Launched in 2004 on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the moon landing, the Special-Edition “From the Moon the Mars” timepiece looks forward to more exciting decades of space exploration on the way from the Moon to Mars.
Though the first maps of Mars date back to the early 17th century, mankind’s first “close encounter” with the red planet was in 1965, when the American probe Mariner 4 sent back 21 images. Thanks to the prevailing political environment stimulating the space race between Americans and Soviets, it was only 4 years later that mankind took its first steps on the Moon.
Whilst other lunar landings followed, with the end of the Cold War space exploration concentrated more on scientific and research aspects, centred on the use of the space shuttle and space stations. In 2004, fuelled by the success of the two Mars Rover projects, space agencies like NASA decided to accelerate one of the most ambitious projects of mankind – the conquest of Mars.
This ambitious project comprises of: a robotic exploration of the Moon, a new Crewed Exploration Vehicle (CEV), the first CEV flight and finally an extended human space missions by 2015 and a return to the Moon by 2020.
The Omega Speedmaster Professional, the first ever wristwatch qualified for space travel remains as popular as ever, with its “flight-qualified” credentials still serving as a guarantee of its robustness and precision. Having successfully withstood the journey to the moon and a short stay on its surface during various Apollo missions, the Speedmaster could quite conceivably return there with the astronauts in 2020.
However, a voyage to Mars would impose new constraints on watches and timekeeping. In addition to coping with an average temperature of -53°C, as well as local, regional and global dust storms, the Mars watch may also need to take into account the longer Martian day (the “sol”), which is equivalent to 1.027 Earth days.
In 2004, Omega introduced a special Speedmaster Professional timepiece to match the tougher specifications required for future space explorations. The special-edition Speedmaster “From the Moon the Mars” bears all the hallmarks of the original “Moon Watch”, with the same robust case, functional bezel with tachymeter scale and sober matt black dial with luminous baton hands. It also shares the hand-wound calibre 1861 that is legendary among mechanical watch enthusiasts for its precision and reliability, offering a power reserve of 45 hours when fully wound.
The transfers of the Earth, the Moon and Mars in the chronograph counters and small seconds counter on the dial clearly indicate the commemorative purpose of this timepiece, as does the inscription “From the Moon to Mars” found on the dial between 5 and 3 o’clock as well as engraved on the case back. As a further touch of exclusivity, each piece also bears its own individual sequential number on the case back.