A fantastic journey earned the Omega Speedmaster a spot in the pantheon of Greatest Watches Ever. In 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin arrived on the surface of the moon, becoming the first men to set foot upon the dusty rock. On their wrists were Speedmasters, the only watch that NASA approved for the historic journey. From that moment, the chronograph has been linked to celestial voyages, having been the model worn on many other moon missions, and then some.
This year, the Speedy turns 60. That’s six decades of exploration marked by rare editions, prototypes, and tribute models. Most of them riffed off the theme of the moon, while others were fine examples of crazy good design and innovation, which is what really counts for you, a man who will not journey to space anytime soon.
Beyond its lunar connection, the Speedmaster reached iconic status because of its design, a combination of twisted lugs, tachymeter scale, domed glass, and baton hands, all of which results in something distinctive yet timeless. Here, a few of Speedy’s greatest hits, from the the first Speedmaster in 1957 to its new race-inspired model from this year.
1957 BROAD ARROW
The wide arrows gave the first Speedmaster a distinct look. This is also the first chronograph wristwatch with its tachymeter scale on the bezel, a feature that makes it easier for race drivers to record time.
1959 FIRST OMEGA IN SPACE
Even before the moon landing, Walter Schirra wore the second Speedmaster model on the Sigma 7 mission of the Mercury program in 1962. Observe the change of hand style from broad arrows to Alpha and lollipop.
This is the first watch to be worn on the moon and the model that has served on the most lunar missions. It’s also the first Speedmaster with an asymmetrical case.
1969 COMMEMORATIVE EDITION
It’s only fitting that the watch that celebrates Omega’s space exploits be the first hewn from 18K gold. The burgundy bezel is also a rare detail.
1973 SPEEDMASTER 125
This watch, which celebrates 125 years of Omega, was also the world’s first automatic chronograph to receive an official Chronometer Certification. Fun fact: In 1978, Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov wore this when he spent 145 days and 16 hours in space.
1979 ALASKA IV
A dozen pieces of this made-for-space quartz prototype was sent to NASA for testing, but they chose not to use it.
The first two-tone model was made with a steel case and a golden dial, silvered subdials, and a bracelet of steel and 14K gold. The exact number produced is unknown, but very few are
known to still exist.
1987 SPEEDMASTER AUTOMATIC
This was the first Speedmaster that combined an automatic movement with a Moonwatch case. The extremely rare model is called the Holy Grail by watch collectors.
The handcrafted edition, with a skeletonized design, was limited to just 50 pieces.
The X-33, or the Mars Watch, was designed for the possibility of landing on the Red Planet. Though it’s yet to reach its destination, this was worn on NASA’s space shuttles and the Russia MIR Space Station.
2008 ALASKA PROJECT
Limited to 1,970 pieces, this strange watch combined a standard Speedmaster, modified dial and hands, and an outer anodized aluminium thermal shield. The design allowed it to withstand extreme temperatures in lunar or spatial atmospheres, ranging from -148°C to +260°C.
The image of the moon on this watch is so detailed, you can zoom in to see an astronaut’s footprint. The blue timepiece also reaches the highest standards of precision and performance as approved by the Swiss Federal Institute of Meteorology.
2017 SPEEDMASTER AUTOMATIC
On its 60th anniversary, the Speedmaster highlights its motor racing heritage with a minute track style that first appeared on a 1968 model.
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.