The Solo 'Mercury' missions were almost complete and the Gemini (two man) and Apollo (three man) projects were going ahead at full speed. In future missions, NASA had plans for astronauts to move about freely outside the ship. One of the items of equipment they'd need would be a wrist watch.

However, no ordinary wrist watch would do. It would have to withstand the extraordinary conditions of space flight; Acceleration, vibration and huge fluctuations in temperature. The watch was to be worn on top of the suit with no protection whatsoever. Every time an astronaut, suspended in the vacuum of space, turned his wrist the watch would come out of the shadow and be exposed to the unfiltered rays of the sun and sudden temperature increases of over 100 degrees Centigrade.

On the moon, Nasa's declared objective, the conditions would be even tougher. Temperatures on the lunar surface fluctuate between minus 160 degrees C and +120.

Which watch could function, unprotected, in such an environment?

To find out, Nasa employees simply walked, incognito, into a Huston jewelers and purchased 5 chronographs of different makes and models and subjected them to a series of the toughest tests ever devised in the long history of watchmaking.

Only one watch survived. The Omega Speedmaster.


This is the story of the Omega Speedmaster. Its history, selection and testing through to its first landing on the moon. The story then continues through subsequent missions and into the space shuttle program.