You might have heard of infinity and beyond countless of times thanks to Toy Story's very own Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear. According to the creators of Toy Story, they named Lightyear after Buzz Aldrin because they find the name the "coolest" compared to other astronauts. (No offense meant, I'm sure.) Buzz Lightyear may be talking about something else whenever he exclaims to infinity and beyond but what I have in mind is Buzz Aldrin, or more specifically, what he was wearing when he landed on the moon.
As the mission commander of Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong was recognized as the first human being to have ever walked in the moon. Buzz Aldrin was only second. However, it was Aldrin who was wearing the first watch on the moon--Omega Speedmaster.
At the time when Americans succeeded in putting the USA flag in the moon, luxury watch brand Omega was already appointed by NASA to create watches to be worn by all American astronauts in their missions. The selection was not an easy process though. The Omega Speedmaster went under a series of thorough experiments such as being exposed to intense temperature, extreme humidity, shock, vacuum, corrosion, acceleration, vibration, pressure, and noise. Only when the watch remained within the permitted deviation of 5 seconds per day after the tests did NASA made Omega their official timekeeper.
Pulling off such feat was certainly not something that can be achieved by anybody, although there were those who tried. In fact, there were four other watchmaking companies shortlisted as candidates to be the official timekeeper.
There were many considerations in creating a timepiece meant to be worn outside earth. Omega was fully aware of these and was prepared to do whatever it took to produce a watch that would go to infinity and beyond.
One of the biggest challenges was the differences of atmospheric pressure between earth and outer space. There was a high chance that the watch glass would blow up once it is outside the planet. In order to hold up the pressure outer space, a clamp ring was used to keep the glass of the Speedmaster in place. The actual glass was made with enough thickness and elasticity to survive the varying temperature that may be experienced all throughout the space flight.
After the successful landing in the moon, Omega continued to produce Speedmaster Professionals which were nothing but perfect companions to men of mission. To date, there are about 118 space missions where Omega Speedmaster watches were worn including the Apollo 13 and Apollo 15.
On the 40th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, Omega unveiled two limited editions of the Speedmaster Professional--one in platinum and 18K yellow gold and one in stainless steel. To commemorate the historical event, the design of the limited editions included the words "one small step" on the dial, "the first watch worn on the moon" in the caseback. The presentation box also contained a silver medal engraved with "Apollo 11, 40th Anniversary" in the front and "The eagle has landed" on the back. The brand's name and logo are also displayed in the medal. Certifications and printed materials about the space flight are present in the box as well.
To really go to infinity and beyond, Omega is currently facing another space-related challenge--to finish a watch that can be used for the landing on Mars. The space mission is said to take place by 2030. To us, it may seem that it is still a long way to go and that the brand has plenty of time to come up with a watch that will withstand the conditions on Mars. To Omega however, the time is just right for research, tests, and perfection.
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