Buzz Aldrin: The Early Years

Buzz Aldrin, the first lunar landing, and the timepiece he wore while taking those history-making steps are what gave birth to the Moonwatch, also known as the Omega Speedmaster. But before he became a legendary astronaut and watch-world icon, he was just a simple boy from New Jersey with a memorable nickname and a mother whose maiden name seemed to foreshadow his destiny.

(L-R) Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, Commander Neil A. Armstrong, and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin

Aldrin was born in Montclair, New Jersey to his father, Edwin Eugene Aldrin, and his mother, Marion Moon. He was named after his father but got the nickname Buzz from his sister. He would go on to legally change his name in his fifties.

Aldrin’s father was a colonel in the Air Force, and he had plans to follow in his footsteps. He attended West Point after completing high school and graduated third in his class with a degree in mechanical engineering. He entered the Air Force shortly after to become a fighter pilot. Aldrin served in the Korean War during his time in the military and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service.

After the Military

After the war, Aldrin left the military and returned to the States to complete his PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. He wrote his thesis on techniques for manned orbital rendezvous. This helped him get into the space program after he completed his degree. In 1963, during the height of the great Space Race, Aldrin became a part of a group pioneering a space flight. By 1966, he successfully made his first trip to space. Just three years after that, he made history as the second man to walk on the moon. He did it wearing none other than an Omega Speedmaster, the official watch of the space program.

Buzz Aldrin

Following his legendary mission to the moon, Aldrin retired from active duty. He returned to the Air Force in a managerial capacity. He would go on to found a nonprofit organization focused on space education called the ShareSpace Foundation. Aldrin also wrote several books including sci-fi novels, children’s books, and memoirs. Aldrin continues to work closely with NASA to develop space technology and with Omega to develop their watches for our wrists and beyond.

Buzz Aldrin in Partnership with OMEGA

In 2016, Aldrin announced his partnership with Omega to help design a watch suitable for a mission to Mars set for the 2030’s. There’s no telling what the great mind of Buzz Aldrin and the team at Omega might create. We expect it might be an evolution of the iconic Speedmaster.

Aldrin continued his work with Omega on Starmen, a documentary short. It debuted in 2017 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Speedmaster. The film chronicles an evening with Aldrin and star-struck Omega ambassador George Clooney. They discuss the famous moon landing, the future of space exploration, and, of course, Omega’s space watches.

Buzz Aldrin

But, what ever happened to that illustrious Moonwatch that Aldrin wore on that history-making Apollo flight? Per the typical protocol, Aldrin mailed his watch to the Smithsonian Museum. However, the watch never made it there and hasn’t surfaced since. So, what does he wear in its place? Of course, another Omega, or two, or three. Yes, while on a press circuit for the 60th anniversary of the Speedmaster, Aldrin wore three Omega watches. On one wrist, he wore latest edition of the Moonwatch. On the other, a curiously modified set of watches comprised of a De Ville Chronoscope and X-33 on a single bracelet.

Check out more Profiles in Time like Winston Churchill

All photos courtesy of NASA 



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