The Omega Speedmaster is one of the great icons of watch history. The timepiece, introduced in 1957 as a racing chronograph, would become the first watch on the Moon. But the Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch is just one of a wide variety of Speedmaster models. This article takes a closer look at the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary.
The Speedmaster Success Story
Ever since Omega released their famous trilogy of the Speedmaster, Seamaster 300, and Railmaster in 1957, hundreds of different Speedmaster models have contributed to the great legacy of this brand and its watches. The current Speedmaster collection is divided into several different model groups. It starts with the Moonwatch Professional, of course, and is accompanied by the Heritage Models, the Dark Side Of The Moon, the smaller Speedmaster 38 mm, the Two Counter, and finally, the Instruments lines.
Heritage vs. Moonwatch? Omega’s Incredible Speedmaster Collection
It might surprise you to discover that the Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary is, in fact, not part of the Moonwatch collection. Omega reserves this line exclusively for the direct descendants of the first Omega Speedmaster ref. 105.012 that Buzz Aldrin wore on the Moon. The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary actually belongs to Speedmasters’ Heritage line, which contains some of the brand’s most remarkable models. It’s subdivided into the Anniversary series (where you can find the watch we’re looking at today), the brilliant Caliber 321 model, the Speedmaster ’57 series, and the iconic Speedmaster Mark II series.
The Apollo XI Limited Editions
Omega’s Anniversary series celebrates iconic moments in history and exceptional Speedmaster models from the past with special commemorative editions. This series effectively started right after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969 as part of the Apollo XI mission. In honor of one of humankind’s greatest achievements, Omega produced 1,014 numbered pieces of the now legendary gold Speedmaster BA145.022, gifting numbers 3 through 28 to NASA’s serving astronauts at the time.
Ever since the release of this timepiece, Omega has created several other special editions to celebrate the Apollo XI mission. The first came in 1980 with the Speedmaster Apollo XI 1980. Omega has since introduced special anniversary models every five years, starting with the Speedmaster Apollo XI 20th Anniversary model in 1989. The year 2019 marked 50 years since Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon with his Speedmaster, and Omega, of course, was never going to let this moment pass without crafting a special-edition timepiece.
The Stainless Steel Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
The Moonshine™ Gold Apollo 11 50th Anniversary initially took center stage two years ago. It was a spectacular modern reinterpretation of the 1969 gold BA145.022 model. The stainless steel version is truly special as well. With 6,969 individually-numbered pieces made, this watch comes with the familiar 42-mm stainless steel case and features domed sapphire crystal.
Its bracelet with polished and brushed finishes recalls the original bracelet used for Buzz Aldrin’s Speedmaster. And to commemorate the Moon landing’s golden anniversary, Omega also crafted the hands, indices, and vintage logo on the varnished gray center section of the dial out of Moonshine™ Gold. The bezel insert is polished black ZrO2 ceramic with an Omega Ceragold™ tachymeter scale. On the 9 o’clock subdial, you’ll find an extremely detailed laser-engraved image of Buzz Aldrin in Moonshine™ Gold climbing down from the Lunar Module Eagle onto the Moon’s surface.
Another beautiful element is the applied “11” hour marker. It’s doesn’t stand out at first glance but is a wonderfully subtle reminder of the special occasion this watch honors. Turn the watch around, and you’ll find the case back displaying the famous Moon footprint and quote, “THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR [A] MAN / ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND.” The case back additionally features inscriptions indicating what number your watch is among the total of 6,969 pieces made; NAIAD Lock; Cal. 3861; Co-Axial Master Chronometer; and Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition.
The Omega Caliber 3861
The Omega Master Chronometer caliber 3861 ticks away inside this timepiece. This is the current Co-Axial chronograph movement Omega uses for the Moonwatch models it introduced earlier in 2021. The two 50th Anniversary models were the first to feature this movement, an update of the legendary caliber 1861. The Master Chronometer caliber 3861 features a Co-Axial escapement, has Master Chronometer certification from METAS, and is anti-magnetic up to 15,000 gauss. It is a true technological step forward and an excellent movement for the latest generation of Speedmaster models.
Financial Performance of the Speedmaster
There are many Speedmaster models, and their financial performance depends on several different factors. Is a reference a limited edition or standard? Is it a rarer Moonwatch model? A look at Chrono24 shows that nearly all the references have increased in value, so buying a Speedmaster is a great decision. Let’s take a deeper look at its market performance.
Performance of the Stainless Steel Apollo 11 50th Anniversary
There’s no question: The stainless steel Apollo 11 50th Anniversary shows that Omega knows how to create a special-edition watch. It might, however, surprise you to know that this watch was not an instant hit. It took a while before all 6,969 pieces sold out at their $9,650 list price – a bargain compared to the $36,500 of the gold model, but a major investment nevertheless.
Additionally, opinions varied about the image of Buzz Aldrin on the 9 o’clock subdial, replacing the running seconds scale. If you ask me, this is one of those elements you have to see in real life to truly appreciate; this watch is simply a stunning piece of craftsmanship. Although these timepieces were still available for sale at Omega boutiques in the first couple of months after this watch’s introduction in July 2019, their price on Chrono24 increased by more than $1,200 above MSRP. These started to come down a bit shortly afterward, with the lowest price just under $12,000 in March 2020, and prices slightly increasing after that, settling between $12,000 and $13,000 over the course of the next two years.
The stainless steel Omega Speedmaster Professional Apollo 11 50th Anniversary has maintained a steady value of around $1,200 above its initial list price. As this is a limited-edition anniversary model, prices will probably go up over time. But don’t expect to see prices increasing drastically in the coming months. With its large production numbers, higher price, and mixed opinions about its design, it might be a while before collectors realize how special this Speedmaster truly is. I personally do not doubt that in a couple of years, its value will have increased significantly. After seeing this watch up close, I can only recommend that you do the same to genuinely appreciate it. And if you have a chance, it’s definitely a great watch to add to your collection, considering the occasion it’s commemorating, along with the timepiece’s fine execution and brilliant movement.