One Love: Omega Speedmaster

Two years after acquiring the Omega Speedmaster, my hunt for the “dream” watch is far from over, as I discover.

By Kenny Loh
Wed, 16 Mar 2016
The prestigious Snoopy award was presented to Omega by NASA after the Speedmaster played a pivotal role in helping astronauts of the Apollo 13 mission return back to earth.

The prestigious Snoopy award was presented to Omega by NASA after the Speedmaster played a pivotal role in helping astronauts of the Apollo 13 mission return back to earth.

I am obsessed with Omega, and, in the time I’ve spent writing about watches, I have developed a very, very special relationship with the Swiss watchmaker’s Speedmaster. There’s so much I can tell you about the handsome, NASA-certified chronograph – or, really, my dream watch – how it survived the American space agency’s unforgiving tests that spanned from sudden acceleration to decompression, when US astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore it on the lunar surface (1969, if you must know), and how it accurately timed the engine burn that brought Apollo 13 crew James “Jim” Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise safely back to earth. I wanted a Speedy (as it is fondly known) – the first watch worn on the moon and undoubtedly “the world’s most famous chronograph”.

NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan salutes the American flag on the moon.

NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan salutes the American flag on the moon.

Two Septembers ago, I took a big step to acquire my own. It was a limited, numbered edition that marked 40 years since NASA’s Apollo 15 mission (at that time, the space agency deemed the mission its most successful manned flight ever achieved). It sported a black dial true to the original Speedmaster, but, in a surprise twist, had a minute track and three counter rings painted in accents of red, white and blue – colours of the Apollo 15 patch and American flag. It also had a case back engraved in the vivid image of a lunar rover, a nod to its first use on the same mission. The Speedy became my ‘thing’ and accompanied me nearly everywhere – on my travels across continents, in the office, at the gym and even for a casual dinner at a fast food joint. My hunt for the dream watch was over – or so I thought.

The "Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 15 40th Anniversary Limited Edition" in steel and "Speedmaster White Side of the Moon Co-axial Chronometer" in ceramic with alligator strap

The Speedmaster Moonwatch Apollo 15 40th Anniversary Limited Edition in steel and Speedmaster White Side of the Moon Co-axial Chronometer in ceramic with alligator strap.

Then the Apple Watch arrived, and I wanted one with a fiery vengeance, but not because of what it could do. Heck, I wanted it because it looked good! I gave myself endless reasons to buy it: its near-rectangular case was geometric perfection, its steel body was shiny and alluring, and it even had an animated Mickey Mouse dial. “The watch, re-imagined” – even the way Apple sold it had me at the edge of my seat. Today, I’ve got the Apple Watch on my wrist and I’ve yet to figure out what it can do. But it doesn’t matter anymore, I’m slowly moving on.

The Slim d'Hermes in rose gold and alligator leather by Hermes & the J12 Collector Mirror in white high-tech ceramic and steel by Chanel

The Slim d’Hermès in rose gold and alligator leather by Hermès & the J12 Collector Mirror in white high-tech ceramic and steel by Chanel.

Truth is, I like buying watches. Not the four-or-five-digit kind, but the trendy $100 to $500 kind. Why not? They are accessible, fun and easy to wear. And while timepieces like these may not be thought of as luxurious, they make up for it by giving someone as fickle as I am the luxury of choice. The Apple Watch was a mere addition to my increasingly varied collection, which includes the sporty Seiko SKX007 diver, the indestructible, military-inspired G-Shock DW5600MS-1 and the chic Swatch Sistem 51 – each taking their turn to be my ‘dream’ watch at different points in my life.

"RM 60 Erotic Tourbillon" Titanium with rubber strap by Richard Mille

RM 60 Erotic Tourbillon Titanium with rubber strap by Richard Mille.

Though I’m moving on from the Apple Watch, my heart hasn’t strayed an inch from the trusty Moonwatch. Some say it could be the four-digit sum I paid. It’s true, but not entirely. The difference between the Omega Speedmaster and the Apple Watch, or any ticker in my drawer for that matter, lies in the time I set aside to figure out the former. I wasn’t in love with the idea of owning a Speedy, I was in love with the Speedy. I wanted to study the famed chronograph inside out, I longed to know how it earned its badge of honour among astronauts at NASA and I lusted after its many good-looking guises.

"Cle de Cartier" in white gold by Cartier

Clé de Cartier in white gold by Cartier.

When it comes to timepieces, some people buy one and stick with it, and even though my heart is with the Omega Speedmaster, I doubt I’d ever stop at one. “A man should never wear quartz watches,” a well-heeled colleague once said. I say, if it makes you happy, go for it. My hunt for the “dream” watch is far from over. Can’t you tell?

"Tiffany CT60 Calendar" in 18K rose gold with alligator strap by Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany CT60 Calendar in 18K rose gold with alligator strap by Tiffany & Co.

This story first appeared in L’Officiel Singapore’s February 2016 Issue.

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