The Precision of First Man
Earlier this month, Universal Pictures’ film First Man hit theaters. The biopic intimately chronicles Neil Armstrong’s life throughout the space race, and the challenges and triumphs he faced. The story culminates with the 1969 Apollo 11 journey to the moon, one of the most dangerous missions ever made.
Director Damien Chazelle was dedicated to depicting this key piece of history as accurately as he could. From conditions inside the spacecraft to the splendor of the landing, every detail had to be as authentic as possible. This included the watches that, to us, are just as inextricably linked to the first lunar landing as Armstrong himself.
In the early 1960’s, NASA tested several watches under extreme conditions to determine the official timepiece of the space program. The winner was the Omega Speedmaster. Just a few years later, NASA put the watch’s capabilities to the test. The model solidified its place in history as the first watch on the moon. It’s been affectionately dubbed the Moonwatch ever since.
Incorporating Authentic Omegas in the Film
Chazelle recognized the important role that timepieces played in this historic moment. So, he set out to equip the cast members in period-correct Omega watches for the film. He began working closely with Omega as soon as production began in 2017. The watchmaker provided four different references for the movie. Some were exclusive creations of reproductions for First Man while others were pieces from the Omega archives.
The two most notable references are those worn in the training and mission sequences. First, the Reference ST 105.003, the same variation that secured the Speedmaster’s place as NASA’s official timepiece. In the film, Armstrong’s character wears this reference during his Apollo training. Second, the Reference ST 105.012, the version of the Speedmaster worn for the moon mission.
Variations on the Moonwatch aren’t the only period pieces you’ll spot in First Man. The movie includes an Omega CK 2605 circa 1954, which Armstrong’s character wears in his day-to-day life. There’s also a 1960’s-era Omega Stopwatch used in the film by NASA engineers during training sequences.
Omega’s Brand on Aerospace History
For nearly 60 years, Omega has cultivated close ties with the space program. Speedmaster watches have accompanied countless missions, and astronauts on the International Space Station still use them today. Omega has created numerous variations of the iconic model for NASA and collectors alike. Special edition variations like the Dark Side of the Moon have become particularly popular. The 50thanniversary of the monumental 1969 Apollo mission is on the horizon next year. Be sure to look for the debut of yet another special edition model.
As fans of the Speedmaster and its rich heritage, we’re thrilled to see a film take such attention to detail. When we think of that pivotal moment in our country’s history, we often fail to remember the vital technology and tools that made it possible. The Speedmaster is undeniably one of those devices.