If I were to ask a group of watch collectors what just might be the most iconic watch of all time, I guarantee quite a few will say the Omega Speedmaster. While it was initially intended as a wristwatch for racing, the Speedmaster is most famously known as the moon watch. This is because it was selected by NASA as their official watch, worn during the first American spacewalk as part of the Gemini 4 mission and was the first watch worn on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.
The selection process NASA went through to select a suitable wristwatch was vigorous. Between Rolex, Omega and Longines-Wittnauer, each watch went through testing in extreme conditions and as we all now know, the Omega Speedmaster came out as the most reliable and durable.
This example is a very rare early variant, the Ref. 2998. Featuring alpha sword hands and straight lugs, as supposed to the more famous twisted asymmetric ‘Professional’ case shape with stick hands, this is a grail for many watch collectors. While it wasn’t until a few years later that the Speedmaster would officially enter space, the Ref. 2998 was worn by astronaut Wally Schirra aboard the Mercury-Atlas 8 (Sigma 7) as his personal watch in 1962.
Early Speedmasters are the most collectible for several reasons. Firstly because chronographs were not very popular during that period. They just didn’t produce many, making it much rarer than other models of the period. Another big reason lies inside the watch, specifically the famed Calibre 321. The column wheel 321 movement is legendary, developed by Lemania and used as ebauches for big brands like Patek Philippe, it is one of the most celebrated movements and only found on early Speedmasters before they changed to the more economical cam-activated 861 movement in 1969.
It is no surprise that these Speedmaster are so in demand as it blends historical importance, insane quality, rarity and straight-up good looks into one piece. What's not to love?