SPEEDYPHILL, MOONWATCHUNIVERSE’S AUTHOR
Astro-photographer, documenting the history of space-flown wrist watches
MoonwatchUniverse (moonwatchuniverse.tumblr.com/archive) was started in June 2016 in anticipation to the 70th anniversary of the OMEGA Speedmaster chronograph. MoonwatchUniverse’s author worked 35 years as an officer in NATO integrated Air Defense System staff and had contacts with several spacefarers having a military background themselves.
The whole idea was set up to share a collection of time period spaceflight related photographs collected between 1972 and 1992 by writing letters to both NASA headquarters and the StarCity cosmonaut training center in Moscow. This 45 years old collection was reduced to 500 photographs which clearly showed the wrist watches used by astronauts, cosmonauts and mission specialists.
During a visit to the OMEGA Museum, the author got fascinated by the red outer cases of the 1969 OMEGA Alaska Project, and started to check his photo collection, which leads to the Soyuz 25 and 26 walkout photos showing the Soviet-Russian crews wearing these ex-Alaska II outer cases on their mission to the Salyut-6 space station in late 1977.
A fascinating fact to discover that OMEGA’s ultimate space watch, developed for NASA, found enthusiastic customers on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
1. Do you remember your first watch?
My very first watch was a 1978 SEIKO digital alarm quartz with 4 push buttons. It had a light and a chrono function, cool stuff for a 12-year old. However it didn’t last long.
2. The 3 most iconic watch models?
OMEGA Speedmaster, OMEGA Seamaster and BULOVA Accutron Astronaut.
3. A noteworthy anecdote with one of your watches?
During NATO Tactical Evaluation exercises, officers were obliged to wear military issued wrist watches, which meant that we had to follow an administrative chain to obtain one and to return it after each exercise. This paperwork hassles lead me to buy my first decent wrist watch in 1994, the 25th Apollo 11 Anniversary Speedmaster with display caseback. Since then, an OMEGA Speedmaster became the only watch that got wrist time in my life…
4. Are you more modern or vintage?
Almost 25 years an OMEGA Speedmaster aficionado, I still prefer vintage but follow OMEGA watches closely and bought an OMEGA Speedmaster whenever it changed significantly, like the 1998 luminova dial version with 1861 movement. Looking forward to an amazing Limited Edition Speedmaster in 2019…
5. I love Speedmasters because …
An OMEGA Speedmaster was my first “real” watch, a well-designed chronograph that sits comfortable and looks great on the wrist. A watch with a remarkable history as its legacy in 55 years spaceflight missions is unsurpassed!
6. Your favorite Speedmaster?
The 1978 Alaska III with classic black radial dial but it should come with the 1972 “ 60-minutes “ bezel, surely the perfect tool watch.
7. A single personal item you would take with you for a long stay on the Moon?
A personal item would be my DSLR camera to do some astrophotography but I would prefer to take Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck’s original design of his “Fallen Astronaut” artwork encased in plexiglass to be placed on the lunar surface. In July 1971, Van Hoeydonck was asked to rapidly alter the design as plexiglass wasn’t allowed in the spacesuit’s pockets of the Apollo 15 commander.
8. You just won the lottery. Do you first buy a sports car or call a financial advisor?
I would donate a significant portion to several institutions promoting science to the youth and then look for a CK-2998-4, the first OMEGA Speedmaster version worn in Space.
9. Where would you spend the next 24 hours if you had a teleporter?
I would beam aboard the Salyut-6 space station in July 1978, in order to find out what the Russian cosmonauts thought about the ex-Alaska II time pieces they had been using and whenever these were taken back to Earth…
10. How many times a day do you watch … your watch?
I wouldn’t know but each time I look, I do enjoy that particular Speedmaster that I’m wearing at that moment.
11. The last watch you bought?
The 1998 luminova Speedmaster… the next one will be surely in 2019 as it’s going to be an amazing anniversary year for OMEGA fans!
12. What’s on your wrist today?
OMEGA Speedmaster 145.012-67.