An extremely rare 1969 Omega Speedmaster owned by the late astronaut Michael Collins was sold for a whopping $765,000 last week at Heritage Auctions’ Fine Timepieces online auction. The gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo XI BA145.022-69 was expected to fetch somewhere close to $100,000, but the highly collectible and historically important timepiece’s final sale price exceeded everyone’s expectations. Ahead of the auction, there were rumors that Omega might purchase the timepiece for its museum; however, it turns out that the Apollo 11 astronaut’s Speedmaster was acquired by an individual collector. The name of the buyer hasn’t been revealed, although.
The astronauts who took part in the Apollo 11 mission wore stainless steel Omega Speedmasters during their trip to the moon. The Swiss watchmaker celebrated the success of the moon mission by issuing a limited edition of 1,014 Omega Apollo XI Speedmasters (reference BA145.022). The first two examples were presented to President Nixon and VP Agnew, though they refused to accept the gift and the two watches currently reside in Omega Museum in Switzerland. The next 28 watches in the series were given to NASA astronauts based on their tenure with the administration, including the #19 watch that was presented to Command Module Pilot Michael Collins was presented.
“We certainly had high hopes for this auction, and thanks in part to Michael Collins’ incredible watch, the sale really reached a new stratosphere,” Heritage Auctions Watches & Fine Timepieces Director Jim Wolf said. “It makes sense: Apollo 11 was the first mission that put man on the moon, so it really is the most important mission in the history of space travel. Michael Collins was an incredibly important part of that mission, and this watch is, without question, a piece of space history and a piece of timepieces history.”
The 40mm case and the bracelet of the watch are both made of 18k yellow gold. It features a burgundy-colored tachymeter bezel along with polished and brushed lyre lugs, and round push buttons. The dial is also in gold and gets applied gold and black enameled block markers along with matching black baton hands. The caseback is engraved with an inscription that reads: “Astronaut Michael Collins, Gemini 10—Apollo 11, No. 19, to mark man’s conquest of space with time, through time, on time.” The rare and collectible watch was also accompanied by a handwritten note from Collins. “This Omega watch was given to me shortly after the flight of Apollo XI, and has been in my personal possession ever since,” it reads. “I wore it seldom if ever, but I have wound it every decade or so, and I believe it is in perfect operating condition. Michael Collins, Apollo XI CMP.”