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Armstrong's Apollo 11 Omega Speedmaster watch

Armstrong's Apollo 11 Omega Speedmaster watch

The story of the Omega Speedmaster chronographs worn by the astronauts during the Gemini and Apollo era is well covered in other websites, notably in a dedicated Omega page of the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal site.

The focus of this site is on collectible artifacts from the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo era and since the NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster chronographs worn by the astronauts on these missions were all retained by NASA I won't cover these in any detail here.

However, whilst the watches themselves were retained by NASA, the special velcro-fastening straps produced to allow the watches to be worn over bulky spacesuit sleeves were sometimes kept by the astronauts as souvenirs, and a number of examples have appeared at auction in recent years.

Apollo 13 flown watch strap

The watches and watchbands worn by the astronauts were shown in the Apollo 17 Stowage List as follows:

A 0202. SEB12100039-002 CHRONOGRAPH ON CREW .1 3
A 0203. SEB12100030-202 WATCHBAND ON CREW NEG. 3

The Apollo-era watchbands with part numbers SEB12100030-202 were made from black velcro with tape reinforcement and measured 3/4 of an inch wide and 21½ inches in length. The Gemini-era watchbands with part number CF 50552-5 were slightly shorter but otherwise similar.

It's worth noting that a slightly shorter variant of the Apollo watchband with part number SEB12100030-201 was used for the cuff checklists worn by the astronauts during the lunar EVAs. Watchbands made from white beta cloth and white velcro can be seen in some photos of Apollo astronauts during training but these white variants were not flown on any missions.

The only timepieces flown during the Apollo era actually retained by an astronaut and later sold were a Bulova stopwatch and a Bulova wristwatch carried by David Scott on the Apollo 15 mission, ostensibly as backups for his NASA-issue Omega watch, and an Omega Speedmaster watch that was part of an on-board experiment on Apollo 17 which was kept by Ron Evans.

Apollo 15 flown stopwatch

The Bulova stopwatch (shown on the left), which was used by Scott during the Apollo 15 mission for a few specific tasks, was apparently sold privately in 2011 after going unsold in a Bonhams auction earlier that year.

The Bulova Wrist Chronograph shown below (model NUMBER 885104/01 2'509'052) was carried by Scott on the Apollo 15 mission as a backup and proved to be very useful when the front crystal of his Omega watch was lost during the second EVA of the mission.

Apollo 15 flown Bulova watch

Scott transferred the watch strap from his Omega to the Bulova and wore this watch over his spacesuit sleeve during the third EVA on the lunar surface and continued to use the watch for the rest of the mission.

The third and final Apollo-era flown timepiece in private hands is an Omega Speedmaster chronograph that was used on the Apollo 17 mission as part of an on-board experiment. Although Evans' NASA-issue worn chronograph was retained by NASA after the mission he was allowed to keep the watch from the experiment as a souvenir. The watch was eventually sold at auction in 2009, as was his flown and worn watchband. Both pieces were later resold as part of a single lot at a Christies Omega-themed auction in 2015.

FLOWN availability - Only three astronaut flown timepieces from the Apollo era and a handful of watchbands have ever been offered for sale. Those examples I have seen are listed in the annexes below.

Annex A: Flown timepieces sold at auction or identified in private collections

Mssn.AstronautStatusDetailsSold viaSale DateLot no.PriceReference / Notes
AS15ScottLS FLOWNBulova stopwatchBonhamsMay 5 2011215UNSOLDAuction listing 
Private salec 2011n/aunknown
AS15ScottLS FLOWNBulova watchRRAuctionNov 22 20159001$1,625,000Sold with watch band.
Auction listing  
AS17EvansCM FLOWNOmega SpeedmasterHeritageApr 1 200941028$23,900Used in on-board experiment, not worn.
Auction listing  
ChristiesDec 15 201515$245,000Sold with other flown items ;
Auction listing  

Annex B: Flown watchbands sold at auction or identified in private collections

Mssn.AstronautStatusP/NS/NSold viaSale DateLot no.PriceReference / Notes
GT3YoungFLOWNCF 50552-5110HeritageApr 1 200941097n/aSold with other items ;
Auction listing  
AS13HaiseFLOWNSEB12100030-2021074BonhamsJul 16 2009242$4,575Auction listing  
AS13SwigertFLOWN?SEB12100030-2021067Nate D SandersMay 29 2014Sold with another item ;
Auction listing 
AS15ScottLS FLOWNSEB12100030-202?RRAuctionNov 22 20159001n/aSold with Bulova watch.
Auction listing  
AS16DukeLS FLOWNSEB12100030-2021085HeritageApr 18 201340137$44,813With wrist mirror.
Auction listing  
AS17EvansCM FLOWNSEB12100030-2021087HeritageApr 1 200941027$11,950Auction listing  
ChristiesDec 15 201515n/aSold with other items ;
Auction listing  

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