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Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch 311.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch 311.

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The Omega Speedmaster Professional "Moonwatch" - including this new ref. 311. - is the only watch ever flight-qualified by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) for extravehicular activities (EVAs) in space. On July 20, 1969 Houston time (July 21st by GMT) Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr walked on the moon wearing a Speedmaster strapped to the outside of his spacesuit - the ref. ST105.012 - that looked almost identical to this watch down to the 42mm stainless case, lyre lugs, matte black dial, sunken sub dials, and baton hands. Aside from the fact that Aldrin's was on a velcro strap there are only a few other minute aesthetic difference between the dials and bezels - it's basically the same watch. The main updates are technical in nature: Aldrin's came with a hesalite crystal and a solid case back while this watch features a near scratch-proof sapphire crystal over the dial and a similar piece on the back to display the movement. The manual wind movements are in fact the primary difference - Aldrin's was a column wheel caliber 321, while this watch sports the shuttle/cam caliber 1863, both are superb. Truly it doesn't get more awe-inspiring than the Speedmaster and the story behind it. Think about what was going on in the world at the beginning of the 1960s: the Cold War was gaining intensity, America was in the middle of the Civil Rights movement, construction had begun on the Berlin Wall - heady times. On May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy appeared before a special joint session of Congress to give a speech on "Urgent National Needs." He outlined the state of affairs, his requests for budget expenditures and just before he concluded he made his pitch for a herculean goal. In his own words: "...Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take...Now it is time to take longer strides--time for a great new American enterprise--time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth...while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. But this is not merely a race...We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share...I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth...But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon--if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there..." In a single speech Kennedy made the race to the moon the pride of every American. NASA had already designated the ""Original Seven" Mercury Astronauts" in 1959 but now it was on. Ask yourself: if someone told you they wanted to shoot you 238,855 miles into space atop a three-stage 363-foot rocket with 7.5 million pounds of thrust and 1960s technology, would you go? Even if you were interested in making the grade you don't start at the moon, there are an ocean of phases in between. These guys were trying something for the first time every time without truly knowing if what goes up actually has to come down at all, much less in the manner they expected. They lined up to do it. Author, Tom Wolfe, got it right in The Right Stuff, these guys were a different breed of cat, they were bonafide - and Omega was with them almost every step of the way. In 1962 when Walter "Wally" Schirra became the fifth American in space he wore his own personal Speedmaster CK2998; On June 3, 1965 when Edward Higgins "Ed" White became the first American to walk in space he wore a Speedmaster ref. 105.003; when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Jr. touched down on the moon, Omega was there too, just as it has been on every single lunar landing since - six in total since that July day in 1969. The story of the race for space is as rich a read as you'll ever encounter. These guys were characters - smart and brave and tough - and that the Omega Speedmaster was chosen by them to play a small part is unique in the whole of watchmaking. The Speedmaster Moon is perfect. It's akin to the Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea D-Blue in that the Speedmaster is the watch you buy not because you're likely to ever be in space - or descend to the bottom of the Mariana Trench - you buy it because someone did. These types of watches connect us to things vastly larger than ourselves in the most tangential but fun ways. Enjoy this watch for its own merits, enjoy it for what it represents, enjoy it for the Boys.

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