The Omega Speedmaster is one of the most renowned and highly-regarded watches on Earth – and, in fact, off it. It is one of the best-selling luxury watches the world over and enjoys more mainstream appeal than a great many high-end timepieces.
Although the ‘Speedy’ enjoys a high public profile, there are still a great many things that most people don’t know about this remarkable watch.
From high-profile F1 racers with their own Speedmaster line to exhilarating tales of outer-space courage and derring-do, there is almost no end to the crazy behind-the-scenes facts about the Omega Speedmaster.
Let’s take a look at the 8 most impressive.
F1 Racer Michael Schumacher Has His Own Line
Though F1 racing legend Michael Schumacher is, these days, inextricably linked to Audemars-Piquet watches, many have forgotten a time in the 1990s when Schumacher was the face of the Omega Speedmaster.
Schumacher’s ambassadorship of the watches extended way past the 90s into the 2000s, in point of fact.
The Omega Speedmaster Legend Michael Schumacher watch, produced from 2005-2009, was manufactured to pay tribute to the man who redefined what Formula 1 racing was.
The watch sounds like it’s a little gimmicky, but in fact, it’s as classy as any other Speedmaster Omega has ever produced, and in point of fact, hews closer to the Speedmaster’s original purpose than many others in the range…
The Speedmaster Was Originally A Racing Watch
The Speedy may have become famous for a number of other reasons (as we’ll see shortly), but its origins lie, quite simply and plainly, with racing.
Omega has long been the official timer of the Olympic Games – since 1932, they have kept time at 28 of the Olympic Games.
This is, of course, a hugely important and awesome responsibility, and it’s imperative that time is measured accurately and reliably at each and every event during the Games.
It was with this in mind that Omega manufactured the Speedmaster in the 1950s. They needed a solid, sturdy reliable watch that kept excellent time and could be used to accurately measure the speed of Olympic athletes down the hundredth of a second.
The Speedmaster Was The First Watch On The Moon
This factoid is actually one of the Omega Speedmaster’s better known (it features prominently in all of Omega’s marketing materials for their flagship watch), but the details of the Speedmaster’s first trip to the moon are not quite as well-known as the mere fact that it was on the moon.
Also, a little surprising to many Speedy fans is the identity of the first man to wear the watch on the moon. Many assume that the first Omega Speedmaster wearer on the moon was also the first man to set foot on the moon – Neil Armstrong.
In fact, it was actually Buzz Aldrin – the second man on the moon – who wore the famous watch. This was because Armstrong had left his own behind in the lunar module, meaning that it was for Aldrin to make history by wearing the first watch on the moon.
The First Speedmaster On The Moon Wasn’t Modified
NASA is famously exacting when it comes to the equipment they use, often modifying many pieces of hardware in order to meet their high standards and ensure the safest mission possible.
Not so when it came to the Speedmaster: the aeronautics and space organization were incredibly impressed with the timepiece straight out of the box and were eager to put it into action as was.
The Omega Speedmaster was manufactured to such high standards that it was ready to function in the low-gravity vacuum of the moon’s surface without any additional modifications. This is truly a lasting testament to the quality of this amazing timepiece.
The Speedmaster Was The First Watch With A Tachymeter Bezel
Tachymeters were hardly a new invention in 1957 – they’d been around for about 40 years at that point, having been invented in Switzerland in the 1910s – but Omega was the first to innovate with the tachymeter, moving it from the dial to the bezel.
This simple change made it much easier for officials to keep time during Olympic events, further cementing their timepieces as the only way to measure the results of Olympic athletes.
The Speedmaster Saved The Lives Of The Apollo 13 Crew…
The Omega Speedmaster was famously the first watch on the moon and is used by NASA extensively during their space missions.
But it wasn’t for the moon landing that the timepiece earned an award from the space agency – it was for the infamous Apollo 13 mission.
The abortive 1970 attempt to land on the moon has been well-chronicled, with much focus (rightly) placed on the bravery and resourcefulness of the men trapped on the ill-fated craft. What is less publicized is the role of the Speedmaster during the mission.
The astronauts on board were unable to rely upon many of the instruments of the spacecraft, instead resorting to keeping time using their Omega Speedmasters.
A mistake of even a few seconds could have cost them their lives – thankfully, however, the Omega Speedmaster watch was equal to the challenge, and it was instrumental in helping the crew make a safe landing in the Pacific.
…And Earned A Snoopy Award
NASA awards the prestigious “Silver Snoopy Award” to third parties that have significantly advanced their mission to explore space.
The Omega Speedmaster was the recipient of such an award following the importance of their watches on the Apollo 13 mission – an accolade of which they’re very proud.
So proud, in fact, that they’ve put out a number of limited-edition watches bearing the face of the famous cartoon dog. These watches may seem gimmicky, but they’re actually highly sought after!
There Have Been More Speedmasters In Space Than Any Other Brand Of Watch
The Omega Speedmaster has an intimate and well-documented relationship with the Great Beyond (as we’ve seen throughout this article), but what is astonishing is just how many have actually been in space – as of 2023, a staggering 655 Omega Speedmasters have made the trip into the Big Black.
The Omega Speedmaster Has Been One of the World’s Most Impressive Timepieces Since the 1950s
As we’ve seen, the Omega Speedmaster is one of the most impressive luxury watches on the market – and this has been the case since the 1950s.
What’s more, they’re eminently affordable as far as luxury watches go – so if you haven’t already got one on your wrist, it’s time to ask yourself why!