OMEGA Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 17 45th Anniversary Limited Edition
Ref. 31130423003001 and 31163423003001 - the last tribute to Eugene Cernan
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 character. 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.
With its Apollo XVII mission, NASA closed off the famous moon exploration program (despite having planned additional missions). 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 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. 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 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.
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!
Retail prices: 18,600 euro for the gold version and 6,000 euro for the steel version. Currently, online, you cannot find any of these references for sale, so be prepared for a high market value. 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®