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Omega. A Lot of Two Titanium Quartz Chronograph Wristwatches
Omega. A Lot of Two Titanium Quartz Chronograph Wristwatches

BOTH SIGNED OMEGA, SPEEDMASTER, X-33 MODEL, THE FIRST A PROTOTYPE, NO. 04/50, THE SECOND A BLUE ANGELS LIMITED EDITION, THE FIRST CIRCA 1996, THE SECOND CIRCA 1998

Details
Omega. A Lot of Two Titanium Quartz Chronograph Wristwatches
Both Signed Omega, Speedmaster, X-33 Model, The First a Prototype, No. 04/50, The Second a Blue Angels Limited Edition, The First Circa 1996, the Second Circa 1998
Both with quartz movements, grey dials, digital day and date indication, luminous hands, center seconds with red tips in the shape of a shuttle, luminous baton hour markers, steel bezels calibrated for 60 units, tonneau-shaped water-resistant-type cases, lyra lugs, the first with round buttons in the band, the second with rectangular buttons in the band, lower left buttons in the band for turning on blue LED light, upper left button and buttons in the right band for digital time display, 24-hour indication, chronograph, alarm, and multifunctions, screw backs, the first with Omega deployant clasp, the second with Omega buckle, both cases, dials, and movements signed
Both 40.5mm diam. (2)

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Lot Essay

Accompanied by an Omega presentation box, Omega Speedmaster Operating Instructions Manual, Flight Instructions, Tacair Systems patches, and the helmet belonging to Dr. Howard Torman.

Dr. Howard Torman, medical doctor, test pilot, and former CBS News national medical correspondent, was the original owner of this prototype Omega X-33. Torman's passion for flying continued to push him to the limits, resulting in two world speed records (set November 29, 1996). On October 16, 1997, his first X-33 went through the ultimate test at Stead Field, Reno, Nevada while flying a MiG-15, the plane malfunctioned as a result of dust devil and crashed in the desert on approach, nearly ending his life. The helmet, knee board, test card, and checklist that Torman used on that fateful day, all included in this lot, are a testament to this extreme event that tested the limits of human and horological endurance.

When Dr. Torman shared the story of the crash with Omega, they asked if they could have the watch back. Omega recovered the watch from Torman (which can now be seen at the Omega Museum) and issued him another prototype X-33, the presently offered lot. Torman was instrumental in developing these watches and was involved in the early testing phases of the X-33, the only watch other than the original Omega Speedmaster certified for space walks. Interestingly, the X-33 was named after NASA's now defunct X-33 project to develop a reusable spaceplane. The X-33 is a tool watch that defied convention and was made to answer the very specific needs of astronauts and later pilots. Prototype X-33s were given to recipients who could test the watches in real world extreme situations and provide Omega with feedback that would assist the company in developing the watch.

The second watch included in this lot is Dr. Torman's Blue Angels Limited Edition. This special series was made for pilots that few with the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's flight demonstration squadron. Dr. Torman was offered the watch by Omega's military and NASA liason.

The X-33 was designed to be analogue with digital sub functions in order to accommodate all the needs of the space shuttle astronauts and pilots including and alarm system that is 90 decibels to remind astronauts to perform specific tasks. Ultimately, the X-33 was made to help astronauts to eliminate the need to wear multiple watches. Eventually, the X-33s became commercially available and numerous changes were made from the original prototypes. The case of the prototypes feature a fixed bezel, while the new versions, such as the Blue Angels watch, also called the Mars Watch, were made with a high polish bezel and square pushers rather than round pushers found on the prototypes. The X-33s are now considered by astronauts, pilots, and Omega collectors as some of the finest and rarest pilot's watches ever made.

The prototype X-33 and the Blue Angels X-33 are an important part of the history of Omega and important icons of recent aviation history.

For more information and images about Dr. Torman and his X-33s, see the Hodinkee.com article dated April 2013 titled "A Crash In The Desert: The Story Of A Record Breaking Pilot And His Indestructible Omega X-33".

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