The OMEGA Speedmaster Professional, perhaps the most famous chronograph on the planet, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion OMEGA has launched a highly unusual and appealing advertising campaign offering consumers the chance to become part of the unique Speedmaster story.
No other watch has such a story to tell.
As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations 10 years ago, OMEGA launched two special series of Speedmasters with NASA "mission patches" on the dial. When a team of pioneers embark on an endeavour they are presented with a highly symbolic mission patch.
Now, for its 50th anniversary, OMEGA has chosen to highlight six of the most compelling Speedmaster episodes and to produce a "mission patch" for each one, demonstrating the important role the Speedmaster has played in the great pioneering achievements of the past and will continue to play in the future.
When Buzz Aldrin followed in Neil Armstrong's famous footsteps on 21 July 1969, the Speedmaster became the first watch to be worn on the moon. Just under nine months later, when Apollo 13 told Houston it had a problem, the Speedmaster helped the astronauts time their re-entry into the earth's atmosphere and saved their lives. And in July 1975 Speedmaster watches were worn on the sleeves of both Russian and American astronauts for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first joint flight into space by the two super-powers.
Before all of this American explorer Ralph Plaisted used an OMEGA Speedmaster and a sextant to locate "true north" when he made the first confirmed surface conquest of the North Pole in 1968. In May last year the Speedmaster became a partner of Solar Impulse, which aims to fly around the earth in 2011 using only the power of the sun. And even further into the unknown OMEGA has introduced a special-edition Speedmaster "From the Moon to Mars" to mark the company's involvement with the next generation of astronauts who will leave for Mars from the International Space Station, around about 2030 if all goes to plan!
"The Speedmaster is a watch with an incredibly rich history," said OMEGA President Stephen Urquhart. "But aside from Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 which are really famous past events, a watch like this will play an important role in the future as well and that's why we added the Solar Impulse and Mars stories. The patches are a little different to what you usually see in a space-type campaign; they also have an impressive visual impact and tell their own story."
As a supplement to the campaign OMEGA has launched a visually stunning website which offers a glimpse of the "Speedmaster solar system". Using computer animated graphics mixed with rarely seen NASA footage, the visitor can travel through the Solar system learning about the Speedmaster's history. You can access the site at omegawatches.com/speedmaster.
A seventh patch represents 50 years of the peerless Speedmaster design, a design that has remained virtually unchanged in all of that time. "The Speedmaster was built in such a way that you can't really improve on it," says Stephen Urquhart. "It is as fashionable and relevant today as it was in 1957."
Owning a Speedmaster is to be a member of a special family, whose story belongs to mankind. There is no other story like it and the eighth and final mission patch is a celebration of a special anniversary. Unchanged since 1957, the Speedmaster continues to support man's desire to discover the unknown.