1969 Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo XI Commemorative Watch, Serial No. 9.John Young's Personal 18K Gold Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph as Presented to Him in 1969 by the Omega Watch Company, Signed on Case and Box. This gorgeous watch, housed in its original case, bag, and outside box, is inscribed on the back:
man's conquest of space
GEMINI 3 & 10 - APOLLO 10
This is number nine of thirty chronograph watches that were specially produced by Omega shortly after the first manned lunar landing by Apollo 11, twenty-six of which were presented to NASA astronauts at a banquet on November 25, 1969, at the Warwick Hotel in Houston. Numbers one and two were engraved to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, respectively; neither ever accepted their watch and both currently reside in the Omega museum in Switzerland. Numbers three through eight were given to the six original Mercury astronauts that had already flown in space (Shepard, Grissom, Glenn, Carpenter, Cooper, Schirra). Young received the next one, number nine. Interestingly (and coincidentally) John Young would become the ninth man to walk on the moon (Apollo 16) making this serial number that much more significant. Watches numbered ten through twenty-eight were also awarded that night to other flown NASA astronauts. The Apollo astronauts that flew after this date received their watches later, with serial numbers 1001-1008. Altogether, there are only thirty-nine of these special presentation watches with the above engraving in existence (at least two of which are in a museum). A total of 1014 of these gold Speedmaster Professionals were produced; the ones sold to the public have different engraving on the back.
The Omega Speedmaster chronograph, often known as the "Moonwatch," was first manufactured in 1957 and has a long history with NASA. The first space flight (though unofficial) for a Speedmaster was with Wally Schirra on Sigma 7 (October 3, 1962) as a backup to the onboard clock. That same year, NASA determined the need to choose an official wrist chronograph for the upcoming Gemini missions. They went to a local Houston jewelry store and purchased several watches, eventually putting three of them through a series of grueling tests- the Omega, a Rolex, and a Longines. The Omega Speedmaster performed satisfactorily and, in 1965, it was chosen as the official chronograph for the space program. Interestingly, Gemini 3 (John Young's first space flight) was the first mission in which the Omega chronograph was part of the standard equipment issued to the astronauts; another lot in this auction contains the strap on which the Speedmaster was attached to his pressure suit during that flight. In 1967, it was chosen again for the Apollo series of missions, thus making it the first watch model worn on the moon. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Bulova brought much pressure on NASA to "buy American" though, in every subsequent test by NASA, the Omega proved superior. There are numerous photos available showing astronauts wearing their NASA-issue Omega Speedmasters during various spaceflights and moon landings.
The technical specifications for this particular chronograph are as follows:
Movement: Caliber 861, serial number 28080608, 17 jewels, manual winding, straight line lever escapement, monometallic balance with shock absorber.
Case: Three body, 18K gold, Reference 145022-69, bronze colored tachometer bezel calibrated to 500 UPH (units per hour), screw back, lyre lugs, 42mm diameter.
Dial: Champagne gold with applied gold and black hour indexes, black baton hands, subsidiary dials for constant seconds, thirty minute register and twelve hour register, fly back center sweep hand.
Band: Style 1116/575, 18K gold, brushed finish, deployant clasp.
Condition: Exceptional in all aspects.
This is a rare opportunity to own a chronograph with ties to one of America's great space heroes. The bidding should be fierce with its incredible appeal to both space collectors and Omega watch collectors.
On both the jeweler's case and the cardboard outer box, John Young has signed his name.
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