Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg

Monday Morning Find: An Astronaut’s 18K Gold Omega Chronograph

"To mark man's conquest of space with time, through time, on time"

The Omega Speedmaster beat out the Rolex Daytona and a handful of other chronographs to be NASA's official choice for midcentury astronauts. That's right. Watches. In. Space. Today many people call the Speedy the Moonwatch because of this. (In Apollo 13 you can see Tom Hanks dramatically fiddling with his to time the events that would bring everyone back home safely.)

The watches that actually made it beyond the stratosphere were more modest steel chronos, but this solid 18K gold Speedy Pro was presented to Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean once he was back on earth. And now it's hitting the block.

The engraved caseback commemorates when the gift was given.
The engraved caseback commemorates when the gift was given.
Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg

Designed in 1969 to commemorate the first moon landing, only 1,014 watches of this model were ever produced—and this gold Speedmaster Professional is of an even rarer subset, one of 30 given to President Richard Nixon, Vice President Spiro Agnew, and the Apollo 12 astronauts. It's No. 26, to be exact, and belonged to astronaut Alan Bean, who became the fourth person to walk on the moon and later took another trip to space in the early '70s. The caseback engraving explicitly says that this watch marks "man's conquest of space with time, through time, on time."

Seriously, it just doesn't get any cooler than that.

This 18k gold Omega Speedmaster belonged to an actual astronaut, though it didn't go to space.
This 18k gold Omega Speedmaster belonged to an actual astronaut, though it didn't go to space.
Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg

The watch itself is quite similar to the steel Speedmasters that went to the moon. Inside is the caliber 861 movement, a slightly less expensive and robust version of the caliber 321 that sat inside Buzz Aldrin's watch, but it still has the same familiar dial layout and pump-style pushers. The tachymeter bezel is black, but the 18K gold gives the optical illusion of it having a deep burgundy color, amplified by the blockier hour markers. At 42mm, the watch was absolutely massive for the time, making it particularly well-suited to being strapped over a spacesuit for easy reading on the fly. 

With an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000, this 18K gold Omega Speedmaster is lot 141 in Bonhams' Space History Sale on April 21.

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