When it comes to events in history, many of us learn the facts from the film rather than the real event. As such, most of our facts about “Apollo 13” and the failed Moon landing come from the Hollywood movie about the event, and sometime miss out on some of the smaller details. It remains a mostly unknown fact that the Omega speedmaster, or “moon watch” as it was known, served a lifesaving role in getting the astronauts safely home.
Two days into the mission, that involved a planned moon landing, a fuel tank was ruptured. After many hardships, that meant using the earth’s terminator to navigate and fixing critical systems with duct tape the crew was 60 miles off course for re-entry. As the engineers amongst us would know an angle of entry too steep would result in an unsuccessful entry and send the craft, damaged, back into space.
At a press conference on NASA Space Center Houston, Lovell described the manoeuvre.
“(It) was done without our normal navigation equipment. We used the earth as a backline. We could see the earth, we could see the daytime and darkness and that line in between we call it twilight or the terminator,” he said. “We had a crosshair on the window of the lunar module so we could superimpose our crosshair on the earth’s terminator and that positioned the engine of our lunar module so we can make the correct movement to get back into the proper course to make a safe landing back on earth.”
He continued, “We had to burn the engine. Have it on only for a certain length of time: 14 seconds…. We used the (Omega) watch that Jack had on his wrist, and I had to control the spacecraft. Jack timed the burn on the engine to make that correction to get back home safely.
To give praise and recognition to Omega the astronauts themselves gave them the “silver snoopy award” which is a private NASA award. At a press conference with the CEO of Omega, Stephen Urquhart, he said he had been unaware of the watches use, he had no discussions with NASA until then, and the watch was designed to time race cars.
Unsurprisingly the speedmaster is still a very popular watch, and for men who like the steel look of a Rolex Daytona, it can be a more affordable option. The brand still has a strong association with NASA and holds the record for being the first watch on the moon. If you are looking for an investment that you can wear, or a stylish men’s luxury watch that can be had in the £2,000 – £4,000 mark this could be the watch for you.