Auctions

To the Moon and Back: Sotheby’s Celebrates Apollo 11

AuctionsJul 19, 2019

To the Moon and Back: Sotheby’s Celebrates Apollo 11

Saturday marks 50 years since the first manned moon landing, so the auction house is holding a dedicated sale of the official watch of NASA: the Omega Speedmaster.

The Omega Speedmaster has been the official watch of NASA since 1965. Seen here is a Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1, the first model created, which will be auctioned off in Friday’s thematic sale.

New York—Saturday marks 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing, and Sotheby’s is celebrating the best way it knows how.

It is holding a dedicated watch auction Friday called “Omega Speedmaster: To the Moon and Back.”

The Omega Speedmaster has been the official watch of NASA since 1965.

That year, NASA wanted to find make wristwatches a part of the astronaut’s equipment, so it put out a call for candidates to test them and ensure they could withstand the rigors of spaceflight.

In addition to Omega, other candidates included Longines, Wittnauer and Rolex, according to WatchTime magazine.

They were tested under zero gravity, extreme pressure variations, intense vibrations and extreme temperatures.

The Omega Speedmaster outperformed all the others on its test, making it the official watch of NASA and giving it a prominent place in one of history’s most famous moments.


One of two Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1 watches being auctioned off in Sotheby’s “Omega Speedmaster: To the Moon and Back” sale Friday. It could sell for up to $200,000.
The watch has been on the wrists of astronauts in all six lunar landings—including the one celebrating a golden anniversary this year: the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle touching down—giving it the nickname “Moonwatch.”

All the “Moonwatches” being auctioned off Friday at Sotheby’ s have been vetted by Omega, the auction house said.

Highlights include two Ref. 2915-1 timepieces. The first Speedmaster model created, its design is set apart from successors by its dial configuration, the tachometer scale engraved into the metal bezel, the applied Omega logo and the large “broad arrow” hour hands.

Both Each could sell for as much as $200,000.

The watch auction also offers an “Alaska III” Speedmaster Ref. 145.022 (pictured below), created for NASA’s Space Shuttle program in 1978.



The “Alaska” was made to incorporate anti-reflective crystal and an easily legible dial. The black dial is specific to this watch, featuring luminous tritium, and radial counters.

Its pre-sale estimate is between $70,000 and $90,000.

The Moonwatches offered in the auction have been on display in a public exhibition at Sotheby’s New York galleries, alongside its Space Exploration auction, comprised of a variety of materials from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.

To view the full offerings in the July 19 Omega Speedmaster watch auction, visit Sothebys.com.

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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