart, President of OMEGA said “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the frst spacewalk by the United States of America. In fact, 1965 was also the year that the Speedmaster was fight-qualifed for all NASA missions, the same watch that accompanied the American crew outside the spacecraft. Therefore, in this very special auction, we celebrate the watch’s detailed history, punctuated by the timepieces that have helped shape our brand.” Are you excited enough ? All right, it’s time to discover the auction results of some of these legendary timepieces !

The present Speedmaster, along with the metal part it was attached to, was used by the astronaut Ron Evans on board the Apollo 17 Command Module America in Eva mission around the moon. Remarkably, the personal Ron Evans watch is the first ever Speedmaster to travel into space bearing the celebrated caliber 861.

‘Broad Arrow Dash One’. Ref: 2915-1. Made in: 1957. Sold for: $137,000

For the Speedmaster, there is only one first reference: the 2915-1. It will always be the watch that was the beginning of the legend. the ‘broad arrow’ hands (shared with the early examples of the Seamaster reference 2913 and Railmaster reference 2914) and the steel bezel with an engraved tachymeter. 

‘Broad Arrow Dash Two’. Ref: 2915-2. Made in: 1958. Sold for: $118,750

The first Speedmaster reference 2915 was only in production for three years, from 1957 to 1959. The distinguishable features of this reference are the ‘broad arrow’ hands and steel bezel, although towards the end of its production the reference 2915-3 was fitted with a black bezel and ‘alpha’ hands, introducing those features to the reference 2915’s successor: the reference 2998.

‘Apollo-Soyuz’. Ref: 145.022. Made in: 1976. Sold for: $37,500.

A Limited Edition and Extremely Rare Omega Speedmaster with bracelet and the American flag Flown on the First International Space Mission Apollo-Soyuz. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was the mission that began to mend the relationship between the United States and Soviet Union.

‘365 Days Spent in Space’. Ref: 1450022. Made in: 1995. Sold for: $25,000

The present watch is one the very rare examples of the Speedmaster having spent a full year in space during the 1990s. On the 1st of July 1993, 35 OMEGA Speedmaster Professional (28 watches in stainless steel, 7 watches in yellow gold) were transported by the Soyuz-TM launch rocket to Space Station Mir.  The present watch is the number 9 in a limited edition of 28 examples.

Discover every lots of this amazing Christie’s auction here

Author: Luca Balella