Bidding Wars: Omega Speedmaster 50 Shakes Up Christies

Ron Evans Command Module Pilot Apollo 17 Omega Speedmaster
The Omega Speedmaster belonging to Ron Evans, command module pilot of the Apollo 17 mission.

Fans came out in numbers yesterday to catch the latest chapter of the beloved space adventure that is…the Omega Speedmaster. While millions of sic-fi enthusiasts were queuing up in theatres around the world for the ‘other’ interplanetary adventure of the day, watch enthusiasts gathered in a small room inside Christies’ in New York to see how their heroes would fare in their latest adventure.

Thanks to an assemble cast, the “OMEGA SPEEDMASTER 50: From a spacewalk to today” theme auction traced the history of the iconic timepiece, from its first spacewalk on the wrist of astronaut Edward White in 1965, to its final steps on the moon seven years later with Captain Gene Cernan.

There was no place for sci-fi though. Unlike Star Wars fans, many of the pieces on display have actually ventured into space, including two rare timepieces: the privately-flown Speedmaster, worn by Apollo 17 astronaut Ron Evans; and a Speedmaster worn by Concorde test pilot Captain Hackett.

Both caused quite a stir when they were announced by the auctioneer, and understandably, both realised prices above their estimates. But they were not alone. For years now, the Speedmaster has been the subject of dogged bidding wars.

The excitement generated by these watches comes from the story being the watch. The first watch on the moon, the Speedmaster story is one of an underdog, unexpectedly beating the odds to mater its nemesis, in this case Rolex. Sound familiar?

More importantly, the Speedmaster is a watch that has been well looked after thought the years, its timeless design unaltered and its quality undisputed. Of course, many of the pieces never reached the heights of their illustrious heroes.

More than 40 years after the last moonwalk, the Speedmaster continues to capture the imagination watch enthusiasts worldwide, resulting in an onslaught of limited edition that only ever leave Earth for the duration of a commercial flight. One begins to wonder who has the best marketing department: Disney or Omega?

While the moon continues its endless rotation around the earth, and the myth of the Speedmaster endures.

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