Space Exploration and watches have gone hand-in-hand since the first moon landing in 1969. At this time the watch strapped to the wrist of Neil Armstrong was an Omega Speedmaster Ref. 105.012. Omega's relationship with space exploration, and NASA more specifically, has lasted ever since the infamous 1969 landing.
This weekend, The Falcon 9 Rocket from Elon Musks company SpaceX took off for the International Space Station. This was the first journey into space for 9 years, so as you can imagine the whole world was captivated watching the launch on TV. For us watch geeks, this presented a fun little game of spot the watch, to see what Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were wearing on their wrists. As much as I would have loved them to be wearing vintage references, the one that I did manage to spot was a polarising reference, the X-33, on the wrist of Behnken.
Photo Credit: Hodinkee
The X-33 is an ani/digi reference of the Omega Speedmaster that was introduced in 1998. It was designed specifically for pilots and astronauts, and packs a hell of a lot of functions into its analogue and digital functionality. It allows the weather to set multiple alarms at the same time, which considering how precious time is when you are on a spacewalk is a pretty important and crucial feature.
Photo Credit: Fratello Watches
Whilst the design of this watch is certainly polarising, this watch really was not pitched at the average Joe. This watch is the epitome of a tool watch. It has been built specifically as the most practical watch possible for an astronaut to have strapped to their space suits, and considering it has been the standard issue Omega since it was introduced, I would say that it does a pretty good job of that!
Interestingly, as the watch is a standard piece of equipment, at the end of a space mission the astronauts have to return their X-33. However, they do receive their own X-33 in return. Whether Behnken is wearing an issued model or his own personal example, it is very cool to see the relationship between Omega and NASA is still very much blossoming.
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