What watches were worn on/near the moon...
Written by Chuck Maddox USA! on 18 June 2000,
Last Revised: 26 February, 2007, 18:08 GMT
Certain Rights Reserved...

This document was written as a repository for what I have been able to learn about which watches have been worn on the moon... --
Let's resolve this Speedmaster Moon question once and for all... 
Posted By: SideB Date: 6/18/0 - 04:52:31
Help! Does anyone have the definitive answer to the question of which model(s) of Speedmaster were worn on the moon?

Index / Shortcuts

Speedmaster Moon question
Answer Top
Apollo 11 Debrief,
Speedy MIA...
Moonwatch Photos:
Sheppard, Evans
The question of Swigert's Rolex...
Apollo 13 Photos
Not the only watch worn, either...
David Scott's Waltham update:
John Diethelm's Thoughts
What we can conclude as fact
The Bottom Line
A Personal Note
11 January 2001 Addendum
Edward H. White II's
Survey of Speedmasters
Omega's Revisionist History
29 March 2001 Addendum
The Snoopy Award
Certain Rights Reserved

What we know about the watches that were worn on/near the moon...
 [originally posted under: I swear! I'm going post this as a TZ Classic this time!]
Posted By: Chuck Maddox <cmaddox@xnet.com> Date: 6/18/0 - 11:02:59  
In Response To: Let's resolve this Speedmaster Moon question once and for all... (SideB)
[For brevity and conciseness I have edited a couple of responses together to keep things manageable... I have also cleaned up some of the numbered points to be more chronological in nature... -- Chuck Maddox 19 June 2000]
Here is what we know, or have been able to determine:

Accoding to Imai's Time Capsule:

Speedmaster's relationship with outer space began when NASA's flight equipment buyer went to Corrigan's watch shop in Texas to purchase a chronograph. This was in 1961. At that time, the NASA flight equipment buyer purchased five chronographs, all of different brands, including the Omega Speedmaster. The intended use for the chronographs was not made clear. What brought the NASA equipment buyer to a jeweler's on a Texas street comer was most likely none other than President Kennedy's speech.

NASA procured a large number of Speedmaster's during the 1960's for use as an Space Flight Crew chronograph after extensive testing prior to the first Gemini flight.

Note: We don't know the number or specific model(s) that were acquired but this was done before the switch over to c.861 movement.

In 1966 Omega added the term "Professional" to the Speedmaster after becoming aware of NASA's adoption of the Speedmaster. I have previously written a companion TZ Classic: 1278 : It was 35 years ago today - (4 June 1965 - 4 June 2000) which details the events leading up to Ed White's space walk.

There are really only two people that are really in a position to know which movement was the first watch worn on the moon for certain: Neil Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin.

Buzz Aldrin with Speedmaster

It has been documented that Armstrong did not wear his Speedmaster on his walk on the moon. An instrument had malfunctioned during the LEM's Decent and his Speedmaster was left in the LEM to serve as a replacement.

[Armstrong, from the 1969 Technical Debrief - "Now, a preliminary comment (on the EVA Preps) has to do with the longer time that it took than during our simulations. It is attributable to the fact that, when you do simulations of EVA Prep, you have a clean cockpit and you have all the things that you're going to use there in the cockpit and nothing else. In reality, you have a lot of checklists, data, food packages, stowage places filled with odds and ends, binoculars, stop watches, and assorted things, each of which you feel obliged to evaluate as to whether its stowage position is satisfactory for EVA, and whether you might want to change anything from the pre-flight plans. For example, our mission timer was out, and we decided we had better leave one wristwatch inside in case it (the one taken outside) got damaged. We would have at least one working watch to back up the mission timer or to use in place of the mission timer, in case we could not get it going again."] ... [The astronauts each had an Omega Speedmaster Professional.]

Source: Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal: EVA Prep...

Later on in the log the following conversation transpires:

108:54:54 McCandless: Neil, this is Houston. Will you give us hack when you start your chronometer. Over.
108:55:03 Armstrong: Roger.
108:55:08 Aldrin: Give it to them later.
108:55:12 Armstrong: Okay. Okay, let's go to dump.
108:55:17 Aldrin: Dump.
108:55:18 Armstrong: Go to dump. (Long Pause)
108:55:40 Aldrin: Houston, I'll set my watch at 56. Over.
108:55:50 McCandless: Roger.
[Buzz is wearing his watch on his suit sleeve and, apparently, is setting his at 56 minutes after the hour, corresponding to the upcoming Ground Elapsed Time of 108:56.]
108:56:00 Aldrin: 3, 2, 1.
108:56:02 Aldrin: Mark.
[Buzz reopened the dump valve on his mark. This is the start of the EVA.]
[Aldrin - "I'm sure that Neil didn't wear his watch out on the surface. I'm sure he put it with the Velcro strap up in the AOT."]
[Armstrong - "Someone, perhaps in correspondence, asked me about that. And I could not remember, although it seems quite logical, given the mission timer situation, that we would have left one watch inside."]
Thus it is apparent that Aldrin's Speedmaster was the first worn on the moon.

It has also been documented that Aldrin's Speedmaster was lost and presumed stolen in transit to the Smithsonian for inclusion in it's displays:

[Aldrin - "I wasn't sure what the reason was, but I thought it was okay. It was your watch, if you wanted to leave it inside. I remember that specifically at that time, because I reflected back on it a little later when I shipped my watch to the Smithsonian and it turned up missing. That's when it refreshed in my mind, years ago, that you had left yours inside and mine was the only one out on the surface."]
Thus we cannot point to the actual watch to determine it's movement.

Photos of Moon Mission Astronaut watches:

The Time Capsule book has pictures of two of the Moon Astronauts Speedmaster's (Alan Sheppard, commander Apollo 14 [a moonwalker], and Ron Evans [CM Pilot for Apollo 17].

Exhibit 1, Alan Sheppard's Speedmaster (Click on picture to enlarge):

Alan Sheppard's Speedmaster (540 x 412)

This watch, manufactured in 1966-1967 is almost certainly a c.321. It couldn't be anything other than a c.321.

Exhibit 2, Ron E. Evan's Speedmaster (Click on picture to enlarge):

Ron E. Evan's Speedmaster (540 x 483)

This watch also appears to be a c.321 model of the Speedmaster.

Be sure to note the S/N: 61 engraved on the side of this Speedmaster... We will come back to this.

There are no other pictures of Moonwalker's watches available, to my knowledge, that would clearly show which model they wore. There are plenty of pictures of the astronauts wearing their speedmasters on the moon and during missions but I have not found any photos that clearly show which model they are using.

The Issue of Jack Swigert's Rolex GMT...

Information from James Dowling and Jeffrey Hess Rolex Book

In the book "The Best of Times: Rolex, an unauthorized History" James Dowling and Jeffrey Hess note that "It was a GMT-Master on the wrist of Jack Swigert that helped the crew of Apollo 13 to make it back to earth safely after their on-board Oxygen tank ruptured".

Dowling and Hess acknowledge that recorded history states that it was Lovell's Speedmaster that timed the engine burns that saved the craft. They state "It was a GMT-Master on the wrist of Jack Swigert that helped the crew of Apollo 13 to make it back to earth safely after their on board oxygen tank ruptured.". However they do not elaborate on how the GMT-Master was helpful.

Jack Swigert later had this same watch mounted with a photograph of the splashdown, a mission patch and the note "To my long-time friend René Jeanneret who enabled me to always be on time. With sincere thanks, Jack Swigert". This is pictured on pages 276 and 277 in the book.

Dowling and Hess also state that it could be argued that the only reason the astronauts wore Omega's in the first place was due to a foul-up in the New York City office of Rolex. A lack of available GMT-Masters on hand allegedly forced NASA to go elsewhere for Astronaut watches.

This theory (or argument) doesn't hold seem to hold a much water with the perceived problems of using the automatic movement that the GMT's were equipped with (which Dowling and Hess mention in the next paragraph), the extensive documentation from NASA about the specifications for a Chronograph not merely a watch, or the established facts that a Rolex Chronograph was tested alongside the Speedmaster among others. It seems to be have significant issues to state conclusively that the Rolex was used. It seems to be a weak argument at best, revisionist history at worst. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Dowling and his Rolex Book which I consider the mark to shoot for when it comes to books on watches. But I wouldn't have gone on a limb like that....

NOTE: Special Thanks to Paul Schliesser, who is creating a history page for Gruen watches, for tipping me off to the information about Jack Swigert's Rolex in Dowling and Hess's book!

TV/DVD Documentaries:

On 22 January 2001 the History Channel ran an episode of Modern Marvels: Apollo 13 that featured a good deal of archival footage shot during the Apollo 13 mission... I saw at least TWO separate shots showing Jack Swigert wearing a Speedmaster with a Velcro strap on his _right_ wrist... Thus the question about whether Swigert wore a Speedmaster during 13 can be answered... It appears that he did. Possibly in addition to a Rolex GMT, possibly not.
You should be able to contact the History Channel and order a copy on tape of the show I mention, and see for yourself...

In addition there is available on DVD a documentary on the Moon missions entitled "For All Mankind" that also has expensive footage of the Apollo 13 mission. In this footage as well the only watch that is visible on Swigert's wrist is a Speedmaster.

In both of the above cases only the Speedmaster appears on Swigert's wrist, but in all instances he is wearing multiple layers of long-sleeved clothing and it is quite possible that Swigert had his GMT under a cuff. Especially with the following point...


Recently in both the Omega and Rolex Forums this topic of which one watch (or both) did Jack Swigert wear on Apollo 13. Hung Doan was kind enough to post pictures of Jack Swigert before and after the Apollo 13 mission:
Jack Swigert at Pre-Flight Breakfest... (540 x 690)
Jack Swigert at pre-launch Astronaut breakfast clearly wearing a non-chronograph that looks like a GMT.
(Click on picture to enlarge)

Swigert with what looks like a 1675 GMT w/oysterlock bracelet.

Swigert with what looks like a 1675 GMT w/oysterlock bracelet.

Swigert Suited for Launch with a Speedmaster Velcro Strapped to his left wrist. This is probably the Speedmaster which timed the mid-course burn so critical to the return of Apollo 13.

The Apollo 13 Crew after the mission (Lovell, Swigert & Haise, from Left to Right). This shot is probably from Hawaii where President Nixon awarded them the Medal of Freedom.

The Apollo 13 Crew after the mission (Astronauts Lovell, Swigert & Haise,
from Left to Right). This shot is most likely from Hawaii where President Richard M. Nixon awarded them the Medal of Freedom.
Swigert clearly wearing two watches (inside yellow box) (187 x 118)
Swigert clearly wearing two watches (inside yellow box)...
Swigert, Haise, & Lovell (L to R) at Medal of Freedom award w/President Nixon.
Swigert, Haise, & Lovell (L to R) at Medal of Freedom award w/President Nixon.
Close up of Swigert's GMT...
Close up of Swigert's GMT...

So it is probably safest to say that Jack Swigert probably wore a GMT Master in addition to his NASA issued Speedmaster...

However, Swigert's GMT would not have made it to the moon because Swigert was Apollo 13's Command Module Pilot and would have remained in Lunar orbit had the mission not been aborted.

Sadly, we can not ask Jack Swigert himself about which watch(es) he wore because he passed away from complications related to cancer in Washington DC on December 27, 1982, a week before he would have taken the congressional seat he won in the Sixth Congressional District of Colorado in the November 2 election of 1982.

Special Thanks to Hung Doan for providing the photos for this section!

However, we can dispel the myth that the Speedmaster was the only watch worn on the moon.

From Apollo XV, astronaut David Scott:

142:14:22 Scott: "Verify cabin at 3.5." Okay, cabin's at 3.5. Suit circuit's locked up at about 4.4. My PGA is coming through 5 and decaying. And let's slip on a watch.
[Dave may have had his watch hanging from the instrument panel and, in any event, he is now putting it on and is probably starting the stopwatch function.]
[Scott, from a 1996 letter - "I do not recall ever having looked at my watch after egress. In the cabin after EVA-2, I noticed that the crystal of my Omega had popped off sometime during the EVA. Therefore, on EVA-3, I used my backup Waltham watch (which was) of a similar type. It worked just fine during the even higher temperatures of EVA-3.]".
(Source NASA's Apollo 15 Lunar Surface Journal, Specifically EVA-2 Prep page...)
[Quick find hint: do a find on "142:14:22" within the EVA-2 Prep Page]
Hence, We can clearly shoot down the notion that the Omega Speedmaster was the only watch worn on the moon. We have direct testimony on NASA's site from a "Moonwalker" that he wore a Waltham on the moon.

People have asked, "What does this Waltham that Scott wore look like?"… The short answer is I don't know. But one of the few “Waltham watch (which was) of a similar type” made and offered to the general public during the timeframe when David Scott could have purchased one for use as a backup watch on Apollo 15 that I've seen in my searches is this model:

I purchased one of these off of eBay in 2002 for the Princely sum of $155 (which remains my least expensive manual wind chronograph purchase - Only a couple of old Seiko and Citizen Bullhead Automatic Chronographs have come to me cheaper) and I offer a picture of my Waltham that might be a similar or same model as the one David Scott wore:

Additionally, I have recently come into possession of another Waltham Chronograph of a similar design to the Speedmaster which might be a possible candidate for Mr. Scott's Waltham:

This model does appear to be closer in appearance to a moonwatch with the exposed lugs. Both watches sport a Valjoux 7736 movement which was in production and on dealer's shelves for some time prior to the Apollo 15 mission.
Another possibility for David Scott's Waltham was forwarded to me by a D. Lee Brandt in December 2004. I discuss that watch and it's potential as Mr. Scott's Waltham on my Blog...
Mr. Scott's Waltham could be any of these models, or a different model. The only way to find out for sure is to interview Mr. Scott. Anyone have an address?
January 2007 David Scott's Waltham update:
[since this information is specific to David Scott's Waltham, I'm including it here instead of an addendum at the end of this document]
On Jan 22, 2007, 09:00 AM in the TimeZone Omega Forum, Christopher Meisenzahl posted:

Unauthorized Timepieces

Another irregularity that has come to light in the investigation of Apollo 15 was that Scott had on board two timepieces (a wristwatch and stop watch) that were not part of the normal mission equipment. During the preflight training period, Scott had agreed to evaluate these timepieces for the manufacturer at the request of a friend. Thinking they might be useful, particularly for the possible emergency timing of a manually controlled propulsion maneuver, Scott carried them on the mission but without prior authorization. NASA has deliberately withheld the name of the manufacturer of the timepieces to avoid commercialization of this unauthorized action.

Source: http://www.collectspace.com/resources/flown_a15_articlescarried.html

Which gives us more information on how the Waltham Chronograph (and indeed a heretofore unknown stopwatch) came to be on board Apollo 15. There is additional discussion on this topic in this thread opened by Peter C on TZOF...
To this day, Omega claims both in print advertizement and as of lately on the backs of display back Speedmasters that the "moonwatch" is “The first and only watch worn on the moon”.
This is not factually correct. Omega probably considers the Waltham being on the moon to be a bit of a "stowaway" situation and feels free to continue to use their "first and only" catch phrase. To be frank, I have some sympathy towards Omega on that. However, the fact remains... Regardless of how it got there, a Waltham was worn on the moon. And thus the slogan isn't factually correct even if the Waltham got there illegitimately.
EMail's from John Diethelm, head of Omega Vintage Information (until his recent retirement):

We have TZ Classic 381 in which John Diethelm of Omega Vintage Information is quoted as stating:

"Dear Sir,

In reply to your net inquiry dated febr. 19,1999 here are some details:

1. it is obvious that the first moon landing was made with a Speedmaster fitted with a caliber 321 movement. The toward the seventies, the NASA has probably also used the replacement movement caliber 861. We have no official confirmation of what has been used and when, except for the first Moon landing.

2. The re-qualification in 1978 is exclusively made with the caliber 861."

Kind regards

OMEGA LTD John Diethelm

Note: This is not necessarily true, because we do have the photo's above and additional pertinent information below. But, I present it as is nonetheless.

Dave S. posted, on 1 August, 2000 in the Omega Forum, an email from Omega PR (John R. Diethelm) regarding the ST 145.0120-67 model:

Dear Sir,

further to your above inquiry, we have compared your information and have therefore the following available details:

* mvt N° xxxxxxxxxx * manual winding chronograph movement of Calibre 321 - 17 jewels * case reference: ST 145.012 - stainless steel * manufactured and delivered to our Agents in Danemark on October 25, 1968.

It is confirmed that the OMEGA Speedmaster chronographs that went to the " Moon " were of identical reference as your above watch.

best regards

John R. Diethelm / Public relations

Hence does seem most likely that the c.321 was the movement used in (most of) the watch(s) worn on the moon... (Thanks, Dave S.!)

Lastly we have the issue of when were c.861's first officially used... The truth of the matter is that we really don't know. We know that:

Omega made a special commemorative watch (250 pieces) with the Apollo-Soyuz mission at 12 o'clock on the dial.

From the pictures of that mission [Pages 136-137 in the Time Capsule Book] we can see that:

  1. Alexei Leonov is clearly pictured wearing a Flightmaster.
    1. However, it is unclear if the photo of Alexei Leonov was taken during the mission, prior or after the mission.
    2. We know Cosmonaut Leonov was pictured officially wearing a Flightmaster, but did he actually wear it on the mission? We don't know.
  2. Tom Stafford and Vance Brand are pictured wearing a Speedmaster but it does not appear to be a commemorative model (no red/blue in the dial)
    1. But there is a glare on crystals in these photo's so I can not say if they are applied metal logo'ed Speedmasters, or White Painted.
      1. But it is clear enough to see at least two or three lines of text not the one of the commemorative model.
      2. Donald (Deke) Slayton appears to be wearing a non-commemorative Speedmaster and the picture is clear enough for me to believe it has a Applied Metal (read as c.321) logo'ed dial. Considering Slayton was with the Astronaut Corps from the beginning this is consistent with other facts stated above.
What can we conclude as fact?
  1. NASA's flight equipment buyer visited Corrigan's watch shop in Houston Texas to purchase five chronographs, all of different brands, including the Omega Speedmaster in 1961 for testing purposes.
  2. NASA first procured watches for the Astronaut Corps after Project Mercury and before the introduction of the c.861 movement.
  3. Speedmasters were tested again in 1972, as a result of the efforts of Omar Bradley and the Bulova Watch Company to get their own chronograph used on the final Lunar landing mission, but it is unclear if NASA procured them or if they were merely submitted for testing...
  4. I nor anyone else I know who has attempted have been unable to find any documentation of NASA procuring additional Speedmasters after the introduction of the c.861 prior to the 1978 retesting for the Shuttle missions.
  5. According to John Diethelm (who is as close to Canon as we are likely to get aside from speaking to the actual Moonwalker's [at least two of which have since passed away]), the first watch worn on the moon was a c.321 worn by Aldrin.
  6. John Diethelm also states that the ST 145.012 was the case reference of the Speedmaster chronographs that went to the " Moon ".
  7. We can document that Alan Sheppard's and Ron Evan's Speedmasters were c.321's. NASA seems to have c.321's in each of the instances we have been able to document.
  8. Omega has no official confirmation of what has been used and when, except for the first Moon landing".
  9. That Jack Swigert with almost 100% certainty wore a Rolex GMT-Master on the abortive Apollo 13 mission. In footage shot during the Apollo 13 mission I've only seen the Speedmaster visible. But it is probable and likely that he wore the GMT under a cuff as there are pictures of him wearing a non-chronograph prior to the mission and two watches afterwards. Unfortunately Mr. Swigert passed away some years ago of cancer so we can not simply ask him...
  10. David Scott wore a Waltham Chronograph on the surface of the moon during the third EVA of the Apollo 15 mission.
    1. Which points out additional facts:
      1. Astronauts were permitted to and did wear personally purchased watches on Apollo missions as backup's to their NASA mandated and provided Speedmaster's.
      2. Astronauts could easily have worn any one of a number of other watches on the moon other than Speedmasters in general, and c.321's in particular.
  11. Thus it is possible that an Astronaut could have purchased a Speedmaster Pro c.861 as his backup watch.
  12. Indeed it is possible and maybe even likely that some c.861's were worn on the moon by Moonwalker's:
    1. "The toward the seventies, the NASA has probably also used the replacement movement caliber 861" -- John Diethelm from within TZ Classic 381.
  13. However, looking at the wording of John's quote, it is written in a way that leads me to believe this is a speculation on John's part, not a fact.
  14. We really don't know specifically what watches were worn during the other moon missions, or the Skylab missions.
  15. It appears that the Apollo-Soyuz Astronauts did not wear commemorative c.861 model Speedmasters
    1. It appears that Deke Slayton might (and probably) wore a c.321 during the ASTP (Apollo-Soyuz Test Project).
Here is the bottom line:
  1. Omega has stated as fact that the first watch worn on the moon (as referenced previously) that the first moon mission was equipped with c.321 Speedmasters, ST145.012- 's.
  2. We have two documented cases where a moonwalker (Sheppard) and one orbiter (Evens) wore c.321's
  3. We have no documentary evidence to prove that c.861's were used on or near the moon, although we have reasons to suspect that some were used among other brands of watches. This is the rub for c.861's... We can not document their use on or near the moon at all.
  4. The Speedmaster was not the only watch worn on the moon (David Scott as referenced previously wore a Waltham on his last EVA.), nor the only watch worn in the vicinity of lunar orbit (Jack Swigert's Rolex GMT-Master).
Those are the facts of the matter as I have been able to determine them, and for the most part have typed up in the forum at least twice previously. The only difference is that previously I believe I may have stated that the c.861 was used on the Apollo-Soyuz mission. I no longer believe that I can conclude that the c.861 was definitely used or not, and it appears to me in reviewing the photo's in the Time Capsule Book, that Deke Slayton wore a c.321.
I honestly believe the best and perhaps the only way to nail down for sure what watches were worn when, aside from what I and others have documented, is to ask the astronauts personally. I believe that may be the only way to satisfy people, and maybe even that wouldn't be enough.
Now for a personal note.
Everything above is factual to the best of my knowledge. Where I have speculated, I've stated so, or worded the thought in such a way that it should be clear that it is an opinion. We can prove (at least to my satisfaction) that c.321's were worn on the moon, and that a Waltham of a similar type to the Speedmaster was worn on the moon. However, I and others have not located any proof of other movement's/watches (other than the Waltham) having been worn on the lunar surface, only speculations and opinions that it may have happened.
Is the c.861 Speedmaster worn by the Moonwalker's? I can not state so because I have not seen proof that it was. I have seen evidence to prove that c.321 Speedmasters were worn on the moon. Thus, the c.321 Speedmaster was worn on the moon (at by least Aldrin and probably Sheppard). The c.861 might also have been worn on the moon by Moonwalker's, but neither I or anyone else has been able to document it.
I have no axes to grind, no biases to bolster, no desire to promote false information, imply opinion as fact, ego's to massage or bruise, nor wish to cause monetary values to raise as I am not looking to sell any of my moonwatch cased watches.
I hope this shed's a proper light on the subject and that if someone (ANYONE) has evidence to bolster the case of the c.861 you will come forward and let me know. My e-mail address is below... Thank you in advance!

-- Chuck (cmaddox@xnet.com)

Apollo 12 moonwalker picture (600 x 426)
We frequently get queries in the Omega Forum on this subject despite the existence of this document asking about this subject. Rarely is there anything new of note posted on the subject, however sometimes there are interesting facts or thoughts added to the discussion on this topic... These are reproduced here for completeness...
11 January 2001 Addendum...
The posts of the week of 1/7/2001-1/11/2001 pursued a couple of interesting tact's... These are reproduced here...
Damon is quoted on the following two statements (bolded and italicized). My response follows in plain text.
Still really unknown as the which was the first on the Moon but I think it was the 321.
We really don't know for 100% certain, and we likely never will... The only way to make certain would be to examine Buzz Aldrin's (who is documented as wearing the first watch worn on the moon) example, but Aldrin's Speedmaster was stolen while in transit years ago.
John Diethelm has stated in a number of occasions that it is certain that Aldrin's Speedmaster was a c.321. I accept that but there is still a remote possibility, but greater than 0%, that John is in error and Aldrin wore a c.861. I'd put that remote possibility at less than 1% chance, but yet it still exists. Thus we can say it's all but certain that Aldrin wore a c.321 but we have to have that "all but" qualifier in there because we are not 100% certain... Or at least I'm not 100% certain.
Although, ones with the 861 movement have been to the Moon on late missions.
I have not seen any solid evidence to support this statement... I've written about this at great length, most recently on Friday January 5, 2001. Here is an excerpt:
NASA tested and decided on Speedmaster's in 1965, They were worn throughout the Gemini missions, first becoming known as NASA's choice via pictures of Ed White's Spacewalk in June of 1965. This is why I sometimes call my ST 105.003-65 the "Ed White model/style" Speedmaster. In January 1967 the Apollo 1 occurred and Ed White along with Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee lost their lives with their Speedmaster strapped to their space suits. I've heard and read that Ed White's Speedmaster was given to his son.
The first watch worn into  space... (514 x 637)
The First watch worn in to space...
Edward H. White II's NASA Issued Speedmaster (ST105.003)
Edward White III's letter... (441 x 705)
In 1968 Omega switched from c.321 movement to the c.861 for the Moonwatch. NASA also launched Apollo 7 and 8 in October and December respectively. In 1969 Apollo 9 (March), Apollo 10 (May) led up to Apollo 11's landing in July 1969. We have it in good authority from John Diethelm of Omega Vintage Information that Aldrin's Speedmaster was a c.321, Specifically a ST 145.012. It is also fairly doubtful that there would be enough lead time for c.861 Speedmaster's to trickle down through the distribution system by this time for Aldrin's to have had any possibility of being anything other than a c.321. Apollo 12 finished up 1969's Apollo Moon explorations in December of 1969. Apollo 13 was the only manned American Space flight made in 1970, because of the problems experienced with it, Apollo 14 flew in early 1971, Apollo 15 also flew in 1971, Apollo's 16 and 17 finished up the early manned exploration of the moon in 1972.
So while it is not very likely that c.861's could possibly have been the first watch worn on the moon there is the possibility or at least a window of possibility that a c.861 did get aboard in the 1970-1972 timeframe.
For the record, Retired General Omar Bradley on the behalf of the Bulova watch company pressed NASA on the issue of Astronaut watches. Bulova wanted to have the prestige of having an Astronaut watch on the last Apollo moon mission. The tactic they used was a Buy American Act, Bulova felt that the Swiss made Omega was in violation of this law. They produced an "American made" chronograph of their own manufacturer to compete. It failed and the Speedmaster was used for the final mission. A result of this was an answer to the question of where all the Astronaut watches had ended up. Being government property there is an obligation to return them after use or to reimburse the government for their expense. Bradley asked where they had ended up.
In a panic NASA made a survey of the locations of these watches. Since 1964 NASA had purchased 97 chronographs. When making purchases NASA had requested only Omega Speedmasters (note: for all purchases before 1968, NASA would simply have to specify Speedmaster's because there was only one model of Speedmaster until the Mark II appeared in 1969). This group of 97 chronographs were used on all manned missions beginning with Gemini 3. Of the 97: 17 could no longer be used or were lost. In 1972 there was an inventory of 20 unused units at the flight center. The remaining 60 units had already been used or had undergone repairs to bring them up to specifications. (Time Capsule, Page 135). This also implies that Speedmasters worn during the Mercury project were purchased by the individual astronauts themselves (although again this is an implication, not a documented fact). Note: Ron Evans S/N: 61 Speedmaster pictured above would seem to fit within this number...
Thus it seems very unlikely that NASA would use c.861 movement Speedmaster's which had not been tested for compliance to NASA standards when they had 20 unused Speedmasters in inventory already.
There remains three other way's for an c.861 to have possibly made it to the moon:
  1. Astronauts are allowed to wear a backup watch of their own choosing in addition to their required Speedmaster.
    1. It has been stated in the Unauthorized Rolex book by Dowling and Hess. that Jack Swigert wore a Rolex GMT Master on Apollo 13 (although in all films I have seen of that mission Swigert appears to be wearing a Speedmaster only) and that a Waltham Chronograph was worn on the moon by David Scott during Apollo 15's EVA-2 when the crystal of his Speedmaster was lost during EVA-1.
  2. Personal Effect's Kit's:
    1. Each astronaut was allowed to have packed on the spacecraft a personal effect kit weighing less than one pound. Most astronauts included pictures of family, or similar effects, Buzz Aldrin took a communion kit, etc.
  3. An Astronaut replaced his issued Speedmaster with an off the shelf model.
    1. Conceivably, an Astronaut could have damaged or lost his issued timepiece and replaced it on his own without telling anybody.
So it is possible that an Apollo astronaut purchased a c.861 on their own as either a backup watch to their primary watch, or to put into their personal effects, or replaced the NASA issued watch for whatever reason. It's also quite possible that an astronaut purchasing a Speedmaster would be ignorant of the movement change in the watch. Thus these are possibilities but they don't seem particularly likely.
So I say that it is most likely that most, if not all the Speedmasters worn on or near the moon were c.321's. It is possible that a c.861 slipped aboard some of the later missions, but not terribly likely and definitely not certain. It is also known that Speedmasters were not the only watch worn on (Scott's Waltham) or near (Swigert's Rolex) near the moon. So even Omega's assertion that the Steel Back moonwatches assertion of being "the First (true) and only (false) watch worn on the moon" is incorrect even if you consider the c.861 (and 861 family) as legitimate "moonwatches".
You can choose to say that c.861's made it to the moon, and while you may be right, I have been unable to find any evidence that any evidence which isn't an opinion or conjecture that c.861's did make it to the moon. I for one can not state that they did, only that there is a small possibility that they might have made it on to a later flight, because I can't find and reliable evidence that proves that they did make it, somehow, on a later flight.
I should also mention that Michael Stein and myself extensively debated the topic of "Did c.861's go to the moon?" in the TimeZone Omega Forum in October of 2002. I was able to archive those posts and actually have them available for viewing but I'm looking for a way of presenting those links in a cohierent fashion before posting them for public view. If you wish to view the "raw" archives, email the author and I'll be happy to point you to them.

Russ asked a couple of followup questions (bolded and italicized). My response follows in plain text.
- Are you saying that all 97 chronographs were purchased pre-1968? Or, is this the total number purchased from 1964-1972 when Bradley asked about the location of all the watches?
The Time Capsule (p. 135) says "Since 1964 NASA had purchased"... So the implication is that these watches were purchased between 1964 and Bradley's query... The book did not specify when NASA's last purchase in that timeframe was.
- I assumed there were periodic purchases by NASA as astronauts were added, and that 861's would have been in the later purchases (post 1968). Comment?
I'm only posting what I've seen. It's possible that NASA made purchases after 1968, but I have not seen any (not one) reference that NASA bought any additional Speedmasters after their initial purchase to fulfill the needs of the then established programs (Gemini/Apollo). Remember that the Apollo program was projected to have lunar landing missions through Apollo 20 but sadly Apollo's 18 through 20 were canceled because of budget cuts. It would be consistent with three additional missions (with 3 astronauts, 2 watches, 3 missions = 18) that NASA had 20 unused Speedmaster's on hand...
It is possible that they did purchase additional Speedmasters, but neither I nor anyone I've known has ever shown me a speck of evidence to support such a contention.
- My Speedmaster purchased last year doesn't say this. Rather it states "Flight-qualified by NASA for all manned space missions. The first watch worn on the moon." Do the older Speedmaster say "... the only watch worn on the moon..."? Just curious.

I don't believe that the watch case back has ever said "only" [Until 2003 it hadn't, but Omega changed the displayback model to read "First and Only watch worn on the moon" about this time -- Chuck], but much of Omega's advertising through the years has stated "First and Only Watch" or "only watch" or some variation...

For example:
Moonwatch Screen Wallpaper
Omega's Site...





Post-Moon Professional Speedmasters (1st Generation):

Shortly after the successful landing by Apollo astronauts on the moon Omega moved to commemorate the event by means of a specially engraved caseback... The exact beginning and ending date of this caseback is not well known, but usage started in the late 1969 timeframe and lasted until some point in 1971 when the modern caseback was adopted. This is the caseback found on ST145.022's dating from after the first lunar landing to roughly 1971.

Post-Moon Professional Speedmasters (1st Generation)

Post-Moon Professional Speedmasters (2nd Generation~Current):

The currently used caseback has been in use from 1971 through the currently sold non-commemorative non-display back model,

Post-Moon Professional Speedmasters (2nd Generation~Current)
Johan Axelsson asked the following questions:
Did the astronauts use the same watch from mission to mission?
It is my understanding that when Astronauts were accepted into the Astronaut Corps they were issued two (2) Speedmasters. At least this is the case with 1960's era astronauts. This may have changed since then.
I think I read a thread in this forum a year ago about the Speedmaster of astronaut Ed White. According to this thread (I don't remember who was the author) one of the son's of Ed White had got the Speedmaster of Ed White after the tragic accident in January 1967. This son had written a letter that was published in a Japanese book about The Speedmaster Pro. According to the letter this Speedmaster was the very same watch that Ed White had been wearing during his historical Gemini 4 EVA.
I remember the thread in question, it was probably the first time I had typed up what had eventually became my TZ classic post on the subject. If I remember correctly, the author of the post referring to Ed White's son had written a letter that was refereed to and reproduced in the Japanese edition of the Speedmaster book. I didn't have my copy close at hand at the time and was never able to look it up. I have to tell you that I've spent the last 20 minutes or so with both the Japanese and English edition and I can not find the article. [Since I wrote this reply, I have come into possession of a scan of both Ed White's Speedmaster and the letter that Ed White's son wrote attesting to the authenticity of the watch now in his possession. It is included earlier in this article... -- C]
However, I think it is probably pretty likely that White was wearing an issued Speedmaster, if it was the one he wore on Gemini 4, only his family would know probably for sure. I know that Ed White had two children, but I'm not certain of their gender. [Since receiving the scans in question, I can state this with 100% certainty... -- C]
Gordon Cooper's Speedmaster worn during Faith 7's flight in May 1963 is pictured with a letter of authenticity on page 101 of Time Capsule. No mention of Cooper's Gemini V flight, so I would assume that Cooper wore a different watch for that flight.
Tom Stafford's Speedmaster is pictured on page 191 of the Time Capsule book and it is engraved with Gemini 6 & 9 and Apollo 10 on the back of it. It also is stated that Stafford's Speedmaster is in the Omega Museum in Switzerland. So my earlier comment that I heard Stafford's Speedy is part of the National Air & Space Museum's display may be incorrect. No mention of made of the Apollo-Soyuz mission that Stafford was a member of in association with this watch so, apparently he wore a different watch for the ASTP (Apollo-Soyuz Test Project) mission.
Now, IF Buzz Aldrin was wearing the same watch on the moon that he was wearing during the Gemini 12 EVA, this should mean that his watch is MORE likely to be cal 321.
Indeed, if Aldrin was wearing the same watch he wore during Gemini XII (12) during November 1966, or possibly another watch he was issued at the same time he was issued the watch worn on Gemini XII it is a certainty that it was a c.321 because the c.861 wasn't put into a Speedmaster until 1968.
Great deduction! I wish I had thought of that!
29 March 2001 Addendum...

During the month of March 2001 Hung Doan brought to light some interesting photographs of Jack Swigert, before and after the Apollo 13 mission. These have been added above in the proper place. In addition Hung called into question a passage of text I had written. Hung's post (reproduced in bold italic type), and my reply (in less stylized text) is reproduced here...

(BOLD italized text is Hung Doan's words) Chuck you wrote, "Dowling and Hess do not elaborate on how the GMT-Master was helpful, and indeed they state that it was Lovell's Speedmaster that timed the engine burns that saved the craft."

I have the actual book and the above statement is wrong.

I have the actual book too. It's really a great book for the price ($50 US) even if you don't own a Rolex and I don't...

Actually the statement isn't really wrong but perhaps it may not be clear as it could... It certainly is shorter than the entire story (which follows)...

On page 277-8 they clearly stated that Swigert was responsible and that the "While recorded history makes much of .. James Lovell" (involvement), the donated plaque seems to indicate otherwise. (this is a paraphrase of the entire paragraph)

Actually, they state
"It was a GMT-Master on the wrist of Jack Swigert that helped the crew of Apollo 13 to make it back to earth safely after their on board oxygen tank ruptured. While the recorded history of the mission makes much of how mission commander used his Speedmaster to time the short engine firings [note: this is incorrect, as Lovell states in Lost Moon/Apollo 13 that Swigert timed the firings as Lovell was assisting Haise, the LM pilot, personally I trust Jim Lovell more than Dowling or Hess, [no offense James and Jeff], as Lovell was there...] that saved the craft, within a month of their successful return to earth Jack Swigert had his GMT-Master mounted on a board, along with a photograph of the ,,splashdown,,, a copy of the shoulder patch worn by the crew, and a hand written note which said ,,To my long-time friend René Jeanneret who enabled me to always be on time. With sincere thanks, Jack Swigert,, Above the watch was the legend ,,This watch was flown to the Moon on Apollo 13. April 11-17, 1970., This plaque was proudly placed on a wall in Rolex's Geneva Head office with the signed photographs of nine other astronauts, all Rolex wearers."

All the plaque indicates is that:

  1. The watch was flown to the moon
    1. [technically this isn't correct either as the watch wasn't even flown to Lunar orbit much less to the moon, but was actually only flown around the moon]...
  2. That the watch was flown on Apollo 13, April 11-17 1970
  3. And that it enabled Jack Swigert to always be on time.
The plaque does not indicate:
  1. Who timed the firing of the engines.
  2. Which watch was used to time the firing of the engines
  3. How the watch was helpful in the return of the Apollo 13 astronauts.
I personally do not consider this "rebuttal" or "refutation" of the "recorded history". As we are really talking about two different things here...
  1. The recorded history
  2. Jack Swigert's GMT's being along on Apollo 13.
    1. I personally consider it fairly irrefutable that Jack Swigert wore a GMT on the Apollo 13 mission. There are pictures of him wearing an Oyster-cased & bracelet watch that looks like a GMT/Sub both immediately before and after the mission and the logistics of shuttling around Astronaut watches from the Cape to the recovery task force in the Pacific make the thought he took it off before launch and had the watch on hand for him to put on after splash down to be exceedingly implausible.
    2. What we don't know is if Mr. Swigert used the GMT for timing any of the critical burns on the Apollo 13 mission. From my reading I suspect that he did not.

You might want to rephrase your FAQ to say:

"Dowling and Hess do not elaborate on how the GMT-Master was helpful. They acknowledge that recorded history states that it was Lovell's Speedmaster that timed the engine burns that saved the craft but rebutted with ancillary evidence by the plaque."

I don't feel that Dowling and Hess dispute, rebut, or repudiate the recorded history in their text. I feel that they are pointing out the (nigh undeniable) fact that Swigert wore a GMT on Apollo 13 and they (Dowling and Hess) feel it was helpful in the safe return of the crew. They are expressing their opinion, not stating this assertion as a fact. At least in my opinion they aren't asserting this as fact.

I will change the passage to state the following:

"Dowling and Hess acknowledge that recorded history states that it was Lovell's Speedmaster that timed the engine burns that saved the craft. They state "It was a GMT-Master on the wrist of Jack Swigert that helped the crew of Apollo 13 to make it back to earth safely after their on board oxygen tank ruptured.". However they do not elaborate on how the GMT-Master was helpful."
This is as close to your suggested text that I can come in good conscious.

The reasons why?

  1. I honestly believe that if it was the Rolex that had timed the engine burns then NASA would not have awarded Omega the Snoopy Award. I don't think that Jim Lovell would have permitted a deception to exist as he is/was, to quote "Lovell, along with many other astronauts, was also a Rolex man based on the autograph of himself on the "Rolex & NASA" display at the headquarters" as you stated in your message in reply to Steve C. above. I have also personally met Jim Lovell, and he stuck me then (and always) as a straight shooter who would not lie or perpetuate a falsehood or deception. Especially since he is/was a Rolex owner! For what it's worth, in person Mr. Lovell comes across exactly as he does in his many TV and other interviews and appearances.
  2. Snoopy Award
    The Snoopy Award signed by Lovell, Haise and Swigert...
  3. I do not believe that Jack Swigert would have signed the "Snoopy Award" if the award was not deserved. I do not believe, especially as a Rolex owner, that Jack Swigert would perpetuate such a deception...

Special thanks to those people mentioned above who have asked these questions. It is only via the scrutiny of many that we burn away impurities and are left with the truth...
-- Chuck

Statement of rights retained and permissions granted...
Permission is granted for Damon, Derek Ziglar, Frank N., Ross or Robert Jan to include within the FAQ's they are writing as long as credit (and a link to this article) is given. Permission for personal, educational or noncommercial use is granted. The author retains all other rights not specifically mentioned here... For all other use please contact the author.
Disclaimer: Opinions, where expressed, are my own and knowing me should be taken with a grain or two of salt... -- Chuck