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This month, as the world revels in the memory of a giant leap for mankind, I’m reminded of a photograph. It is instantly recognizable: Buzz Aldrin sits inside a capsule, insouciantly staring into the camera. His hair is closely cropped, his left arm is raised across his chest, and on his wrist is a watch, with a black strap, black dial, and white hands.
That watch, the Omega Speedmaster Professional—also known as the Moonwatch—retails on the Omega website for $5,350, and has the words the first watch worn on the moon engraved on the case back, along with the reminder that the Speedmaster is flight-qualified by nasa for all manned space missions. It is the only watch to have earned that privilege.
A few thousand dollars for a watch might seem like a lot of money—and it is—but wearing a NASA-approved Speedmaster is the closest many of us will ever come to actual space travel, which is surely part of the reason for its enduring appeal. The model arguably helped Omega survive the “quartz crisis” of the 1980s—a disaster discussed by watch aficionados with the same intensity southern farmers might the boll weevil infestation of the 1920s—when quartz crystal-powered watches brought inexpensive timekeeping to the masses, effectively killing many storied Swiss watch companies.
Other brands, like Omega, that previously made relatively affordable watches survived by catering to the wealthy. The Speedmaster—a “mechanical” watch, meaning it is powered by a mechanism—remains one of the most popular Swiss watches around. Besides telling time, it has a chronograph, which basically means it can also work as a stopwatch, and a tachymeter, which measures speed. It also looks remarkably, to use a technical term, cool.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/arc ... on/594052/