Many watchmaking companies have had many "firsts" over the years. It's difficult to think of one more impressive than that achieved by Omega at 02:56 GMT on July 20th 1969: the Omega Speedmaster became the first watch worn on the moon.
The Moon Watch
The Speedmaster was not designed and built especially for NASA. It had been generally on sale since 1957. In the early 1960s NASA purchased samples of a number of watches available at the time for testing - one of these was the Speedmaster (later known as the Speedmaster Professional). The watches that NASA considered needed to provide both standard timekeeping functions and the ability to time intervals.
The selected watch would, of course, need to operate accurately and reliably in the cold vacuum of space. The different makes of watch were therefore subjected to a series of tests including vacuum, gravity and temperature. Only the Omega Speedmaster Professional passed.
The Speedmaster thus became the official wristwatch of the space program - despite political pressure to use an American made brand. It was first worn by the gemini astronauts and then later on the Apollo program.
After becoming the first watch to be worn on the moon in 1970 the Speedmaster was known informally as the Moon Watch.
Apollo 13Although the Speedmaster is most famous for being the first watch worn on the moon, the most important contribution it made to the space program was probably during the ill fated 1970 Apollo 13 mission.
When the power failed on the mission, the on-board computers and timing devices were useless. The only way the crew could make vital timings - such as engine bursts - was via their wristwatches. Had the Speedmaster failed or been inaccurate then the outcome of that mission might have been very different.
As a recognition of the contribution of the Speedmaster to the safety of the mission and the astronauts, it received the NASA "Snoopy Award". ("Snoopy" was the nickname given to the Apollo 10 Lunar Module, officially "LM-4".)
"Speedmaster" is a trademark of Omega This blog is not associated with or endorsed by Omega