As a reminder, the OMEGA Speedmasters officially given to the astronauts were following references:

– ST 105.003 used during Gemini missions,
– ST 105.012 and ST 145.012 during Apollo missions,
– ST 145.022 used after the last Apollo missions.

Richard “Dick” Gordon and his Speedmaster ST 105.003 on a JB Champion bracelet with curved end pieces.

Over the spacesuit

Speedmaster ST 105.003 on the original OMEGA bracelet on John Young’s wrist before Gemini III (left).

Speedmaster ST 105.003 on Velcro strap on James Mc Divitt’s arm for Gemini IV launch (right).

Out of uniform

When not in their spacesuit, a number of astronauts kept their Speedmaster on their wrist, both during their work on land or in the spaceship, or during their free time.

Most of the pictures show that this is not the original OMEGA steel bracelet, but a steel mesh bracelet.

The Apollo 8 crew wearing their Speedmaster fitted with JB Champion mesh bracelets.

Information regarding the reason for the choice of this bracelet was provided to us by the OMEGA Museum, which is in close liaison with James H. Ragan, NASA engineer in charge of equipment testing for the Gemini and Apollo programs.

NASA engineers in charge of equipment testing realized that the OMEGA steel bracelet might put an astronaut at risk of injury from being snagged as it would not break easily, unlike the mesh type bracelet, which also has a great adjustability setting and requires no tools for adjustment.

The mesh bracelets worn by astronauts are JB Champion models of the American bracelet company Jacoby Bender. However they seem to originate from another company, Forstner, who manufactured mesh type bracelets under the name “Komfit”, amongst their range. In 1963 the manufacture was purchased by Jacoby Bender.

All these mesh bracelets have a width of 15.6 mm, but there are numerous variations, for example in the form of end pieces, straight or curved.

However, we observed a multitude of versions that we present in detail in this article, without pretending to be exhaustive. For practical reasons we have given them arbitrary coding, thereby not corresponding to an actual timeline.

Neil Armstrong’s famous picture with his Speedmaster ST 105012 on a JB Champion mesh bracelet in February 1969, during a geological formation in Texas.

THE ORIGINS: KOMFIT BY FORTSNER

The bracelets worn by NASA astronauts seem to originate from another manufacturer, Forstner, who manufactured mesh type bracelets under the name “Komfit”, amongst their range. In 1963 the company was purchased by Jacoby Bender. It would seem, therefore, that the Komfit Forstner bracelets had never been used by astronauts.

Most Komfit bracelets are characterized by fixed width end pieces, unlike JB Champion. All have the inscription “STAINLESS STEEL – Forstner – KOMFIT – PATENTED USA”.

Type KF-1

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: 17 mm

Type KF-2

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: 19 mm

Type KF-3

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: 19 mm

Type KF-4

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: variable, 16 to 19 mm

THE MODELS WORN BY THE ASTRONAUTS: JB CHAMPION

These are the versions actually worn by the astronauts with their Speedmaster since 1965. It is unclear if there is a timeline between the different versions.

All versions have variable spring-loaded end pieces, which can be distinguished by their profile: straight and curved (which better fit to the watch lugs).

Type JB-1

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: variable, 16 to 19 mm

Type JB-2

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: variable, 16 to 19 mm

Type JB-3

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: variable, 16 to 19 mm

Type JB-4

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: variable, 16 to 19 mm

Type JB-5

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: variable, 16 to 19 mm

VARIANTS

There are many variations, with different materials or designs. We present a few of them hereafter.

Type JB 10k gold-filled

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: variable, 16 to 19 mm

Type JB Steel Strips

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: variable, 16 to 19 mm

Type Tradition

Width: 15.6 mm
Width of the end pieces: variable, 16 to 19 mm

There are probably many other variations of these bracelets, as their production by JB Champion was at that time largely distributed in the US for a large number of watches.

The objective of this study was simply to provide an overview and to present the main versions, which became famous thanks to NASA.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • I always wanted a black-faced stop watch, even as a kid. My first one was an Omega Speedmaster Professional. On the back, to my surprise, was written, “Flight qualified by NASA for all manned space missions – The first watch worn on the moon.” Until that instant, I had no idea. The date was 1973 or 1974 when I was in law school. I bought the watch at Al’s Pawn Shop on Lower Broad in Nashville, Tennessee for, at most, $125. I wore it faithfully for over thirty years. It wore out and it was too expensive to repair so I sold it on eBay for, I think, $500. When I learned what the watch was, and what it cost, I felt guilty that I had likely been wearing a stolen watch all those years. It remains my favorite watch.

    My question is this – When did Omega make the “First watch worn on the moon” that was so designated on the back?

    Thank you.

    Robert Orr Jr
    Franklin Tennessee

  • Bart Welter says:

    I have owned a 145-022-71.
    Since Dec1971.
    Love it dearly!

  • GUILLAUME says:

    Do you know why some JB Champion are stamped “made in usa” and other not? Are theire later made outside US?
    I have both and a 105.012
    I wear it only on this strap since 9 years now.
    Despite it look it is the perfect combo and are stronger that we think at first.

    Best regards,

    Guillaume

    • WBO says:

      Hi Guillaume,

      Thanks for the information, and I agree these straps look great!
      I don’t have any precise explanation for the “Made in USA” question…

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