Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 17 45th Anniversary Limited Edition
Truth is that Omega released (and still does) many special editions, but never before this one we can say that such releases have been successful and full of personality. Take the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 11 45th Anniversary for example, or the last Snoopy with a white dial, the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Speedy Tuesday, "5th anniversary", and even the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo XVII 45th Anniversary.
This Speedmaster, more than all the other previous limited editions, clearly traces back the story of the Apollo XVII mission through quite a few clues that we will discover in this article, but let's look back at the Apollo XVII mission’s history before starting with our discovery journey.
The Apollo XVII mission: the end of an era
With its Apollo XVII mission, NASA closed off the famous moon exploration program (despite having planned additional missions) that started with the Apollo 11 mission. The reasons behind this decision are of a political nature and, above all, of economic nature.
On December 7, 1972, at 5:33PM (please note that this time is not the time appearing on the dial), the Saturn V carrier took off from Cape Canaveral marking another milestone in the Apollo program; the first night launch.
The mission commander was Eugene Cernan, who sadly passed away last January and that our chief editor was lucky enough to meet during the opening ceremony of the Milan-based boutique of the brand.
The Apollo XVII mission.
The Apollo XVII mission was a 100% science-focused mission, so here is a second milestone in the mission; for the first time in history a crew member had not been a former pilot, but rather a geologist called Harrison Schmitt.
To make this history a bit shorter, (I would still recommend looking for the details of this very interesting mission on the web) after 7 days and 1 minute from take-off, commander Cernan climbed the moon module ladder and gave a short speech, thus becoming the last man to set foot on our satellite. This is the explanation behind the time 5:34GMT that appears on the dial of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo XVII 45th Anniversary.
A very refined Limited Edition Speedmaster and an initial strong market request.
Let’s now focus on the chronograph; the case is available in a steel version (reference 3126.96.36.199.03.001 limited to 1972 pieces only) and a golden version (reference 3188.8.131.52.03.001 originally limited to 72 pieces only and subsequently released in 272 pieces due to a collectors’ high demand). The success of the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 17 45th Anniversary Limited Edition is not so different from the one the Omega Speedmaster Master Co-Axial Chronometer Chronograph in platinum had.
The colors on both versions reference to the very symbol of the Apollo XVII mission as well as to the US flag; blue, red and white. Gold also has its very precise meaning in relation to the mission as it aims to figuratively remind us of the golden era of space explorations.
At 9 o'clock, on the small seconds counter, is a beautiful portrait of Apollo looking at the moon, next to it is the number 17; the entire decoration is made of yellow gold, a detail that makes this limited edition even more special.
Introducing three product novelties on a Moonwatch.
There are three relevant features for a Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch that we can find in these limited editions; the blue-colored dial made of zirconium oxide, the tachometric scale in Ceragold and another peculiarity, which, as far as I can remember, can’t be found in any other Speedmaster timepieces; the scale starts from 450km/h rather than from the usual 500km/h as in the other references.
On the case-back lies the symbol of the mission itself; Apollo looking towards Saturn (the meaning of this portrait is quite deep; future explorations won’t stop here, while the eagle wing embracing the Moon is a reference to already explored lands). The letters "APOLLO XVII" and "TRIBUTE TO GENE CERNAN" frame the symbol.
The yellow gold reference comes with a brown leather strap and a gold-made deployant clasp, the steel edition features the classic Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch bracelet. Both watches are equipped with a sapphire crystal; a choice that I personally approve of because of the use of noble materials, such as ceramics and gold. On the other hand, a small detail I am not too fond of is the dial with its "racing" indexes despite the fact that this design creates some sort of a movement and makes the Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Apollo XVII 45th Anniversary even more special!
Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch Apollo XVII 45th Anniversary pricing and current availability.
Retail prices were, at the time they were launched, 18,600 euro for the gold version and 6,000 euro for the steel version but an interesting quantity of NOS (New Old Stock) is still available on line, with the Gold version not increasing its retail price whereas the stainless steel version is commanding a 10% increase approximate.
This is an interesting piece of information if we consider that all the latest limited edition Moonwatch have often doubled their quotation far exceeding their original price list. The last one of our Easter eggs; if you're wondering what Cernan’s speech was about, you can find it transcribed inside the box!
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Matteo Bulla @Horbiter®