In 1969, the astronauts of the Apollo 11 spaceflight successfully landed on the moon for the first time, marking one of the most important geo-political events of the 20th century and serving as a steadfast reminder, even to this day, that the sky is never the limit.

Mission Control team of the Apollo 11 celebrating the success of the mission, 1969 (Image: NASA)
Mission Control team of the Apollo 11 celebrating the success of the mission, 1969 (Image: NASA)

Their success was greeted with celebrations and festivities, among them a state dinner held at the Century Plaza Hotel. The dinner, which was attended by various important personnel witnessed the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the Apollo 11 crew by then President Richard Nixon. In addition to the medallion, a special watch was presented to commemorate the occasion — the Omega Speedmaster ref. BA 145.022. As today marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11, we dive into the lore of the Golden Boy of all Speedmaster references.

President Nixon and the crew of the Apollo 11. From left to right: Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, President Nixon, and Neil Armstrong (Image: Richard Nixon Space Foundation)
President Nixon and the crew of the Apollo 11. From left to right: Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, President Nixon, and Neil Armstrong (Image: Richard Nixon Space Foundation)

Bearing the inscription “To mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time”, the BA 145.022 was made in a limited quantity of 1,014 pieces. Crafted out of solid gold, dial, bracelet and all (or Or Massif if you want to get nerdy about it), the first two of the lot were presented to President Richard Nixon and Vice-President Spiro Agnew, who had to decline due to the costliness of the watch. Their watches are on display at the Omega museum to this day.

President Richard Nixon’s BA 145.022, number 1 of 1014 which currently resides in the Omega museum
President Richard Nixon’s BA 145.022, number 1 of 1014 which currently resides in the Omega museum

Another 32 of these Speedmasters were presented to NASA astronauts and featured personalised engravings on the caseback. Here are a few documented examples of the pieces owned by former NASA astronauts. while the remainder were released to the public.

John Watts Young of Apollo 16’s BA 145.022 (Image: Fratello)
John Watts Young of Apollo 16’s BA 145.022 (Image: Fratello)
Ronald Evans of Apollo 17’s BA 145.022 (Image: Christie's)
Ronald Evans of Apollo 17’s BA 145.022 (Image: Christie's)
Don F Eisele of Apollo 7’s BA 145.022 (Image: Sotheby's)
Don F Eisele of Apollo 7’s BA 145.022 (Image: Sotheby's)
Thomas ‘Ken’ Mattingly of Apollo 16’s BA 145.022 (Image: Fratello)
Thomas ‘Ken’ Mattingly of Apollo 16’s BA 145.022 (Image: Fratello)
Alan L Bean of Apollo 12’s BA 145.022
Alan L Bean of Apollo 12’s BA 145.022
Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17’s BA 145.022 (Image: Watchcarefully)
Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17’s BA 145.022 (Image: Watchcarefully)
Wally Schirra of Apollo 7’s BA 145.022 (Image: Fratello)
Wally Schirra of Apollo 7’s BA 145.022 (Image: Fratello)
Charles Duke of Apollo 16’s BA 145.022
Charles Duke of Apollo 16’s BA 145.022

The remaining pieces were released to the public, and featured the alternate inscription “The First Watch Worn On the Moon” (similar to the regular production Speedmaster Professional models), with two executions in both engraved and bold, lacquer-filled versions.

The BA 145.022 intended for the public with the inscribed caseback quote (Image: Antiquorium)
The BA 145.022 intended for the public with the inscribed caseback quote (Image: Antiquorium)
The BA 145.022 intended for the public featuring the red lacquer filled writing (Image: Sotheby's)
The BA 145.022 intended for the public featuring the red lacquer filled writing (Image: Sotheby's)

The BA 145.022 has grown into a heavy collector’s favourite in recent years, and prices have subsequently skyrocketed. However if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one, hats off from us — you now own not only a stunning piece of watchmaking, but also an integral piece of memorabilia from one of the most significant events in recent history.

Omega 1969 Speedmaster Tribute to Apollo XI Ref. BA 145.022

1969 Yellow Gold Omega Speedmaster Tribute to Apollo XI Reference BA 145.022 (© Revolution)