Omega, Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ with meteorite dial. Bracelet size 7.28 in  185 mm. Estimate                    $10,000-15,000. This lot is offered in Christies Watches Online

Deconstructed: Omega Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ with meteorite dial

Find out more about the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch, which flew to the moon with NASA — and a rare version available online from 24 April to 8 May

In 1969, the Omega Speedmaster Professional made history by becoming the first watch worn on the moon, when it was sported by astronauts during the Apollo 11 mission. This Omega watch would also be flight-qualified by NASA for all manned spaceflights, cementing its status as a space program staple for years to come.

Six years later, the timepiece would become the watch of choice for U.S. and Soviet astronauts conducting the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). Here, we examine a remarkable example of a limited-edition Omega Speedmaster Professional — commemorating the 35th anniversary of that project, offered in our Watches Online  sale.

A spaceflight of exceptional importance

Following the docking of the two superpowers’ spacecrafts, American and Soviet astronauts performed a series of scientific experiments, including photographing a solar eclipse. Also on this mission, astronauts discovered the emanation of extreme-ultraviolet and X-ray radiation from a cosmic source.

This mission is also recognised by scholars as the end of not one but two major eras in space exploration: the ‘Space Race’ between the United States and the USSR, and the era of the Apollo spacecraft. NASA would not conduct another manned space mission for another six years, until the introduction of the Space Shuttle in 1981.

The spacecraft used in this joint scientific venture are depicted clearly on the caseback of the limited-edition timepiece, along with the names of the crew members.

Otherworldly elements on the Ref. 311.

Setting it apart from all other variants, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project edition Speedmaster bears a striking grey dial, fittingly crafted out of meteorite. Omega opted to oxidise the dial’s surface to achieve a darker shade of grey, while leaving the subdials in their raw state. The resulting contrast not only demonstrates Omega’s impressive abilities as a watchmaker, but highlights the cosmic beauty of meteorites themselves.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the meteorite dial further sets this limited-edition Speedmaster apart. Due to the properties of the raw material, and the process used to expose the ‘Widmanstätten’ pattern found on the dial’s surface, no two pieces look exactly the same.

Rarity and exclusivity

As one would expect, rarity is an important factor for collectors of fine timepieces. In the case of this limited-edition Speedmaster, Omega produced a total of just 1975 examples, each of which was spoken for by collectors shortly after release.

Omega Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ with meteorite dial, Ref. 311. Estimate $10,000-15,000. This lot is offered in Christie’s Watches Online Featuring Swiss Icons, 24 April-8 May, Online

Omega Speedmaster Professional ‘Moonwatch’ with meteorite dial, Ref. 311. Estimate: $10,000-15,000. This lot is offered in Christie’s Watches Online Featuring Swiss Icons, 24 April-8 May, Online

The Omega Speedmaster in question is especially rare, given that the commemorative presentation box has been signed by Apollo Soyuz astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, Vance D. Brand and Deke Slayton. In the eyes of Omega Speedmaster collectors, the ultimate goal is to own any example of a Speedmaster with ties to astronauts. This watch offers aficionados an exceptional opportunity to do so.